Our greatest danger is something that we hold in high esteem, and greatly revere among ourselves. It is however, a form of idolatry, and because of this Yahushua will have a few things against us. That something is our widespread practice of (unknowingly) eating of things sacrificed to idols!
Let's see what this is, so that we might remove it from our practice.
Eating Things Sacrificed to Idols: The First WarningToday there are many who are becoming serious about preparing themselves for their Bridegroom. For those of the Bride Company who desire to remove the spots and wrinkles, and be without blemish, Yahushua gives a serious warning, in two separate passages, regarding eating things sacrificed unto idols:
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14)
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Revelation 2:20)First, let us make two important observations. Since we see that both of the above passages in Revelation are spoken by Yahushua Messiah Himself, and are addressed to the last-days Congregations, we understand that this message is for us today. Taken together, these two passages give us a clear warning, and these two passages reveal what this idolatry is.
We must also understand that the issue of eating things sacrificed unto idols mentioned in the above passages, is not the same issue of eating things sacrificed unto idols referred to by the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15, nor is it the same issue to which the apostle Paul refers in Romans 14 and Corinthians chapters 8 and 10. This difference will be discussed below, as we look closely at Paul's words.
With this distinction in mind, we will begin with Revelation 2:14.
Notice in verse 14, that we are told that the Doctrine of Balaam results in a stumblingblock. We recall that a stumblingblock is anything that impedes or prevents a Believer from walking in The Way — which is simply our daily walk with Messiah, as He lives within us (2Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27; Galatians 4:19).
We are then told that this teaching and seducing result in a particular stumblingblock, having a two-fold nature: 1) to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and 2) to commit fornication. We will discover that these two items describe one single stumblingblock, and one single practice.
Next we see in verse 14 that this one stumbling block results from the 'teaching' that is taught to Yahuweh's people.
We are also told here that this teaching is the Doctrine of Balaam, and having the same results as when Balak cast a stumblingblock before Yahuweh's people — to cause them to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication — both items of disobedience to Yahuweh. So let's review briefly what Scripture reveals about the Doctrine of Balaam.
The Doctrine of Balaam TeachesAs we saw in detail in The Error of Balaam, the Doctrine of Balaam is the result of the continued practice of the Error of Balaam. We found in our examination of Scriptures in (Numbers 22:12, 20), that the Error of Balaam was the fact that Balaam rejected the 'earlier' Word of Yahuweh, but was willing to obey only the 'later' Word of Yahuweh. Balaam's motive was greed — but it was his action of rejecting part of Yahweh's Word that was the reason Yahuweh sought to kill him! We saw that the Doctrine of Balaam is simply the teaching that rejects the earlier Word of Yahuweh, in favour of His later Word.
Today in our Congregations we are doing exactly the same as Balaam did. We are practicing the Error of Balaam, and teaching the Doctrine of Balaam — for most of our congregations have rejected being 'DO-ers' of the earlier Word of Yahuweh [the 'Old' Testament], and have accepted only the later Word of Yahuweh [the 'New' Testament]. This has happened because many of us have believed the words of the theologians, and have not read the Scriptures for ourselves.
Some might ask, is this a 'Salvation' issue? We need only be reminded that Messiah clearly tells us He will "have a few things against" those of us who hold the Doctrine of Balaam. So let's look first at a few results of the Doctrine of Balaam, to see why Messiah will have a few things against us, unless we repent.
Some Results of the Doctrine of BalaamHere are a few Scriptures that tell us some results of holding the Doctrine of Balaam:
Some Results of Holding the Doctrine of BalaamWe see from the brief list above that the Doctrine of Balaam rejects part of Yahuweh's Word, creates enmity with Yahuweh, and allows one to be deceived into practicing idolatry, and more. Let us now look at this idolatry most of us have been practicing. To begin, let us briefly review what an idol is.
- The Doctrine of Balaam rejects part of Yahuweh's Word. Rejecting the Word of Yahuweh is considered rebellion (1Sam 15:23), so that those Believers who reject His Word are displaying rebellion. No King will allow rebellion to remain within His Kingdom for long (Matt 13:41-42).
- When we reject some of the Truth of Yahuweh's Word, we show that we are not subject to [not yielded to obedience to] the Law of Yahuweh, but instead have a 'carnal' mind, which is at enmity against Yahuweh (Rom 8:7).
- The apostle Paul expressed the travail he was in, until such time that Messiah would become (fully) formed within his 'little children' (Gal 4:19). This is our goal too, that Messiah-in-you (and in me) would become mature, become fully-formed in us, and begin to live in fullness within us, in our daily lives. For Messiah to live in His fullness within us, however, implies that we 'allow' Him to keep all of Fathers Commandments and Festivals, in us, just as He did while on earth in His own body.
