Read the Warning Label!

Yom Teruah is a crucial yet overlooked holiday in the Bible which occurs annually each fall.  ‘Yom Teruah’ can be translated as “Day of A Loud Shout”, or “Day of the Trumpet Blast”, and has several nicknames, such as “That Day”, and “The Day That No Man Knows The Day Nor Hour.”  This particular essay is simply an introduction to the next several posts explaining the importance of this day.  This year (2021) Yom Teruah will occur on the evening of September 6th (the date may vary based on honest differences in understanding.)

When I was in my early 20’s, living in out in San Francisco, I worked for a company that sold natural products of all sorts–mostly supplements, water filters, and plant-based cleaning products. There was a routine sales presentation that occurred regularly throughout the day, where each product line would be demonstrated to potential new clients. One memorable occasion was my very first opportunity to be the presenter.  Unlike the more successful and rehearsed salesmen, my audience was only three people—normally there were fifty or more, including the entire sales team who always sat in on the pitch to provide extra enthusiasm to the room.  Seeing this larger show repetitively, for months, was where I had learned the three act play that I was about to star in.

First, I would go to the carefully arranged supplements, and show how two electrodes placed in an ordinary shot glass of water would not carry enough current to light up a connected light bulb…but voila—add some liquid minerals and it lit right up. So goes the shot glass—so goes your body—or at least so went my script.

Secondly, I’d go to a glass of ordinary tap water, and add a few drops of a swimming-pool chlorine test. Sure enough, the water turned bright yellow, indicating that the chlorine in our drinking water was as high as a swimming pool’s. I’d pour that same water through our filter…and voila—the water returned to clear.  “Buy a filter, or be a filter”, was the closing line—and it always raised eyebrows.

Finally, I came to a dozen natural cleaning products, among them: toilet cleaner, dish-soap, de-greaser, and lemon disinfectant. The routine was to paint a verbal picture of the deadly poisons under your kitchen sink, and the obvious and avoidable danger that would present to both children and the environment.  The schtick involved opening the cherry scented toilet bowl cleaner, dipping the tippy tip of a pinky in the solution, and licking it off. “Would you do THAT with the chemical cleaner under your own sink?” was the shocking question to the crowd.

However, on this, my stage debut, I had been gathering momentum with the first two successful stages, and in retrospect had also had gained a bit of prideful swagger before this final act.  Instead of grabbing the toilet cleaner, I grabbed the lemon disinfectant.  Instead of effortlessly opening the screw cap, I briefly struggled with the child-proof cap, and instead of dipping in my finger, I took a swig directly from the bottle.  My throat immediately seized up, and my first thought was the potential death of this hot sale. I struggled to speak, and the back of my throat began to fill with foam. I attempted to play it off as slap-stick stagecraft, but ran to the bathroom to rinse, and rinse, and rinse—leaving the clients alone and likely staring at one another in disbelief.  Thankfully, it didn’t take long to recover enough to give everyone my card and usher them out the door, locking it behind them.  Alone, looking closer at the bottle, I noticed for the first time, the label, “Do Not Ingest – Call Poison Control Immediately”.  The one bottle I chose was the only one with the warning label. 

Biblically speaking, there is also an overlooked warning label that can cause similar symptoms to chugging lemon disinfectant. 

It’s in 2 Peter 3:15-17, “…our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. Therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” 

This warning label is applied by Peter to all of Paul’s letters—setting Paul’s letters apart as the only words in all of Scripture that come with such a warning.  Peter walked with Messiah, before and after his resurrection, and here in his own letter he’s pleading with his contemporary fellow followers of Messiah to not fall into the trap of lawlessness.  The error of becoming lawless, Peter warns, results in both confusion and the resulting consequences. That 2000 year-old-trap is still set today and most fall into it by accidentally simply by misunderstanding the “hard to understand” words of Paul. 

