Before dealing with the subject of stumbling blocks, I feel it necessary to deal with the aspect of our relationship with YHWH that is referred to as the way of YHWH or the path. This is a journey with Him, and scripture speaks allegorically about this journey as a way in which to walk, the path that YHWH directs. Thorah means instruction, teaching; from the root word yarah, which means to flow as water (i.e. to rain), to lay or throw (to shoot); fig. to point out ( as if by aiming the finger), to teach (direct, inform, instruct, lay, show). The Thorah of YHWH points out the Way that we should walk. While this study is not the focus of thorah, for those of you that desire to learn more on that subject, I have other studies specific to the Thorah of YHWH in the Teachings section.
The Thorah of YHWH is not a mass body of laws that men have added to over the centuries and millenniums. That is the teachings and traditions of men, yet another study. What I am referring to is what Yahusha pointed out as true thorah, also prefaced by what was taught in the beginning. So when I speak of the thorah and the way, please do not misunderstand and assume that I am referring to the mass of Judaic law or everything included in the canon of what is called the Bible. YHWH makes the distinction and so should we. This subject is partially dealt with in the Traditions of Men study in this same section.
Derek way, road, journey. A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language by Ernst Klein. Another word that is similarly and sometimes paired with Derek is orach, the path. Orach path, way, route. A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language by Ernst Klein
HaDerek is The Way. One of my
favorite passages about The Way is one from Shemoth
[Exodus], when those leaving Mitsrayim [
Messenger of YHWH
It is sad that the English frequently mistranslates malak as angel. A malak is a messenger. Granted it could be a non-human messenger, but not all malakiym [messengers] are such. Kind of like all squares are parallelograms, but not all parallelograms are squares some are rectangles. At any rate, YHWH sent a messenger to guard these people in this Way. They were directed to obey this messenger who had the name YHWH in him. The result of obeying this messenger was blessings from YHWH, the same as keeping covenant with YHWH. The nebiyiym [prophets] also functioned in this capacity of pointing out the way of YHWH.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 7:22-26, 22
for i did not speak to your fathers, nor command
them in the day that i brought them out from the
land of mitsrayim, concerning matters of burnt offerings and slaughterings. 23
but i commanded them this thing, saying, obey my
voice, and i will be to you for elohiym,
and you will be my people. also, walk in all the
ways that i have commanded you, so that it may be
well with you. 24 but they
did not listen nor bow their ear. but they walked
in their own schemes, in the domination of their evil heart, and went backward
and not forward. 25 since
the day that your fathers came out of the land of mitsrayim
Yahusha, in the testimony of MaththiYahu [Matthew], also was sent by YHWH to lead the people in The Way. He was constantly pointing out true thorah, correcting false teachings, warning against teachers of lies and deceptions, to bring people back into right relationship with YHWH. MaththiYahu [Matthew] 7:12-21, 12 all therefore that you will that men will do to you, so also do you to them, for this is the thorah and the nebiyiym [prophets]. 13 enter in at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate, and broad the way of the entrance to abaddon [place of destruction]; and they are many who go in. 14 how small is the gate, and narrow the way of the entrance to life; and they are few who find it. 15 beware of nebiyiym of the lie, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but within are ravening wolves. 16 by their fruits you will know them. do they gather from thorns grapes, or from briers figs? 17 so every good tree makes good fruits; but an evil tree makes evil fruits. 18 a good tree cannot make evil fruits, nor an evil tree make good fruits. 19 every tree that makes not good fruits is cut down, and falls into the fire. 20 therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 not every one that says to me, my master, my master, enters the kingdom of the heavens; but he who does the will of my father who is in the heavens.
Mosheh [Moses] is considered to be another of these messengers. Yahusha [Joshua]22:5, only, be very much on guard to do the commands and the thorah, which mosheh the servant of YHWH, commanded you, to love YHWH your elohey, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your being. Mosheh is not responsible for the giant body of laws ascribed to him, though he might have authored quite a number. It is a common practice throughout history and cultures for a writer to add weight to his ideas by ascribing them to a dead, famous writer or person of stature, whether it be Mosheh, Plato or Shakespeare. This is part of what I was mentioning earlier as to what True Thorah actually is, which is not just a body of laws, but shows the character of YHWH.
The following passages are just a sampling to show the correlation between the thorah/teachings of YHWH and the way/path of YHWH.