- If we have been grafted-in, we are now a part of His Covenant people; we are no longer foreigners, no longer 'gentiles' in the spiritual sense, so we are called to no longer walk as the rest of the gentiles (Gal 3:28; Eph 2:11-13; Eph 4:17). Instead, we are called to abide in Him, to walk as He walked (1John 2:6). If we reject part of Father's Word, we walk as the rest of the gentiles walk, who know not Yahuweh.
- If we reject part of Father's Word, we prevent Messiah-in-us from that part of His (required) eternal expression of His Life within His Covenant people.
- His Words are 'Life' for us. (John 6:63; Prov 4:20-22). If we are missing some of His Word, we are missing some of His Life-in-us.
- How do we determine what the Life of Yahushua-in-us should consist of? If a Doctrine or practice is truly of Yahushua, it will be clearly seen in Scripture, in the lives of Yahushua and His disciples, and in the apostle Paul, as we are told we have them for our examples (Php 3:17; 1Pet 2:21; 1Jo 2:6; 1Jo 3:2). If something is truly of Yahushua, it will also be found within the writings of 'Moses and all the Prophets' (John 5:47; Luke 24:25,27).
- Thus the fullness of Messiah-in-us is simply for us to 'allow' the examples of Yahushua and the Disciples to come forth in our own lives, as He provides the Grace to do so! The fullness of Messiah-in-us can occur only when we co-operate by studying, then using, the same written Scriptures Yahushua and His Disciples used. He used His own Words that He gave to Moses and the Prophets — the Torah! The Doctrine of Balaam thus rejects some of Yahushua's own Words, and so prevents Messiah-in-us from fully appearing in us.
- When we reject the Truth of some of Yahuweh's Word, we show that we do not have a love for the Truth, and we open ourselves to receiving a strong delusion sent from Yahuweh, that we might believe a lie (2Thess 2:10-11). When men begin to believe lies, they become deceived, and fall easy prey to idolatry in all its forms.
What is an Idol?As we saw in Graven Images and Idols: the Scriptural Definition, any substitution of man's own doctrine or practice, in place of that prescribed by Yahuweh, is the basic definition of idolatry. We found that an idol can be a dejure idol, such as a forbidden object, even one we may not consider as an idol, such as certain toys, figurines, and art objects. It can also be a defacto idol, which includes idols of the heart, as well as man-made substitutes for Truths of Yahuweh, either in Word or in practice.
When we continue to hold onto an idol, we are practicing idolatry. Throughout the Scriptures Yahuweh pleads with His people to forego their idolatries, which Yahuweh likens to spiritual fornication. Let us now see how the Doctrine of Balaam, as the rejection of the earlier Word of Yahuweh, teaches us to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Eating Things Sacrificed to Idols: The Second WarningWe noted that the above passage (Rev 2:14) is addressed to the last-days congregations, to us today. We also noted that we are given the same warning in two separate passages, so we know this practice must be a very serious and great stumbling block to Yahuweh's people. Let's now look at the second warning in Rev 2:20:
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Revelation 2:20)Here in verse 20, we see several things in common with verse 14. First, we see that the Bridegroom says to the potential Bride-Candidates, "I have a few things against thee because...." This is a repeat of His warning to us, so we want to take this warning very seriously!
Notice we see here in verse 20, just as we saw in verse 14, that the eating of things sacrificed to idols is the result of teaching. This time, the one who teaches is not 'those who hold the Doctrine of Balaam,' as seen in verse 14, but the 'woman Jezebel' who teaches in verse 20. Let's see who this woman is.
Two WomenThere are two 'prophetic' women that appear throughout Scripture, who are competing for a husband, and for rulership. There is the True Bride, sometimes seen as the Daughters of Abraham and the Daughters of Zion. And then there is the False Bride, also seen as the Daughters of Babylon, the Strange Woman, and the Harlot. This False Bride is sometimes seen as having the spirit of Jezebel.
We recall that Jezebel, as wife of Ahab, was a 'usurper' of her husband's authority to rule, and she accomplished this usurping through deception and intimidation. Jezebel is thus seen in the prophetic light as any demonic spirit that would motivate someone to be a usurper of someone else's rightful headship or rule, especially in a Family or Congregational setting. This spirit is also a major stronghold behind deception and intimidation, as a means of accomplishing a goal.
We see in Scripture that the prophetic False Bride speaks of the entire apostate, Religious World. This False Bride is portrayed in our subject passage as Jezebel, because she appears as a 'usurper' of someone else's rightful authority in spiritual matters. Who is of rightful authority but the True Messiah? And who is a 'usurper' of that authority, but one who is a substitute for the True?
The Woman TeachesWe then see this woman Jezebel is teaching Yahuweh's 'servants,' so we conclude this is a congregation of Yahuweh's people. The duty of the True Shepherd is to feed the Flock with Truth. The duty of the False shepherd is to teach lies, and to seduce, and to offer substitutes for the True.
