Joseph Herrin (10-09-2015)
I receive correspondence from men with a wide array of religious beliefs and practices in prison. The following exchange of letters, and the two short videos that attend them, reveal one of the more unusual religious practices embraced in prison by those who profess to be Christians. I have written to this particular man 16 times over the course of nearly 3 years. He has always been cordial, and when he expressed an interest in learning Hebrew about a year ago I sent him a Hebrew primer as well as a copy of the Old Testament (the Tanakh) in Hebrew.
I realized some time back that he was embracing some of the errors of the Hebrew Roots Movement, and I sent him a copy of the book Attractive Deception – The False Hope of the Hebrew Roots Movement when it was completed. He did not respond to that writing, and when he recommended a video to me that showed himself and another man worshiping in their prison cell, I was grieved to observe the extent to which he is embracing ritualistic dead works.
Dear Joseph Herrin,
How are you sir! Its been a while since I wrote, so I thought I’ll drop a few lines.
You are truly Elijah in this age preparing the way of Yahawah Yahawashia. Blessed be the Holy one of Yisrael! Be encouraged in these times and stand firm.
I’m still studying the Hebrew language in regards to Biblical Hebrew. I have furthered my studies and was blessed with the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Yahweh is awesome! I have such a love to study His word. Thanks again for the Hebrew primer and Tanakh. I’m putting it to really good use.
I wanted to share a YouTube link with you. Search for, well type in “Hebrew Israelites Worship and Pray – Part 1.” You should see myself and another brother in our cell worshiping in the Hebrew tongue.
This is what I was sharing with you in the last letter. I wrote of the Ruach HaQodesh (Holy Spirit) showed me to worship like this. It was an amazing experience. I was in the hole when the Ruach HaQodesh showed me this. It has a narrative section along with it explaining what’s going on and what’s being said. Amazingly the form of worship consists of numbers 3 & 7. Part 3 is cut short. The time span ran out on the recorder. Please take a look at it and let me know what the Ruach HaQodesh tells you. There is a Menorah formed in my chest area. I thought it was amazing.
I’ve been truly blessed from the studies you have been sending out to me. I’m truly not the same person I was when I first came to prison. I’ve been locked up since July 22, 2009. I’m coming into my 7th year soon and the word of Yahawah has done a great work. As you can see, some times I say/use YaHaWaH. From my studies of Paleo Hebrew, the (Hebrew letter) vav that’s in the Father’s name was pronounced waw. Not vav, or o, u. The vav cannot be a vowel and consonant at the same time. So from my studies I believe his name in Paleo Hebrew was pronounced Ya-Ha-Wah.
Well my brother, again, it’s a blessing in the name of Yahshua HaMashiach to reach out to you in true love. May the truth of Yahawah continue to overtake you because you are a light, Elijah in this time, preparing the way of YaHaWahshi!!
P.S. I found out as well that the Hebrew root in my last name means “worker.” What a blessing! Please pray for me that I will continue the course and NOT get caught up in pride, but to remain humble before the mighty hands of Yahweh.
Thank you my Brother.
Thank you for writing again. I am thankful that you have kept me apprised of what is transpiring in your life and in your beliefs. In your letters you express yourself very well. You are also always cordial, conveying gratitude and encouragement in your words. It is my desire to always do the same with you. My determination is to speak truth to you, while preserving the bonds of love. I hope you will always find my communications to be beneficial and demonstrating concern for you as a man whom Yahweh has created to share His image and likeness.
As you might imagine, I receive correspondence from a great many men in prison who have embraced a wide array of belief systems. Whether in prison, or out of prison, there are numerous men (and women) who profess to be Christians to whom Yahshua will one day declare, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.” Multitudes lack the understanding of what it actually means to be a disciple of Christ. As a teacher appointed by Yahshua to lead people in the way of truth, I am continually examining the words and actions of others to discern whether they love truth and have apprehended it. I want to discover the character of their spiritual life (or lack thereof), and to counsel them according to their need.
