Author Archives: RameshDeSilva

Acts 15 and the Letter to the Gentiles based on Leviticus

Many have read the important event recorded in the Book of Acts, where the Elders of Jerusalem met to discuss what prerequisites were needed for the Gentiles to be part of the Congregation. The decision is made by James to ask the Gentiles to observe 4 commands (Acts 15:20) since the Torah (Books of Moses) was read in every city on the Sabbath Day (Acts 15:21). The parties which were present at this meeting (Elders, Apostles, Pharisees who believed in Christ) all agreed upon this judgement without any hesitancy. What was the reason? Where did those 4 commands come from? Did James make them up? The answers can be found in the observation of Luke’s record, which is done with intricate detail and accuracy.

The Decision of James:
Act 15:19-21 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

James did not want to enforce any commands on the Gentiles turning towards God, since obedience should be not out of compulsion but of love and reverence.

Then he listed 4 necessary abstensions, namely:
1. Abstain from pollutions of idols
2. Fornication
3. Things Strangled
4. Blood

This was followed by a stipulation that Moses (The books of Moses / Torah) was read in every city where the gentiles lived, being read in the Synagogue on the Sabbath (Acts 13:15).

So where did these 4 abstentions that are still valid for today, come from? And what do they really mean? A person who is familiar with the Books of Moses, is well aware of these 4 abstentions mentioned in Scripture. Luke’ detailed description gives us a key to figuring it out.

The last line of the short letter sent from the Apostles at Jerusalem to the Congregation at Antioch and later shared with all of the other Congregations around the region says the following: Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

The Letter lists down the 4 Abstentions as follows:
1. Abstain from meats offered to idols
2. Blood
3. Things Strangled
4. Fornication

If you just gloss over the chapter, you may not notice it at all, but there is a curious difference in the listing. The numbering seems to be all over the place. Either Luke took no care at these details, or he took all of the care necessary to record it absolutely accurately. I am of the latter view, as it makes perfect sense when you compare it with the Abstentions given by God to Gentiles who become part of the Covenant of Israel.

Acts 15:20Acts 15:29
1. Abstain from pollutions of idols
2. Fornication
3. Things Strangled
4. Blood
1. Abstain from meats offered to idols
2. Blood
3. Things Strangled
4. Fornication

Reviewing Leviticus Chapter 17 and 18 in light of Acts Chapter 15
The book of Leviticus provides most of God’s view of Holiness in the Torah, and chapter 17 & 18 are of special importance as it is focused at both native and alien alike. While I suggest reading both of the chapters completely, we will review only the parts that are of importance for this study below.

1. Abstain from sacrifices offered to Idols
Lev 17:7-9 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

2. Abstain from Blood
Lev 17:10-12 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

3. Things Strangled
Lev 17:13-14
And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
(A little more context should be given to this Law, as God is instituting a way of killing animals for the consumption of flesh. He is banning the strangulation of an animal, and allowing only for animals to be slaughtered in a proper way with the blood to be let out properly.)

4. Fornication
Lev 18:26-29
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations*; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations* have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations*, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
(*The Abominations listed in Chapter 18 verse 1 to 25)

Reviewing the 3 passages again, we see the following comparison:

Acts 15:20Acts 15:29Lev Chap 17 & 18
1. Abstain from pollutions of idols
2. Fornication
3. Things Strangled
4. Blood
1. Abstain from meats offered to idols
2. Blood
3. Things Strangled
4. Fornication
1. Lev 17:7-9
2. Lev 17:10-12

3. Lev 17:13-14
4. Lev 18:26-29

Acts 15:29 which records the official letter sent to the congregations is identical in order to how it is recorded by Moses in Leviticus Chapter 17 & 18. James may have given his judgement and spoken the 4 commands in a way he remembered, but the official letter recorded the proper order, keeping with Scripture. Heads and Elders of the Congregations, who would have been well versed in Scripture/ Torah, would have immediately recognised the reason for these 4 abstention as prerequisites to enter the congregation.

The question then becomes, are these 4 commands the only commands that the Gentile converts were supposed to adhere to? Don’t forget the stipulation that James made in Acts 15:21 “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” In other words, we should not force any Laws upon them other than these 4 main abstentions, the rest they would learn on their own. An approach that did not make God’s Law a Burden, but a way of life lived through love and obedience to our Heavenly Father.

Are you building your House on the Rock or Sand?

We have all heard the popular Parable of the two Houses, and understand the importance of building ourselves on a firm footing rather than shaky doctrine. But let us revisit this Parable and look at it a little closer to understand another dimension of what Yeshua – Our Messiah really tried to teach us.

Mat 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Yeshua speaks of two kinds of people in this Parable. Ones who hears Messiah and does what He says and ones who hear Messiah and does not do. So it is easy to think that the second category of people have no action in their lives while the first category act out what they have heard. But the parable is directed at a different sort of person as we see in the context of the parable.

Mat 7:15-23 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The context is of two sorts of people, one kind has good fruit and the other evil fruit. We must remember that both of them have fruit, but Yeshua tells us to recognise who they are, by their fruit. The ones who have evil fruit have done many wonders in the Name of the Lord – such as prophesying and casting out devils, but they are called workers of “Iniquity” – Anomia in the Greek – which means “Transgression of the Law” as seen in 1John 3:4.

Outward appearances maybe deceiving
Getting back to the parable of the Houses, we see that the context is that both appear to have fruit, but one is good and is evil. Both appear to build some structure above the surface, but what is beneath reveals the truth. This is further explained in the version of the same parable recorded by Luke, where he writes about a key factor that makes all the difference.

Luk 6:46-49 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

So some could have a shallow understanding even of the parable itself, thinking that one person made the house on earth and another on the rock.

But the more accurate understanding is that both people made the house in the same exact location, but the difference was that one person dug deep till the Rock was found and then started building on it.