But why is this congregation of Yahuweh's people called Jezebel?
There is an actual class of mid-ranking demonic spirits named Jezebel, who continually try to motivate both the false shepherds and the true, to offer substitutes of Yahuweh's Word to the Little Flock. Because the False-Bride congregation is given over to these spirits, this congregation is thus called by the name of Jezebel, the actual authority and motivating power behind its activities.
We can not go into much detail now, but we can generalise by saying the chief characteristic of these Jezebel congregations, is that though appointed by Yahuweh, the Leaders of these congregations have become mere figureheads, just as Ahab was to Jezebel. It is important to understand that the authority of a Leader is revealed in that Leader's testimony of the Scriptures. A Leader who has removed the true testimony of Scripture, and has instead given himself over to man-made doctrines, has removed his true authority, and has taken on a false authority, that of the spirit of Jezebel. Thus we see in the above passage in Rev 2:20, that this invisible Jezebel spirit is actually the one who is teaching and seducing the Believers.
Most Believers understand that they are to maintain an attitude of submission to Yahuweh, through submission to His delegated Pastors and spiritual Leaders, whether these Leaders are right or wrong. This presents a dilemma for the Believers, however. Until the Believer becomes separated from one Leader, and is led to follow another, that Believer is constrained by the Holy Spirit to maintain proper submission and respect to his leaders, and to all with whom he is in fellowship. In such cases, the apostle Paul tells us what we are to do:
"...Come out from among them, and be separate [separate yourselves from them], saith Yahuweh..." (2Corinthians 6:17a; Isaiah 52:11).We are to come out from among any Congregational Leaders who do not hold to Yahushua Messiah, and to His Truth — who do not teach the pure Truth of the Word.
Let us now summarise the identity of the Woman who teaches Yahuweh's servants.
In Rev 2:14, we saw that the teaching was called the Doctrine of Balaam.
In Rev 2:20, we saw that the one who teaches is called a woman named Jezebel, within a congregation of Yahuweh's people. Since the True Bride and False Bride of Scripture both speak of two opposing Companies found within the entire religious world, this woman Jezebel represents not just one isolated congregation, but encompasses the religious world in general.
Combining the two passages, here is what we may see. Among the Congregation of Yahuweh's people, there are those among us that hold the Doctrine of Balaam; and through this false Doctrine, many are taught to commit spiritual fornication [idolatry], and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. These actions have become a stumbling block for many, preventing them from walking in The Way, walking with Messiah-living-within-them.
Taken together, the two warnings of verse 14 and verse 20 are one and the same warning.
Let's now see what this sacrifice is.
Eating Things Sacrificed to Idols: What is The Sacrifice?In the above warnings, Yahushua is telling us that the Doctrine of Balaam teaches men to 'eat things sacrificed to idols.' We have seen that one form of an idol may be a man-made substitute for a Word or practice that is commanded by Yahuweh.
The one outstanding feature we see in both of the above Revelation passages is the 'eating of a sacrifice.' We could say that since the eating of this sacrifice involves idolatry, it must involve a substitute for the true — which we call a counterfeit.
We could also say, "Where there is a counterfeit, there must also be the true."
This idolatry is relating to a counterfeit sacrifice, a substitute for a True sacrifice. So in order to find what the counterfeit sacrifice is, we must first know what the TRUE sacrifice is!
The True SacrificeOur subject passage refers to the eating of a sacrifice, and likely involves a counterfeit of a TRUE sacrifice. But if it is a counterfeit, a substitute for a TRUE sacrifice, we must next ask, "What is the only legitimate and True sacrifice today?"
There is only one true and legitimate sacrifice today found in Scripture:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)The above passages show us that the only legitimate sacrifice today is the Body and Blood of Yahushua! (See also 1Pet 1:18-19; Ex 34:25; Deu 12:27.)
Now let's look closely at the TRUE sacrifice. As Believers in Messiah, what are we told to eat and drink, as representing the True sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Yahushua?
Scriptures tell us clearly:
And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. ... 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:18; 26-28)
And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? ... 22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:14; 22-24)
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: ... 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:15; 19-20)
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed ['Passover'] took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (1Corinthians 11:23-25)The above passages all clearly reveal that Yahushua's Disciples ate the bread, and drank the cup of the Covenant, at the Passover Memorial Supper. These passages also reveal that the bread and the cup represented the sacrificial Body and Blood of Yahushua, taken as a remembrance or memorial of Messiah.
In the above table entitled Results of Holding the Doctrine of Balaam, we also saw that Yahushua and His Disciples are an example for us today. It is when we follow their example by our obedience to Scripture, that we are abiding in Him, and we are walking as He walked (1John 2:6).