Every word in the Old Testament shows God’s Law as an eternal blessing for every believer for all time.  Israel was given the Law so as to be a blessing and a light to the nations.  The four gospels show Messiah repeatedly placing the highest emphasis on The Sabbath, the Holy Days, and every aspect other of the Law of Moses.  The Book of Acts proves that the earliest believers, both Jew and Gentile, honored the Law through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This includes Paul himself who visits synagogues on the seventh day Sabbath to preach the gospel of the risen Messiah powerfully and with amazing results.  Each and every “Non-Pauline” epistle, and every word of Revelation continues to endorse, underscore, and magnify both the Law and the Prophets. 

Peter’s warning was necessary because he witnessed new congregations falsely teaching and believing that Paul taught something new.   He saw them living lifestyles that looked different than the lawful way Messiah walked.  Peter was exactly right.  If Paul’s words are read out-of-context, certain verses can sound like they are discouraging obedience to God’s Law, or giving The Church some sort of license or authority to create their own rules and traditions.

Here’s an excellent example: 

Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food or drink, or with regard to a festival or new moon, or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ”. 

For the first half of my walk as a Christian, my various pastors (and eventually myself) used these verses to dismiss the Holy Feasts and the Sabbath as “fulfilled” and “done away with”.  When believers with a more accurate point of view tried to teach me the truth, I’d smugly pull out Paul’s verse in the same way I that pulled off the child-proof cap.  This lack of understanding is what naturally happens when you don’t first read Peter’s warning label and take it to heart. 

Paul is actually saying the exact opposite of what seemed obvious in my ignorant and unstable lawless mind.  Paul’s letter was specifically to encourage former “pagans” who have freshly adopted the ways of Messiah, ways that always align with the ways of Moses.  These Colossians that Paul was addressing, were struggling with the same adjustments every “new-to-Moses” former gentile struggles with…friends, family, and an entire culture who thinks that the weekly Sabbath, the annual Feasts, and even the biblical dietary laws are silly, inappropriate, or in our contemporary struggle–ironically somehow un-Christian.  As Paul himself clarifies within only a few verses, he is talking about “human precepts and teachings” (vs 22) and “self-made religion” (vs 23). It’s man-made traditions Paul finds dangerous—especially when confused with the bonafide Holiness and of the pure God-given commands Messiah preached and held tightly to—even unto death.

Hundreds of years after Messiah ascended, the earliest form of the Roman Catholic church also ignored Peter’s warning entirely.  In their lawless confusion, they continued to persecute those who held to Scripture, while at the same time manufacturing religious holidays of their own invention.  Also, ignoring Paul, they encouraged “human precepts and teachings” to become the norm in their congregations.  If you call Sunday “The Lord’s Day”, or celebrate Christmas, Easter, or Lent (the least subtle examples) you are simply following the path those errant believers paved 1600 years ago.  As a new believer, and even as an ignorant teacher, my intentions were good.   Good intentions didn’t make my lifestyle any less lawless.   The saddest part is that every one of those man-made holidays actually has a biblical counterpart.  To see that we have to embrace Peter’s warning, re-read Paul, and then bury our noses in scripture and history—not simply leave them blindly in tradition.  

Can a nose be blind?   Mixed metaphor.  Sorry.

Paul in his intended context is completely correct.  The Sabbath and The Feasts are shadows of things to come—and the substance is indeed Christ.  For example, there are three Feasts, lawfully commanded in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) that take place each Fall:

Yom Teruah (the 1st day of the biblical 7th month) celebrates Messiah’s second coming, the resurrection of all believers, and the start of Messiah’s 1000 year reign.   (I’ll be posting ad nauseam on this topic until Mid September).

Yom Kippur (the 10th day of the 7th month) celebrates the atonement our perfect High Priest offers, as well as the promised and permanent destruction of all evil forever.  

Sukkot (days 15-22 of month 7) celebrates the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, and the final re-creation of a new Heaven and a new earth.  

Honoring these celebrations keep the as-yet-to-be-fulfilled biblical events in the forefront of our minds and lives.  These are not Jewish holidays, they are solidly Christian in every possible way. 

Subscribe below.  I’ll be posting several articles that will explore additional angles of what Yom Teruah is all about.  The next post will be an overview of all 7 Biblical celebrations– and the complete gospel that The Father is teaching us when we honoring them in their commanded order.  

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