Appearances can be truly deceiving. But as Messiah said “you shall know them by their fruit”, and there will come a day when the foundations will be revealed. When that day comes, the houses built on sand/earth will be swept away, while the ones that dug deep and connected to the Rock will stand firm. The Rock is The Father (Deut 32:4,18, 1Sam 2:2, 2Sam 22:32, 2Sam 23:3, Psalm 92:15) and the Foundation that connects to the Rock is Yeshua (Jesus’ true name).

In fact, Apostle Paul speaks of this very event in the Letter to the Corinthians.

1Co 3:9-15 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Conclusion
The Parable of the Builders/Houses look as if the two builders built their houses in 2 different locations – one on sand and one on a rock, but Luke’s Gospel gives us a little more insight into the Parable showing both of them built in the same place, while only one dug deep till the Rock was found, from where the foundation could be laid before the house could be built. The context of the Parable is about appearances; both seem to be built on God, but beneath the surface – only one has a foundation. As Yeshua says both have actions, both have fruit – but one is not connected to the Rock and does not acquire strength from it, and the same is not connected to the “good” tree and does not bring good fruit. We see that the ones that have bad fruit have also done wonders and miracles in the name of the Lord – so “good fruit” may not be gauged by the miraculous nature of actions, rather what the actions are built upon. A person who disregards the Word/Law of God but can even do wondrous actions in His Name, is the one compared to a person who builds on the Sand/Earth. Let us all dig deep and connect to God through the Son in obedience!

Circumcision, Servant-hood or Marriage? Misunderstandings regarding 1Corinthians 7:17-24

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 7, Paul writes to the congregation at Corinth “concerning the things they wrote”(7:1) to him about. The whole chapter tackles various questions regarding marriage, which is paused in the middle by a tangent regarding Circumcision and Servant-hood ; or so it seems.

The chapter is broken down in the following manner:
1. Advice for the Married in the congregation (v3-9)
2. Commandment in case of Divorce in the congregation (v10-11)
3. Advice to individuals who came to the Lord within mixed marriages (v12-16)
4. A Governing Principle (v17-24)
5. Advice for the Unmarried considering distress in Corinth and of the present(v25-38)
6. Advice for widows (v39,40)

This study will focus on the governing principle of verses 17 to 24 which is a Parable used by Paul to explain his stance on everything to do with “marriage”.

1Co 7:17-24 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

So what exactly does Paul mean by the above? Let’s break the Parts of this Parable down. Circumcision was the Mark of the Covenant given to Abraham(Gen 17:11), and is equated to a Marriage Covenant. As such an Uncircumcised person would be a person who is not married. A Servant is a person who is under another, basically unequally yoked – as such this is talking of a Mixed Marriage. Those who are called free, are then partners who have both believed and are free to follow God ; but as servants to Our lord.

So the categories of the parable are;

One who is called being Circumcised = With a Marriage Covenant
One who is called being Uncircumcised = Without a Marriage Covenant
One who is called being a Servant = With a Marriage to an Unbeliever
One who is called being Free = With a Marriage to a Believer

Let us now try to make sense of what Paul is saying by applying the above explanations to his words to the Corinthians :-

1Co 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
Walk in the calling you were called in, whether it be Married, Unmarried, Widowed or in Mixed Marriages – this is my advice to all the congregations.

1Co 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
Is anyone called when already in a Marriage Covenant? Let them not be Divorced. Is anyone called without a Marriage Covenant? Let them not be married. (Paul explains in v25-38 when he addresses the unmarried that it would be “better” for them not to marry because of the present distress – Remember that in a few short years the whole congregation would be facing Nero and his persecutions)

1Co 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Being Married is nothing, and being Unmarried is nothing, but the only important thing is to keep God’s Commands.

1Co 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
If you were called in Marriage or when you were Unmarried, don’t try to change the stance by getting divorced or married.

1Co 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
Were you called being in a Mixed marriage? Even if you could become free, “use” the servant-hood to bring the person you are unequally yoked to (ie.The Master/Spouse), to Salvation. (Paul explains in v 15,16 that if an unbelieving spouse departs[divorces] the believer is not in bondage to be kept in the marriage forever)

1Co 7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.
If you were called in a mixed(unequally yoked) marriage, you have been made free from any bondage to be and act free in your Spirit. Likewise, whoever is called in a marriage where both partners accept the Lord is now a Servant to Christ in the Spirit – so that there is equality whether in a mixed marriage or not.

1Co 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
All of us are bought with the Blood of Messiah to be Free and not slaves to this world because of the capacities which we are called in

1Co 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
Brothers and Sisters, let everyone who is called try to stay in the same capacities and not change from married to unmarried or unmarried to married.

Conclusion
Paul brings a parable in the middle of giving answers to the Corinthian Congregation regarding Marriage, which at face value seem to be speaking of a different subject altogether but is trying to teach his view on Marriage and a governing principle which can be used for all such questions.

Do we go to Heaven when we die? What is The Kingdom of Heaven?

We often hear the phrase “He’s in a better place” at funerals. Many Christians believe that they go to heaven when they die. But what does the Bible teach us about this subject? Do we ascend into heaven when we die to be with God?

In a previous study we discovered the meanings of “The Grave” (Sheol/Hades), Lake of Fire (Gehenna) & Tartaroo (Bottomless Pit). While the Lake of fire is the place of torment and destruction(Rev 20:10), the Grave(She’ol/Hades) merely stands for the abode of the dead. The Abyss(Pit) is different from both other places as the Angels who sinned are the ones held here. Hell as we see depicted in popular media and mainline Christianity merely does not exist, and it is quite beneficial for us to understand that the word “Hell” in our English versions can be quite misleading, as all 3 of these 3 distinct places have been called Hell, even though they are vastly different from each other. Now let’s see what the Bible says about Life after Death.