It is important to note, that the Passover meal eaten by Yahushua and His Disciples (the TRUE 'Lord's Supper') was not some 'new' Doctrine for the Disciples — it was something Yahuweh's people had practiced for thousands of years, as commanded of ALL of Yahuweh's people, in Lev 23:4-5. Yahushua simply revealed the TRUE meaning of Passover for them, and for us today.
Yahushua tells us clearly in Luke 22:20 that the Passover cup is the New Covenant in His Blood, so we now understand that our drinking of the cup at Passover is our part in confirming the New Covenant ratified in His Blood! This is the New Covenant Passover!
Now read the above paragraph again, and let this truth sink in!
When we have an understanding from Scripture of The New Covenant Passover, we can more easily understand the words of Yahushua:
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. (John 6:53)We can understand clearly from Scripture, that wherever Yahushua speaks of eating His Body, and drinking His Blood, He is referring to the Passover meal, which is only for His people, and is not for 'outsiders.'
It is the outsiders who have 'no Life in them' [Yahushua living within them]. The 'outsiders' can not keep Passover, for it is 'Messiah-in-you' who is the One who desires to keep Passover; and only those who are 'Born-Again' have Messiah living within them. Messiah-in-us wants to participate in the Passover, while living in our body, just as He did 2,000 years ago when He lived in His own body!
Yahuweh commands His people to observe Passover as a memorial for ever (Ex 12:14). Thus we see Yahushua and all His Disciples keeping the Passover. Even the apostle Paul reminds us that because Messiah was our Passover sacrifice, we are to keep Passover (1Cor 5:7-8). Here Paul saw the need to remind Believers to keep Passover, maybe because men were already beginning to make man-made substitutes for Passover in his day, just as we see in our day.
The False Sacrifice: A Substitute for the TrueWe have seen the true sacrifice for end-time Believers is the Body and Blood taken at the Passover meal by Yahushua's Disciples. We have also seen that by their example, we are to keep the Passover today, and are to take the Body and Blood of Messiah as our Passover sacrifice.
Now we must ask, "What is the FALSE sacrifice that is eaten as an idol — a counterfeit, or man-made substitute for the TRUE?"
If the TRUE sacrifice is the eating of the flesh, and drinking of the blood of Messiah at Passover, we must conclude the FALSE sacrifice must be a man-made substitute, or counterfeit of the TRUE. The counterfeit must look very similar to the TRUE, and must also represent the TRUE in every respect. The counterfeit must also appear to be according to Scripture. But because the counterfeit results from the Doctrine of Balaam, which rejects the earlier word, it will not be seen in the earlier Word of Yahuweh, the 'Old' Testament [the Tanak, also called the Torah].
What is this FALSE sacrifice?
Since the Doctrine of Balaam rejects the earlier Word of Yahuweh, including the TRUE Passover, this rejection allows for the Doctrines of Men to create a 'substitute' or counterfeit Passover in place of the true Biblical Passover. This substitution was made many centuries ago, perhaps as early as the first century, and later handed down to us from the 'church fathers' and 'Reformers' who had come [part-way] out of Rome.
Today this man-made practice is highly revered, and is called by the names 'communion' or 'Lord's supper.' These words appear in Scripture, but have been twisted by men, applying these words to something other than Passover. The word 'communion,' is from the Greek word 'koinonia,' meaning "fellowship or communion; sharing or partaking together" Thus the Biblical word communion has been re-defined by men, in order to accommodate a 'ceremony' which is the counterfeit Passover described by the apostle Paul!
The Biblical Passover is not a religious event to be done daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever we want to do it. Instead, it occurs only once per year, after sunset in the night that begins the 14th day of the first Biblical month, and it is to be observed strictly according to Scripture. This means that we as Believers are not allowed to 'tweak' the observance by including man's own ideas or practices. To do something Yahuweh has not commanded, no matter how religious or how good it seems, is to offer strange fire before Yahuweh, and is idolatry (Lev 10:1; Numbers 26:61; 1Sam 15:22-23).
The counterfeit Passover is known today by many names, such as 'the eucharist,' 'the mass,' and 'the sacrament.' This man-made substitute has also assumed the Biblical names of 'the Lord's supper' and 'the Table of the LORD,' names that refer to the TRUE Passover meal.
This 'substitute' for Passover can be easily seen as a counterfeit, as it is not found in the 'Old' Testament [Torah], the same Scriptures the Bereans used when verifying what the apostle Paul taught. The Bereans are also an example for us in how we can be more noble, as they were, by searching the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).
This counterfeit or substitute Passover thus provides a ready answer to those who are taught to ignore the 'Old' Testament [Torah], but who still ask about Yahushua's Words in the Gospels, which urge us to 'eat His Flesh, and drink His Blood.'
