Called Out of Fellowship?

going it aloneSomething interesting came up at this month’s Connections meeting. One of the guys mentioned that his friend was called away from fellowship for six months to learn directly from God on how to keep Shabbat. He asked, “What this right, or was this wrong?”

Nearly everything we see in Torah – the entire Bible – are instructions for community. Oh sure, there are individual instructions for the High Priest, the king of Israel, and women – to name a few. But the heart of this individual instruction is all for the sake of the community.

When we look at every law of Torah through the lens of ‘love God, love each other’, we come to understand that the last thing Messiah would want to accomplish on earth is do away with God’s Torah. After all, it is God’s Spirit in writing. So the question: is it right or wrong for the friend to move away from the community for six months?

During that time, God taught this person what she needed to learn individually. When she returned to the congregation, she brought with her the insight and understanding God gifted to her.

At the same time, the beauty of the community is to keep us, as individuals, in check. What if she returned saying God told her the only way to properly enter into His rest was to starve her pets? I know, it sounds ridiculous, right? But it proves my point.

You, the congregation, received a check in your spirit the minute I said that. You know that God is love, and God is concerned about His creation – especially ones who are defenseless. As her friend and fellow believer, your counsel through scripture would show her the error of her ways.

Now if she could, like Job, point to God’s character and show solid scriptural backing for her newfound belief, then you would reconsider. But if not, you would help her by prayer and instruction to see how she strayed from the truth of scripture.

The point is, when we know God’s character, learned through His Torah, we hold every individual instruction up against that. If it lines up, we are good to go. If not….

Even Yeshua, the Living Torah, followed the traditions of men as long as it didn’t counter the Torah of God. Not only that, He instructed us – His disciples – to do the same.

Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, “The Torah scholars and Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses. So whatever they tell you, do and observe. But don’t do what they do; for what they say, they do not do. – Matthew 23:1-3

So, does God sometimes call us out of fellowship for a season? Absolutely! But He also calls us to return and share what we learned.

2 Responses to Called Out of Fellowship?

  1. James September 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    I’m always dubious of someone who says God told them something personally, especially as in your example above, Ro. I’d be astounded if God gave that personal a revelation to anyone except a Tzaddik.

    I do believe there are people who believe they hear from God but in fact they’re hearing from their own wants and needs. Of course, I have no idea about the person you mention, so I suppose it’s possible.

    Except that Shabbat is a family and community observance. I tried on a couple of occasions to observe Shabbos in an authentic manner as possible. My entire family was gone for a couple of weeks, so I had the run of our home. It’s fantastically difficult to just observe Shabbat in that manner because all of the behaviors are usually cemented in any given person over a matter of years, particularly if said person was raised in an observant Jewish home. For a total newbie to abruptly attempt to adopt a Judaically authentic observance is really tough.

    My second attempt went better than my first, but I did receive a bit of online criticism stating rightfully so that Shabbat is centered around the home full of people. You can’t do Shabbat observance justice without people.

    Now about being called out of community either temporarily or permanently. That’s a tough one because again, you have to decide if this is God telling you to do it or if it is your emotions talking. In my case it’s probably the latter, but there are other circumstances I don’t easily control that result in me doing without face-to-face community.

    All that said, if an individual says they’re leaving community for some period of time to study Shabbos observance, all you can really do is wish them well and hope they don’t return with a lot of funny ideas.

  2. Ro Pinto September 12, 2016 at 7:52 am #

    I agree that we have to be weary of people who say they hear from God. I’ve run into a lot of them in ministry. It is interesting that Shoftim was our Torah portion, addressing the requirements of a prophet – did his prophecy come true and did it line up with the Word of God. I think we have to apply these principles to everyone we speak to within the body of Messiah. Is what they are saying lining up with the totality of the Word of God, with His character? I believe it is also important for us not to be stuck in our paradigm, but be open to the voice of God, especially when He tells us we are getting it wrong.

    I remember reading your posts about your Sabbath experiment, James. I agree that Shabbat is a family experience, and I truly pray for your family that you can all celebrate this wonderful gift together. There are rare occasions when my granddaughter isn’t with me on the weekend. When this occurs, I have thoroughly enjoyed a quiet Sabbath meal with my Father. Now, if this were an every week occurrence, there definitely would be guests at the table.

    Our temple recently decided to forgo Erev Shabbat services for 4 weeks during the High Holy Days. They are doing this to encourage people to spend the time celebrating at home with family and friends. I think this is awesome, because it IS all about family. But the ministry I lead is predominantly singles, so there will be a big celebration at my home soon. We are also planning 2 more nights at other locations. My biggest concern is that people continue to celebrate, because what happens if the day comes when we can no longer meet in public? That does not negate God’s appointed times.

    To help people understand how to celebrate Shabbat, the temple gave a link to Birthright Israel’s Shabbat instructions. It is informative, and encourages everyone to do it, without focusing on a strict liturgy. While I understand this is a video by Jews, for Jews, I was thrilled to watch it, and got some ideas for teaching.

    As director of Connections, I am planning a Sabbath weekend retreat entitled ‘Entering God’s Rest’. The video confirmed what I am feeling in my spirit, that it is not so important that we get it all right, but that we take steps to do as God commanded, even before Sinai, that the Sabbath day is blessed and sanctified. It is actually how God called me to celebrate, just take first steps – the biggest of which was the decision to do it.

    And I have to say, James, that it was the Spirit of God that called me out of the church I was attending, and set my feet on the path I am now walking. However, it didn’t happen all at once. The revelation of Yeshua being Jewish and the Torah still standing was a gradual thing that happened over 5+ years. Not that I was out of fellowship that long, it was actually about a year away from Sunday church. When He sent me back, it was to another church. Yet, I also didn’t completely step away from fellowship. I was participating in Bible study and even leading one. In fact, it was during this time that I organized an annual interchurch beach worship that is still happening with hundreds of people in attendance.

    This morning I was reading “Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days – a Guided Journal” by Kerry Olitzky and Rachel Sabath. The entry this morning was talking about all the noise in our lives, and how at Sinai, all 600,000 people were silent before Adonai, hearing what He had to say. I think sometimes it’s necessary to silence the noise of the world – even the noise inside the church – to be able to listen to His still small voice.

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