  1. The Dead are asleep and are unconscious of the world of the Living

Psa 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
Psa 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
Isa 38:18,19 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
Ecc 9:5,6 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Job 14:10-15 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
Deu 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
Mat 9:24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
Joh 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
1Th 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

2. The Dead are mentioned of having a physical Resurrection

Psa 17:15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
Psa 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
Job 19:25,26 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Isa 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Isa 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Eze 37:12,13 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
Hos 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
Hos 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Joh 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Act 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

3. Resurrection – When and Where?
So it is thus clear that the dead are merely sleeping but will arise with new bodies. But do they arise at different times or at once? Do they arise in Heaven or in His Kingdom? The Gospels, Paul’s Writings and the Book of Revelation give us most of the final clues for this question.

Job 19:25,26 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Mat 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mat 22:31,32 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Joh 11:23-26 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Heb 11:39,40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
1Th 4:14-17 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Co 15:51,52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev 20:4,5 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

4. No man has entered Heaven
It is clear looking at the above that all who are dead and asleep will rise at the coming of Messiah. No one receives the promise of Everlasting Life before anyone else. All who rise will enter His Kingdom. It is abundantly clear that no one has ascended into Heaven other than the one who was raised from the Dead – Our Messiah Yeshua! As Peter proclaims at the Day of Pentecost – Not even David has ascended into Heaven. All who are dead await the Trumpet Sound of His Coming.

Joh 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Joh 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Pro 30:4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
Act 2:29,34 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day…. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

5. Are The Kingdom of God & The Kingdom of Heaven two Different Kingdoms?
The Kingdom of Heaven (Malkuth Shamayim) mentioned exclusively in The Gospel of Matthew is identical to the Kingdom of God mentioned in the other 3 Gospels. A few examples are given below for comparison.

Ex A. Mat 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Ex A. Mar 14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
Ex A. Luk 22:16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
Ex B. Mat 18:3 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.
Ex B. Mar 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Ex B. Luk 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Ex B. Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Ex C. Mat 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Ex C. Mar 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Ex C. Luk 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Ex D. Mat 13:31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Ex D. Mar 4:30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
Ex D. Luk 13:18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

This coming Kingdom is said to be established on Earth and not Heaven. The Reason for it to be called “Kingdom of Heaven” is that it is “OF” Heaven, and in its likeness. Daniel speaks of this Kingdom, interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar where the Image made of Kingdoms is broken in pieces by a “Stone” which becomes a Mountain and fills the whole Earth (Dan 2:35).

Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

This Kingdom “OF” Heaven is Established “ON” Earth, in the Chosen Place that God placed His Holy Name, which is Jerusalem.

Mic 4:1,2 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Act 1:6,7 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Act 3:20,21 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

Yeshua is said to have resurrected from Jerusalem and to be returning to the same place.

Act 1:9-12 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
Zec 14:4-9 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

6. Objections and Misunderstood verses
Comparing the overwhelming evidence throughout the Bible, we can see that the Idea of immediately going to Heaven or Hell at death, comes from a few verses that are misunderstood. These verses are addressed below.

A. 2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
This verse is often quoted to show that death will cause us to be immediately present with God. But as we saw above death is a state of sleep. A person who goes to sleep has no knowledge of time. From the moment one sleeps to the moment he/she wakes up, it can be a few minutes, a few hours or a few thousand years – it will all seem the same. One moment you close your eyes. Next moment you are at Yeshua’s Second Coming and the beginning of His Kingdom.
B. 2Co 12:3,4 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Paradise mentioned here and Luke 23:43, as well as Rev 2:7 is the Equivalent of the Garden of Eden mentioned again in Rev 22:2 & 14. This is a Time in the future. So being caught up into paradise is a vision, as Paul himself says it may not be in the body. A similar instance can be seen in Rev 1:10 where John is transported to the Lord’s Day, which is also a time in the future.
C. Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
It is important to note that the Original Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament do not contain any punctuation. Please see how the meaning changes of this verse when the punctuation is placed a little differently. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, Shalt thou be with me in paradise.”. And even if Yeshua was saying that the thief would be in paradise “today”, it would not be a contradiction if we take the argument in point A into consideration.
D. Joh 14:2,3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The word “mansions” used here gives us the idea of different places in Heaven, and Yeshua preparing a separate mansion for us. But the Greek word used here “Monay” is only seen in 1 more place in the whole of the New testament in John 14:23 where it is translated as “abode”. This is Bridal language of having Communion with one’s Bride. Yeshua as the Bridegroom(John 3:29) is going to prepare all of the necessities before He comes to marry the Bride as we see happening in Rev 19:7. Yeshua is speaking of a future time set in God’s Creation, when He speaks of an abode for His Bride.
E. Luk 16:23-26 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
“Abraham’s Bosom” is another phrase used for being collected to the fathers. In other words, Lazarus was deemed worthy of being with his forefathers going back to Abraham. The Rich man was deemed unworthy. The story is told to explain a far greater story and is not a literal retelling of true events.
F. 1Pe 3:18-20 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
One of the most confusing passages in the New Testament, Peter is saying here that the same Spirit that caused Yeshua to rise from the dead was working in Noah, when he(Noah) preached to those who were disobedient and now lie in “prison” as even though they are dead, they will not arise to life. Peter talks of this again in 2Peter 2:5
G. 1Pe 4:6 For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
This does not mean that Yeshua preached the Gospel to the dead. Peter explains that the Gospel has been preached to those who were living even before Christ. People such as Abraham who are currently asleep also received the Gospel as we see Paul mentioning in Gal 3:8
H. 2Ki 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Elijah being transported to heaven is also frequently used to show that people have ascended to heaven. The issue here is that the word used as Heaven here (Shamayim in Hebrew) is frequently translated “sky” as well. In 2Kings 2:16&17, the sons of the prophets say that the Spirit of God may have transported Elijah to some other place and even go looking for him. It is most probable that Elijah was transported to a different place as Elijah sends a letter to King Jehoram afterwards mentioned in 2Chr 21:12. The same sort of transportation of a person is mentioned in Acts 8:39,40 where Philip was ransported from Jerusalem to Ashdod.
I. 1Sa 28:15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
In the last days of Saul, he visits a woman with a “familiar spirit” (Obe in Hebrew) which has the meaning of a whisperer/mutterer/mumbler(Isa 8:19). It is unclear whether Samuel is speaking here or whether it is the woman who is acting as the medium. It is important to note the details of the story. Saul did not see Samuel – The woman explained what he looked like(v14). The prophecy that Saul would die the next day(v19) also does not come to pass, as we see a few days pass between the supposed prophecy (which could have been an instance such as in 1Kin 22:20-22) and his death. It is more likely that Samuel was not brought up from the Grave, but that a lying Spirit spoke through the woman.