When we refuse Yahushua's Passover, but then practice a man-made replacement of Passover — even if we call it by the name of communion or Lord's supper, we have substituted a man-made practice for the Biblical practice of Passover! Our man-made substitute is an idol! Thus when we eat and drink this substitute passover, we are eating and drinking a man-made substitute ['idol'] sacrifice, which is eating a sacrifice made unto idols!
Here is an interesting observation. The HRB version [an English translation based on early Syriac (Aramaic) manuscripts] gives us some revealing confirmation of these prophetic words spoken by Yahushua in the book of Revelation. Here we see in the (Rev 2:14, 20) passages, that the Believers ['My Servants'] are said to eat the "idol sacrifice."
The use of the phrase, "idol sacrifice" is further confirmation that it is the sacrifice itself which is the idol or 'substitute' for the true (Passover) sacrifice that Believers are called to eat!
The passages in (Rev 2:14, 20) perfectly describe us as Believers today, if we reject keeping the true Passover, but instead choose to keep the man-made substitute which is an idol. Those who reject the Biblical Passover have been taught to mis-apply the term 'breaking of bread,' which is simply a Biblical idiom meaning 'eating a meal,' as we see throughout the Scriptures, and confirmed in (Lamentations 4:4; Luke 24:30,35).
If what we have seen thus far is difficult to receive, let us next see what the apostle Paul has to say.
The Apostle Paul Warns us of the Idol SacrificeThe apostle Paul, in a number of passages, gives us a prophetic understanding of Yahushua's warnings in Revelation 2:14,20 against eating things sacrificed to idols. But Paul's words are difficult for most to understand (2Pet 3:16), and as a result there is much error among the Believers today. And so in order to properly understand any of Paul's words, we must read them within the context of all of Paul's words, and indeed, within the context of all of Scripture.
It is here that we see the contrast between the two separate issues of eating things sacrificed unto idols — the one issue discussed by Messiah, and the other issue mentioned by the Jerusalem Council in Acts chapter 15, and also discussed by Paul in 1Corinthians chapter 8.
To see this difference, let us review a few points made by the Jerusalem Council, and by the apostle Paul in his writings:
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Acts 15:28-29)In the above passage, we see that all new Believers are to refrain from eating things sacrificed unto idols.
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. (Acts 21:25)In the above passage, we see a re-statement of Acts 15, that new believers are to refrain from eating things sacrificed unto idols. But in order to see the difference in the two issues, we must understand the decision of the Jerusalem Council, and the words of Paul, in the context of all of Paul's words.
So let's see what else Paul said:
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (Romans 14:14-15)
As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1Corinthians 8:4-13)
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? (1Corinthians 10:23-29)In the above passages, Paul tells us that an idol is nothing. In other words, the idol has no power to defile the meat, and thus the meat does not defile the eater. This is true, however, only if the meat is not defiled or unclean according to Scripture. And so the injunction in these passages against eating things sacrificed unto idols is for the sake of others present, who may have weak consciences.
So we see here that for Believers to eat physical, literal meat sacrificed unto idols is not a sin, as long as others' consciences are not weakened, and our eating does not become a cause for others to stumble.
In contrast, the words of Messiah are clear:
"But I have a few things against thee..." (Revelation 2:14a)
"Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee..." (Revelation 2:20a)When we read closely the words of Rev 2:14,20, we then understand that Messiah's warnings are not about eating physical meat sacrificed to idols, either clean or unclean. Instead, Messiah is warning us against eating a prophetic sacrifice that is itself an idol.
If Messiah's warnings were about eating physical meat sacrificed to idols, then the apostle Paul would be contradicting himself, when he reveals the nature of the idolatry we are to flee, as we shall see further.
Further Confirmation from the Prophet IsaiahIsaiah reveals, and confirms for us, the prophetic nature of 'things sacrificed unto idols' of which Messiah warns Believers today. Let's see what Isaiah says:
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense ['he that offers the incense of remembrance'], as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. (Isaiah 66:2-3)Isaiah gives us a clue, by first telling us who Yahuweh will show regard to, and consider:
"...to this man will I look [show regard to; consider], even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." (Isaiah 66:2b)Next, we see who Yahuweh will not show regard to, nor consider, but will turn His face away from:
"...he that burneth incense ['he that offers the incense of remembrance'], as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. (Isaiah 66:3b)Notice in the above passage, that he that offers the incense of 'remembrance' is seen by Yahuweh as if he blessed an idol, and as abomination, simply because they have chosen their own ways.
Isaiah goes on to say that this abomination is a 'delight' to their soul, telling us that this 'abomination' is a highly-revered practice.
To confirm what this practice is, let us first be reminded that the warnings given in Revelation 2:14,20 are given to the seven called-out congregations representing all Believers who have believed in Messiah.
