Does the Torah support pro-choice?

An exegetical study of Exodus 21:22-25

This week in the light of the recent supreme court Roe V. Wade overturn, I have had several people ask if the Torah really supports abortion. The answer is clearly no.

One of the most important parts about theology is making sure your views within the complete lens of scripture agree. This is partly why denominations exist. The theory is that a denominations theology and doctrinal positions should agree with each other. Unfortunately, they usually don’t agree causing even more problems behind denominational lines. For instance, if you interpret one place in the Bible such as Exodus 21:22-25 to say that life must begin at physical birth there are simply way too many verses to try to reconcile to fit this idea (see the partial list below.) Therefore, you have to go back and ask how else might the one verse that doesn’t seem to agree or fit with the rest may be misinterpreted or reinterpreted to fit within the understanding of the rest of the verses that so plainly seem to describe humanity beginning at conception.

Many pro-choice advocates (especially within traditional Judaism) have tried to use Exodus 21:22-25 to prove that the Bible (and specifically Torah) would not hold life before birth equal to life after. This unfortunately is based on terrible translations. I am most surprised by traditional Jewish sources that seem to advocate for this as when you read this text in Hebrew there is nearly zero grounds to understand the text that way.

The RSV is one translation that supports the pro-choice conclusion. If you follow my Youtube channel or many of my posts you will know that I typically do not prefer the RSV, it reads,

When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

There are some theological problems with the RSV interpretation. The RSV assumes that a “miscarriage” happens, and the fetus is born dead. The text doesn’t say that. The NIV does not assume that a miscarriage happened. The NIV translates the text like this:

If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life . . .

The difference is significant. The NIV implies the child is born alive. But when you read it in Hebrew, even using a good interlinear, you would even read it significantly more in this way. Remember when most of these translations were written, abortion wasn’t a debate or option. In many ways we are trying to read our modern view, or problems into an ancient text.

Consider this interlinear translation: And when men fight and strike a pregnant woman (‘ishah harah) and her children (yeladeyha) go forth (weyatse’u), and there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the husband of the woman may put upon him; and he shall give by the judges. But if there is injury, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

The phrase translated as “and the children go forth” the RSV translates this as a miscarriage while the NIV translates it as a premature live birth.

When looking at the Hebrew and perhaps the NIV translation you might consider the Hebrew verb for miscarry or lose by abortion or be bereaved of the fruit of the womb, namely, shakal. It is used in Exodus 23:26, “None shall miscarry (meshakelah) or be barren in your land.” But this word is NOT used here in Exodus 21:22-25. We have very specific words in Hebrew unlike English which only has a couple options. (For instance, in English we say worship, in Hebrew we have at least 7 specific words for types of worship.)

The Hebrew word for birth here is “go forth” (ytsa’). Nowhere else in the Bible or anywhere else in extra biblical sources does this word ever refer to a miscarriage or abortion. In other words, treating it this way is terrible theology and has no hermeneutical grounds. When it refers to a birth it refers to live children “going forth” or “coming out” from the womb. For example, Genesis 25:25, “And the first came out (wyetse’) red, all of him like a hairy robe; and they called his name Esau.” (See also v. 26 and Genesis 38:28-30.)

Furthermore, the common Hebrew word for miscarry is NOT used but a word is used that elsewhere does not mean miscarry but ordinary live birth. If the text meant to say or imply this, there are other words in the Bible that clearly mean this that would have been used such as (golemPsalm 139:16) or nephelJob 3:16Psalm 58:8Ecclesiastes 6:3).

Rather here, the ordinary word for children is used in Exodus 21:22 (yeladeyha). It regularly refers to children who are born. “Yeled only denotes a child, as a fully developed human being, and not the fruit of the womb before it has assumed a human form” (Keil and Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol. 2, p. 135).

In other words, when you study the Hebrew, (even if you don’t know Hebrew but simply use and interlinear), there is no miscarriage in this text. The child is born pre-maturely and is protected with the mother. If the child is injured there is to be recompense as with the injury of the mother.

The RSV translation has caused some issues with modern world abortion problems, but when you read the Hebrew it comes off quite differently. As I also mentioned, we need to be very careful we don’t read our modern ideas into the ancient text. This would also be poor hermeneutics.

This said, the church could do better. We need to care for the marginalized much better. Love Grace and Mercy to all our neighbors.