7. Conclusion
The Bible is clear that the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven is one, and that it will happen in the future at the Coming of the Messiah. Everyone who dies in this world simply falls asleep to be resurrected to Eternal Life or Destruction in the Lake of fire. All of us sleep at different times, but we will all wake at the same time at the call of the Trumpet, as followers in Messiah’s footsteps. May it be speedily in our days!

The Origin of the Tithe and the place it should be made at

While mainline Christianity holds to the doctrine of Tithes, all other requirements in the Old Testament (Tanakh) Scriptures are said to have been done away. The Tithes were a command given to Israel, as part of the Mosaic Law given at Sinai. But why was a Tenth or 10% of the produce of an individual in Israel required as an offering? Why was it not another percentage? Finding the origin of the commandment will enlighten us on the why, where, what and how of the Tithe.

The Commandment
The commandment of the Tithe was to give a tenth or 10% of everything that God had provided in the Land of Israel. It was “Holy” or Set-apart towards YHVH, whether it was livestock or the fruit of the land.

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

Lev 27:30-32

The Recipients
The Tithe was given specifically to the Tribe of Levi for their service at the Tabernacle/Temple. They had no inheritance among the other Tribes who each received a portion of Land(Num 18:20, Deut 10:9, Jos 14:3). While all of the other tribes were ordered to pay a Tenth of all that they recieved from God to the Children of Levi for their livelihood, The Children of Levi, in turn were ordered to pay a Tenth of what they received to the Priestly Line of Aaron who worked inside the Holy Place.

And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.

Num 18:21-28

The Location
The Tithe was to be brought to the Temple of God, as the payment was for the Levites who worked at the Temple. Jerusalem was “The Place” which was foretold in the below passage, to be chosen by God as a place for His Great Name to Dwell as we see confirmed in 1Kings 11:36.

And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD: And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

Deu 12:6-14

The Festival Tithe & the Poor Tithe
Other than the Levitical Tithe, a Second Tithe was separated by all of the Israelites for use at the 3 feasts when they travelled to Jerusalem. This second 10% was used by them to rejoice at the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles and was to be shared with the Levite who had no inheritance as well as all of the poor such as the Widow, the Orphan and the Stranger. Everyone was to share this second “Tenth” so that everyone could be joyful before YHVH.

Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Deu 14:22-29

And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:

Deu 26:1-13

The Tithe Schedule
The Tithe was done according to a schedule which is foreign to us, as it revolved around the Sabbatical Cycle of the Land mentioned in Leviticus 25.

  • 1st Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Feasts
  • 2nd Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Feasts
  • 3rd Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Poor (Every 3rd Year)
  • 4th Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Feasts
  • 5th Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Feasts
  • 6th Year – 1st Tithe for the Levite & 2nd Tithe for the Poor(Every 3rd Year)
  • 7th Year – The Sabbatical Year : No Tithes were offered

The Origin of the Tithe and the importance of the location
The proclamation an Israelite was supposed to make in front of the Priest is very telling, and gives us further insight on the origin of the commandment. The person connects the Tithe to “Jacob” – calling him “my father who was a syrian (Aramean) ready to Perish”.

And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there. And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:

Deu 26:1-13

Why was the proclamation of the Tithe connected to Jacob? The reason was that the Tithe that the Israelites are paying was a vow that was made by their Father Jacob, who was later named Israel.

Jacob’s vow fulfilled
The vow which consists of two parts mention that the “stone which Jacob annointed would become God’s House” and that he would “surely give a tenth of all that God has given him”. Both of which did not come to pass in the days of Jacob. Jacob did not build a house to God, neither does it mention that he gave a tenth to God after his return from the house of Laban.

And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Gen 28:18-22

So what did Jacob mean by his vow? was he not going to pay the vow that he had made to God? Or did he see that his children would do it in his stead? Deuteronomy 26 shows us that the vow was indeed being paid by his children.

Moriah = The Place = Bethel(House of God) = Jerusalem
“HaMaqowm” as it is known in Hebrew is first seen by Abraham and subsequently the place which Jacob chooses to rest. It is also

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

Gen 22:2-4

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

Gen 28:11,16,17

So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

1Ch 21:25

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

2Ch 3:1

The reason for the Tithe
God does need Sacrifices or offerings as we see many times in the Scriptures (Jer 7:22, Psalm 50:8-17, Hos 6:6). While the reason for the Tithe was Jacob’s Vow, God had no reason to take a Tenth from the Children of Israel. Thus the Tenth was given to His Servants – the Levites who kept The House of God in Jerusalem where God had placed His name forever (Neh 1:9, Psa 74:7). The reason was that they had no portion in the land, and was dependent completely on God’s portion. The Tithes were also to be shared with the other segment of society who had no portion – the poor, when all of the people gathered before God to celebrate His appointed times. Thus the main use for the Tithe was to relieve those who could not fend for themselves and to show that God cares for all His obedient children. Shalom!

Blaspheming the Spirit and the Sin without forgiveness

What is the unpardonable Sin? Many views and teachings have been proposed to explain what exactly Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) means when He speaks of “Blaspheming the Spirit”. Let’s try to do a quick study on what He would have meant using the Bible as our foundation.

Before we learn about “Blaspheming the Spirit”, it is important for us to understand what “Blasphemy” is.