There is only one highly-esteemed practice done by Believers today, of offering the 'incense of remembrance.' This can be seen in the following passages:
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (1Corinthians 11:25)Messiah's warning to Believers in Revelation 2:14,20 is clear. When a Believer offers the 'incense of remembrance' ["this do in remembrance of me"], but chooses man's own ways to do so, this 'offering' is seen by Yahuweh as blessing an idol, and is abomination to Him!
Yahuweh regards the one who 'trembleth at His Word' — that is, Yahuweh regards the one who offers the 'incense of remembrance' according to Scripture. This remembrance is done only as part of the Biblical Passover Memorial Supper.
Further Confirmation from the Apostle PaulPaul gives us further confirmation of the prophetic defilement spoken by the prophet Isaiah. Let's look further at Paul's words.
In 1Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul relates the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness. And to make his point to Believers today, Paul concludes:
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Corinthians 10:14)Notice the context of Paul's conclusion for Believers is that we are to flee from idolatry. And so Paul continues on by giving a common example of idolatry seen among Believers today, and apparently also in Paul's day:
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [koinonia; fellowship or communion; sharing or partaking together] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [koinonia; fellowship or communion; sharing or partaking together] of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers [koinonos; fellowship or communion; sharers or partakers together] of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship [koinonia; fellowship or communion; sharing or partaking together] with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? (1Corinthians 10:15-22)In verse 16, Paul tells us that the drinking of the cup is the sharing or partaking together of the blood of Messiah, and that the eating of the bread is the sharing or partaking together of the body of Messiah. We recall that the eating of the bread, and drinking of the cup, is done at the time of Passover, according to Messiah's words and example [see Luke chapter 22].
Next Paul proceeds to give us some details of something we are to flee from.
In verse 18, in comparing the true with the false, Paul makes a comparison between what natural Israel practiced, as they lived according to the Scriptures, with what the 'gentiles' practiced, who did not live according to the Scriptures. We recall that the gentiles were 'strangers from the Covenant,' and so they had no part of Yahuweh's blessings.
It was the priests and Levites of Israel who ate from the altar of sacrifice, in accordance with what the Scriptures specified. By faith in Messiah, we too have been grafted-in to the citizenship of Israel; and as a kingdom of priests, we too are to live according to Scripture, as they did. We too are to eat from the altar of sacrifice — to eat the True sacrifice, in remembrance of Him.
We then see in verse 18 that the context is the eating of 'sacrifices.' Since the only legitimate sacrifices Believers today are to eat are the representative body and blood of Passover, we know Paul's comparison is one of eating a true passover sacrifice, compared with eating a substitute or false passover sacrifice.
In verse 19, Paul reminds us that idols are nothing; that is, they have no power to defile or make unclean anything that is considered clean according to Scripture.
In verse 20, as we keep in mind the context of this passage is fleeing from idolatry, Paul tells us what the Gentiles practice is sacrificing to devils, and is considered [koinonia; fellowship or communion; sharing or partaking together] with devils.
Next, Paul tells us in verse 21 what this 'fellowship with devils' is, as practiced by the Gentiles.
And in verse 21, we see Paul brings his teaching to a conclusion by making a comparison, showing a contrast between two general types of eating of a sacrifice:
Eating of a Sacrifice: Two TypesLooking at this passage of 1Corinthians 10:15-22, if we apply what we have seen in the previous verses, we can make the following detailed comparison:
- the cup of Yahuweh, and the table of Yahuweh;
- the cup of devils, and the table of devils.
Eating of a Sacrifice: Details ComparedBeloved, Messiah is calling His people to flee from idols!
- The cup of Yahuweh is the true Passover, according to Scripture, and speaks of Yahuweh's blood covenant. The cup of Passover speaks of the sacrifice of Messiah as the true Passover Lamb, and by the drinking of this cup, one enters into covenant with the One whose blood was shed.
- The cup of devils is the man-made ceremony that is a passover substitute, as practiced by the Gentiles. It is not according to Scripture, and is an idol sacrifice. This cup does not speak of the sacrifice of Messiah, as it is not done at the time of Passover; and by the drinking of this cup, one does not enter into covenant with Messiah.
- The table of Yahuweh is related to the altar of sacrifice (Mal 1:7,12), and speaks of the Passover sacrifice of Messiah, of eating and drinking of His Covenant, the Memorial Passover Supper. This is the true Passover, according to Scripture.
- The table of devils is the man-made ceremony that is a passover substitute or counterfeit, and thus is an idol; it is not according to Scripture, so it speaks of an altar of idol sacrifice.
And the apostle Paul is telling us that this idolatry we are involved in [unknowingly] is that we are eating things sacrificed unto idols, when we 'take communion' or Lord's Supper, as a substitute for keeping and observing the Biblical Passover.
But we must ask, "Does Paul contradict his own words?"
