Most are familiar with this scene, either firsthand or from television. But few understand the Biblical truth about "knowing" Him. That which constitutes a "personal relationship" according to the Bible is far removed from such superficiality. And how can we be so sure we are "saved," when even the Apostle Paul admitted he could easily compromise his own salvation through misconduct? (1Cor. 9:27)
Today’s Backward Approach to Yahweh
Most approach this subject in reverse. Rather than looking for what Yahweh can do for us, we must first come to grips with what He expects from us, His creation. The teaching of the Scriptures is that if we don’t please Him by our lives then we cannot have a close relationship with Him, which means salvation is out of the question until we do. Paul calls it being "strangers from the covenants of promise," Ephesians 2:12.
The key to enjoying a close bond with the Father Yahweh is found in what He expected from Israel, the one and only people with whom He made a personal covenant. In the precise terms of that covenant relationship, He stressed what Israel had to do in order to be His special people: obey and be blessed; disobey and be cursed, Deuteronomy 28.
Israel became Yahweh’s chosen through a promised commitment, just as one does through the marital vow. Similarly, He told Israel, "I am married unto you," Jeremiah 3:14. Israel entered a personal relationship through a covenant agreement in Exodus 24. Yahweh said, "Do this and I will be your Elohim and you will be my people."
Their promise to do all that Yahweh commanded in His law "and be obedient" sealed this covenant and brought them into a relationship with Yahweh unknown by any other nation or people. He in turn would be all they needed of Him: their Deliverer, Protector, Healer, Provider and Salvation.
The covenant agreement Israel entered is the only avenue revealed to mankind by which we can "connect" with Yahweh and know Him. Just as a bride takes on her husband’s name, Israel was known by the One to whom they were spiritually married and worshiped. "Your people are called by your Name," the prophet Daniel wrote in 9:19.
Through doing what He required, Israel knew well who Yahweh was and exactly what He expected of them. What bride would marry someone she knows nothing about?
Not only did Israel know and call on the personal Name of their "Husband," but Israel also knew what pleased Him, as well as the conditions establishing their marriage. It boiled down to obedience —"what must I do to deserve and receive His blessing?" When they obeyed, they were blessed. When they disobeyed, they were punished.
Yahweh’s bride ultimately chose to break the covenant she had made by ignoring Yahweh’s laws and worshiping the deities of the nations, Jeremiah 3:8. Yahweh called it adultery and He separated from Israel.
No-law Teachings and Charges of Legalism
Now the question becomes, did Yahweh give up on making any more covenants with mankind? Does He now come into a personal relationship with anyone who simply professes to know Him while attending large, religious "crusades"? Does a proper day-to-day walk and specific way of worship no longer matter for us today as it once did with Israel?
A majority assume just that, believing that personal behavior is irrelevant for salvation, and that Yahweh will save us in spite of ourselves. Not so, according to Yahshua’s words about his coming judgment in Luke13:27: "But he [the Savior] shall say…I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity." Yahweh will consider strangers anyone who does not do as He commands. Iniquity is lawlessness.
Many decades of endless onslaught against Yahweh’s law from pulpits everywhere have conditioned most people to think there must be something wrong with the law. The knee-jerk reaction against those who seek to obey their Heavenly Father with all their hearts is the accusation of "legalism." There is little the Evil One could have wanted more than to have the masses believe that there is something inherently wrong with obeying the Heavenly Father Yahweh. He convinced Adam and Eve to disobey, and he has been working the same ploy ever since. His successes have been overwhelming in our day because of the spiritual and moral decay and liberal attitude of the times.
The prophet Isaiah predicted exactly what we are seeing: "O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths," Isaiah 3:12.
Paul said his mission was to be an instrument for Messiah to "make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed," Romans 15:18. We find that those who walk in the light of obedience will be cleansed from all sin, 1John 1:7. Yahweh’s people in the New Testament are called people of the way precisely because they walk in a prescribed way of obedience to Yahweh (Acts 9:2; 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14 and 22).
A Renewed Covenant
Following the death of Yahshua the Messiah (who was the Mighty One in the Old Testament who interacted with Israel), Yahweh was free to marry another. That old marriage covenant was dissolved by Yahshua’s death. The new bride, potentially you and me, consists of the ones who have entered a "personal relationship" with Him through a new Covenant. That new Covenant is explained in Hebrews 8:10: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Yahweh; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a mighty one, and they shall be to me a people." His laws are now put within us.
When a woman remarries upon the death of her husband, she makes new vows to be faithful to the new husband. Similarly, when a husband remarries through the death of his wife, he expects his new wife to make the same promise of commitment and faithfulness made in his prior union. Yahweh is taking another Israelite bride, you and me. He as our "Husband" has not changed, Malachi 3:6. Therefore, the same vows of obedience and faithfulness are intact and in force. It is the New Testament Assembly that must fit into the covenant with Yahweh now, Ephesians 5:31-32.
Yahweh defines faithfulness through a commitment to keeping His laws. "I delight to do your will, O my Elohim: yes, your law is within my heart," Psalm 40:8. The writer of Acts makes this crystal clear: "This is he, that was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us." "Lively oracles" refers to the sacred utterances Yahweh gave to Moses — the law. That law included not just the Ten Commandments, but all the applicable law.
Exodus 34 is a recap of the giving of the law on Sinai. Yahweh proclaims His Name to Moses, and Moses uses His Name, verse 9. Then Yahweh details the terms of the covenant or "marriage vows," terms that include His Feast days (vv. 18-23). Observing of His Feasts is a marriage obligation under both covenants, Hebrews 8:8-13. Israel agrees to adhere to those commands.
We found in Hebrews 8 that the law is at the core of the New Covenant as well. The basic marriage terms are the same, but the bride includes others. To know and love Him is to keep His commandments, 1John 2:3; 5:3. Yahweh still demands fidelity and obedience from His bride. Before the feminist movement, marriage vows for the bride included the words, "love cherish and obey."
The New Covenant is the Old Covenant renewed, not thrown out. Paul explains in 2Corinthians 3:6, "Who also has made us ministers of the new testament (Greek diatheke, covenant)… . Notice that "new" in this verse is the Greek kainos, which means "renewed." If Paul had meant brand new the word neos would have been used.
Today, the New Covenant is a revitalized Old Covenant, where Yahweh’s laws are placed in our hearts, to become a part of us. One exception is that because Yahshua became our sacrifice offering once for all (Heb. 10:10), we no longer sacrifice animals.
You cannot know Yahweh unless you obey Him, learning how He thinks and discovering what is important to Him by doing what He asks of you. Yahshua said, "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." We are joined to Him when we call on and accept His personal Name, just as a bride takes on the personal name of her husband.
Study Yahweh’s Word. Let Him guide you in all truth. Then, become His bride by your faithfulness to Him and through the only Name that holds salvation.