βλάσφημος – blasphēmos – From a derivative of G984 and G5345; scurrilous, that is, calumnious (against man), or (specifically) impious (against God): – blasphemer (-mous), railing. ( G984 – βλάπτω – blaptō – A primary verb; properly to hinder, that is, (by implication) to injure: – hurt. ) ( G5345 – φήμη – phēmē – From G5346; a saying, that is, rumor (“fame”): – fame. )

Blasphemy could be seen as “Hurting(Blapto) the Fame(Pheme)” of a person, a document such as the Law, a faith or a place such as the Temple, but has been generally associated with God throughout the New Testament. We see some instance of the word below being translated as blasphemy against Moses(God’s Law also called Torah), God, God’s Temple, Heavenly beings, Name of God, His Doctrine, The Word of God, Paul and his teaching. It is also translated as “speaking evil of” as well as “defamed” which maybe the closest translation.

Act 6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
Act 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
1Ti 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
Tit 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Act 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
1Co 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
Rom 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
Tit 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

In 1Tim6:1 and Tit 2:5 we also see instances above where Paul exhorts people to behave in such a way that God’s name, His Word and His Doctrine not be defamed by their actions. While the Greek word “Blasphemos” is used commonly in the New Testament writings, there is one Hebrew Word in particular that is of interest, which connects both the verses concerned, in the New Testament with the Tanakh – specifically the Torah.

Blaspheming the Spirit
Let’s check the instances where Yeshua uses this phrase and compare the words in our Greek Manuscripts with The Hebrew version of Matthew and the Tanak(Old Testament) Scriptures to see whether we can see what Messiah meant.


Mat 12:31,32 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Mar 3:28,29 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:
Luk 12:8-12 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

I believe we can get a better perspective on what Yeshua is saying here in these Gospel accounts by looking at the text – specifically the word He uses here. The Greek Manuscripts contain “Blasphemos” 3 times in the text at Mat 12:31, 15:19 & 26:65 but the Hebrew version carries “Gadaph” only in relation to “Blaspheming the Spirit” in Mat 12:31.

Hebrew Gospel of Matthew – Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew – translation by Prof. George Howard

In the Hebrew Text of Matthew’s Gospel, we see the word “Gadaph” (Highlighted in Yellow in the above image) used in place of the Greek “Blasphemos”.

H1442 – גּדף – gâdaph – A primitive root; to hack (with words), that is, revile: – blaspheme, reproach.

This word appears only once in the Torah(5 books of Moses) and only 7 times collectively in the Tanakh(Old Testament).

Num 15:29-31 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth(Gadaph) the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

The other 6 instances are 2Kin 19:6,22, Psa 44:16, Isa_37:6,23, Eze 20:27

Looking at Numbers 15:29-31, we see the only place where Blasphemy/Reproach is mentioned in the Torah/Law/Moses mentions the reason why God is reviled. A person who brazenly disregards God and acts arrogantly in front of Him defames/blasphemes/reproaches God in front of others and is seen as a soul which is cut-off by God Himself. The reasons are his/her actions that despised the Word of YHVH. There is no more sacrifice or redemption for such a person. The Author of Hebrews explain the same fact further.

Heb 6:4-8 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
Heb 10:26-29 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Whoever commits sin is acting against God, as “Sin is Transgressing the Law” as per 1John 3:4. If someone sins willfully, that means he/she is blatantly disregarding and acting against God, reproaching/blaspheming/defaming Him who has provided Salvation to all. Salvation, we see comes through the Spirit of Grace, whom we all partake in, when we received the promise of Eternal Life. The Spirit was sent as the seal and a deposit for what we are to receive in the future.

Eph 1:13,14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

As we see above, The Holy Spirit is the “earnest” of our inheritance, until we redeem the purchased possession which is life everlasting. John in his 1st Epistle speaks of the same point and explains a little further on the same sin, as we see below.

1Jn 5:16-18 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

As per John, we know that Sin is transgressing the Law(1Jn 3:4). but then he speaks of 2 varieties of sin. One which leads to death and one which does not. But we also know that all sin leads to death according to Rom 6:16,23 & James 1:15. So what does John mean when he writes about a “sin that is unto death” and a “sin that is not unto death”? First of all, we see that the context is of petitions and intermediatory prayer. John asks the recipients to pray for people who do “sin that is not unto death” so that God will give them Life. And he explains that one should not pray for people who “sin unto death” as surely he means to say that such prayers will not be answered by God. “Sin that is unto death” must be that which Yeshua speaks about in Mat 12:31 and what The Word of God speaks of in Num 15:30. For such sin, there is no forgiveness or sacrifice.

Gathering Sticks on the Sabbath
Exactly after the “Unpardonable Sin” is spoken of in the Scriptures in Num 15:29-31, a story is presented to us which is often misunderstood today. The event is juxtaposed with the defamation of God’s name by willful disobedience, obviously for a reason.

Num 15:32-35 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

Only God could see into the heart of the person who had worked on the Sabbath, going against the command to rest as God had proclaimed. The “Gathering” could also be translated “foraging” obviously done for the express purpose for working. Moses and Aaron leave the decision upto God, as He is the only one who could try the person’s heart to see whether he had acted deliberately with a “high hand”. The man had “blasphemed the Spirit” of Grace and Promise and could not receive further forgiveness or sacrifice for his life. The event is both a lesson and warning even to all who take hold of God today. As the author of Hebrews explains “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”.

Conclusion
The phrase “Blasphemy against the Spirit” which is called the Unpardonable Sin, is taught to be vastly different in different Sects/Denominations of Christianity. Delving into the Hebrew and Greek texts make it clear that Yeshua the Messiah, is speaking of a particular Sin and a particular portion of the Law of God. Sin done with blatant disregard towards God, while fully knowing His wishes can and will defame Him. Such acts belittle the Salvation He has freely offered, thus working against the Spirit of Promise/Grace. Thus, “Blaspheming the Spirit” is an act that is spiteful and is done with contempt towards God, our Creator & Redeemer.