-Dr. Will Ryan

ProLife Bible Verses

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (Psalm 139:13,15)

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27)

“Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3)

Listen to me, O coastlands,  and give attention, you peoples  from afar.    The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name… And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him—for  I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,  and my God has become my strength. (Isaiah 49:1,5)

“Be fertile and multiply” (Genesis 1:28)

“And Isaac besought the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and he heard him, and made Rebecca to conceive. But the children struggled in her womb…” (Genesis 25:21-22)

“In the womb he supplanted his brother, and as a man he contended with God.” (Hosea 12:3)

“But when Rebecca also had conceived at once of Isaac our father. For when the children were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil (that the purpose of God according to election might stand) . . .” (Romans 9:10-11)

Yet you are he who  took me from the womb;  you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.  On you was I cast from my birth, and from  my mother’s womb you have been my God. (Psalms 22:9-10)

“God… from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace” (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15)

“They mingled with the nations and learned their works…They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed” (Psalm 106:35, 37-38)

“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17)

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)

Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:12) 

Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:25)

 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 )

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Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, Luke 8:1 NASB

Matt and I are preparing for a new in-depth multi-part upcoming series on the church. In preparation I have been posting in large part about the problem of modern western culture church, or at least what we have evolved church into. I have identified some issues with hierarchy instead of equality, hiring kings to run our churches instead of worshiping THE ONE king, and business models replacing the family within church politics. But there is another area that likely trumps all of these. Matt and I have touched on this many times in several different videos.

The primary message of Jesus was for all to leave the world and completely be immersed in His kingdom. This was his definition of a disciple. In my mind the main problem with the modern western church is that we have missed or forgotten the pre-emanate calling of Jesus and replaced that calling with a lot of things that don’t fit, and in many cases are actually the opposite of what Jesus asked us to do.

At the beginning of Luke 8 we get a picture of what Jesus wants for His disciples and how the church will come together. He uses the expression the “kingdom of God.” Matthew’s circumlocution is very similar, “king of heaven.” I want you to stop and consider something that you may have never thought of.

Jesus wasn’t preaching a good life, he wasn’t even necessarily preaching the salvation of the world, or the desire to give you miraculous powers and gifts; He didn’t even really seem to be to bent on getting you to heaven. Jesus simply invited people to experience His kingdom. Today the church has sadly wandered from this invitation.

The Old Testament set the picture for what the message of Jesus would bring. But we have gotten way off track. Roman Catholicism turned Christianity into a celebrity religion that isn’t in the Bible. Rather than realize this is wrong and not advocate it, the modern evangelical church has continued to attempt to turn Christian leaders into celebrity saints. The modern-day lead pastor has become the icon of a celebrity saint to be nearly worshipped as a god-king for all within the political church. This has come full circle back to the ancient problem of Genesis. Humankind wants to worship themself not God. I have written enough about this though, let me continue with how this affects the kingdom.

When you walk into any synagogue during any place in time you won’t find great people (celebrities of the faith) on display like you do at a catholic church. The Hebraic way of thinking was on the central message not those associated with bringing the message. To esteem them equal to the message would make them idols which God clearly warned about in the Torah. What mattered was the message not the messenger. This is why even Messianic Jews consider Jesus a bit different than our modern evangelical friends do. Jesus brought the message of His father’s Kingdom.

“The kingdom of heaven [of God] resembles a concept in rabbinic Judaism called tikkun ha-olam, which literally means ‘mending the world.’ When one enters (or joins) the kingdom of heaven, one becomes a partner with God in spreading redemption throughout a hurting world. That person goes out and feeds the hungry; clothes the naked; visits those who are in hospital and prison; prays for the sick and defends the rights of the orphan and widow. A person who has entered the kingdom of heaven gets involved in people’s lives. He or she pursues a lifestyle characterized by mending our world: where there is hatred, he or she bestows love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”[1]

I have for many years said that modern evangelical Christianity is bi-polar. If you came to Christ through a step plan of salvation like the Romans road, or a colorful bracelet that tells a story of PSA/ECT style “abusive” thinking your likely in need of therapy. Too many have tried to make this plan of salvation fit with the overall message of Jesus and it simply doesn’t. It’s cut up and re-arranged to fit an agenda. My main problem with presenting the plan of salvation (and hell) this way is that it frames God as worse than Hitler (in being the judge that chooses to send people to what sounds like a never-ending torture chamber rather than the author of love, grace and mercy. It’s simply trying to preach or promote a bi-polar version of Jesus or His message. It’s messed up, but that’s humankind, not God.