Does Paul Contradict Paul?In order to determine whether Paul contradicts his own words, we will summarise briefly what Paul has said about the subject of eating things sacrificed unto idols, and set them as Case 1 and Case 2.
First, in Case 1, we see that the apostle Paul, in some of his writings, tells us that idols are nothing, that they have no power to defile the meat — but we are not to eat any physical, literal meat that has been sacrificed to idols, for the sake of others' consciences.
Then in Case 2, we see that Paul, in some of his other writings, tells us we are to flee from idolatry, and then Paul identifies this idolatry as being the sacrifice unto devils, and is the cup of devils, and is eating at the table of devils, or what we would call eating things sacrificed to idols.
If both Case 1 and Case 2 of Paul's teachings were both referring to physical, literal meat from the marketplace, then Paul would be contradicting himself, in allowing the eating of physical meat in Case 1, but warning against the eating of the same meat in Case 2.
If Case 1 of Paul's teachings is referring to physical, literal meat from the marketplace, but Case 2 is referring to a spiritual meat, then Paul would not be contradicting himself, in allowing the eating of physical meat in Case 1, but warning against the eating of spiritual meat in Case 2.
No, the apostle Paul knew the meaning of Isaiah's prophetic words, which are in agreement with the words of Messiah's warning to Believers in Revelation 2:14,20.
What Shall We Do?We have seen from the Scriptures, that in Yahuweh's sight, this practice of taking communion or the Lord's Supper as a substitute for keeping the Biblical Passover, is idolatry, which is spiritual fornication and spiritual adultery. We are His people, and are 'Betrothed' to Him as a Bride — so we are to avoid fornication and adultery.
By His Grace, Yahuweh enables us to walk according to His Word; by His mercy, He overlooks our ignorance. Yet He longs to walk with us in closer fellowship, and He greatly delights in us when we seek Him in the Scriptures. He also desires that we would 'grow up,' and become more mature.
But even though we are Born-again Believers, and have received His forgiveness, it is our ongoing, [un-repented of] sins that hinder our progress. Our many actions that He considers as wickedness are preventing us from walking in The Way with Him, and from doing His will. When we do not walk according to Scripture, we will have little or no understanding of His will!
As in our passage in Revelation, He is calling upon us today to repent!
The Bridegroom will choose only the repentant among His Bride-Company, and will refuse all others!
Now we can understand how most congregations today unknowingly promote and teach their people to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit spiritual fornication. Now we can see how widespread the problem is today, as addressed by Yahushua in the above passage in Revelation. The Doctrine of Balaam has taught these congregations to reject part of Yahuweh's Word, so they have embraced a substitute!
When we forget the 'earlier' Word of Yahuweh, men will attempt to invent many doctrines to take its place. The end result is that we transgress the Law — which is Sin, as the apostle John tells us in 1John 3:4!
Two RemindersAs a first reminder, we must re-state that some have misunderstood Paul's remarks in (1Corinthians 8:1,4,10; 10:28), where Paul tells us, "an idol is nothing." Peter reminds us that the unlearned and unstable 'wrest,' or twist the meaning of Paul's words (2Pet 3:16). This happens where there is only a surface understanding of Scriptures. If we believe any Bible teachings, without reading the Scriptures for ourselves to verify their truth, we can become deceived.
In 1Corinthians Chapter 8, let us remember that Paul is addressing physical meat bought in a physical marketplace. Even though the nature of the meat is not changed by this idol 'non-entity,' Paul tells us eating this meat may become a stumbling block for someone else, because of that person's conscience, in knowing where it came from. In this case we would refrain from eating this meat, so as to not stumble our Brother.
In this writing, however, we have detailed Messiah's warnings in Revelation 2:14,20, showing that these warnings do not refer the to eating of physical meat bought in a physical marketplace. Instead, these warnings refer to our rejection of Yahuweh's Word, and how that rejection creates a stumbling-block that we make for ourselves, when we eat a man-made, counterfeit version of the true spiritual meat given to us by Yahushua (John 6:55).
We have seen that the rejection of part of Yahuweh's Word, and substituting it with a man-made counterfeit, is idolatry and is Sin (transgression of the Law) according to the New Covenant.
If this were an unimportant issue, Yahushua would not need to give us the double-warning we have seen in Revelation. Because He has warned us twice, it must be very important to Him!
As a second reminder, we must briefly address one important point, in order to clear up certain misunderstandings. There is indeed much in Scripture about our need to feed daily upon Messiah, as the Living Bread.
Messiah has told us that He Himself is the Living Bread, and the Bread of Life (John 6:33,35,48,51), and that all of His Words are compared to Bread that we must live by (Matt 4:4; Luke 4:4).
Messiah tells us that His Words are also as milk that we must take while we are immature (Heb 5:12-13), and by feeding upon His Words, we grow and mature (1Pet 2:2).
