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The Obligations of the Student - Part 4
Finding a Teacher
A student is obligated to find and study under a teacher. The rise of the Nazarenes is still very much in its infancy, with the enemy suppressing it wherever possible by enumerable obstacles.
Without the influx of sufficiently trained Yah-fearing teachers, the movement is barren of Yeshivot (houses of study) and so it remains rag-tag with various congregations functioning more like factions rather than sanctuaries that make up the wider body of Moshiach.
With the advent of internet technology, the frontiers of the movement are both blessed and cursed. The same technology that spreads truth also spreads falsehood. To many go to the wisdom of Rabbi Google rather than dare start a relationship with a Torah Teacher.
The charge of every mature believer is to train and prepare people for the Coming Kingdom. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)”
“In the presence of Elohim and of Yahshua HaMoshiach who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)”
When you listen to someone teach Torah, what is it about the teaching that attracts you to it? Chances are, whether you like it or not, there are many factors that arise. Predominantly, if you like it, it will be to do with the depth of knowledge a speaker has on the subject, then this is balanced against the relevancy of that knowledge to your perceived needs. Perhaps it was as if the speaker was talking to you in a direct manner, respectfully instructing and correcting you in something that you struggle with.
Perhaps a teacher displayed a knowledge of the Scriptures, but presented it in a manner that challenged or even frightened you a little bit. Even though you didn’t like what was said, you knew in your spirit that it was truth and you were grateful for the information and intended on applying it to your life.
Or a teacher might have a way of preaching that intrigued you, displaying knowledge and presenting it with stories and anecdotes that entertained and brought insight, which allowed you to see how obeying certain commands brings about other beneficial circumstances and blessings.
Some people just enjoy listening to a good evangelist. It’s worth noting that even the wicked King Herod enjoyed listening to John the Immerser, even though he never heeded his instructions and rebukes. “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. (Mark 6:20)”
The Roman Governor Felix was also a man in power who had a fearful fascination with the Word, but never did anything about it. Sha’ul HaShliach’s teachings, coupled with the desire to receive a bribe from him to be set free, caused Felix to send for him often to find out more information (Acts 24:25-26).
Some hear, especially those with abundant means, but their hearing is the same as listening to a riveting news story or radio drama.
Some teachers might present good and in-depth lectures, but are not well liked because they come across in a way that is too strict or arrogant. Other teachers might not be well liked because they display little knowledge or are poor speakers.
Examine what draws you to a particular teacher. Is it because they say what you want to hear or is it because they speak the truth even if it’s a little hard to swallow?
You should like a teacher because he teaches you about what you need, not what you want. What a student needs in Messiah and what a student wants in Messiah can be two totally different things.
The Command to Have Teachers
The office of teacher isn’t enumerated among the list of Biblical professions in Ephesians 4:11 for nothing. A student of Torah is not a student unless he has a teacher.
“Moshiach himself gave…pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Moshiach may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12)”
Every Torah centred community, no matter how small, has to appoint leaders and teachers within its ranks. “Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town Yahweh your Elohim is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. (Deuteronomy 16:18)”
Where possible, other elect are to appoint these roles. “Sha’ul and BenNavi (Barnabas) appointed elders for them in each Qahal (Gathering of Called out Ones) and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to Elohim, in whom they had put their trust. (Acts 14:23)”
“…put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (Titus 1:5)”
But select capable men from all the people--men who fear Elohim, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. (Exodus 18:21-22)
Torah gives certain people the authority to teach and to make judgments about the law.
“Go to the Levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place Yahweh will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. (Deuteronomy 17:9-11)”
Rabbinical instructions and traditions should never be casually dismissed as merely "manmade decrees.” The application of the Torah can bring with it various other requirements to see that it’s observance is being adhered to in the most practical and effective way.
Practices that edify the Torah, that is to make it more beautifully and notably observed are venerable.
“Now I commend you for remembering me in everything and for maintaining the traditions, just as I passed them on to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2)”
“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)”
Practices that substitute Elohim’s commands with other man-made ways are absolutely forbidden. “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of Yahweh your Elohim that I give you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)”
“You have let go of the commands of Elohim and are holding on to human traditions…You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of Elohim in order to observe your own traditions!...Thus you nullify the word of Elohim by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:8-9,13)
The key when examining a tradition is see whether it smothers the Torah or enables it to be better fulfilled. For example, the Erev Shabbat Service is designed to make the observance of Shabbat to be set-apart from the normative days of the week by imbuing it with a noteworthy array of acknowledging actions.
