Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Romans 14-16
I’m going to speak in broad strokes regarding our whole reading today rather than focusing too much on particular verses as I think that is the best way to approach these chapters. I do want to begin by pointing out that Paul was a Jew and at this point in our reading he has already responded “Heaven forbid!” each and every time the suggestion of YHWH’s law being made somehow void or diminished was addressed.
Paul is addressing a problem in chapter 14 and the truth is that we don’t know what exactly the problem is. Remember we are only reading one side of an exchange of letters. Throughout the centuries, there has been much debate on what he could be addressing. We do know that he is offering guidance on how the more spiritually mature (Messianic Jews) should behave towards those new in the faith (Messianic Gentiles) so as to allow them time to grow and develop in the faith.
In His grace and love, the Father leads us, step by step, bit by bit. Can you imagine showing up to the first day of an advanced math class and being expected to take the final exam? Of course not. Instead, you are taught bit by bit, step by step, and allowed time to learn and grow at a workable pace.
It is important to know that, Biblically (according to YHWH), animals that YHWH has not sanctioned as food are simply not considered food- ever, especially by Jews living in this time. A good analogy is that I can tell you that you are welcome in my home and you can eat anything in the house. Does that mean you can eat my kitchen trash can? Of course not, it is not food. Just as you and I would not consider a cat or a rat to be food, neither would Paul because YHWH does not consider them to be food.
So what is he talking about, then? A key thing to realize is that Paul is speaking to believers living in Rome. Rome was a highly polytheistic society, with many gods being worshipped throughout. Part of this meant that many gods were being sacrificed to. Now, if a seller in the market had meat it was more likely than not that they had sacrificed that meat in the name of whatever god they worshipped before selling it – or dedicated it to that god before butchering it in hopes of having a good profit. This makes many believers uncomfortable still today when they discover some food is “halal”, part of which means it was killed in the name of the Muslim god.
Can you understand their discomfort back then, diligently seeking to live according to the Father’s word and honor him and then to not know if they are purchasing meat that was killed in a way that showed honor to a false god? This is just one of many uncomfortable situations with regards to food. It was a difficult time for a Jew to know what was and was not okay to eat and so some did resort to just playing it safe and sticking with vegetables – goodness knows Ricky and I have done that very same thing on several occasions!
Romans 14:5 some translations say that “some esteem one day more holy than another…” Note that the word “Holy” does not appear in the original text but was added later by translators to some translations. You can see that here: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/romans/14-5.htm This is not about YHWH’s Holy days, which He stated are forever (I trust in His word above all others).
Also, during this time in Rome different days were named in order to honor varying gods and some superstitiously looked at some days as better than others for business and such as a result of which god they represented. Some days were also considered “lucky”. In addition to this, the Jews had set apart certain days of the week for fasting and held these up as if they were commanded by YHWH. Do I think that is what Paul is talking about here? Yes, but we’d have to ask Paul to be sure.
I do know that he is not talking about abolishing the Holy days that YHWH set in place and that he himself worked so hard to diligently honor. However, here the word holy was not part of this initial conversation but was “written back in” later. If Paul was trying to say that Holy days are done away with and any part of YHWH’s law is no longer valid to us, he would have been making himself out to be a hypocrite and openly contradicting what he just said previously and repeatedly. He also disqualifies himself according to Deuteronomy 13, which he would have been made well aware of in his advanced education as a Pharisee.
(I also know that our Heavenly Father is far smarter than us and knew full well what “forever” and “throughout your generations” meant when He said those statements. )
His ways are not ours, but we should choose His ways over ours whenever possible!
Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Approaching this verse from a modern Christian mindset that has been trained to look on our Jewish brethren as faulty, we often see this verse as bearing the opposite of its intended meaning. The “weak in faith” is referring to new converts, who are still learning the ways of the Father and as such, will try to bring in their own “holy” days, ways of worship, etc and meld them with what Scripture teaches. This is Syncretism and although the Father openly, clearly, and outright condemns this practice time and time again in His word, when you have people who are new to His word and His ways, we have to give them time to see that. We all start out with opinions and we all start out with just a few pieces of the puzzle which we will inevitably try to use as if they are the whole puzzle, making them fit where we can and filling in the gaps with whatever knowledge we have. We should be patient and loving with others, especially those new in the faith or new in their understanding of that faith.
I came across a great quote in my study, by David Stern, “Where Scripture gives clear word, personal opinion must give way.”
Folks, I’m not here to win converts to how I walk. Rather than offer me any reason to turn from the Father’s Word, today gives us but a deeper understanding of issues that our ancestors in the faith had to deal with.
Essentially, there are two ways of looking at today’s passages: One is from a Hebrew mindset, viewing it within the context and culture of which it was written. The second is from a modern Christian perspective, viewing it through the filter of our own context and culture.
Two people approaching it from the two different perspectives will walk away with entirely different take aways.
At the end of the day, people will believe what they want to believe but that doesn’t make Truth any less true.
Let us continue to love one another as we read the Scriptures and seek, not to be right, but what is right, knowing that YHWH is the source of all truth and righteousness.
And with that, we have completed another book. Rak Chazak!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!