How many times did Moses Fast for 40 Days and 40 Nights?

It is commonly known that Moses spent 40 Days and 40 Nights without any physical nourishment in the presence of God – a feat no other human has accomplished in history. But how many days did Moses Fast? Was it once, twice or three times? And does it matter – Let’s find out!

Pentecost to Atonement
If you are aware that Shavuot (also known as Pentecost) was when God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, you are also aware that the people asked Moses to approach God and get the Word of God as they were afraid for their lives.

Exo 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
Deu 5:27-31 Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.

Moses who ascended the Mountain on Pentecost remained there for 40 days and 40 nights.

Deu 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
Exo 24:18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Then at the end of the first 40 days, Moses returned to a congregation that had been led astray by worshipping a golden calf.

Deu 9:12-17 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you. And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.

The very next day, Moses ascended the Mount for the second time to ask God for Mercy for the sin of the congregation and stayed on top of the mount for a second time fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.

Deu 9:18 And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Exo 32:30,31 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

At the end of the second 40 day fast, he came down to hew two tablets of stone for the second set of the “10 Commands/Words/Sayings” and returned back to the top of the mountain for a third set of 40 days.

Deu 10:1-5 At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me. And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.
Exo 34:1,2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
Exo 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

The day Moses returned, after the 3rd 40-Day fast, it is said that his face shined with God’s Glory, so that the congregation was afraid to look at him. This day is traditionally thought to be Atonement (Yom Kippur) and there is valid reasons to think so.

Exo 34:29,30 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Counting from Pentecost to Atonement this year(2020AD), we find an oddity in God’s Calendar, where there are exactly 120 days between Pentecost and Atonement (May 31st to Sep 28th 2020). What’s odd further is that Passover fell on a Wednesday(8th April 2020) this year, which resembles the year of Yeshua’s Death where there are 3 days and 3 nights between Passover Eve and Firsfruits, the day of His resurrection.

I wonder whether the dates this year, fall in line perfectly with the events almost 3500 years ago in Moses’ time as well as 2000 years ago at the time of Yeshua.

The Days of Elul and Restoration
According to the above study, the last 40 Day period coincide with days of Elul – The 6th month of the Hebrew Calendar. Even though the 40-Day period of Elul that ends with Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, is known as a time of Repentance, it is also a time of Restoration. It’s a time when our marriage with the Heavenly King is restored after the separation that comes through sin. The above could also be broken into 3 times of 2000 years – 1.) The time of Adam & Noah. 2.) The time of Israel to Messiah 3.) The time of Messiah and the preparation of the Bride. Maybe you will see many more connections and shadows through this event as well.

Conclusion
Moses fasted for 3 consecutive 40 day periods totaling 120 days from Pentecost to Atonement. The last 40 day period which is known as Elul, and observed even today is a most holy time which is separated for the Bride to restore her Marriage Vows with The King. May He arrive speedily!

How many came to Egypt? 70 or 75? Genesis 46:27 and Acts 7:14 contradiction? Did Stephen get it wrong?

“CONTRADICTION! CONTRADICTION! CONTRADICTION!” shouts the person who wants to find fault with God’s Word, while pointing at Stephen’s “Spirit-filled” speech before the Sanhedrin.

At first glance there is a contradiction between Stephen’s words and the Old Testament Scriptures, as we see below:

Act 7:14 Then Joseph sent and brought his father Jacob and all his family, seventy-five souls in number.
Gen 46:27 And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons; thus all the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

So is it 70 or 75? Obviously a contradiction, right? Either the Old Testament Scriptures is wrong or Stephen was actually not Spirit-filled, and he was making up numbers as 75 was what he remembered. What if I told you that both of these numbers are right?

To uncover this mystery, we must get to know who Stephen was, and his background.


Who was Stephen?

Stephen was a Grecian Jew (Hellenic Jew) who had been brought up in the diaspora. This is why we see him being chosen along with 6 others to serve the Hellenic Jewish Widows and needy. The Grecians mentioned here are the Jews who had been brought up outside Judea similar to all who were present on Pentecost (Acts 2:5,9,10,11) from the known Greek world at the time. Stephen was chosen from among the Grecian Hellenic Jews to serve the congregation so that there would be no oversight on the part of the disciples.

Act 6:1-5 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

He defended His faith in Messiah against the same Grecian Hellenic Jews as mentioned below.

Act 6:9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

The fact that Stephen was a Grecian Hellenic Jew is important because most of the Grecian Jewish congregations used the Septuagint for their studies in their Synagogues. The Septuagint was a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Koine Greek before the 2nd Century BC and is often abbreviated with LXX as 70 Jewish scholars were entrusted to do the translation under Ptolemy II. This would have been the commonly used translation among the Jews who lived in the then Greek speaking world and the evidence points us to the fact that Stephen was also using the same translation.

Comparison of Septuagint Text (LXX) and Hebrew Scriptures of Genesis 46:26,27
Immediately we see the difference in the text where the Hebrew Scriptures say 70, the LXX says 75. The amount of people who came to Egypt stays the same at 66, in both the LXX and the Hebrew Scriptures, while the LXX mentions 9 people living in Egypt opposed to 4 people in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Gen 46:26,27 All the persons that came with Jacob into Egypt, who came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all; And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons; thus all the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy. (Hebrew)

Gen 46:26,27 And all the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, who came out of his loins, besides the wives of the sons of Jacob, all the souls were sixty-six. And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in the land of Egypt, were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls. (LXX)

Comparison of Septuagint Text (LXX) and Hebrew Scriptures of Genesis 46:20
So, why is there a discrepancy between the LXX and Hebrew texts? are they contradictory? Comparing Genesis 46:20 in both of these texts help us understand why the count is different.

