“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of Elohim; and that He may send Y’shua, the Messiah appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which Elohim spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” Acts 3:19-21
I’ve written about this passage in previous articles, but I feel it is time to “return” and take a closer look at it again. I want to go on record stating that I believe with all of my heart that the Hebrew Roots movement was a legitimate movement conceived by the Ruach (Spirit). Unfortunately, many believers in this movement have miserably lost sight of their vision, mission, and purpose. I don’t want to take up space mentioning all the petty childish things in which people fight, debate, divide, and destroy each other over. Although I will ask, “Why is there a need for ha satan when believers successfully kill each other with fiery arrows (harsh/judgmental words), steal each others joy and shalom, and destroy each other’s faith?” Therefore “the train” has been derailed, so to speak, with thick smoke enveloping the disarray. I believe it can be placed back on the tracks, but it is going to take a lot of work and an enormous corporate effort in order to do so.
Brad Scott made me chuckle in a conversation we had some time ago where he said, “Joel, my next book will probably be titled RESTORING the restoration movement!” Even though it made me chuckle, I have to say it was a sad chuckle because although he was joking, it was one of those jokes that is full of truth. I believe Acts 2 & 3 give us an important key that will help restore and return the train back to its track. In these two chapters, Peter gives us a clear picture where our focus should be.
22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Y’shua of Nazareth, 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Y’shua the Messiah so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha Kodesh. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom YHVH our Elohim calls to Him.”Acts 2:22, 38
I understand that Peter was speaking to Israelites who supposedly knew the commandments of the Creator of the Universe, but we should take notice of how he didn’t give a discourse on keeping this commandment or that commandment. Notice he didn’t ask folks if they had kept all the 50+ or however many commandments that applied to that day. What we must take note of is WHO Peter focused on. Go read Acts chapters 2-11. WHO is the focus in all of these chapters? It’s Y’shua. This is the key, as well as a good dose of persecution. Notice what happened when persecution arose. The believers pressed into it and didn’t run away or back down from it, and it caused the assembly to grow and their faith to be strengthened. I personally believe a good dose of persecution for the Hebrew Roots movement is exactly what is needed right now to straighten some things out. Sure, our flesh would disagree with it, but remember something about our flesh.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to YHVH; it does not submit to YHVH’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please YHVH. Romans 8:5-8
In Acts chapters 4, Peter and John were put in prison because of their faith in Y’shua. When they were called to give an account, they stood their ground and boldly proclaimed their faith. In other words, their foundation could not be shaken by some official or a leader much more qualified and learned than they were. Also, it is worthy to note that it wasn’t their knowledge that got them released from prison. It was WHO they were proclaiming and representing.
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Y’shua. Acts 4:13
Lastly, in Acts 12 when James was killed by the sword and Peter was arrested, I humbly ask by what manner was Peter delivered from prison? Was it because he explained to the guards exactly how to pronounce the NAME? Did it have something to do with him explaining the exact color of blue in his tzitzits? Was it because he explained to the prison guards that his translation and interpretation of the Torah was the only authorized, authentic, and correct version on the market while all others were mistranslations? Was it because he had received a new revelation that Y’shua really wasn’t who everyone said he was so therefore couldn’t be the Messiah? Maybe it was because Peter began to show the prison guards examples of all the translational errors in the New Testament? Of course, I’m being sarcastic, but my point is none of those things actually helped his cause. It was the angel of Elohim that delivered him from King Herod’s wrath. Again, here’s another example of the WHO that Peter knew and preached about.
Last month, I wrote about people who are convinced as well as those who are convicted. There is a big difference in these states of being. I’m a firm believer that the first century assembly of called out ones were definitely convicted and not just convinced. If you and I are going to make a difference by leaving our mark on society, it is going to take a deep conviction of knowing WHO we really serve. In other words, the attitude that we read about in the book of Acts MUST BE manifested again in order to bring about a RESTORATION to the restoration movement. We must know that we know that we know WHO the WHO truly is.
If this isn’t settled in our hearts then we can be persuaded and convinced by any author, teacher, preacher, rabbi, Hebrew Roots minister, situation or circumstance, website, internet article, or nut job of something contrary to WHO the WHO truly is. I know many good people who have been utterly convinced to renounce Y’shua as the Messiah and renounce the Newer Testament as being the inspired Word of YHVH. Why? It was solely due to their tremendous amount of knowledge they have gathered. Unfortunately, this tremendous amount of knowledge has convinced them to question everything so much to the point that they no longer “need” their faith. In other words, people have done away with their faith in order to solely rely on their knowledge. Again, I ask if it was it Peter’s knowledge that helped him operate and function in his ministry and life? Scripture clearly tells us it was his faith in Y’shua, as well as him being full of the Ruach. Peter’s faith was so strong that when it came time for him to die a martyr’s death he requested to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Messiah Y’shua died. Now, I ask whether his knowledge produce that or did his faith manifest that kind of attitude?
One of the main problems that I see in the Hebrew Roots movement is that we have leaders and followers who aren’t willing to die for that which they are living. Allow me to explain that statement. In order for you and me to make a difference by leaving our mark on society and history, what we are living for HAS TO BE worth dying for! Please, take the time to ask yourself that question and thoroughly examine your life based on that question. If we aren’t willing to die for what we are living for, then what in the name of Elohim are we doing? Are we just playing church? We have plenty of those. Are we just being religious? We have more than enough of that spirit. Are we just building our kingdom? We have way too much of this going on already.
I honestly pray I am totally wrong, but if this isn’t our attitude, then nothing is going to change in the Hebrew Roots movement. We will continue down the slippery slope eventually falling into the abyss of “form without any function”. It’s time to truly repent with sackcloth and ashes, return to our first love (Y’shua), gird our loins, get a skip in our step, start to obey Torah by loving our neighbor as our self, start taking care of one another, start taking care of the widow, start caring for the orphan, begin to fellowship with one another, build stronger and healthier relationships with our families, build strong and healthy relationships with those who are in our communities, and figure out ways to live Torah with all of those who live around us, even if they aren’t Torah observant. We need to learn to do these things instead of being a Torah terrorist and a pagan policeman. These are just a few steps that we all can take towards RESTORING the restoration movement. Just applying these few things I’ve mentioned would bring honor and glory to Y’shua and His Father YHVH. Is what you’re living for worth dying for? It was to Y’shua, his disciples, and the millions of martyrs. The ball is in our court.