It is quite common for men to be allured by some religious system or practice that provides an appearance of spirituality. Satan is a great deceiver. He has devised an endless array of false systems to divert people from discovering true relationship with Yahweh and His Son Yahshua. The most well known system of false Christian religion is Roman Catholicism which boasts of having more than a billion followers. There are more recent manifestations of lying and deceiving religious systems that masquerade as Christian. Some examples are the Mormon Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Not all such false religious systems and practices have such a strong and identifiable central authority structure as the three I have mentioned. Some of the less centralized substitutes for true Christianity share common beliefs, though there are many differences in local practice and leadership. Nevertheless, they too are proven to be false when they are carefully examined. One of these impostors is what I have referred to as the Hebrew Roots Movement. I would include the “Christian” sect known as Hebrew Israelites in this group. There is found among the members of those who identify as Hebrew Israelites, or Black Hebrew Israelites, such a wide departure from the apostolic faith and teachings of the New Testament that they cannot truly be judged to be Christian.
J., although you do not identify as a “Black Hebrew Israelite,” a recognized sect that is at its heart a racist religious organization, I have found it concerning that you identify as a “Hebrew Israelite.”
I fear that you have adopted some of the beliefs and practices of others who call themselves Hebrew Israelites, for error, no matter the source, always hinders men from arriving at the knowledge of the truth and walking in a fruitful relationship with Christ Yahshua.
You come across as very sincere in your letters, conveying a desire to experience a changed life, no longer controlled by the fleshly passions that led to you committing murder and being sent to prison with a life sentence. That you might be made a new creature in Christ is my hope and earnest desire as well, and I know that our Creator shares the same desire. From the time that Cain slew his brother Abel, until this present day, Yahweh has borne patiently with those who commit evil, seeking to persuade them to repent and turn to a path of righteousness that they might escape judgment and be shown mercy.
Ezekiel 18:27-28, 31-32
“Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die… Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares Yahweh God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
I hope you noticed a very important part of Yahweh’s words above. He tells His people to “make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” This, of course, is an impossibility. Man cannot change his nature any more than a leopard can change its spots.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good, who are accustomed to doing evil.”
One characteristic error of false religious beliefs systems is that they frequently fail to recognize man’s need for a new heart and a new spirit. You cannot reform sinful, Adamic man. Though some make progress in removing a particular egregious behavior from their life, sin always manifests in some way. A man may conquer an addiction to drugs only to become a lover of money. Society does not condemn a man who loves money. Quite the contrary. Society honors those who are financially successful. Yet in Yahweh’s eyes, the love of money is a sin that needs to be conquered (I Timothy 6:10, Hebrews 13:5).
What all men need is to receive a new spirit. They need the heart of stone removed from their breast and a heart of flesh to replace it. Stony hearts need to be replaced with those which are soft and pliable in the presence of Yahweh. Christ came to accomplish this work. He did NOT come to establish a new religion. He did NOT come to deliver to men new rituals, or fleshly works by which they might be approved before His Father. He came to transform the lives of men by sending forth His Spirit to indwell them, transform them, and bring them to a conformity to His own image and likeness. This transformation is NOT the result of practicing daily rituals, offering up rote prayers, or prostrating oneself on the ground. Spiritual transformation is the natural consequence of having a spiritual heart transplant, of receiving into one’s being the divine nature through the spiritual birth.
The Hebrew Israelites fail to pass the test for authentic Christianity as set forth by Christ and His apostles in the holy Scriptures. They place an emphasis on rituals, on the Hebrew language, on Old Testament practices, and in the case of the Black Hebrew Israelites on racial identification. By contrast, Christ and His apostles stated that men would recognize those who belong to Christ by their godly character, by their manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, and by their having experienced the spiritual birth. Outwardly, those in false Christian sects have an appearance of devotion to the God of Scriptures and to His Son. They appear to venerate the Bible. Yet a careful examination of their practices and beliefs reveals that they are promoting a message that neither Christ nor His apostles taught.
J., after reading your letter and watching the YouTube videos you recommended to me (I watched parts 1 and 2), I am very much concerned that you have embraced a counterfeit religious system. I see an emphasis on dead works as a means to approach Yahweh, and I am observing some violations of the behavior one would expect to find present in the life of a disciple of Christ. I pray that you would not be offended by my speaking frankly regarding these things. My desire is always to speak the truth in love. In order to lead men to truth, it is necessary to point out error wherever it exists. I entreat you to patiently consider my words, and to test the evidence and arguments I will provide for you here.
Let me begin by addressing the actions I have observed through your most recent correspondence. It is well known to me, and has become more recognized to others outside of prisons through popular television shows, that the American prison system is rife with corruption. It is relatively easy for inmates to receive contraband items such as cell phones, illegal drugs, pornography, etc.. Nevertheless, it is not the will of Yahweh that His sons take advantage of the corruptions of the prison system, nor that they engage in illegal behavior of this kind.
