One Torah For All

One Torah shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Exodus 12:49

Putting one’s attention where it belongs

Ivrim (Hebrews) 12:2
Focusing on Yeshua the Author and Perfecter of our faith

Nearly every one of us has either asked or been asked the question as to whether one is saved. Is this a legitimate question? What is the focus of this question? Please note that the focus of this question is directed towards an event in a person’s past. Once the answer to said question is attained, then a judgment is rendered, which may or may not be accurate. A better question would be, “Do you have a current relationship with Mashiach Yeshua?” This question not only answers the other question, but also the answer to this question gives up to date information, which the question of salvation experience does not, as it is focused in the past rather than in the present.

There may be a subtle difference between Mashiach and the work of Mashiach, but there is a difference nonetheless! If one is not focused upon the Person of Mashiach, then by default, he is focused upon something else. Furthermore, if one is not focused upon Mashiach, then he is most likely going to go astray. What one focuses upon is that which he goes toward!

In automobile accidents, if there is a tree or a pole near one’s path, the vehicle will nearly always hit it. Extensive studies have been done concerning this phenomenon and it is so pronounced that even if there is only one tree around it is more than likely that the vehicle out of control will hit it. Why? It was found that the attention of the driver would lock onto that one tree and because their focus was on that one tree, the vehicle would smash right into it. If one wishes to avoid such a collision, then he must discipline himself not to look at that one tree. What one focuses upon is that which he goes toward!

Some may think that we are being nitpicky making a separation between Mashiach and the work of Mashiach in this manner. However, let us consider one item in particular concerning the difference between being focused upon Him rather than upon His work.

B’reshit (Genesis) 3:6
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

The woman Chavah (Eve) was focused upon the tree. The tree was the work of our Creator’s hands. That is, this tree was made by Yeshua. Rather than focusing upon the Creator, she focused upon the work of the Creator. Look what happened. There was one tree in the center of the garden and because she was focused upon that one tree, she crashed right into it. What one focuses upon is that which he goes toward!

Ivrim (Hebrews) 12:1
Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Please note that there are many encumbrances to the race which we all run. That is, the encumbrances for each person are different and unique to each person. However, there is only one sin; this sin is singular and common to all of mankind. That sin is the self-nature of man. Man struggles more with himself than he does with anything outside of himself. This sin often manifests itself as pride, but not always. Basically, it is the mindset of “what’s in it for me?”

This was the focus of Chavah. Please note what the passage from B’reshit 3:6 says concerning her focus. She saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food (for her). She saw that the fruit of the tree was a delight to her eyes. She saw that it would make her wise. Everything that she saw about the fruit of this tree was good (in her reasoning). But she was focused upon the fruit of the tree. Had she been focused upon the Creator (as she should have been) rather than upon His work (tree/fruit), she also would have seen that He had commanded her not to eat the fruit of this particular tree.

We can point the finger of accusation at Chavah and Adam, but each one of us does the exact same thing, nearly every day. Something grabs our attention and we focus upon it. We obsess about it. We want it. After all, it will help me in my work in the kingdom! At least this is what we tell ourselves, convince ourselves to be true. However, when we do that, are we focused upon Yeshua? No! No, one is not focused upon Yeshua; he is focused upon what Yeshua can do for him. To do the work of the kingdom, the only thing one needs is Yeshua! Nothing else is required. He does equip us in other ways, but these things are not necessary, only helpful.

When one is focused upon what Yeshua can do for him, Yeshua becomes nothing more than a genii in a bottle, a person to grant one that which he desires. I submit to you that such a mindset and action is nothing short of idolatry. Yeshua is not the focus, rather the focus is what one wants to get from Him. What is in it for me? What benefit will come to me? Sure, we placate ourselves with a lot of platitudes about how it will help us serve Yeshua better. But He does not want our service so much as He wants us! If He was only interested in our service to Him, He could easily have made a bunch of automatons, and had a lot less trouble for His efforts. Humans are a troublesome lot. However, He created within us the power of choice, because He wants us to choose Him. He has already chosen us in Mashiach Yeshua. Now He desires for us to reciprocate and choose Him. He wants us to be in a relationship with Him. Sadly, few actually choose Him. They would rather have what He has to offer, that is, His gifts. Most are focused upon the benefits rather than the Benefactor.

