Consider for a moment:
If everyone called the Heavenly Father "Yahweh", who would still call Him "The Lord"?
If everyone called the Messiah "Yahushua", who would still call Him "Jesus"?
If everyone kept the 7th day Sabbath, who would ignore it or keep it on a Sunday?
If everyone kept the Feasts of Yahweh rather than Christmas and Easter, who would still keep Christmas and Easter?
Remember the words of Yahweh:
Jere 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, Yahweh, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Truly, it is not us who tests the heart, but Yahweh judges even the INTENT of the thoughts of our heart (1chron. 28:9).
We should know then the deceitfulness of tradition. It isn't easy going against the grain. It isn't easy being different. But we CAN NOT let that affect our view of the truth. For what is right is not necessarily popular and what is popular is not necessarily right.
Traditions exist in both Mainstream Judaism and Christianity
As each day passes, I see more and more of Yahweh's people from a Mainstream Christian background coming in contact with with more of Yahweh's people from a Mainstream Judaism background. This is absolutely wonderful (and prophetic!). With this, it seems evident that each bring along what I like to call "Baggage". "Baggage" is usually in the form of thought patterns or traditions that have been carried over from each one's previous denominations or religions.
What should we do with this "Baggage"? I believe that we should inspect each others baggage as well as our own to see if it conforms with Yahweh's word. I do not believe that all traditions are bad. Here is one tradition that is mentioned in Scripture:
Genesis 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip in the muscle that shrank.
In this text, there is no command to refrain from eating this muscle but we see a tradition that started in honor of Jacob. There are other traditions within Mainstream Judaism that have been carried over into Messianic Judaism. I believe we must be diligent to consider where these traditions got their start. We should not assume that they got their start in scriptural ways.
The same is true of traditions carried over from mainstream Christianity. It is evident that Christmas, Easter and many other such customs got their start in unscriptural ways. Remember what Yahweh said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of Yahweh thy Elohim 29 When Yahweh thy Elohim shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so unto Yahweh thy Elohim: for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
From this (and Jeremiah 10) we learn that Yahweh doesn't want us picking up practices from the heathen. We also learn that He doesn't want us adding to His commandments. Yahushua warned that tradition can even cause us to break Yahweh's commandments:
Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of Elohim, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of Elohim, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Therefore, I would gather from scripture that we must keep in mind a few principles when coming across baggage and traditions:
1. Be absolutely sure it didn't come from pagan sources.
2. Be absolutely sure it doesn't break a commandment of Yahweh.
3. Don't make it into a commandment by looking down on others for not keeping to the tradition.
Perhaps there are more principles as well. I think that it is important that we shouldn't assume that because those of us from a Christian background are experienced with Messianic or "new testament" scripture, that our baggage is somehow more likely to meet the above principles. And we shouldn't assume that because those of us from a Judaism background are more experienced with the Tanakh or "Old Testament" scripture, that our baggage is somehow more likely to meet the above principles. I believe we have much to learn from one another. May we all learn from one another, "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!" (Eph 4:3).
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