You mentioned in your letter having a recording device to record your worship session in your prison cell. I am guessing that the recorder you spoke of is a cell phone. In the state of Georgia it is forbidden for prison inmates to possess cell phones. Consequently, the phone had to have been obtained illegally, likely through the corruption of some prison employee who received financial or other compensation from a prisoner to smuggle it in. Your actions in using contraband items for an activity the Holy Spirit did not initiate reveal patterns of behavior that are fleshly. They manifest a rebellion toward authority, and a willingness to engage in acts that run contrary to the Spirit of Christ.
Although Christians can sin, and they often do perform actions in violation of the will of Yahweh, so that this action by itself cannot provide a definitive answer as to whether you are a born again son of God, there are additional actions which cause me to consider whether you have become a partaker of the life of Christ through receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit. When I observe you and your roommate engaging in ritualistic works as a means of approaching the Father, I am greatly concerned that you have not yet discovered what it means to walk by the Spirit of Christ. I noticed that you and the other man had your floor mats (towels) angled a certain way, and I am assuming that you are attempting to pray in the direction of Jerusalem where the Temple of Yahweh once resided.
On YouTube there is a video of a Black Hebrew Israelite on the streets of some American city speaking to a man about how to pray. He quotes I Kings 8:48, “if they return to Thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to Thee toward their land which Thou hast given to their fathers…” and then concludes that it is necessary to pray while facing toward Jerusalem.
J., aside from the very evident error of the man in suggesting that black people are the true Israelites, it is great error to suggest that Christians should pray facing Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple was part of the old covenant. It was served by a Levitical priesthood that no longer exists. There was a time when Yahweh’s presence abode in the Temple so that it was considered holy.
Yahshua brought an end to the Old Covenant and the Levitical priesthood when He offered His life up as a ransom for mankind on the cross of Calvary. At the moment of His death the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. Yahweh was in this way symbolizing that He would no longer be found in houses of stone. The way into His presence was made open for every man. The Son of God took of His own blood and entered into that more perfect Temple in the heavens where He offered His blood as an atonement for all mankind.
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Yahshua, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water…
Christ entered that more perfect Temple in heaven. With His sacrifice the Old Covenent was brought to a close, and along with it all sacrifice and offering was ended. The Temple in Jerusalem and the Levitical Priesthood were no longer needed by God. They had served their purpose as they prepared the people for the coming of Christ. Forty years after Christ’s crucifixion, in A.D. 70, the Romans destroyed the Temple, not leaving one stone upon another. This act was from God who had brought an end to Temple worship and ritualistic offerings. Christ inaugurated a new and living way to approach the Father. He would no longer be found in a Temple in Jerusalem. He was accessible to all men everywhere as His Spirit was given to indwell those who receive the gift of God by faith.
The righteousness based on faith speaks thus, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or’ Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). ” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.”
Christ is the Living Word. He is the Word of God made flesh. He dwells in the hearts of His people. WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD!
I Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
II Corinthians 6:16
For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them…”
J., when you prostrate yourself on the ground and pray toward Jerusalem you are denying that YOU are the Temple of God. You stated that the Holy Spirit instructed you to pray in the manner depicted in your videos. I do not believe it was the Spirit of Christ whose voice you were hearing. The Holy Spirit is not going to lead a man to dead works. He is not going to instruct a man to approach God through ritual and repetitive utterance. Your actions are done in imitation of the false religion of Islam where its devotees pray daily while prostrating their bodies toward Mecca. You, or other Hebrew Israelites, may cite some Old Testament scripture passage as support for your actions, but you will never find this type of behavior practiced, or encouraged, by the writers of the New Testament. Nor do the historians of the early church report any such behavior among the Christians of the first centuries.
Consider the words Yahshua exchanged with the woman of Samaria.
