Let us take a look. Do we see ourselves?
Most of the people I talk to, Christians of various stripes, Messianics of various brands and the odd assortment of non-believing individuals, all seem to agree on something. They all feel this world is in a lot of trouble, that the world may be headed for something of “Biblical proportions”. I love it when the media and other secular entities use that term, “Biblical Proportions”. Ha! For my own close associates the feeling is that we are very close to the beginning of the tribulation, those final days of woe which usher in the return of the Lord and the inauguration of the Messiah and His Kingdom. (May it come soon even in our days!) Some of my friends are died in the wool pre-tribulation folks of good heart, even if a bit weak in understanding the difference between scripture and what popular preachers are selling. I love them anyway and hope that they can love me as well, one who is stubborn and not quiet as open-minded about what I am convinced of on this matter.
So the Question goes like this; If we are indeed living in the last days before the coming of the Lord what should our lives look like? Some of the Church has to be those of the righteous ones who will suffer for their faith and testimony, they are a minority. And the rest, the majority, are the apostate who are in danger of compromise with the Anti-Christ and his political / military / religious union that is lurking just out of our view at this time. The difference between these two divisions is that one, the righteous will suffer persecution and hardships dished out by the Anti-Christ because of their faith in Yeshua and the other group will suffer the judgment of Yeshua, for their lack of faith and compromise with the Anti-Christ. Choose now as they say, for the time is short.
MT 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
How can we determine if we are doing the right thing and abiding in Christ? I think that when the tribulation fully begins it will be easier to determine your status. But for now we can look in the scriptures and find out how the true believers of the last days are described. They will have distinguishing characteristics. They will be known by their love and by their gentle nature which is a reflection of Christ. Helpful, Charitable, Patient, Understanding and stable not given over to every misleading doctrine or supposed prophetic word spoken in the church house. Here is the quick view of how John describes them in the Revelation, which of course places this description at the appropriate time, if it is as late as we seem to believe it is. Here we see the Devil, through his man Anti-Christ, trying to destroy the saints.
Rev 12: And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Yeshua gives a word of encouragement to those faithful ones during the tribulation.
Rev 14:  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.  And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
So the answer to our question is; If you are living as a child of God you will be persecuted by the beast system but in the face of this persecution you will hold faithfully to keep the commandments of God and maintain your testimony of Yeshua the Messiah. The righteous do both you see. They keep the commandments of God and have faith in Yeshua the Messiah! Right now I suspect that a few of you like brother David are wondering what I am saying. Is old Charles saying that we should all stop and turn around and become Jews or Tobys? (Torah Obedient believers in Yeshua) and start doing all things Jewish? No, that isn’t it. But let’s give it all a good look.
At one time I thought that maybe what these verses where trying to say is there are two groups of people here, one who keeps the law, the Jews, and the other saved through their faith, the Christians. That doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. The syntax does not support it. What is written says that this group does both things, obedient to the Law of God, and have a faithful testimony of the saving power of Yeshua. Another thing is that no one was ever saved by keeping the details of the law. The law leads us to faith in Yeshua. That is it’s purpose. It teaches us many things about what God expects and His nature but it is not a list of requirements that one must fulfill in order to be saved. What are we to do then about this law part? We are to live according to the law in the way that Yeshua taught it. He is the covenant head for the New covenant. Our salvation comes from trusting faith that what He has done pays for the penalty of our sins, and that His spirit given to us slowly molds us into His very image. And as we do, we find that the essential requirements of the law are fulfilled in us. Like Paul said:
Ro 2:  (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:  Which show the work of the law written in their hearts
In the days before the flood God’s prophet, Enoch gave to the children of men a law, and books according to the teachings that guided men of that first age. In the end it was only a small minority who were right with God, eight to be exact. In the days of Abraham, 430 years before Moshe would be given the Torah on Sinai there was a code of ethics, a law, a Torah that the righteous followed by their faith. This may have been the laws given through Enoch and passed down to the faithful even taken aboard the ark of Noach. According to the scriptures and the chronology given Noach was still alive when Abraham was a young man.
Abraham had faith and did what pleased God and that was counted the same as keeping the Torah even before the Torah was given. Faithfulness is counted as righteousness.
Gen 26:  And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
How did Abraham the father of faith do this? First off he obeyed God’s voice. That means that he sought Gods face and listened for His word. And he Kept His Charge which means that Abraham did what God told him to do. And when we look at the life of Abraham we find a man of faith, one who believes in the one God, seeks Him, listens for Him, does what he is convinced God is saying to Him. And this then is expressed in Abraham’s life. He was a man of charity. A man of stature, that is to say he had the respect of those around him, a man who was recognized as special; A man who had honor and had principles that reflected a relationship with God. Did he make mistakes and have sin in his life? Yes! But he repented and went back to God and did everything that he could to do what God was showing him.
That is how we also live by the law, the Torah of the New Covenant. We become disciples and emulate as best we can, the Messiah’s life in us. We live according to the Torah written on our hearts. This is, after all, the feature of the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31: :  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
You see the key part of this is knowing the Lord. You have a personal, living relationship with God just as Abraham did. Only greater because of the gift of the Holy Spirit in you. No one needs to tell you to discover the Lord, because He dwells within you regardless of your worldly status, whether or not you are a priest or preacher, a king or statesman, or a common share-cropper / Wage earner. This comes from allowing Yeshua to come into you and live in and through you by His Holy Spirit. This assures us that God has forgiven our iniquity (Lawlessness) and has washed away the record of our sins. Yes, Iniquity really means to be without the law, to be outside of what the law demands whether by choice or by ignorance. And so like Abraham who sometimes made bad choices and got himself separated from the Lord’s intended path, we too go back and repent and God sets us back on the right path. Can we ever wrap our heads around this? God, through the blood atonement of Yeshua, paid the price for our sins, and condemned the sinful nature that is in us, always making us do things contrary to the law and therefore practicing iniquity,
Ro 8:  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
He sets all that aside, our sin, our fleshy nature and only sees the life of Yeshua shining out from within us. Whether that is a great deal of light or just a tiny spark of life, God sees that and it is enough.
Matt 12:  A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.  And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
I am a Gentile and it is the finished work of Yeshua on the cross that I trust. In the truth of His resurrection where I place my Hope. And even though I have iniquity and fail to keep the law perfectly, there is a little smoldering candle wick slowly burning in my heart that just won’t go out and Yeshua will take that little bit and say, it is enough.
So are we keeping the commandments of God? Maybe more than we think. The law leads us to have faith in God and the Messiah and it tells us how to live in a faith relationship with God. And that we do more and more each day and will do so by greater amounts as the end draws near. Keep your lamps burning like those faithful 10 brides maids. Trim you wicks so that your light is bright and clear to light the way for those who are coming with us. May our faith grow day by day.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Jewish adventures in the diaspora.
Scripture, ethics and spiritual formation