Watch this video for more on that:

Christianity’s eschatological focus is on the afterlife. We have made Christianity a religion of death not life. What originally drew me into the Old Testament was the emphasis God gives in the Torah to live here and now, and the theological idea that God will reign on this earth. That was also the culminating message of Jesus. “Unto the least of these” is a kingdom attitude and that kingdom is here on earth.

When you study the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, we find that there are 17 different terms that describe what evangelicals simply call the church, bur what we make out the church to be is closer to some concoction or pieced together potion than it is the picture that Jesus painted for us. The transition from the first century Hebraic minded church to the modern evangelical, dare I say Roman Catholic version of Jesus, has nearly destroyed the message Jesus preached and His kingdom. The fact that that ekklēsía doesn’t mean “church,” and brings imagery that isn’t biblical is just the beginning of our modern problem. Ekklēsía is but one of dozens of significant problems that is affected by our birth culture thinking.  Faith, salvation, obedience, law, gospel, kingdom, sin, forgiveness, repentance, grace, and love need to be interpreted within the meaning of Jesus and His kingdom message, the meaning of God’s word in the lives of the men who heard them and what it meant in their context. We have evolved the church and its terms to mean things far different than what they meant when Jesus proclaimed them to His first century disciples.

Let’s get back on track with the central message of the scripture and Jesus, to be fervent disciples and proclaim His kingdom in all of life. Some of us need a total reset.

[1] Joseph Frankovic, The Kingdom of Heaven (HaKesher, Inc., 1998), pp. 31-32.



We have spent our lives trying to be good Christians that “go to church”. However, you would be hard pressed to find anything that looks like modern day American church anywhere in the pages of the Bible. It might even surprise you to know that the word “church” isn’t in the Bible. We have created the traditional concept of what we call church.

What about the texts where we literally read the word church in nearly all translations such as the infamous Matthew 16:18 in the NASB? “Upon the Rock I will build my church”? Or how about the beginning of Philemon when it clearly states the church as a home meeting? Let me better explain.

In the greek we usually see the word ekkelsia/ekklésia and in Hebrew the word typically translated as church is qehelah. But Jesus never used these words to describe the congregations of people that came to Him. One of my life Mantras has always been to try to figure out exactly what God desires of us. I have written books and countless articles on the subject; what are God’s ideals in our life? If we were to follow exactly what God is asking and Jesus’ calling to live as wholly devoted disciples what would it look like; specifically in this article what would the coming together of believers and the unity of the body best look like. Would it still resemble and Old Testament torah observant festival schedule or perhaps look like a more evolved version of family meetings in people’s houses? Or if the great commission is successful, would we naturally arrive at the concept of the great American mega church?

In the Old Testament we have Torah. Torah explains how the community of believers might live towards a life that points to holiness and purification and eventually to Jesus. There were 7 festivals that the family attended, 3 of which were pilgrimage large community meetings and then the idea of coming together as a family each sabbath to stay on track with what Yahweh desired of you. It was a great mosaic life picture to stay on track with God as a stop Gap until the Messiah would once and for all act as atonement for sin. But the Torah continually encouraged all of life to surround God.

In the New Testament we get similar pictures of keeping your family on track and functioning in one accord as the body of Christ. But what we have turned this act into, (what we refer to as church), is likely far from what Jesus was asking. Did his disciples regularly attend church as we know it? Was Jesus commissioning Peter to build the modern church brought to us by Catholicism?

We have all heard and probably studied that the word mostly translated as church in the Bible is is ekklēsía, an assembly, but you might find it interesting that this Greek word is more accurately described in Greek as a non-religious assembly.  Consider its use in Acts 19:32 and other verses. So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. Acts 19:32 NASB It is described as an angry confused mob. Well that actually might be a pretty good definition for most people’s modern day church experiences ha ha.

When we read the word ekklēsía in Greek you find it starts with the Greek word kaléō which means to call or invite, which better translates to Hebrew as qārāʾwhich is the more common word for being called. In Hebrew religious assemblies were synagogues, but this carries a problem in the first century. Synagogues became associated with Greco-Roman pagan connections to the extent that most Jews stopped using the word to describe the place where Yahweh was met. In the Greek it specifically does not mean “a religious assembly.” Synagogue meant any religious assembly; it is used far more in first century literature to describe temples for Athena or Zeus than for Yahweh. As a result, the word synagogue just migrated into a Jewish term just like ekklesia, it wasn’t Jewish to begin with.