Thehillah [Psalm] 25:4-10, 4 make me know your ways, YHWH; teach me your paths. 5 lead me in your truth and teach me; for you are the elohey of my salvation; on you i wait all the day long. 6 remember, YHWH, your compassions and your mercies; for they are from eternity. 7 do not remember the sins of my youth, or my transgressions. according to your mercy, remember me, for the sake of your goodness, YHWH. 8 good and upright is YHWH; therefore he will teach sinners in the way. 9 he will guide the meek in justice; and he will teach the meek his way. 10 all the paths of YHWH are mercy and truth to those keeping his beriyth [covenant] and his testimonies.
Thehillah 27:11, teach me your way, YHWH, and lead me in a level path, because of those who watch me.
YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 26:7,8, 7 the path for the just is uprightness. upright one, level the track of the just. 8 yes, YHWH, in the path of your judgments we awaited you; for your name and for your memory is the desire of our being.
This passage is from one of my favorite thehillah, 119 the acrostic poem of the exaltation of the Thorah of YHWH. Each letter of the alefbeth has 8 verses attributed to it. These 8 verses are from the the letter d [He]. Thehillah [Psalm] 119:32-35, 33 instruct me, hwhy, the way of your rules, and i keep it, to the end. 34 make me understand, and i will guard your thorah, and observe it with all heart. 35 cause me to walk in the path of your commands; for in it i delight. 36 bend my heart to your testimonies, and not to unjust gain. 37 turn away my eyes from seeing worthlessness; by your way, give me life. 38 confirm to your servant your sayings; who is belonging to your fear. 39 turn away my disgrace which i dread; for your judgments are good. 40 look, i have longed for your charges; through your righteousness give me life.
Patterns of the People
Unfortunately, we see over and over, a pattern of the majority of people, regardless of the time period. YHWH calls to a group of people, makes covenant with them and then they fall away. Through His messengers, He points out the vanity of following the ways of the Goyiym [Gentiles]. Before anyone gets upset by that term, realize that according to scripture, it was used of those outside of the covenant with YHWH. YHWH even points out that Yisrael was a goy before making covenant with Him. He also calls Yisrael a goy when they turn their backs on Him.
YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 55:6-9, 6 seek YHWH while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 let the wicked forsake his way and the man of vanity his thoughts, and let him return to YHWH, and he will have mercy on him; and to our elohey, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says YHWH. 9 for as the heavens are high from the earth, so my ways are high from your ways, and my thoughts from your thoughts.
YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 6:16, so says YHWH, stand by the ways and seek, and ask for the eternal paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will attain rest for your nefeshoth [beings]. but they said, we will not walk in it.
YirmeYahu 10:1-3, 1 hear the word which YHWH speaks to you, beyth yisrael. 2 so says YHWH, do not learn the way of the goyim; and do not be terrified at the signs of the heavens; for the goyim were terrified at them. 3 for the rules of the people are vanity..
YirmeYahu 5:4,5, 4 so i said, surely they are poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of YHWH, the judgment of their elohey. 5 i will go up for myself to the great men and will speak to them. for they have known the way of YHWH, the judgment of their elohey. but these have joined in breaking to pieces the yoke; they have torn off the bonds.
YirmeYahu 18:13-17, 13
so YHWH says this, ask now among the goyim, who has heard things like these? the virgin of yisrael has done a
very horrible thing. 14 does the snow of
Benefits for walking in the Way of YHWH
As all the verses above show, there is a cause and effect to this relationship with YHWH. If you do not follow His Thorah, that way leads to ruin, the place of destruction, death. On the other hand, to the few that follow the way of YHWH, there is life, the life of YHWH. Some of which have been mentioned in the earlier verses: mercy, rest for your being, salvation, health, fruitfulness, long life. The cause and effect of keeping or not keeping the thorah of YHWH is a part of the Thorah Versus Favor study in the Teachings and the Foundation section of the site.
Thehillah 119:1-8, 1 happy is the blameless ones way, those walking in the thorah of hwhy. 2 happy are those guarding his testimonies, with the whole heart they seek him. 3 also, they do no injustice, in his ways they walk. 4 you have commanded your charges to be observed fully. 5 that my ways were firm by observing your rules. 6 then, i will not be ashamed when i look to all your commands. 7 i will praise you with an upright heart, in my learning the judgments of your righteousness. 8 your rules i observe, leave me not entirely.
Thehillah 128:1, a song of ascents. Happy is everyone who fears YHWH, who walks in his ways.
Mishley [Proverbs] 10:29, the way of YHWH is strength to the upright, but ruin is to doers of iniquity.