That is the true difference in one’s focus as to whether it is upon the Person of Mashiach or focused upon His work. The former is all about having a right relationship with Mashiach. The latter is all about what He can do for me. Those who focus on having a right relationship with Mashiach Yeshua also treat their fellow servants with more kindness and compassion. Those whose focus is upon what Yeshua can do for them tend to treat their fellow servants as objects (because they treat Yeshua as an object); people to be used to get what they want. The kindness and compassion are seriously lacking or altogether absent from all their relationships, both with their fellow man as well as with their Creator.

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 for by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of Elohim;
9 not of works, that any man should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Mashiach Yeshua for good works, which Elohim Beforehand prepared that we should walk in them.

There are two basic camps of focus on how a person enters into the kingdom of Elohim. One camp focuses upon the truth that it is by the grace of YHWH and not of oneself. There are those within this camp whose focus is so acute that to even suggest anything remotely akin to keeping a commandment, any commandment, is to these people akin to attempting to earn one’s salvation by works of the Law. Thus, it is soundly condemned.

The other camp focuses upon the truth that the Torah (Law) has not been done away with and one is still expected to live by the standard set forth therein. Many within this camp focus upon this truth to the point that they seem to forget that salvation came to them through the grace of Elohim.

Both camps can and do use the above passage in support for their particular position. However, what they seem to fail to realize is the other side in this ongoing debate is also present in the above passage. However, even if they do realize both positions are present, what seems to elude the grasp of either group is that to focus upon either position is to lead one away from Mashiach Yeshua, not towards Him.

As we examined above, to focus upon anything other than the Person of Mashiach Yeshua is to focus upon the wrong thing. All truth belongs to Him, and to exclude any part of His truth is to end up with something less than the truth, as He has commanded us not only not to add to His word, but also not to take away from it either.

If one is focused upon His grace, then such a person is focused upon His work. If one if focused upon His Torah, then such a person is also focused upon His work. Both are focused upon His work, only upon different aspects of His work, but His work nonetheless. While both of these positions are extremely important in a person’s life, neither position is actually correct. A person in either position may unwittingly exclude themselves from the Olam Haba (World to Come).

What happens when one focuses upon the wrong thing is he fails to build up that which is right, in this case, a deep abiding relationship with His Master.

Let us take prayerful note of the following words of Yeshua.

Matithyah (Matthew) 7:21-23
21 “Not every one that says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy by Your name, and by Your name cast out demons, and by Your name do many mighty works?’
23 And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’”

Please note that those to whom Yeshua was conversing in the future had done many things in His name, good things. Notice what they were focused on; they were focused on their works. Notice what Yeshua directs their attention towards; they did not have a relationship with Him, He did not know them.

Also, please note that Yeshua states that it shall be “many” who do this. We have witnessed this ourselves, people focusing upon the wrong thing, that is, they are not focusing upon their relationship with Yeshua. Rather, they are focused upon many other things like doing good, or living right, or fill in the blank. Now mind you, each one of these things is right and good and should be a part of a person’s life, but it must not be the focus of his life. The only thing that really matters is building up and strengthening one’s relationship with Him. Furthermore, one needs to help others do the same; it is the expression of true love, helping others to love Him.

One’s reaction to this truth may be knee-jerk, that is denial. However, each one of us is guilty of it to some degree (including me). Each one of us needs to check his focus from time to time to make sure that it is squarely upon Yeshua and not upon the task He has given us to do for Him.

We see a wonderful example of the proper focus in the life of Avraham when Elohim commanded him to go and offer his son as a burnt offering. Had Avraham been focused upon the task YHWH had commanded him to do, I submit to you that Yitzchaq would have died that day. However, Avraham was not focused upon the task YHWH commanded him to do, He was focused upon his relationship with the Almighty. Thus, when YHWH spoke a second time to stay his hand from striking his son, Avraham heard and obeyed once again.

How many of us are more like a dog with a new bone: nothing shall separate us from our new focus. Even though it was YHWH who gave us the new bone, we focus upon it rather than upon Him, the Giver. I fear we do this all too often! And if the Giver asks for us to return that which He has given us, do we give it back with joy (think: Avraham), or respond like a two year old and emphatically declare, “No! Mine! After all, YHWH gave it to me! It’s mine to keep!”

Wrong focus will lead one to the wrong place.

Right focus will lead one to the right place.

What are you focused upon today?

What one focuses upon is that which he goes toward!

Shabbat Shalom
Zerubbabel ben Emunah