The reason the word ekklēsía is (rightly) used is because it meant “the called-out ones.”  It is an invitation, particularly focused on God’s provision of salvation (which in Hebrew is better described as an exodus or rescue).  To be part of the body that was summoned and invited by the sovereign God for the purpose of rescue from immediate danger.  But Paul repeatedly uses the term such as in 1 Corinthians 1 to take on an exodus motif. There are several modern day Biblical scholars that have picked up on this such as Frank Viola and Francis Chan. Mark Nanos offers this:

“It is widely recognized that the first appearance of christianos postdate Paul and that he never refers to himself or anyone else by this term or its cognates.”[1]

“ . . . the term ekklesia, from which the translation ‘church’ derived, has also come to represent something that is by definition distinguishable from ‘synagogue.’ . . . ekkelsia was a term that, if not also qualified as being specifically Christ-following, would naturally be understood to represent synagogue gatherings of Jews that were not assumed to be affiliated with Christ-followers: the ekklesia were not yet what ‘church’ came to represent. Thus it is anachronistic and unhelpful for understanding Paul in his own context to use the translation ‘church’ when reading and discussing Paul and his Jewish ‘assemblies.’”[2]

What Mark, and most theologians will tell you is that church as we know it, was a religion of later gentiles, most probably the Roman Catholic Church. Paul and Jesus and the first century disciples didn’t practice this form of “church”.

Skip Moen suggests that as “This may seem bold, unsettling, even heretical. But it is heresy only if you accept the revised history of the Church. What actually happened is a matter of historical investigation. What the Church teaches is something quite different. So, who’s the heretic? Was Paul a Christian? The historical record strongly suggests that he was not, and neither were any of his compatriots. The historical record suggests that Paul never converted; he was always a Torah-observant Jew with a Jewish Messiah. The historical record recounts the creation of the Christian Church with a separate theology, Christology and ecclesiology in the mid-third and fourth centuries. So it’s time to correct the text and remove all those terms whose meaning was determined by men who never shared the faith of Paul or his Messiah.”

My problem with the great American church is that it is more worldly than it is Biblical. Didn’t Jesus preach the opposite?

Against Christianity by Peter Leithart is a penetrating examination of the difference between the post-modern view of the world and the biblical view. According to Leithart:

Modernity refers to the civilization of the West since about 1500. Culturally, modernity is characterized by “value pluralism,” which entails the privatization of religious institutions and religious claims. Every individual and every group chooses its own shared values, and civil society is the arena where those values enter into combat. Politically, modernity is shaped by “liberalism,” the political system dedicated to the one proposition that political systems must not be dedicated to one proposition.

Through its roots in the patristic period, Christianity in its more developed form is the Church’s adjustment of the gospel to modernity, and the Church’s consequent acceptance of the world’s definition of who we are and what we should be up to. Christianity is biblical religion disemboweled and emasculated by (voluntary) intellectualization and/or privatization.

Christianity is not merely haphazard embrace of the values and practices of the modern world. Worldliness in that sense has plagued the Church since Corinth and will be a temptation to the end of time. Christianity is institutionalized worldliness, worldliness accepted in principle, worldliness not at the margins but at the center, worldliness build into the foundation.[1]

Some don’t like the term Christianity anymore and I can see why. It is unfortunate that the name so closely associated with Jesus has been perpetrated by the world to represent something near counter to what Jesus taught. Leithart picks up on this. Unfortunately, Christianity is tied to the systems of the world which is what Jesus routinely spoke against. Jesus wasn’t interested in joining any systems other than the His own, the kingdom of God. Jesus calls for radical discipleship, kingdom living, and challenges the message of this world and people’s allegiances to systems, structures, and ideologies. 

Church as we know it has become much of what Jesus spoke against. It is big business with a worldwide, organized hierarchy that resembles pharisaical tradition more than anything.

Skip Moen makes another point that I have to completely agree with, “Just consider the almost universal acceptance of democracy as the proper political system of Christianity. Nothing in the biblical record supports this idea. Where did it come from? From the Greeks. The Church is not a democracy. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy. But most Christians have accommodated to the state by accepting democracy as the correct political system.”