Gen 46:20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asiath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bore to him. (Hebrew)

Gen 46:20 And there were sons born to Joseph in the land of Egypt, whom Aseneth, the daughter of Petephres, priest of Heliopolis, bore to him, Manasses and Ephraim. And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses; Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam; Edom. (LXX)

The above counts come to 4 and 9 respectively in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek Septuagint Translation. While the Hebrew only counts Joseph, Asenath, Ephraim and Manasseh, the Greek LXX counts the 5 children of Ephraim and Manasseh as well.

So, when Stephen quoted the number in Gen 46:27 from the LXX in his speech in front of the Sanhedrin, it was not untrue. Both 70 and 75 are perfect according to the texts of his time. It is us who are living 2000 years removed from them that do not know the context of what and where he arrived at the number 75.

Conclusion
There is no contradiction between the 70 people mentioned in Gen 46:27 and the 75 souls mentioned by Stephen in Acts 7:14, as he is quoting from the Septuagint text which includes 5 children born to Ephraim and Manasseh in the count. Looking at the LXX text as seen above, helps us rectify this apparent contradiction. Stephen is neither mistaken or deluded when he proclaims this in his speech, as the number 75 is a valid calculation according to a text prevalently used in his time.

Why did the Veil of the Temple tear? Which Veil tore?

Among Christian Congregations, it is a common teaching that the Veil in front of the Holy of Holies Tore when Christ died, and that this means we are free to walk into the Most Holy Place without any barriers. Did the Veil before the Holy of Holies tear? and what was the true meaning of this sign?

Which Veil tore?
Before we inspect the reasons for the tear and the meaning behind it, let us try to understand how many veils were there in the temple and which one tore.

Num 4:25,26 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.

The Tabernacle in the wilderness which stood as the model for the Temple built by Solomon as well as the second temple built by Zerubbabel carried a number of curtains as seen below. The 3 main curtains (in purple color) were:
a) Dividing the camp from the courtyard
b) Dividing the courtyard from the Holy place
c) Dividing the Holy place from the Holy of Holies

Even though the Scriptures are not clear on this fact, the same pattern was carried over to the Temple building which was built by Solomon and Zerubbabel. We see the multiple curtains/veils in the Temple mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, Maccabees and in the historical accounts such as Josephus and Talmud. according to these accounts there were 2 main curtains in the Temple. One at the entrance into the Temple and one before the Holy of Holies.

Heb 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. The Book of Maccabees I Ch4 v50

When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of incense], which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. Antiquities of the Jews Book 12 Ch7 v6

But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v4

But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v5

“The thickness of the veil [of the Temple] was a hand-breadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, each cord consisting of twenty-four strands. Its length was forty cubits, by twenty in width. It was made by eighty-two myriads of damsels, and two such veils were made every year. It took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it [if it becomes unclean].” Ein Yaakov, Chullin Ch 7

The First Veil
Analysing the above information helps us see that the first Veil was in front of the door of the Temple and that it covered the doors so that the Holy place was covered at all times. No Levite other than the Family of Aaron went past this veil into the Holy place. All of the other Levites would work outside the temple.

 

 

The Second Veil
The next veil was in front of the Holy of Holies inside the Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy. Only the High Priest of the line of Aaron went into this place which had the Ark of the Covenant; once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The other Priests of the Line of Aaron would not go past this place, and only serve inside the Holy place where the Menorah, The Table of Presence and Altar of Incense were situated. As the accounts of Ein Yaakov mentions, these two veils were so huge that it took 300 priests to hang them up. The thickness of the veils are said to be a handbreadth (4 inches) with a width of 20 cubits (10meters) by height of 40 cubits (20 meters) which would have been 8 stories high.

Which Veil Tore? the Outer Veil or the Inner Veil?
Because most Christians do not know about the Temple precinct and that there were 2 veils in the temple, they immediately assume that the Inner Veil Tore. This would have not been a sign that the Israelites could see, as the outer veil would be covering it. But if the Outer Veil was what tore, everyone would have been able to see it because of the height of this massive veil which towered over most of the other buildings. It would have been clearly sighted by everyone who was in the outer courts of the Temple.

In fact this was not the first time that the Outer Veil of the Temple tore. Josephus notes that in the days of King Uzziah, such an even happened with an earthquake, which is mentioned by Zecheriah.

2Ch 26:16-21 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity,] he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent; and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish; and despised that power which is of eternal duration: (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws:) so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs; and was carried headlong into those sins of his fathers, which the splendour of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into: while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar; which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the High Priest, who had fourscore Priests with him, and who told him, that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice: and that “None besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.” And when they cried out, that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it; and fell upon the King’s face; insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled it self four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain; till the roads, as well as the King’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now as soon as the Priests saw that the King’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city, as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict; that he did as he was commanded; and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befited a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life: while his son Jotham took the government. After which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him; when he had lived sixty eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two. And was buried by himself in his own gardens. Ant. of the Jews IX Ch10 v4

Josephus mentions that the earthquake made a tare in the temple referring to the Veil, through which rays of sunlight (which came from the East directly through the doorway) fell on Uzziah. This was divine judgement. We should note that the veil was torn in this case, but was not completely made into two parts. In this way, the tear made at the time of Yeshua’s death was much more significant. This sign of the tear could not have been seen by the people if it was the inner Veil. Now lets try to understand the reason for such a tear.

Why did the veil tear in two?
Many hold to the understanding that the inner veil tore, signifying that everyone is able to go to the Most Holy Place freely. But this is a gross misunderstanding of protocols in the courts of God. Only The High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. All other priests of the lineage of Aaron were barred from such an offense. Christ as the High Priest (Heb 9:11) is able to approach the Most Holy place, while all other priests were to stand before God in the Holy Place.