Beautiful are the Feet
Another aspect of this walking in the ways/paths of YHWH deals with our feet. Keeping on this path is contingent on our steps determined by where our hearts and minds are. We cannot be double minded and serve two masters. What our eyes see, what we think on, and what we desire with our hearts will determine the steps of our feet. For those whose eyes, hearts, minds and beings are fixed on YHWH, their feet are secure on this way. For those that are not, they encounter a myriad of thorns and barbs, snares and stumbling blocks.
Thehillah 26, 26 1 of dawiyd. judge me, YHWH, for i have walked in my integrity; i also have trusted in YHWH; i will not slide. 2 examine me, YHWH, and prove me; purify my reins and my heart. 3 for your mercy is before my eyes; and i have walked in your truth. 4 i have not sat with lying men; and i will not go in with hypocrites. 5 i have hated the assembly of evildoers, and i will not sit with the wicked. 6 i will wash my hands in innocency; so i will go around your altar, YHWH, 7 to cause to hear with the voice of thanksgiving and recount all your wonderful works. 8 YHWH, i have loved the place of your beyth, and the place where your honor dwells. 9 do not gather up my being with sinners, nor my life with men of blood, 10 in whose hand is a plot, and their right hand is full of a bribe. 11 but i will walk in my integrity; redeem me and favor me. 12 my foot stands in an even place; in the assemblies i will bless YHWH.
Thehillah 44:18, our heart has not turned back, and our steps have not swerved from your path,
Thehillah 119:101, 105, 101 from every evil path i restrain my feet, so that i observe your word.
105 a light to my foot is your word, and a light to my path.
Chabaqquq [Habakkuk] 3:19, YHWH adonay is my might, and he sets my feet like the hinds, and he will make me to walk on my high places.
Mishley 4:23-27, 23 keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. 24 turn away from you the crooked mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. 25 let your eyes look straight ahead, and let your eyelids look straight before you. 26 study the track of your feet, then all your ways will be established. 27 do not turn to the right hand or to the left; turn your foot aside from evil.
There are times when people lose their focus and that can be the beginning of instability, if they do not turn and return to YHWH. Thehillah73:1-3, 1 a mizmor of asaf. truly elohiym is good to yisrael, to those who are of a pure heart. 2 and as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps nearly made to slip. 3 for i was jealous of the proud; i looked on the shalom of the wicked.
Stumbling Blocks and Snares
Mishley 4:10-19, 10 my son, hear and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. 11 i have taught you in the way of wisdom; i have led you in the right tracks; 12 when you go, your tracks will not be narrowed, and when you run, you will not stumble. 13 take fast hold of instruction, do not let her go; keep her, for she is your life. 14 do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evildoers. 15 avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on. 16 for they do not sleep if they have done no evil, and their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall. 17 for they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 18 but the path of the just is as a bright light going on and shining till the day is established. 19 the way of the wicked is as darkness; they do not know at what they stumble.
In addition to slipping on this path, there is the aspect of being trapped, snared because we were not careful of where we stepped and stumbling bocks placed or left by others, as well as thorn and barbs by the way. This is the primary reason for this section of the website, to help raise the way of YHWH, to clear the path of obstacles that you may not see, and remove snares that have been laid by others to trap you.
57:14, "and he will say, 'raise up. raise up. clear the way.
make the stumbling block rise from the way of my people.' "
Thehillah [Psalm] 119:165, "Great shalom to those who love Your
and to them there is no stumbling block."
Wayyiqra [Leviticus] 19:9-18, 9
and as you reap the harvest of your land, you will not completely reap the
corner of your field; and you will not gather the gleaning of your harvest; 10 and
you will not glean your vineyard, and you will not gather the leavings of
your vineyard; you will leave them to the poor and to the ger;
i am YHWH your elohey. 11 you will not steal nor lie, nor
deceive to one another. 12
and you will not swear by my name to a falsehood; nor will you pollute the
name of your elohey, i
am YHWH. 13 you will not
extort your neighbor, nor rob; you will not allow the wages of one hired to
remain with you until morning. 14
you will not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind; for
you will fear your elohey. i am YHWH. 15
you will not do evil in judgment; you will not respect the face of the poor,
nor favor the face of the mighty; in righteousness you will judge your
neighbor. 16 you will not
go as a slanderer among your people; you will not stand up against the blood
of your neighbor; i am YHWH. 17 you will not hate your brother
in your heart; you will certainly reprove your neighbor, and not allow sin
on him. 18 you will not
take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people; but you
will love your neighbor as yourself; i am YHWH.