Jesus spoke of a radically different culture. It was family based with regular teaching and accountability to the body of and fellowship of believers (not the church leadership) in Him and only Him. It wasn’t about routine programming, or a schedule of events driven by what the world looks like. It was the opposite of that. Today Christians act more like Greeks following a pagan God in a pagan Temple than they do theocratic followers of the one king. Being a follower of Christ was never supposed to be aligned with being a morally upright member of a political nation. To Jesus that was described as having two masters and being a slave to something of the world. The central message of Jesus was to not conform to the world, yet this is exactly what modern American Church has done. We have built churches that look desirable to the world. Rock and roll light show events, cool Christianity, and events geared towards entertainment or prosperity over discipleship.


What is the answer, what is the solution? How do we get back to Jesus in one accord? Is there any room to migrate from the Torah or the New Testament Biblical model? If you want to follow God’s ideals I am afraid the unpopular answer to these questions is likely, “NO.” We were given similar models in both the Old and New Testaments and are simply asked to follow them, but in typical human fashion we think we can build a better model than what Jesus asks for. God offers a theocracy, man demands their own king, Jesus says he is the only king, we try to hire pastor kings, Jesus says leave the world on the beach and completely follow me, we want to enslave ourselves to the world for 40-50 hours a week with mortgages of enslavement up to our eyeballs. How is that God way?

In the Torah dedication to a holy God is the meaning and source of life. Nothing can take precedence over this. Everything about life itself pointed to life in Yahweh. You were surrounded by Him and the body of His people. In the first church we get the same idea. Your life existed to promote Jesus as king and deny the ways of the world.

Home church, church underground, whatever you might call it is a better picture than big business church. I like some of the aspects of American church. Perhaps some people come out of the world and find God at a traditional church first. I consider myself a missionary to the evangelical church in hopes of shepherding those that realize they are looking for a better picture of dedicated discipleship in Jesus.

The better goal of following Jesus is to live every day live as if your mission of holiness for your spiritual family was/is all you are concerned about. It is hard to imagine this calling in our American lives, in fact it would be a complete paradigm shift, totally radical. But guess what, it was the same thing in the first century. It was totally radical and completely counter cultural; yet the first century church embraced it. Today I think most evangelical Christians desire the world more than we desire Jesus.

How do we get there? Let me paint a picture.

  • Every day is completely, wholly given to Jesus and the calling to be a disciple and make a disciple by Jesus’ definition not the worlds
  • You don’t give your time, treasure, and talents to the world in any way, they are reserved solely for Jesus
  • You train up your kids as your primary responsibility and your core act of making disciples
  • You live intimately with Him and present deeper devotion to the king and His kingdom within your family and surround yourself with one accord of a body of believers that think the same way.
  • Don’t be immersed in the world, let the world find Jesus through you. Offer living water at each and every opportunity. You don’t need to drink the worlds water anymore.
  • Bring your gifts to and for the body each and every day
  • Meet regularly as a spiritual family communing with Jesus as a central strand of life together
  • Your best should be given to Jesus, everything points that way
  • Work repeatedly and regularly to present yourself completely devoted to Him (a living sacrifice) and your spiritual family of disciples
  • Get back to God’s ideals, perhaps 7 feasts for 7 days and each sabbath together; or perhaps that was just the beginning of what God wants. Eventually in a recreated heaven and earth we are going to be in fellowship not just 7×7 but completely. That should be the goal today too, not once a week, but wholly given in complete life pursuit. That is the thrust of the New Covenant disciple, not just a tithe, or a first fruit, but all in all the time.

What would it look like if your spiritual family lived this way. Can you imagine it? Could you survive in America? What if you had 10 families that made this commitment. Your gifts enabled housing out of debt. (pipedream, impossible? I think your limiting yourself and God) You shared what was “needed”; you provided for not only your own but the others. You all learned to live this way. I would actually venture to say that it is not only possible but is the ONLY Biblical model and is a recipe for amazing life in Jesus. You might conduct a business but it is surrounded together in Jesus. Maybe the Amish building houses together weren’t too far off from a New Testament picture of working together, they just got hung up on legalism along the way.



or the body is not one member, but many. 1 Corinthians 12:14 NASB

Modern church looks very different than New Testament church did. 2-3 times a year we have an EXPEDITION 44 range night loosely associated with the Hebrew calendar and based on a more Biblical style of worship (such as God instructed during the OT festivals) and the NT church continued. This year we have shifted the date to this Friday Night June 3 as Shavuot this year is recognized from Sunset Saturday June 4 until Monday Evening June 6.

