LORD or YHVH? Jesus or Yeshua? Sunday or Sabbath? Church or Synagogue? Gentile or Israel? Clean or Unclean? Law or Grace? 2000 years after the Messiah, wherever we live, whether it's Sri Lanka or any other part of the world, all of us require to learn how to do Bible things in Bible ways.
Many a Christian turn to Matthew 15 as a proof text to show that we can eat anything that we like. But did you know that this Chapter contains a Parable? And may I suggest that it is one of the most misunderstood Parables of Christ?
So let’s look at the context before we look at the Parable.
An argument about eating with unwashed hands / transgressing the traditions of the Elders Mat 15:1,2 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. At the onset, we must note that the argument between the Pharisees and Yeshua, is about the Traditions of the Elders and not about the Word of God. Actually in the next few verses, we see Christ distinguishing the Commandments of God from the Traditions of the Elders.
Commandments of God vs Traditions of Men Mat 15:3-6 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. We see that Yeshua takes one instance that the Traditions of the Elders (Oral Law) breaks God’s Commandments, thus showing the inconsistency of the Traditions of Men with the Commands of God.
Isaiah 29:13 and Doctrines of Men Mat 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Yeshua quotes Isaiah 29:13 as a proof-text for Traditions which are taught by men being adhered to with the hopes of honouring God, but falling short.
A Misunderstood Parable Mat 15:10-11 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. All of us have read the above verses and thought “Does that mean, we can eat whatever we like?”. But note what Yeshua told the Multitude… Hear and understand! But what evidence is there to say that the above is a Parable, and what is its meaning, if it is a Parable? The Disciples have questions Mat 15:12-15 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. We see that the words of Christ hit a sore spot with the Pharisees, which was communicated to Him by the disciples. Yeshua’s reply to the conflict was quite harsh. But whatever caused the Pharisees to be offended was not understood properly by Peter (and most probably, the other disciples) who asked the meaning of the “Parable”. This proves the point that “It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean, It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean” is a Parable. It is not to be understood on face value. It has a deeper meaning which the Pharisees understood while the disciples didn’t.
The Explanation of the Parable Mat 15:16-20 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. The Master explains the parable to be comparing the “Command of God” vs the “Traditions of Men”. The Command of God shows us to guard our Heart where all evil thoughts come from (Gen 6:5, 8:21). Sin surely defiles a man, while the traditions of men such as eating with unwashed hands, while having the outward appearance of Holiness does nothing to make a man holy before God, as it is at the end just vain worship commanded by man. Christ speaks nothing about food or the commandments of God about clean/unclean meats given in Leviticus 11, in Matthew chapter 15 or it’s parallel in Mark 7. The Pharisees were offended at this parable as they would have surely understood that Yeshua spoke of them and their hypocrisy.
Conclusion Matthew 15:15 and Mark 7:17 prove that Christ spoke a parable about the Traditions of Men and the Commands of God which most Christians have taken out of context by reading the surface material while missing the explanation which shows we are to obey the Commands of God to keep ourselves from defilement of Sin while rejecting traditions given by blind human guides.
What does it mean to be “Under the Law”? If we are not “Under the Law”, does it mean that we are “Above the Law”? What did the Apostle Paul mean by this “term” which I believe is possibly the most misunderstood “term” in the New Testament Writings.
What is the Law? Without an understanding of what “The Law” means, it is impossible to understand what “Under the Law” means. 1. The Law Defines Sin – Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. In other words, The Law let’s us know what “Sin” is – Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 2. Because the “Law” defines “Sin”, “breaking the Law” is “Committing Sin” – 1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Under the Law What most people believe is that by saying we are not “Under the Law”, that Paul has told us that we have been released from the Law. All of us live in a country which has its own unique set of Laws. A person who is not under the jurisdiction of the Law is known as going “Above the Law”. A person who is usually convicted by the Law, is one who is “Under the Law”. The Law defines the parameters of right and wrong. A person who breaks the Law is “under the penalty of the Law” This is the most simple explanation for this term used by Paul. In fact, Paul tries to explain this very idea in Romans 6:14 and 15.
