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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Twenty-Fourth (PSA)

God is good! Amen?! I hope you had a great week and were not only able to see YHWH's work in your life or others, but also that you were able to find some details and connections in His word that you hadn't seen before. We'll get to the title for this week in due time, but as a summary, we're going to spend some time contemplating the beginning and then pull that into what we see today in the world. So, let's get to it!

This week a song came on that has special meaning to our family now: Weary Traveler, by Jordan St. Cyr. There's a key phrase in that song on which the Holy Spirit got me thinking. It says, "you were never meant to walk this road alone," and while I can only assume what was meant by that statement, I believe the original intention was for it to be a statement about Yeshua walking with us.

This, of course, is mighty encouraging in and of itself, but as I heard it this week it made me think of what it was like in the Garden. We've looked at it before, but as a refresher, YHWH's original intention was to walk with us occasionally as we went about our day (Genesis 3:8). This is actually a fascinating verse to take a look at because there are some interesting words chosen.

First, you'll find that some translations use the word "voice" for what Adam and Eve heard from YHWH, while others say "sound." The Hebrew word used is qol, which seems to mean generally sound and then based on context it could also mean voice. In this instance, I lean toward "sound" being the more accurate translation since it's the sound of YHWH walking and His voice walking doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Second, you'll also notice that He was walking during a specific time of the day. The phrase used is that YWHW was mithalak baggan leruah hayyowm, which literally translated is "walking in the garden in the wind of the day." However, the same word for wind in Hebrew is used for spirit. So, perhaps there was a time of day appointed that YHWH would spiritually walk through the garden?!

Whatever that phrase was meant to say, it clearly shows YHWH's design was that we walk with Him regularly, so we really were never meant to walk this road alone! And we lost the privilege of that close relationship when sin entered the world. But that's the interesting part, isn't it? Because when you think about it, what really was that first sin? The tree was of the knowledge of good and evil, and when the transgression occurred it was clear that YHWH identified a change in Adam and Eve such that they were like them (meaning like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) (Genesis 3:22).

This change resulted in YHWH having to prevent Adam and Eve from accessing the tree of life and living forever, but if they didn't know good and evil, right and wrong, prior to this then how would they have known eating of the tree was wrong? They had no concept of wrong prior to eating of it, they were simply given a command by YHWH. So, when you look at it that way, it wasn't that they chose to do wrong it was that they chose themselves over Him.

Yes, in our eyes what they chose is wrong because we know of good and evil, but outside of the context of right and wrong it was a decision to follow YHWH or not follow YHWH. It was a decision to look to YHWH for what we should do or not do, or look to ourselves to decide what to do or not do. In fact, that's the same choice everyone has today. But if we aren't following YHWH, who are we following? In the garden, Eve followed the serpent. Adam followed Eve.

In fact, this may be the very first instance of peer pressure. Eve gave the fruit to Adam. Adam was the one given the commandment by YHWH (Genesis 2:17). Rather than hold fast to the commandment of YHWH, Adam did what someone else did because she gave it to him to eat after she ate it. It reminds me of the drugs Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that were so prevalent as I was growing up. But more on that later!

This peer pressure issue is actually the root to many issues in society today. We're conditioned from our childhood to act a certain way in public, making sure we have public approval. At home we can "be ourselves." What has that led to, though? A society that's so focused on the acceptance or approval of others they'll compromise their own beliefs, or at least not question what they're being told, to just go along with the crowd.

It doesn't stop at being coerced to do something to ourselves. People are peer pressured into hating others, too. In fact, when you get down to it, the things people are peer pressured into contradict the things placed in our heart by YHWH.

Like I said, I grew up watching PSAs about "just say[ing] no to drugs," that were set in a scene of a kid getting peer pressured, and I find it very interesting that while others in my generation grew up on the same PSAs they are among the most outspoken about things they're trying to peer pressure others into. I guess, to be fair, they were not PSAs about not peer pressuring others!

But it's not just peer pressure in the world, it also happens in Christianity. Some theologian(s) or group of religious leaders comes together and interprets scripture, telling others what they're supposed to believe about what it says. As we identified before, people are no different now than they were back in the time of Yeshua and you can see evidence of this peer pressure even in scripture.

When Paul wrote about not letting others judge the Colossians about the new moons, Sabbaths and religious festivals they followed, it was not to say they could go observe whatever they wanted, it was to give them strength to not give in to the peer pressure of the pagan society they were living in (Colossians 2:16). There were pagans and angel-worshippers (Colossians 2:18) that were more than likely trying to peer pressure them into doing the same rituals and observances the rest of the city was doing.

When James said the apostles should tell Gentiles a subset of things they should abstain from, it wasn't to say that's the only thing they had to observe (Acts 15:20). It was to say these are the things they should specifically call out, because those same Gentiles that turned to Jesus were hearing all the other religious festivals and new moons weekly when in the synagogues on Shabbat (Acts 15:21). The apostles focused on some key aspects initially, so as not to overwhelm the new converts, and the rest would come in time since they were already observing the Sabbath and hearing scripture in the synagogue, so they would hear and follow the rest of scripture as they heard it.

When Yeshua stated that He was sent to set the captives free, He was not saying free from YHWH's or Yeshua's commandments (Luke 4:18). The word for captive here is specific to being a prisoner of war, aichmalotos. The freedom is from the consequence of death, which is what was imputed on Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:22), not from the commandments themselves. The war is between good and evil, and the prisoners are those captive in death. Following His commandment is the one and only thing YHWH wanted from Adam and Eve, so why would He free us from following His commandments now?

These verses, among so many others, have been touted by religious leaders and theologians, and regurgitated by those that take their word as gospel, using them to peer pressure people into believing them rather than YHWH's word. What have you accepted or conformed to, whether in the flesh or in the spirit, because of peer pressure, or because some supposed "expert" said it? Maybe in the flesh they told you if you took something it'll keep you from getting sick, but you ended up getting even more sick than you had been before. Maybe in the spirit they gave you a few verses of scripture and told you what they meant, but really it just helped to push beliefs they were trying to get you to accept.

Find out what those things are and get rid of them! It's time to think critically, and study things for yourself. YHWH's word speaks for itself, and it's not that hard to understand the basics. He wants you to dig in and have a relationship with Him!

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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