Thehillah 119:165-168 , 165 great shalom those loving your thorah, and nothing to them is a stumbling-block. 166 i wait for your salvation, hwhy, and your commands i do. 167 my nafesh observes your testimonies, and i love them greatly. 168 i observe your charges and your testimonies, for all my ways are before you.
YeshaYahu 8:11-20, 11 for so YHWH spoke to me with a strong hand, and taught me against walking in the way of this people, saying, 12 do not say, a conspiracy, to everything of which this people says, a conspiracy. and do not fear its fear, and do not dread. 13 YHWH tsebaoth him set apart, and he will be your fear; and he will be your dread. 14 and he will be for a miqdash, and for a stricking stone and a stumbling block rock to the two houses of yisrael; for a trap and for a snare to the ones living in yerushalaim. 15 and many among them will stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 bind up the testimony, seal the law among my students. 17 and i will wait on YHWH, who hides his face from the beyth yaaqob; and i will look for him. 18 look, i and the children whom YHWH has given to me are for signs and wonders in yisrael from YHWH tsebaoth, who dwells on mountain tsiyon. 19 and when they say to you, seek to the necromancers, and to the knowers, those whistling imitators and those muttering; should not a people seek to its elohay, than for the living to seek the ones who died? 20 to the thorah and to the testimony. if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no dawn to them.
Just as with the stumbling blocks, various actions or practices are considered snares, such as idolatry and unrighteous behavior against others. There are two words used for snares here, moqesh and fach.
Shoftiym [Judges] , and gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, even in ophrah. and all yisrael went whoring after it there, and it became a snare to gideon and to his beyth.
Thehillah 106:35-40, 35 but mingled with the goyim, and learned their works. 36 and they served their idols, and they became a snare to them. 37 and they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of kenaan. and the land was polluted with the blood. 39 and they were unclean with their works, and went whoring in their acts. 40 and the anger of YHWH glowed against his people; and he detested his inheritance.
Mishley [Proverbs] 22:22-25, 22 rob not the poor because he is poor, and oppress not the afflicted in the gate. 23 for YHWH will contend for their cause, and will plunder the nafesh of their plunderers. 24 do not feed a possessor of anger, and do not go in with a man of fury, 25 otherwise you learn his ways and take a snare for your nafesh [being].
YirmeYahu ,26, 25 your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good from you. 26 for among my people are found wicked ones. they lie in wait, as one who sets snares. they set a trap, they catch men.
As with anything that threatens us, YHWH and His thorah are the only things that will save us from these snares and traps of others. It also bears mentioning that there are people who intentionally go out of their way to ensnare a person, some just for the sheer pleasure of it. There was a website I used to visit. I had heard of a man that created a site where people could send postcards of their secrets. He had written a book with numerous ones listed. People even made postcards, with secrets on them and placed them in his books on the shelves, that others would purchase. Some of those postcards were then sent to the site and posted there. It was an interesting view of how people deal with hidden thoughts. I had only been to the site a few times when I saw a postcard of an artistic and non-revealing portrayal of a nude woman in red heels. The woman wrote that she liked to seduce clergy and priests, that it made her feel more powerful than God. That made me feel so sad inside. She viewed these men as men of God, whether that was true or not, only YHWH knows their hearts, but the fact that she would go out of her way to tempt someone for the sole purpose of breaking them, make them fall, showed how empty she was and little that she thought of herself, that was the best thing she could think to do with her life. I stopped reading the site after that. There are and have always been people with nothing better to do than lay a snare for others.
Thehillah 140:1-5, 1 to the chief musician. a mizmor of dawiyd. YHWH, deliver me from the evil man; keep me from the violent man, 2 who devises evil things in the heart; they gather wars all the day. 3 they sharpen their tongues like a snake; poison of adders is under their lips. selah. 4 YHWH, keep me from the hands of the wicked; keep me from the violent man who plots to trip up my steps. 5 the proud have hidden cords and a trap for me; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set snares for me. selah.
Thehillah 141:8-10, 8 but my eyes are on you, YHWH, adonay; in you i take refuge; do not make my nafesh naked. 9 keep me from the hands of the trap they laid for me, and from the snares of the workers of evil. 10 let the wicked fall into their own nets at the same time; i even will pass by.
Thehillah 25:15, my eyes are ever toward YHWH; for he will bring my feet out of the net.