Let’s inspect all of the verses that contain the phrase “under the Law”…
Not “Under the Law”, but not “Above the Law” either Rom 6:14,15 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. If we apply the definition of “Sin” as seen in 1Jn 3:4 into the above verse, it would read something like this. For “transgression of law” shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we “transgress the Law”, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Accordingly, being “Under the Law” is being “under dominion of Law” – in other words “a person who is condemned by the Law”.
The Law leads us to Christ – Once we are under the Dominion of Christ, we are no longer under the dominion of the Law Gal 3:22-25 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. As per the above verse, the Scriptures have concluded “All Under Sin”, which means “all of us are transgressors of the Law” and are under the dominion of the law as transgressors. Since all are Justified by Faith just as Abraham (Gal 3:6), we were “kept” (guarded/protected) under the Dominion of the Law. The Law was our instructor that led us to Christ, so that we maybe justified by Faith. But once we are under the “dominion of Christ” we are no longer under the “dominion of the Law”. (But as Paul said in Romans 6:15, can we Sin (Transgress the Law) since we are not under the Law? God Forbid.)
Christ redeems those under the Law by being made under the Law Gal 4:4,5 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Christ came to be in the form of man who is “under the law” which means “under dominion of law” and takes on the “full penalty/condemnation of the Law” to redeem those who were in fact under the penalty/condemnation for breaking God’s Law ; which means “Sin”.
Galatians who desire to be justified by the Law would go back to being under the Law Gal 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? In the Letter to the Galatians, we see a community of believers being led astray to believe that they are not saved if they do not get circumcised, as we see in Acts 15. Justification/Salvation is by Faith and Grace alone – we cannot add anything to this free gift. But the Galatians by believing that they needed to be circumcised to be considered the seed of Abraham, were being led back to being “under the dominion of the Law” as they were going back to a system of receiving Justification/Salvation by works – which no person would be able to do perfectly. Paul explains in Romans 3:20 that we cannot be justified by the Law – The Law is there to show us what “sin” is and is not.
Being led by the Spirit frees you from “being condemned by the Law” Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Reading Galatians 5:19-26, it is abundantly clear that being led by the Spirit is contrary to the lusts of the flesh. In other words, “Lusts of the flesh” are equated to “transgression of Law which is Sin” while “being led by the Spirit” is equated to “being obedient to God’s Law which is walking in Holiness”.
Paul tried to reach out to people who are “Under the Law” and “Above the Law” 1Co 9:20,21 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. While this particular verse is discussed in greater detail here, I would like to point out that there are two groups of people he is dealing with. One group is “Under the dominion of the Law” which does not bring justification/salvation, but condemnation. The other group is “Above the Law” as they are acting as if there is no Law that states what sin is. Both groups are under condemnation, while only Faith in Christ could lead us to a renewed life of Holiness in God.
Conclusion Being “Under the Law” means to be “Under the dominion/penalty/condemnation/transgression of Law”. “Obeying the Law” means to “walk in holiness” as “Sin” is equated to “The Transgression of the Law”. Just because we have been released from being condemned as transgressors of Law, does not mean we have a license to Sin (Transgress the Law). Understanding what “Under the Law” means may thus affect how we see our renewed walk in Christ towards His coming Kingdom.
“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” asked the High Priest from Peter. As a community of believers that were going against the mainstream, the Messiah had already warned the disciples about being rejected saying “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” The words of Yeshua ring true today, as it did then – “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”.
In an age that “every person does that which is right in their own eyes”, there can be no absolute Truth – only “my personal truth”. Truth in itself cannot be something that changes. If today’s truth changes tomorrow, that means it was not true at all. This is why Paul can say “let God be true, but every man a liar”. God does not change. As Malachi proclaims “The sons of Jacob are not consumed because YHVH does not change”. Just ponder on the thought that God changed His Mind on Israel and chose a new community called Christians – replacement theology – as it is known, calls to question the sovereignty of God and His Omniscience. He first chose Israel, then rejected Israel and chose a new community? (which disagrees with so many of the Prophets and even Paul) What’s next? Maybe He will reject “Christians” today and take a new community tomorrow? This is possible only if He changes. This is why He proclaimed Himself as “I am that I am”.