Messiah also tells us that His Words are spirit, and they are life (John 6.63).
We must note carefully, that as followers of Messiah, we are called to feed upon Him continually, both in a spiritual or figurative sense, and in a physical sense.
How We Feed upon Messiah in the Spiritual SenseJust as Mephibosheth [whose name means 'breaking the idol'] was invited to eat bread at King David's table continually (2Samuel 9:7), we too are invited to eat bread "continually" at Messiah's table, in the spiritual sense. But to do so, we too must 'break the idol' of feeding on bread that is not of Him.
Messiah is the true Bread of Life, and His Words are spirit and life. As Believers we are called to feed upon Him, and to drink of His life, in the prophetic, spiritual sense. (Prov 14.30; John 6:35, 6:48, 6:51, 6:57-58, 6:63).
But what is a practical explanation of how we are to feed upon Messiah, and upon His Word, in the spiritual sense?
Let's notice the following:
Jesus saith unto them, My meat ['food'] is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. (John 4:34)Since Messiah is our example in all things, we see that our food is the same as His food. Our food is to do Father's will, and to finish the work that Father has assigned to each one of us. Thus our food is the same as Yahushua's food — to do Father's will — that is, to become a "DO-er" of Father's Words.
That is Father's will for us — that we would choose to obey His Words recorded in Scripture.
That is how we feed upon His Words in a spiritual sense, and that is how we grow spiritually.
If we do not yet have the foggiest idea of what Yahweh's specific will is for us, it is likely because our continual walk of disobedience, and our [un-confessed, unrepented of] sins, have set us apart [temporarily] from Him. We are apart from Him, when we choose to walk in a path that is different from the path of Righteousness in which He walks.
In order to know His will for us, we must begin to feed upon His Word, by daily studying His Word, so that we can learn His will, and do it. As we do His will, we then begin to understand the path of Righteousness.
Now let us see how we feed upon Him in a physical sense.
How We Feed upon Messiah in the Physical SenseEven as Messiah's words and His presence within us are our continual Bread, and our continual life, let us not confuse this prophetic, spiritual meaning with the clear and plain meaning of eating the bread and drinking the wine, as part of the Passover Memorial Supper.
We are called to feed upon Him continually, both in the spiritual sense, and in the physical sense of eating the Passover sacrifice, the representative body and blood of Messiah. We are called to observe the Passover at the time prescribed in Scripture, as a Memorial and a witness or testimony of His death, until the day He re-appears (1Co 11:26).
We are called to eat the bread that speaks of His flesh, and to drink the wine that speaks of His blood (John 6.55,56). And this is to be observed at a time not according to man-made tradition, but at the same time and in the same night Yahushua observed it, on the night of Passover, which is the night "before" He suffered (Luke 22:15) and is the "same night in which he was betrayed" (1Co 11:23). With these descriptions, it is easy to find the proper night in which to observe the Passover Memorial Supper.
As we feed upon Him, both in the spiritual sense of feeding on His Words, and in fellowship with the other Believers, and also in the physical sense of eating the Passover, we grow in our obedience to His Word. It is only because of our desire to mature, and to obey our Bridegroom, that we celebrate the Passover, and the eating of the matzah and wine after the meal, as a memorial of His death.
It is when we rebel, and refuse to feed upon Him in a spiritual sense — or when we refuse to feed upon Him in the physical sense of observing the Biblical Passover — that He gives us His warnings. Let us now see how we may heed His warnings, as we look at the remedy.
The RemedyHere is the remedy prescribed by Yahushua for the double-warnings seen in the Revelation passages:
[They/You] Repent; or else I will...quickly...fight against [them/you] with the sword of my mouth. (Rev 2:16)
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and [them/you] that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except [they/you] repent of [their/your] [wicked] deeds. (Rev 2:22)Beloved, if we will choose to repent — to stop doing what we have been doing, and begin to walk in the path of Righteousness — then Yahushua will not fight against us, but He will forgive us when we repent (Luke 17:3-4).
Now we can see how widespread the problem is today, of eating things sacrificed unto idols, and we can now understand how serious the issue is among Believers. Now we see why Yahushua gives us a double-warning, and a double call to repent.
ConclusionFor those who desire to prepare themselves for their Bridegroom, let us cease committing spiritual fornication, and eating of things sacrificed to idols. Let us instead begin to embrace the TRUE Passover meal — the TRUE Body and Blood of Yahushua. We will do this only when we cease practicing the Doctrine of Balaam, and begin to obey the earlier Word [Torah] of Yahuweh as a vital part of 'all Scripture' (2Tim 3:16).
This writing is a call to You, Dear Reader! Yahushua is personally calling you to repent, and to dig into the Scriptures, and read them for yourself! Believe no man! The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!"
For further information for the Bride's preparation, see the following Related Articles: