Defining the word “Shalom”

Sabbath Shalom! As the world steps into the 7th day millions around the world greet each other by saying “Sabbath Shalom”. The word “Shalom” has been a greeting used even in Biblical times to greet one another, and is still used to this day in Israel to greet each other. As we say Hello or Goodbye to someone, in Biblical times “Shalom” was used as the word of choice to greet a person. But what does “Shalom” really mean? Is it peace? completeness? Let us look at what the Scriptures reveal.

H7965
שׁלם / שׁלום
shâlôm
Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition:
1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
1a) completeness (in number)
1b) safety, soundness (in body)
1c) welfare, health, prosperity
1d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
1e) peace, friendship
1e1) of human relationships
1e2) with God especially in covenant relationship
1f) peace (from war)
1g) peace (as adjective)

Shalom as a greeting
These are some of the many instances when the word “Shalom” was used as a greeting when meeting a person or taking their leave.

Gen 29:6 And he said unto them, Is he well?(Shalom-H7965) And they said, He is well(Shalom-H7965): and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.
Gen 43:23 And he said, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
Exo 4:18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965).
Jdg 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Jdg 19:20 And the old man said, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
1Sa 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965): and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
2Sa 15:9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965). So he arose, and went to Hebron.
2Ki 5:21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well(Shalom-H7965)?
2Ki 5:22 And he said, All is well(Shalom-H7965). My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
Jer 15:5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest(Shalom-H7965)?
Dan 10:19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace(Shalom-H7965) be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

In many of the above interactions we see “Shalom” being used in the same way we say Hello today. But it is also the same word used in saying your farewells.

The many meanings of Shalom
As we see in the BDB Hebrew Dictionary Definition, the word Shalom has quite a few meanings which are used throughout the Scriptures. Some of the most popular meanings are:

Peace from War
Jdg 4:17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace(Shalom-H7965) between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
Ecc 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace(Shalom-H7965).
1Ki 5:12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace(Shalom-H7965) between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.

Safety/Soundness
Gen 37:14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well(Shalom-H7965) with thy brethren, and well(Shalom-H7965) with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
2Sa 18:29 And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe(Shalom-H7965)? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
Job 21:9 Their houses are safe(Shalom-H7965) from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.

Welfare/Health
Gen 43:27,28 And he asked them of their welfare(Shalom-H7965), and said, Is your father well(Shalom-H7965), the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health(Shalom-H7965), he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
Exo 18:7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare(Shalom-H7965); and they came into the tent.
1Ch 18:10 He sent Hadoram his son to king David, to enquire of his welfare(Shalom-H7965), and to congratulate him, because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass.

Salutation
Jdg 18:15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted(Shalom-H7965) him.
1Sa 10:4 And they will salute(Shalom-H7965) thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
1Sa 25:5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet(InquireH7592 + Shalom-H7965) him in my name:

Prosperity
Zec 8:12 For the seed shall be prosperous(Shalom-H7965); the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity(Shalom-H7965) of the wicked.
Job 15:21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity(Shalom-H7965) the destroyer shall come upon him.

Goodness
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace(Shalom-H7965), and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace(Shalom-H7965), and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace(Shalom-H7965) was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Friends – those who wish you well
Jer 20:10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars(Enosh-H582 + Shalom-H7965) watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
Jer 38:22 And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends(Eish-H376 + Shalom-H7965) have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.
Psa 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend(Eish-H376 + Shalom-H7965), in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

How to receive Shalom
The Scriptures connect God’s Word/Law with Shalom often and explain it is the way to receiving Shalom. Nothing else in Scripture is connected to Shalom this way.

Psa 119:165 Great peace(Shalom-H7965) have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Isa 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace(Shalom-H7965) been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
Pro 3:1,2 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace(Shalom-H7965), shall they add to thee.

The Sabbath and Shalom
The Sabbath is connected to the Millennial reign of Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) in the Scriptures. And this is the rest which is mentioned in Hebrews 4:9-11 which all of us will enter. In His Millennial Kingdom Shalom will reign supreme as we see it spoken by the Prophet Isaiah.

Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace(Shalom-H7965) there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

So the Sabbath in this sense, becomes a day to celebrate that eternal rest and the unending Shalom we would be able to taste someday.

Shalom in the New Testament writings
Although we do not see “Shalom” which is a Hebrew word in the New Testament writings, this is because the surviving New Testament Manuscripts are mostly in Greek. We can be assured that the greetings made in the New Testament used Shalom as we see in the below instances.

Luk 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Conclusion
The word Shalom which is loosely translated as peace means so much more in it’s original Hebrew language. It is a word that encapsulates a multitude of positive aspects which is then used to greet one another. It is most likely that Messiah’s instruction to enter a house by saying “Peace be to this House” actually called for the Disciples to invoke this exact word – Shalom! And as God Instructed Moses to teach the sons of Aaron, I bless each of you, that you may receive God’s Shalom, as we see at the end of the Priestly Blessing that was prayed over His people.

Num 6:23-26 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace(Shalom-H7965).

SHALOM!

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2019 Calendar with Biblical Appointed Feast Days, New Moons and Torah Portions – Download

The final product should look like this image when placed on the wall

The final product should look like this image when placed on the wall

For the past few years, as I learned about God’s Feast Days/ Appointed Times, it has always been a struggle to keep track of His Holy Days. As the world works on the Gregorian Calendar it is impractical to discard it altogether. But on the other hand, keeping track of God’s Calendar timings is important to me now, more than ever. With all the technology in the world, keeping it noted down in your phone or computer becomes the norm – although there’s nothing like a printed version you can stick on a wall or fridge. After looking around for quite some time, I decided on creating such a calendar myself this year, so that whoever needs it, is able to simply download and print it out; or keep it in their computer for reference. Download for free using link given below. Click the image for an enlarged preview.

Now I will be the first to admit that the highlighted days are only approximations, and can change drastically depending on the New Moon Sightings and the Aviv Search. I am well aware that there are differing opinions on how the Biblical Calendar is interpreted – and this is meant to be a helpful guide and something that brings us together rather than cause division. I hope that it will also be helpful to all of you with your Sabbath studies as well.

Contents:
♦ 12 Month Gregorian Calendar
♦ Calendar Week with Sabbath as 7th day
♦ Weekly Torah Portions with reading of Prophets and Gospels
♦ New Moon Days/Months marked (maybe off by 1 day – please correct if so)
♦ Passover*
♦ Week of Unleavened Bread*
♦ Firstfruits*
♦ Pentecost with 50 day count*
♦ Trumpets*
♦ Atonement*
♦ Week of Tabernacles with 8th Day*
♦ Special/High Sabbaths
♦ Condensed studies on the Biblical Calendar and other topics
Please note that Purim, Chanukkah and other traditional holy days are not marked
* These could be off by a day or a whole month according to moon sightings and the aviv search

 

– DOWNLOAD –

Right-Click and Download to Computer
(2.07MB PDF FILE)

Instructions:
♦ Simply download and print it on your home printer or at a 3rd party vendor such as Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, Walgreen, Walmart, Target, CVS, etc.
♦ Calendar is designed to be printed on a single A3 white paper.
♦ Cut in the middle dotted line
♦ Paste Right hand piece below the Left hand piece
♦ Secure using Glue or tape to wall
♦ Let me know if you need any further help

Be a blessing to everyone around you, this coming year!

The nature of the Unbreakable Covenant

In the present day, words mean little to nothing. We see politicians say one thing but do another. We see governments amend founding laws of the land. It is even becoming impossible to trust a regular person’s word. The notion of a “Yes being a Yes” and a “No being a No” is quickly fading away. So much so, that we start to apply the same dynamics to God’s Word. His Word is used today as and when it is advantageous. Christians pick and choose what they like out of Scripture and leave the rest. They make out God to be a person who changes His Word.

But things were not always so. In the time of the Old Testament Scriptures and even in the New Testament Writings, a word spoken could not be easily backtracked. Covenants, which are essentially agreements whether it be spoken or written, given as a law or a blessing, were more so in this nature. There are many such earthly examples in the Bible, and today we will browse through some of these events.

1. Isaac gives Jacob the Firstborn Blessing
Have you ever wondered why Isaac did not reverse the blessing? Why he could not give the same to Esau? After the word is spoken it could not be changed.

Gen 27:33-37 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

2. Joshua is tricked by the Gibeonites
The Gibeonites who heard news of the incoming army of Joshua, made themselves to be like travelers from far away, and got Joshua to make a Covenant with them. Later when Joshua got to know of the trickery, even though Joshua wanted to he could not change the Covenant for any reason.

Jos 9:15-20 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.

3. King Darius and Daniel
The Decree signed by King Darius to stop praying to any other Gods but the King, was used against Daniel. And even though the King wanted to change his words, it was impossible.

Dan 6:9-15 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

4. King Ahasuerus and Haman’s Decree
Haman who created a Decree to kill the Jews with the blessing of the King was later found out. But the King could not reverse the Decree. Instead, He made a new decree allowing the Jews to rightfully defend themselves against the coming attack.

Est 3:9-13 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
Est 8:8-11 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

5. Pilate writes a title for Yeshua
Pilate’s title placed on Yeshua’s stake proclaimed that He was the King of the Jews. Even though the Chief Priest wanted it changed, Pilate gave his famous answer “I have written, what I have written” as a word spoken or written could not be later changed even at that time.

Joh 19:19-22 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Paul explains the Unbreakable Covenant
One of the best explanations of the immovable nature of Covenants was made by Apostle Paul. He says even an earthly covenant cannot be changed after it is made. In the same manner, The Mosaic Covenant does not override or amend the Abrahamic Covenant which was made 400 years before.

Gal 3:15-17 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Conclusion
As we have done in an earlier study, we know that God, His Word & His Covenants do not change. We see Paul explaining this by comparing it to earthly Covenants. Even though at the present age, a word, a law or a covenant means little to nothing, it was strictly unchanging in Biblical times. We must start looking at our Bibles through the Biblical lens of time, rather than trying to understand it using our own backgrounds. Let our Yes be Yes, and our No be No, as we look into His unchanging Word.

Was Christ born in December?

With December comes celebration and merry-making. The celebration of the birth of Christ, one which was non-existent in the early church. In earlier studies, we have taken a look at the origins of Christmas:

The Chronography of 354 – What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?
Pagan influence on Christmas – Where did Christmas come from?

We have also seen the present “Christmas story” is critically flawed, as the “Magi” appeared close to two years after Christ’s birth according to the Gospel accounts:

The flawed Christmas story – What’s out of place in this picture?

Today, let’s attempt to narrow down the month of Christ’s Birth using only the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings. Was He born in December? Let’s look at the Biblical evidence.

People of Interest and the YEAR of His Birth:
There are a few key figures that are linked to history, mentioned in the Gospel accounts of Chris’t Birth. Using the following historical dates and the Gospel accounts we have studied, we can narrow down Christ’s Birth to 7BC to 5BC.

Caesar Augustus (Luk 2:1) – Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 16 January 27 BC until his death in 19 August AD 14.

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (Luk 2:2) – In 6 CE Quirinius, the newly-appointed Imperial Legate (governor) of the province of Roman Syria, was tasked to carry out a tax census of the new province of Judea, one of the three territories into which the kingdom of Herod the Great had been divided on his death in 4 BC.

Herod the Great (Mat 2:1) – Herod was a Roman client king of Judea, who reigned from 37BC to 4BC.

Herod Archelaus (Mat 2:22) – Archelaus his son was ethnarch (Govenor) of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (Edom), including the cities Caesarea and Jaffa, from 4 BC to 6 AD.

We know that Herod died in 4BC, at which time Joseph returned from Egypt according to Mat 2:20-23. We also know that Yeshua was close to two years old, when the Magi visited(Mat 2:16). If Herod died the same year he ordered the killing of the children, that would place Yeshua‘s birth 2-3 years before Herod’s death. Which gives us an approximate 7BC – 5BC as His birth.

The Priestly courses and the MONTH of His Birth:
To calculate the month of Christ’s birth, we must look into the Birth of John much closely, as Luke provides some key details in his Gospel.

Zecheriah, father of John, was a Priest in the course of Abijah(Luk 1:5). Which was the eighth course out of 24(1Chr 24:7). Each of these priestly courses worked at the Temple for a period of one week(Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7). And all 24 priestly courses were present at the 3 main feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost & Tabernacles(2Chr 5:11, 2Chr 8:12). The Luni-Solar year according to the Scriptures consist of 51 weeks (A Lunar Cycle is 29.53 days X 12 Months). When you add the 3 weeks that all the priests work at the feasts to the 2 revolutions of 24 Priestly courses, you end up at 51 courses [(24×2)=48 +3 = 51].

Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses, The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul, The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah. These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7 He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the Priests from them, he found of these Priests twenty four courses: sixteen of the house of Eleazar, and eight of that of Ithamar: and he ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from sabbath to sabbath. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Zadok, and Abiathar the High Priests, and of all the rulers. And that course which came up first was written down as the first: and accordingly the second; and so on to the twenty four.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 3, Verse 9 – Samuel the prophet and David the king divided the Levites into twenty-four divisions; each division served for one week. The chief of a division divided the men of his division into subdivisions [family groups].— — The chiefs of the subdivisions distributed assignments among those serving on their particular day, each man performing his own task.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 4, Verse 3 – Our teacher Moses divided the priests into eight divisions, four from the family of Elazar and four from the family of Ithamar. They functioned that way until the time of Samuel the prophet, when he and King David divided them into twenty-four divisions. A chief was named over each division. One division a week would go up to Jerusalem for service. The divisions would change every Sabbath day, one leaving and the next one entering, until the cycle was completed. Then they would begin the cycle over again.

2Ch 5:11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

2Ch 8:12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.

Looking at the above information, we can attempt to create a depiction of the events that took place in their approximate time periods, as given below:

 If Zecheriah was engaged in his duties in the 9th Week of the year, he would have had to also work on the 10th week and would have gone home to Elizabeth in the 11th Week. If we estimate that Elizabeth conceived in the 12th Week, she would have given birth to John approximately at the en of the year. As Mary conceived 6 months after Elizabeth’s conception, we can then narrow down Mary’s conception to around the 39th Week of the year. If so, our Saviour Yeshua would have been born fairly close, if not right on the Day of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

There are a few reasons to believe that the Birth of Christ happened on Tabernacles
1. Emmanuel
Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 as he explains “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us” in Hebrew was a prophecy that came true, this day. The Feast/Appointment of Tabernacles was the one feast which commemorated “God Dwelling/Tabernacling among His people”. Furthermore, John 1:14 speaks of Messiah the same way using the word “Dwelt”(Skaynoo- G4637) which meant Tent or Encampment in Greek.

2. Perfect time for a Census
Luke speaks of a Census for the purpose of Taxation which was carried our by Rome. At the time of the 3 main Feast Days, all Jews come to Jerusalem to participate. So it would make perfect sense to keep a Census at this time

3. Locality of Bethlehem
Bethlehem was situated less than 10Km away from Jerusalem and a 2 hour walk away. This would have been an ideal situation for Joseph and Mary, as they could register with Roman authorities as well as attend the Feast which is close to where they would have stayed.

4. No room at the Inn
Lodging would be hard to get by in the time of a Feast, as many Jews travel back to Jerusalem at this time. This makes perfect sense with Luke’s account as many pilgrims would have already occupied all the establishments which were available.

5. Born on the 1st Day, Circumcised on the 8th
The Feast of Tabernacles is an 8-day feast(Lev 23:39). The 1st day and the 8th day are special/high Sabbath Days. Could it be that Yeshua was born on the 1st Day of Tabernacles and circumcised according to the Law(Lev 12:3, Luk 2:21) on the 8th Day of Tabernacles?

6. Shepherds grazing sheep in the cold?
As Luke mentions in Luk 2:8, there were shepherds grazing their flock in the night as Christ was born. It is highly unlikely that this would have been possible in the cold of December. It may have been possible around the 7th Feast as the fall rains would have made the pastures lush for the sheep to graze on. But would not have been too cold for them as close to the 9th Month (November/December) when the atmosphere is most cold.

The above clues may point to Yeshua’s Birth happening right on the Day of Tabernacles(Sep/Oct in our Gregorian Calendar). One other reason is that Yeshua’s Death happened on Passover (a feast day), He resurrected on Firstfruits (a feast day), He sent His Holy Spirit on Pentecost (a feast day). So it is very likely that God intended His Birth also on a Feast Day.

Other Possibilities
But we should also inspect a few other possibilities as well according to the above graph. Every Priestly course worked 5 times a year ; twice according to their course and thrice at the main feasts along with all other priestly courses. So there maybe 4 other possibilities as well. Let us see whether eith of them can lead to a December 25th Birth.

i) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Pesach/Passover, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 22nd Week which is the end of the 5th Month (July/August in the Gregorian Calendar).

ii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Shavuot/Pentecost, Christ’s birth would have taken place still on Sukkot/Tabernacles as it would have not changed the time he returned to Elizabeth.

iii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Sukkot/Tabernacles, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 45th Week which is the 11th Month (January/February in the Gregorian Calendar).

iv) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in the 35th Week, which is his 2nd course for the year, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 3rd Week which is in the 1st Month around Pesach/Passover (March/April in the Gregorian Calendar).

Conclusion
According to Luke’s account, we can make an approximation of Christ’s Birth to Sukkot, which makes sense in several different ways when looking at prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 or the other particulars in the story. I would not disregard any of the other possibilities as well, but it would be more probable that He was born on Sukkot. But it is certain that he could not have been born in December.

The 8th Day – A comparison timeline of the 7 Days of Creation & the 7000 year age

In a previous study we looked at a Biblical timeline from Creation upto the Exile. While this comparison was briefly touched upon in that study, the below chart contains the dates, ages and the necessary Scripture passages to make it easy for self study.

As you see below, The Creation account itself gives us a prophetic overview of everything which would happen on earth. Some could dismiss this idea. But you be the judge of the similarities given below.

1st Day – Light and Darkness (in the 1st 1000 years, Adam sins, bringing darkness into the earth)
2nd Day – Separation of Waters (in the 2nd 1000 years, the Flood happened separating Noah from all other people on earth)
3rd Day – Earth brought forth trees through seed (in the 3rd 1000 years, Abraham is promised to be father of Nations through his Seed, bringing forth the nation of Israel referred to as a tree)
4th Day – Lights in the firmament (in the 4th 1000 years, Messiah brings light to our world)
5th Day – Multiplying of creatures (in the 5th 1000 years, Populations soar, Many nations and Religions come into existence, the main ones being Roman Catholicism & Islam)
6th Day – God creates Man in His image (in the 6th 1000 years, the time period we live in, it seems that God is creating a people for Himself)
7th Day – God ended His work (in the 7th 1000 years, yet to come, Messiah will rule and reign on earth as it is written in the Scriptures)

Right Click Image and open image in new window/tab

Right Click Image and open image in new window/tab

 

Referred to as the “Great Day”, the 8th Day of the Week of Tabernacles is the culmination of God’s Prophetic Calendar. This Day points to a time which is beyond our age, where God creates a new Heaven and new Earth and He Himself is the light in it. Click on the above image to enlarge it, and feel free to download it if needed.

You can also view studies on the other Appointed Days of God through the links given below.
Passover
Firstfruits
Pentecost
Trumpets
Atonement
Tabernacles

A Graphical Study

Listening to God and being heard by God – Hineni – “Here I am”

In the Old Testament Scriptures as well as in the New Testament writings, we see God calling people by name. In many of these cases the people who are called, respond with the Hebrew word “Hineni” which means “Here I am”. Not only are many of these people called by name, God calls them in a very peculiar manner where their name is uttered twice in succession many a time.

Gen 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
Gen 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

Gen 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

Exo 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

1Sa 3:4 That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
1Sa 3:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

Isa 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Luk 22:31-33 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

Act 9:10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

In all of these cases, by saying “Hineni” the person called out responds to God “Here I am”. “I am Absolutely focused on you”. “I am ready”. “I am here, and there is no place where I would rather be”. This is the sentiment expressed.

It is no small feat that the Creator of the universe calls a speck of dust like us by name. But He has promised in His Word, to call His People by Name. This was confirmed once more by Yeshua, when He spoke of the Shepherd and His Sheep. Calling us by our name shows the relationship He has with us. It shows us that He really knows us. That we are not specks of dust, but important vessels in His eyes.

Isa 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

Joh 10:3-5To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

So the relationship of calling us by name can only have one appropriate response. One of readiness. When we say “Hineni” – Here I am, we are expressively saying “I am ready! I am willing! Tell me what to do… where to go. But what if God was to tell us “Hineni”. How great is a God that says “I am here for you” when we call Him? This is exactly what we see in His word.

Isa 58:9a Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.

God promises in the above verse that He will be there for us, ready and fully focused. The remainder of Isaiah 58 lets us know how we are to receive such a response from God. What should we do to come to a relationship with God, so that He says “Hineni”. How we should live and fashion our life to receive undevoted attention from YHVH God. Traditionally read on Yom Kippur, Isaiah 58 shows us the true fast, the true piety, the true holiness God requires from us.

Isa 58:6-9a Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.

Isa 58:9b-14 If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

God Highlights these characteristics:
1. Removing iniquity from our lives
2. Undo burdens we have laid on others
3. To release any we have oppressed
4. Being charitable to the less fortunate
5. To help your own brother who is in need
6. Not Despising or disrespecting others
7. Not speaking or plotting evil
8. Keeping the Sabbath day holy

The above are what God requires from us. The true fast in His eyes. The true obedience and worship He looks for. The true piety and holiness we can show Him. He goes further on just in the next verse, to show why we are not being heard by Him. Our Iniquities separate us from Him.

Isa 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Let us put away the things that He abhors from our lives so that the lines of communication maybe reopened between us and our Creator. Let us be ready and willing to say “Hineni – Here I am” when He calls us, and do what He says so that He may say to us “Hineni – Here I AM”.

Where two or three are gathered… About Prayer or Judgement? Misunderstanding regarding Matthew 18:20

Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Quoted by people in congregations around the world this particular verse is taken to mean that God is present in the midst of two or three people who are engaged in Prayer. But the context of the passage provides a different picture. At the onset I wish to say that I do not disagree that God hears the prayer of two or three people gathered in His name. But we would also agree that He also hears us when we are alone. So what then is the meaning of Yeshua‘s words in Matthew 18:20? Let’s look at the context of the passage.

Mat 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Our journey starts with a question that the Disciples ask. “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”. To which Messiah says that all must convert (Turn Around – Strepho – G4762) meaning repent and turn back to God as humble little children to be called great in the Kingdom of God.

Mat 18:5-7 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Now Christ regards a believer who has turned to God as a “little child” and speaks of not “offending” (cause to stumble / lead to sin – Scandalizo – 4624) them, meaning leading them away from God. Yeshua bemoans such people who make others stumble. So far this passage sounds eerily familiar to what He said in Matthew 5:19 “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Here He explained who would be great in the Kingdom of God. In both places warnings are set towards those who lead His Children away from His word.

Mat 18:8-10 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Yeshua’s words continue in the same line of thinking. If a hand or foot meaning a fellow believer makes others stumble it is better to cut those limbs off, as otherwise the whole body could be in danger of missing everlasting life. He further explains that even if it is an eye meaning a person in leadership who is causing the body to stumble, it is better for the eye to be removed rather than the whole congregation being led away from His Kingdom. Yeshua expressly speaks to the disciples not to belittle/disesteem the new believers, calling them “little ones” as they are of great worth to God. This is an instruction from Christ to His Disciples to be vigilant of the body, so that no part or individual becomes a threat to the whole; especially those who could stumble easily. He would reconfirm this thought in verses 15-17.

Mat 18:11-14 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Yeshua brings the parable of the Shepherd to show how much He cares for the lone soul. He is still advising the Disciples how much they should care for even the newest of the believers – the “little ones”.

Mat 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

In the same thought as removing the limb or the eye, Messiah explains of how this task should be carried out. First the issue should be brought to light one on one. If the person refuses the counsel, then two or three witnesses should confirm it to the individual. If the person still refuses to change his/her ways, then it is brought forward to the whole congregation/assembly after which the person is cut off from the assembly if corrective measures are not taken. It is important to note that Paul gives the same advice to the Corinthians in two instances (1Cor 5:1-5, 2Cor 2:5-11).

Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 speaks of “Binding” and “Loosing” which were the terms used in First Century Judaism for “Prohibiting” and “Permitting”. The power to prohibit and permit was in the hands of the Pharisees in the first century as per the writings of  Josephus:

War of the Jews Book I, Chapter 5, Section 2  …and became themselves[the pharisees] the real administrators of the public affairs: they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed at their pleasure….

There is further proof to say that the belief of God agreeing with earthly rulings were also prevalent in First Century Judaism as seen in the Talmud below:

Talmud Makkot 23b …There are three matters that the earthly court implemented and the heavenly court agreed with them, and these are they: Reading the Scroll of Esther on Purim, and greeting another with the name of God, and bringing the first tithe to the Temple treasury in Jerusalem…

In the case of the passage in question, Yeshua is giving this authority to His Disciples over His Congregation. They could prohibit or permit anything in the assembly according to God’s Word and it would be seen as valid before God. The greatest example for this would be Acts 15. The same teaching is seen again in the second epistle of Clement to James where it mentions that Peter had named Clement of Rome (35 – 100AD) as his successor giving him the power of binding and loosing, as seen below.

Clementine Homilies – Introduction – Epistle of Peter to James, Chapter 2 Wherefore I communicate to him the power of binding and loosing, so that with respect to everything which he shall ordain in the earth, it shall be decreed in the heavens. For he shall bind what ought to be bound, and loose what ought to be loosed, as knowing the role of the Church.

Upto this point we have seen the teaching revolving around the congregation, taking care of the new believers and how to manage believers who disrupt the assembly. Yeshua gives the authority of such decisions to the Disciples here, and moves on to say…

Mat 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

As we come to the verse in question, we see that Yeshua gives authority of communal life to His Disciples and says even if two of them agree on earth regarding such issues, the Lord Himself stands amongst their midst. Such requests/decisions will be agreed upon by the Father in Heaven, as they are made from the standpoint of God’s Word. The same idea can be seen again in Jewish sources:

Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 3:2 But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them, as it is said (Malachi 3:16): “Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who feared the Lord and for those who thought upon His Name.”

Talmud, B’rakhot 6a From where is it derived that three who sit in judgment, the Divine Presence is with them? It is derived from this same verse, as it is stated: “In the midst of the judges He judges,” and the minimum number of judges that comprises a court is three. From where is it derived that two who sit and engage in Torah study, the Divine Presence is with them? As it is stated: “Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with the other, and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). The Divine Presence listens to any two God-fearing individuals who speak with each other.

It is for the “Binding and Loosing” (Prohibiting or Permitting) powers that Yeshua bestowed upon His Disciples that He says He will be in agreement in their presence for such matters whether two or three are gathered. Prayer or other sorts of fellowship is not part of the context of this passage.

Conclusion
So we see that the phrase “For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” is speaking regarding judgement and making Godly decisions. In this sort of situation, God stands in agreement with the Disciples. The decision taken by James and agreed upon by the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 is a perfect example of this. There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers whether we are alone or with one or more in fellowship. But according to context, the passage in question is not about prayer but judgements made before God.