The Ethiopian Eunuch’s reaction the Philippos HaShliach (one of the original Hellenistic Elders of the movement) is a fine example of the requirement of a teacher. “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard a eunuch of Ethiopia reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31) Notice the Ethiopian’s reply, “How can I (understand what I’m reading) unless someone explains it to me?”
You cannot learn the Word on your own. Sure the Spirit should lead you and sure, Yahshua is your teacher, but shucking a human who is proficient in Torah is like ignoring your field commander and contacting the President for battle orders. There is an order of authority in the heavenly realms that filters down from on High to angels and then onto men. If you ignore certain Biblically ordained offices because you feel uncomfortable, then you and whoever is with you is part of a rogue battalion and while you’re not necessarily against the cause, you’re at the very least a hindrance.
“If you wish it, my child, you can be taught; apply yourself, and you will become intelligent. If you love listening, you will learn, if you pay attention, you will become wise. Attend the gathering of elders; if there is a wise man there, attach yourself to him. Listen willingly to any discourse coming from Elohim, do not let wise proverbs escape you. If you see a man of understanding, visit him early, let your feet wear out his doorstep.” (Baruch 6:32-36)
The Role of a Teacher
A rabbi is not the Jewish equivalent of a clergyman, acting as a councillor or focal point of religious ritual. A rabbi is someone who continues the charge of the 70 Elders who were appointed by the Prophet Moshe. “Yahweh said to Moshe: ‘Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.’” (Numbers 11:16-17)
Many people refuse to accept a person as a rabbi unless they come from Orthodox Judaism on the grounds that they have not come from the original appointments. This is an unnecessary default view to have as there are many Jews who have received full ordination and who have come to faith in Messiah Yahshua.
Rather than seeking to resolve the legalities of a matter in Torah, a rabbi’s role is to discern the spirit behind the matter itself. “‘Rabbi, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ Yahshua replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” (Luke 12:13-14) Notice here that King Messiah Yahshua rejects the role of arbitrator in order to probe the attitude motivating his questioner while implicitly rejecting his request.
When a believer makes a formal commitment to study under a rabbi he has an obligation to be a constant recipient of his teachings. It is the student’s responsibility to pursue his rabbi for direction in what to study, how to study and when to study, rather than the other way round. A teacher or a rabbi shouldn’t lord over the student. “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:24) A student should imitate his rabbi. “Imitate me as I imitate Messiah.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16) A student should never think himself superior to his rabbi or teacher. “A student is not above his rabbi, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his rabbi.” (Luke 6:40)
Supporting Teachers and their Ministries
A rabbi should receive pay for his lessons because “…(a) worker deserves his wages...” (Luke 10:7) But a rabbi should not be a burden to his pupils, expecting recompense from the poorer communities. “I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the Full Message of Elohim to you free of charge? I robbed other congregations by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.” (2 Corinthians 11:6-9) The stronger Netzarim communities should support the weaker ones.
Every regular worshipper to this service has an obligation to help support this ministry. Every time you tithe here you are paying for your place of worship to remain open, paying for the equipment we use, and for good college level Biblical teaching. If you don’t pay tithe after settling in and sussing us out, you’re robbing Yahweh. Tithe is 10% of whatever you receive in the hand, not whatever you have left over after you pay your bills. Those who are tithing should know that this is the very least you can do. There is no special merit for tireless tithing anymore than there is special merit for meeting together as a community every Sabbath. Tithing sits alongside everything else in your walk.
- Yahweh claims the tithe is His.
- I pay tithe to fulfill the covenant.
- Tithing is worship of Yahweh.
- Tithing supports Yahweh’s ministry.
- Tithing is a blessing promised if you do.
- Tithing reminds us Yahweh is your source.
- Tithing helps combat selfish materialism.
Tithing acknowledges Our Heritage.
- Tithing shows our love and affection.
- Tithing Fulfills our obligation.
- Tithing causes us to escape condemnation.
- Tithing finances the Spread of the Full Messianic Kingdom Message.
- Tithing causes us to avoid a curse.