1. A sign of Priesthood
God has called us to be a Kingdom of Priests as we see this as part of His Covenant given through Moses(Exo 19:6) and also reiterated by Peter (1Pet 2:9). A tear of the Outer Veil shows a clear path to approach God and serve Him in the Holy Place as a priesthood, while the Holy of Holies is reserved for the Messiah and High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

2. A sign of Grief
In the bible a father usually rents his clothes as a clear sign of Grief when one’s son is dead (Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31). Two of the Gospel writers make an interesting observation when they say that the veil was torn from top to bottom, which is an indication of a garment of a father being torn in two. While God does not live in buildings made with hands(1Kin 8:27), God promised to dwell among the people through the Tabernacle/Temple (Exo 25:8, 1Kin 9:3) which stood on the earth as a microcosm of the Heavenly reign of God (Exo 25:40, 26:30). So the Outer Veil could be looked at as God’s outer garment on Earth, which being torn in two would denote a sign of Grief as His son paid the ultimate price for our sin.

Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mar 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

3. A sign to the People and leaders in Jerusalem
The Outer veil being torn would have also been a sign which would have amazed everyone in Jerusalem and a piece of news that would have travelled around the land. In fact, this could have been one thing that the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus would have been referring to, when they said:

Luk 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

A clear sign such as this would have been a witness to many who were doubtful about Yeshua’s claim to be the Son of God. Both the Ruling parties and the people who had come for Passover would have nothing else to talk about as the torn veil was accompanied with darkness and an earthquake.

Conclusion
The tearing of the Outer Veil did not signify the end of God’s Temple or His Law as tearing one of the veils could not lead us to this conclusion. It is much more likely that it was a sign of Grief by God, The Father and an invitation for the Priesthood to be called from around the world unto Him as well as a mighty sign that witnesses Yeshua was truly the Messiah. While Christ, the High Priest took office, the tear signified that the Priests who would take office could approach the Holy Place, after Him. The tear was also a major sign for the authorities as well as the people of Jerusalem and the whole of Israel, that an important event had taken place.

Migdal Eder and the Birth of Christ

We are all familiar of the story of the appearance of Angels to lowly shepherds watching over their sheep at night when Christ was born. But were these normal shepherds? Did the Angels tell them where to exactly look in Bethlehem? Or were they privy to some information we have not understood?

Prophecies of the Birth place of Messiah and Migdal Eder
Comparing the following verses, we see that the burial-place of Rachel is called the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder in Hebrew). This may have been called as such in remembrance of Rachel who was a shepherdess(Gen 29:9). Micah 4:8 and Gen 35:21 reference the same place – the Tower of Eder also called the Tower of the Flock. Micah is a clear reference that Messiah would be born in this place.

Mic 4:8 And thou, O tower(Migdal) of the flock(Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Gen 35:19-21 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

In fact the Pillar of Rachel’s grave mentioned above may have been the Tower of Edar. So why is this Tower of the Flock of any interest to us? As Micah has prophesied, the Kingdom and Dominion comes to the Tower of the Flock. 6 verses down, Micah again references the same Shepherd who will arise from Bethlehem and feed His flock, to whom all of Israel will return. These prophecies were well known at the time of Yeshua‘s birth, as we see below.

Mic 5:2-4 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Mat 2:4-6 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Joh 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

It is very likely, considering they lived in the land and knew the various landmarks, that the Tower of Edar was also well known for its significant prophecy mentioned in Micah.

Priestly Shepherds tending the sheep in the Lambing Season
We have all heard that the Shepherds in Luke’s account of the birth of Messiah, were outcasts and poor people taking care of their sheep at night. But we must ask the question of why shepherds would be out at night risking losing their livestock to predators and the like. The reason would be lambing season.

Gustaf Dalman who did extensive field work in the land of Israel before the 1st World War, mentions in his work “Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina (Work and Customs in Palestine) V1, 183” that he observed 3 lambing seasons; early lambs born in November-January, Spring Lambs born in February-March and Summer lambs born in June.

The Spring Lambing Season is of special significance to us, as that is the time of the Passover Sacrifice which required a 1-year old Lamb. For Messiah to be born in this season as the Lamb of God, would be an amazing foreshadowing of His Ministry of becoming the Passover Lamb that brings redemption to His people.

Another interesting fact is that there were Shepherds who were from the priestly families according to the Mishnah Bekhorot 5:4. Could the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 be Priests?Migdal Eder is also mentioned by name again in the Mishnah regarding lambs who were found in the vicinity being accepted as Passover offerings, making it very likely that this area was a common grazing place for Priestly-Shepherds.

Beasts which were found in Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder and within the same distance in any direction: Males are [considered as] burnt-offerings; Females are [considered as] peace-offerings. Rabbi Judah says: that which is fit for a pesach offering, is a pesach-offerings within thirty days before the pilgrimage [of Pesach]. Mishnah, Shekalim 7:4

If the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 were in fact Priests, this may also explain how the shepherds knew where to go, as the Angels never mentioned a particular place. It is unlikely that normal shepherds would know about the exact prophecies mentioned in Micah, while Priestly Shepherds would have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.

Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Was the Tower of the Flock the place of Yeshua’s Birth?
Even though many of us have grown up seeing Yeshua being laid in a rack for fodder called a manger, the text says something else. Luke mentions that he was laid in a “Phatne” in Greek, better translated as stall, as per examples given below.

Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls(phatne):
2Ch 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls(phatne) for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall(phatne), and lead him away to watering?

Compare the above to the instances of Phatne in the Birth of Messiah:

Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger(phatne); because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(phatne).
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger(phatne).

It is clear that the imagery of the trough is not a Biblical one, and it is more likely that Messiah was born in a stall that was made for Lambs. Could this have been connected to the Migdal Eder? Did the Tower of the Flock also consist of a “Phatne” (stall) which could hold newborn lambs for the shepherds who were out at night in lambing season? This could explain how they found Mary, Joseph and Yeshua so easily.

Conclusion
Migdal Eder which is connected to Prophet Micah’s prophecy, may very well be the exact place of Yeshua’s Birth. What better place and time for the Lamb of God to be born, other than in the Spring Lambing Season close to Passover at the “Tower of the Flock” and be visited first by Shepherds who were priests. With God’s track record of foreshadowings and prophetic imagery, it is not far fetched to imagine the Birth of Messiah happening in this fashion.

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