But I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost. 1 Corinthians 16:8 NASB

Pentecost or Shavuot?  Most people have never stopped to consider this simple statement. Devout Jews calendar things different than the rest of the world. Everything is in reference to the OT calendar that God gave in the Torah, the Jewish sequence of Festivals. Shavuot is one of the three pilgrimage festivals from Exodus 34. It is 50 days after the start of Pesach (Lev 23) which is when the Torah was given on Sinai.

When you pause to consider Paul’s statement above, you probably go right to Acts 2 and pentecost. The crowd was gathered to celebrate Shavuot which is where the spirit chose to descend and give us the New Testament idea of Pentecost (which wouldn’t be widely celebrated by the church until 200 years after this was written.) Interesting that After Paul clearly becomes a “CHRISTIAN”, yet he is still celebrating the Shavuot. You see Paul (and Jesus) never abolished Torah or God’s ideals. In fact, Paul is always considering how to live as a set apart person only given to what God desires of him.

Just to be clear, Paul and Jesus were both clear that Christians not be legalistic in following tradition. The focus is that they both recognized that they needed to be immersed in God’s ideals and His world and not the ideals of the world. Jesus isn’t simply better, Jesus’ way is the ONLY way.

As we meet again at the EXPEDITION 44 Range worship nights this is and has always been our focus. Let’s get back to what God says is His way.

I Corinthians 12-14 give us framework for coming together under God’s Ideals. He starts out with, “For the body is not one member, but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:14 NASB

Most of us have heard the terminology of the church our entire lives; the church as the bride, one body, the people not the place, we are the church, or perhaps words of order, unity, or in one accord – but we don’t actually believe it or live it. Corinth was a rowdy mess. Yet Paul shepherds the shepherds. He teaches to be like Christ in mercy, grace, obedience, and love. He calls them to order, but by God’s definition to bring order to chaos from the beginning of time; not in the worldly mindset of hierarchy and/or superiority. Their order should be brought according to their gifts, what God designed them to present. He is also clear that anything outside of this form is or will be spiritually abusive. Jesus is the only Head of the church, everyone else is simply a member of the congregation. No one person is spiritually superior over the others. Elders shepherd (verb) those that shepherd. We are all called to shepherd. No one is to “rule over” another. As those of a priestly position in Christ we can only reign and rule in Him. Each member fulfills tasks that together represent the body of Christ through edification, instruction, and the presenting of at least the 22 gifts mentioned (which we pray for a double portion to be applied through God and get 44!) This is the Biblical definition of worship – 44- an expedition of complete lifelong worship.

This Friday night we are asking everyone to consider what they will bring to contribute. How is the Spirit (it is pentecost!!!) leading you to participate as the body? Will you bring food? Will you share a prophetic word? Will you bring edification or healing? Will you admonish with your lips? Will you testify? What has God given you to bring forth?

Too often we have been conditioned by the modern church to think that serving at church means we “work or toil” and aren’t actually part of the church worship “experience” when we are serving. We say things like we are going to serve at the first service and attend the second. Don’t get me started. Ha ha. We are asking for everyone to be “all in” this Friday night.

Let’s take a look at the verse above again, “For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14). When Paul says “not one” he uses the greek word “ouk.” This is the strongest Greek word possible to mean NOT or negative. In the Bible there are 1634 uses of the word “not” and this is the strongest! Not one but many, “polla.” In other words, Paul is STRONGLY telling us we need to equally come before the Lord bearing what has been uniquely gifted to you to the body in one accord. It is coincidence that the spirit chose the day of Shavuot to “rain” down on us as we “reign” together in Christ and only in Him. You are tailored to bring a gift, and not just one, but many of different flavors, seasons, and descriptions continually. Throw off whatever has been holding you back (hierarchy, ideas of what serving should be, those looking down on you, youth, reprisal of silent encouragement/discouragement); bring what you have been given, and bring it to its best.

Shavuot in the OT was a shadow of what was to come in the Messiah. It was by the Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Shavuot) that God inscribed his Law in their hearts. We are called to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and obey him in all areas of our life. From the inside out, he changes us into the likeness of Christ – equally contributing in one accord of the body. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of adoption who witnesses to our spirit that we indeed have left the world and our past behind and instead now have a new identity as children of God (Romans 8:15).

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