- Tithing causes us to enjoy Yahweh’s blessing.
- Tithing causes us to be consistent.
Netzarim Antoecie is the oldest Netzarim Community in Australia, commencing in 2004 as Agudat Bris Sydney under Elder Maurie Hollman. At that time there were a few Christian Churches keeping Feasts and doing various Torah observances, but this fellowship was this first Bonified Nazarene Community, meaning that we started without a traditional Christian frame of reference, simply wishing to go back to the ways of the original disciples and followers of Yahshua, before the word “Church” or the concept of Greco-Roman Christianity ever begun. Elder Maurie’s Family Fellowship also can lay claim to this honour, since commencing an additional fellowship centred on family friendly worship and learning out at St Helen’s Park.
Netzarim Antoecie have many printed resources that are available. Such as Siddurim for the weekly Shabbat and High Holiday Machzorim. We also have a Bat Mitzvah service booklet and additional study resources like the Lost Book of Acts and the Diadochi (The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles).
We also have a website with many teachings and resources, which is updated weekly.
We live in an age of the technological marvel that is the internet, which allows one to personally research virtually any Torah related topic at a moment’s notice. Though this resource brings with it many advantages, it’s responsible use is imperative, otherwise a learner may become distracted and even hampered in his personal growth.
The world’s current technological advancement has risen while the general demeanor and attitude of the common man has declined. The mobile phone, a tool which has become a cross-platform for communication and information sourcing across various social media and applications utilities, has caused the modern believer to develop a somewhat impatient attitude. We are the now generation!
In this day we can acquire knowledge from an armchair, which in days-gone-by would have had to be attained by through much leg-work and effort. As such, we have become slaves to instant gratification. How many video games and various other forms of popular media have sidetracked the lives of potential Biblical scholars and Torah leaders around the world?
Those who hear and heed the call still feel a sense of disappointment in their walk. This is largely due to impatience. Impatience is basically lack of a desire to endure.
The Hebrew word for patience is savlanut, which also means "tolerance." The same root gives rise to words that means "suffer" (sevel) and "burdens" (sivlot). We learn from this that patience is not a necessarily a pleasant experience. We should expect patience to be the hard work we usually find it to be. That may mean enduring and tolerating, and the experience may even mean bearing a burden.
There is a story about a rabbi who gives a very heavy bag to a very poor recently married student. The rabbi says, “I want you to carry this bag full of diamonds to a friend of mine and give it to him. He lives way up in the mountains and when you get there he will give you a single diamond out of the bag as payment and you can use it to make a wedding ring for your wife and make her happy. The student picks up the bag and almost falls over due to its weight. He is a very weak man and seriously wonders if he’ll be able to do this task. He bids his rabbi farewell and only after a mile, he collapses in a heap almost passed out. At that moment his wife rings him and asks him about what he’d like her to cook for dinner this coming Shabbat. He goes berserk. “Can you call me later” he cries, “I’m busy! Why do you always have to ring at the worst times?!” He hangs up and takes a deep breath and heaves the bag over his shoulder and staggers off on his journey. As he walks he becomes even more angry and depressed at his situation. He thinks to himself, all this for a single diamond, which I’ll have to pay to get set in a ring anyway with money I don’t have. He starts thinking bad thoughts about his wife and his rabbi. Finally, his phone rings again and it’s his rabbi. He says, “I got the message wrong. I need you to take the bag to my friend and he is going to take one diamond and the rest of the diamonds in the bag are yours.” At that moment the student throws the bag over his shoulder and starts whistling as he walks with no trouble whatsoever. His wife rings again about the Shabbat meal and this time he greets her with enthusiasm and chats happily to her. What happened? The task never changed. The weight of the bag never changed. His wife’s phone topic never changed. The student’s physical ability never changed. It was his mind! The mind can have a dramatic affect over a person. When we wait for something worthwhile, it’s worth waiting for. If we don’t think it’s worth waiting for we won’t wait.
The Obligations of the serious student are to find a teacher, let him teach you. Be teachable! Find a group of believers, begin to integrate your life theirs. Not over the web, in person. Support your teacher and community. You-beaut Torah kid’s programs cost money and require committed people! This will never happen unless we have people and we have money. The only way we are going to have people is if they show up and the only why we are going to have money is if we give money.