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Yahshua said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Those who worship God in Spirit do not have to go up to Jerusalem to do so, nor do they need to point their faces toward Jerusalem when they pray. They understand that God is not some distant deity whose presence abides in a shrine in the land of Israel. Yahweh is Spirit and is present throughout His creation. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If you want to focus on Yahweh, don’t look to Jerusalem. Look inside of you. If you are truly a Christian, you are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
J., this leads me to bring up a very important point. If you do not recognize that the Spirit of God dwells in you, if you have not been born again of the Spirit of Christ, then you do not actually belong to Him. You are just another man attempting to approach God through dead works. You ended your letter by inviting me to pray that you would not become prideful. Pride is the fruit of dead works. When men or women believe their actions are gaining them access to Yahweh’s presence, or their actions are causing them to appear approved and justified in the eyes of their Creator, then pride results. When you adopt a ritual of prostrating yourself repeatedly while facing Jerusalem, and alternately standing to repeat Hebrew phrases and perform certain hand motions, you are engaging in dead works that will justify no man in the sight of Yahweh.
By contrast, those who approach God by faith, trusting in the sacrificial work of Yahshua, are reminded constantly that the restoration of the breach between themselves and their Creator is a gift that required the substitutionary death of the Son of God. This knowledge humbles a man. It is not the repetition of religious phrases in the Hebrew language, nor repeatedly prostrating oneself on the ground while facing Jerusalem, that cleanses a man and renders him worthy to enter Yahweh’s presence. Our cleansing is embraced by faith in the atoning work of the Son of God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
J., you referred to you actions in the first video as your cleansing ritual. Neither Christ nor His apostles delivered to His body any such cleansing ritual. It is the blood of Yahshua shed for us at Calvary that cleanses us from all sin. We appropriate this cleansing by faith, and by faith we stand accepted as righteous in the presence of a holy God. When I observe your ritualistic behavior and repetition of Hebrew phrases, I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s frustration with the members of one of the churches he labored among.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Yahshua Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain?
You have been receiving the Parables Bookshelf Newsletters for a long time now. The first book I usually send out to men in prison is Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ. If you still have the newsletters containing that book I would urge you to read them again. If you do not have them, I will be happy to send them to you again if you will write me back and request them. The apostle Paul declared the following:
II Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yahshua Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
J., does the Spirit of God dwell in you? Have you experienced the Spirit birth that Christ spoke of in the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel?
Yahshua answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What evidence do you have that you have been born again of the Spirit of Christ? What assurance do you have that you have been made a partaker of His nature, having His Spirit come to indwell your body which is designed to be the temple of God?
The book Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ presents the nuts and bolts of the Gospel message. It explains how man came to be enslaved to sin and to selfish desires. It reveals how a breach occurred between God and man. It speaks of Christ coming to repair the breach some 4,000 years after Adam transgressed. It mentions Yahweh giving to a chosen people His law, not so that they could be righteous, but so that they could see how unrighteous they were.
We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; “Their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
God gave man the Law so that they might recognize these facts: Adamic man lacks the divine nature. Adamic man does not have the Spirit of God. Adamic man is a slave to the flesh. Adamic man is not a spiritual man.
I Corinthians 15:45-48
So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.
The Law was given to show Adamic men that they lacked divine life. The Law was given that men might begin to cry out to God to receive the only thing which could change them. Man needs the Spirit of God to dwell within his members. Man needs to be guided and empowered by the Spirit of God abiding within. As Christ told Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, “You must be born again!” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
J., have you received this spirit birth? Have you received the divine life of Christ within your body? If you have, why are you focusing outside, even facing toward Jerusalem, as if God is to be found there. If you belong to Christ; If you have been born of His Spirit, He is within you! If you have not received the Spirit of Christ to indwell you, then this is your great need. No amount of ritual, of prayer, of prostration, will gain you entrance to the presence of Yahweh or grant you fellowship with Him.
Let me close once again by encouraging you to re-read the book Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ. This book is a primer on Christian salvation. It reveals what true religion is in the eyes of Yahweh.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
While I am on the subject of prison ministry, I want to mention that I have converted the writing Yahweh’s Book to newsletter format. I have a group of about forty men in prison who are long time subscribers to the Parables Bookshelf Newsletter mailing list. They have received all of the newsletters in the series, and some have even received the entire series two, or even three times. I began adding more writings to the newsletters this past year so that these men who were hungry for spiritual food might have new material to study. As these men finish one book, I take the time to add another book to the newsletters. Yahweh’s Book required seven newsletters to contain all its chapters. This provides them with seven more weeks of reading material. These newsletters are now available in PDF format to be downloaded, or printed out.
The newsletters are a great way to share the teachings available on the Heart4God website with others.
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063