The Righteous Creator and our Loving Father is “Truth”. As James says “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. But what does the Mainstream believe today? if someone looks at it critically, they will have to conclude that they believe in a God that has changed in some ways. Which is antithetical to what we read in His Word.
So now we are being commanded to proclaim only the version of God that the authorities deem correct. In a world that disseminates most of our information online, the authorities have the power to silence any message that is not agreeable and label it as “Abusive content”. I can guarantee that their is no abusive content, or at least a word of abuse in the comments on this site, but for some reason it has been labeled as such. As a dear Sister, Ruth Meyers informed me, it says “Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”
Paul spoke of times such as this, when he wrote to Timothy saying “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” When you pronounce “The Truth” – which is the complete Word of God – not a jot or tittle less, we end up at the council having to defend ourselves against the authorities that are arbiters of the truth of the day. Our answer today is the same as what it was at Peter’s time “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye”.
I am not sure whether this is the case for everyone, but let them do what they can to report, defame and block God’s Word; We will keep proclaiming it to “all who have ears to hear”.
As we enter the season of Passover and our redemption from slavery to sin (John 8:34) through the blood of the spotless lamb of God (1Pet 1:19), Yeshua – our Savior who died on Passover, we step into the days of Unleavened Bread. 7 days of not eating anything that has Leaven (Yeast) in it, reminds us of purifying ourselves from all things that should not be in our lives as born-again believers. A life which is not puffed up with pride or any other foreign organisms.
Leaven is equated to a lot of things in the Bible
1Co 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Luk 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Mat 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
While Paul equates Unleavened Bread to Sincerity and Truth, which is the antithesis of a sinful life, we can also see an interesting connection between Commandments of God and Unleavened Bread when we look at the Hebrew Language.
In Hebrew, a Command is called a “Mitzvah” and the Plural form of it, which is “Mitzvot”. Unleavened in Hebrew is “Matzah”, and it’s plural form is “Matzot”. As we see above, both words carry the same consonants, other than the vowels that change the pronunciation of the two words. So what can we glean from this connection in the Hebrew? The Commands lead to an Unleavened Life! This idea actually agrees with what John says in 1John 3:4 “for sin is the transgression of the law.” If sin is transgression of the Law, Keeping the Law would be a life void of sin. Keeping “Mitzvot” would lead to a life that is “Matzot”. As we celebrate Passover and our Salvation from sin and death, we enter into the week of Unleavened Bread, which depicts an unleavened life void of sin and immersed in obedience to God. A life which is “Holy” after receiving the righteousness of God, as we see many times in the New Testament
2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. Heb 12:14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
And that is how a sinless life is connected to walking according to the instructions of God, and Unleavened Bread is connected to Obedience! Shalom!
Our creator does not do anything without a purpose. Which means there is a purpose for each of the Plagues and for the plagues to be done in a certain order. Today we will look at this purpose and this authors view that God was sending a message and giving a teaching through each of the plagues.
The purpose of the plagues and wonders God did in Egypt in the eyes of Pharaoh YHVH explains that one of the reasons He will do these mighty acts, is so that His people will “know” who He really is.
Exo 6:6,7 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
Our Father in Heaven also says that these plagues are for the express reason that the Egyptians including Pharaoh who said that “he does not know who YHVH is” in Exo 5:2, will come to know who He is.
Exo 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. Exo 7:17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. Exo 8:10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God. Exo 8:22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. Exo 9:14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. Exo 9:29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’S. Exo 10:2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD. Exo 11:7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.
Similarly, the reason for God’s Commands given at Sinai is for the purpose of getting to “know” Him – what He likes/dislikes and what He approves/disapproves for those who call themselves “The people of God”.
As Paul mentions in Romans 7:7 we would not know what is right and wrong if we do not know God’s Law. Sin is transgressing the Law as per 1Jn 3:4, and without it we would not have any knowledge of good and evil, thereby transgressing against God. Jer 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Jer 4:22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Now let’s look at the Plagues and the Commandments side-by-side.