Thehillah 91:1-3, 1 he who dwells in the secret place of elyon will abide in the shade of shadday. 2 i will say to YHWH, my refuge and my fortress, my el; i will trust in him. 3 for he delivers you from the snare of the fowler, from the plague of destruction.
Thehillah 119:110, the wicked have given a snare for me, but from your charges i do not stray.
Thehillah 124:7,8, our nafesh has escaped like a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. 8 our help is in the name YHWH, the maker of the heavens and earth.
Thorns and Barbs
Thorns and barbs are not mentioned as frequently, but they should be noted. Also, a couple of the references are during the conquest writings for Yisrael. While I do not see YHWH advocating going in and slaughtering people just to occupy their land, nor do I see YHWH advocating closing yourself from all others such as the practices of the monasteries and cloisters. YHWH is greater than that and as believers in Him, our faith is stronger than that. He says to be lights to the Goyiym [Gentiles]. How can that be done if you are an isolationist? What I do agree with concerning these few verses of thorns and barbs is that you very much need to love YHWH, wholeheartedly and follow His way, otherwise the practices of these other peoples would become thorns and barbs to you, just as the snares and stumbling blocks. Yahusha, the son of YHWH, never advocated an isolationist viewpoint. He spoke in simplistic parables to the people about being the salt of the earth and to not hide your light under a bushel. He sent his students out into the world. Please understand that YHWH is not a nationalistic deity like some patron deity of a football team that only helps one side. The creator of the world is not a god just of the valleys or the plains or the mountains, as the scripture states, but over all and over all the people. His beyth [house] is just that, HIS house and not some nations. Of course that is another one of a myriad of studies.
BeMidbar [Numbers] 33:55, and if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it will be, those whom you let remain of them, for pricks in your eyes, and for thorns in your sides, and they will distress you in the land in which you are living.
Yahusha [Joshua] 23:11-13, 11 and you will be very watchful for yourselves to love YHWH your elohey. 12 but if you at all turn away and cleave to the remnant of the nations, of those who are left to you, and intermarry with them, and go in to them, and they to you, 13 know certainly that YHWH your elohey will not continue to dispossess these nations from before you, and they will be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which YHWH your elohey has given you.
Mishley 22:5, 5 thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse, he who keeps his nafesh [being] will be far from them.
Removing Stumbling Blocks
It is my belief that we are on a journey with YHWH, His Way, that His thorah teaches us the way that we should go and in doing so, reveals more of who YHWH is and how we should behave. I also see it as our responsibility to YHWH and therefore to others to not only avoid the stumbling blocks, snares and thorns and barbs that are on this path, but to remove them for others, to warn them of the snares. Remember, these stumbling blocks are not just the obvious forms of idolatry, such as sacrificing your child in the fire to Molech, but in our treatment of others, as YHWH directs.
For too many of us, we have been on the paths that others have made and did not know that these paths were not the paths of YHWH. It is like the study of theology in seminary. Theo is Greek for God and logy is Greek for study. But what ends up happening is that the students dont study God, they study the studies of the studies of God, sometimes for numerous generations. It should then be called theologylogylogy. Major moves in various denominations and sects have occurred when people actually read the word for themselves, instead of taking the teachings of men as gospel, breaking away from the errors that they saw. Unfortunately, some get stuck in that revelation, making it a rut, instead of continuing the journey. Thats how a sect or denomination is born. Many years ago, when I saw that passage in YirmeYahu 6:16, so says YHWH, stand by the ways and seek, and ask for the eternal paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will attain rest for your nefeshoth [beings]. but they said, we will not walk in it., I took YHWH at His word and I asked Him for these eternal paths and have never looked back.
But it is not just a matter of discovering this for ourselves. We need to be like on the chain gang of YHWH, busting up the larger stumbling stones with the hammer of YHWH (YirmeYahu 23:29, is not my word so like fire, says YHWH, and like a hammer which breaks a rock in pieces?), clearing it of snares laid by others, removing the thorns and barbs (have you ever seen what a Texas mesquite thorn does to a tire, much less a foot?) and answer the call of YHWH, YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 57:14), "and he will say, 'raise up. raise up. clear the way. make the stumbling block rise from the way of my people.' " While I am fully aware of the history of chain gangs in the south, comprised mostly of falsely accused and convicted black men to provide free labor to create roads, I am a willing servant of YHWH and if He wants a road, then by YHWH, He will get a road. I just need a really cool song to sing while I do it. Any suggestions?