10 Commandments Exo 20:1-17
1) Water turns to blood Exo 7:7-22
1) You shall have no other Gods before me
2) Frogs Exo 8:1-7
2) Do not make any graven images
3) Lice Exo 8:16-19
3) Do not take My name in vain
4) Flies Exo 8:20-24
4) Remember the Sabbath
5) Plague on Cattle Exo 9:1-7
5) Honour your Parents
6) Boils Exo 9:8-12
6) Do not Murder
7) Hail Exo 9:18-35
7) Do not commit Adultery
8) Locust Exo 10:1-20
8) Do not Steal
9) Darkness Exo 10:21-28
9) Do not bear false witness
10) Death of Firstborn Exo 11:1-8
10) Do not Covet
It may seem unrelated at first glance, but let’s look at each of these 10 statements given at Sinai alongside the corresponding Plague to see whether there maybe any connection between each pair.
1st Command & 1st Plague The command reads “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” How could this be connected with the River of Egypt and all other water sources turning into Blood? The source of Life or as Jeremiah says “the Fountain of Living Waters” in 2:13 and 17:13 is the Creator of all living things. It is not the Nile, which was worshiped as one of the main deities in Egypt, that gave true life. This was the statement that God makes with this plague, where the source of life that the Egyptians believe in, becomes a place of Death, Stink and Thirst.
2nd Command & 2nd Plague The command reads “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” The connection of Graven images is plain when you reflect on what a “graven image” really is. It is anything that God has created, that which comes from God, but is celebrated and worshiped as God. So it is fitting that the account of the plagues has frogs (the symbol of another deity of Egypt) “coming out” from the water sources such as the River of Egypt. This is an object lesson for everyone to understand how could it be that a thing (graven image/frog) that proceeds from another thing considered as a deity (the River of Egypt) could be a deity, itself.
3rd Command & 3rd Plague The command reads “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” What can taking the name in vain have in common with “Lice”? First of all, Lice is a translation from the Hebrew Word “כּן- kên” which means “latch on or fastening” onto something. The word is closely related to another Hebrew Word “כּנה – kânâh” which means “call by name or surname” as seen in Isaiah 45:4 & 44:5. The text makes a connection in this sense with taking the name of God in vain, as “כּן- kên” has the idea of fastening on to something and becoming a parasite. It is the same with a person who takes God’s name in vain – as the name carries His authority and honour. When a person says “I am a child of God” and then acts in demeaning way, it is taking the name of God in vain. It does not only restrict itself to instances where people use the name improperly in speech, but it has far more gravity in being used in our day to day actions. So through this Plague God shows that a people who act befitting to the name bring disrepute to His name thereby taking something parasitically which does not belong to them.
4th Command & 4th Plague The command reads “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” The Sabbath institution is all about “Separation and Sanctification” as we see in Genesis 2:3. To Sanctify or to make Holy means to separate it from others (Lev 20:26). This sign of the Sabbath was given to His people as a sign of the Covenant forever (Exo 31:16,17) and was a sign to show that God sanctifies/separates them from all other people (Exo 31:13). In the 4th plague, the “Flies or Swarms” as it is translated in the text comes from a Hebrew word “ערב – ‛ârôb” which is connected with “ערב – ‛ereb” which means “mixed” as seen in Exo 12:38. So what is God communicating through this Plague? It is all about separation, and the text even says that God will put a division between His people and the people of Egypt (Exo 8:23). The plague speaks of mixing and the commandment speaks of separating ourselves to God.
5th Command & 5th Plague The command reads“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”The next plague affects the cattle and all living animals that Egypt would consider their property and would be the inheritance of their children. The only reason a person honours their parents if not out of love would be because of the vast riches they would inherit from their parents. Without an inheritance, if there were such wicked people, they would not have a reason to honour their parents and would be completely unmasked. They would also be forced to to cherish their parents without any promise of earthly blessing. In contrast, God’s Command promises that honouring ones parents would prolong their life and become a blessing by itself.
6th Command & 6th Plague The command reads“Thou shalt not kill.”The corresponding plague mentions that Moses and Aaron took ashes out of the Furnace and sprinkled onto the air. According to Treasury of Scripture Knowledge “This was a significant command; not only referring to the fiery furnace, which was a type of the slavery of the Israelites, but to a cruel rite common among the Egyptians. They had several cities styled Typhonian, in which at particular seasons they sacrificed men, who were burnt alive; and the ashes of the victim were scattered upwards in the air, with the view, probably, that where any atom of dust was carried, a blessing was entailed. The like, therefore, was done by Moses, though with a different intention, and more certain effect. See Bryant, pp. 93-106.” If the furnace and the ashes were connected to human sacrifice done to Typhon/Set, the boils were then surely a punishment for murder.
7th Command & 7th Plague The command reads“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”It is not a surprise that Plague which came upon Egypt next was Hail and Fire from the skies. Just as Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed for breaking this command as per Jude 1:7, here Egypt is punished in a like manner, connecting the 7th Plague with the 7th Commandment.
8th Command & 8th Plague The command reads“Thou shalt not steal.”Locusts attacked Egypt next with a harsh plague that covered the whole of Egypt from the fields to their very houses. Egypt was robbed of everything that they had gained all these years. Moses told Pharaoh that whatever was left thus far would be completely destroyed. A fitting punishment for the crime that Egypt had perpetrated.
9th Command & 9th Plague The command reads“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”Bearing False Witness is a key component of subverting justice and is condemned many a time in the Scriptures (Exo 23:6,7). Deu 16:19 reads “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” A false witness is ultimately a blind witness who cannot stand as a witness at all. This blindness of subverting justice was shown in the darkness that plagued the Egyptians for three days.
10th Command & 10th Plague The command reads“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”The last plague which was seen as one of the most harsh punishments affected the Firstborn. This covetousness, as the author suggests was the beginning of Egypt’s downfall. The start of slavery came because of Israel who had become rich in abundance as seen in Exo 1:7. The Egyptians were caught coveting their neighbour who had become numerous in their own land. This led to the enslavement of Israel, whom God called “My Firstborn” in Exo 4:22 long before the plagues came on Egypt. In Exo 4:23 God also told Moses to warn Pharaoh, that if he did not let go of God’s Firstborn, that his own firstborn would die as a punishment.
Conclusion God has a purpose in all that he does and nothing is done haphazardly by Him. He gave us His Commands the “10 Words” or statements to know who He is, so that we may act in a manner that is Holy, as He is Holy. Similarly the 10 plagues of Egypt were also sent to make a statement about who He is – so that all of Egypt would know who the Creator is. It is no wonder then that the 10 plagues that preceded the 10 commands were punishments that showcased all that Egypt had done against Him. It also is a lesson to look around and really think of what happens around us in the end of days that we live in. Look up to His glory in everything, and get to Know the one true God that does everything with purpose everyday of our lives. Shalom!
Most of the divisions and denominations in Christianity stem from differences in understanding certain verses in the Bible. Paul’s words are no different. Peter gives his famous warning to his readers about taking Paul out of context, this way:
2Pe 3:15,16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
It is a fact that many had misunderstood him and his writings, and there were many rumours about his teachings:
Act 21:21-24 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Many question Paul’s writings, asking why he could not make things clearer in a way people would not misunderstand. But it is a fact, that Paul has gone to great lengths to make it clear for someone who could and would take him and his writings out of context. This is what we will focus on today:
God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be! Such an expression is often used by a person to highlight the importance of something and clearly say that “this should not ever happen”! We see this expression used often in Scripture.
Gen 18:23-25 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far(Chalilah – חללה) from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Gen 44:7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid(Chalilah – חללה) that thy servants should do according to this thing: Gen 44:17 And he said, God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father. Jos 22:29God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle. Job 34:10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it(Chalilah – חללה) from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
The expression “Chalilah” is used throughout the Bible to show that the statement made with it, should not be, not come to mind, should not happen. It is the strongest negative statement which can be made in Scripture and is often translated as “God Forbid” or “Far be it”. The same statement also appears in the New Testament.
Luk 20:16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.
In the above verse, Christ speaks of a Parable against the Keepers of the Vineyard – the Jewish leadership and authority of the day, and how it would be destroyed… to which the response of the horrified leaders was “God forbid – May it not be!”.
God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be!in Paul’s writings Paul uses this phrase the most in the New Testament Writings, 10 times in the letter to Romans, twice in the letter to the Galatians and once to the Corinthians. But why does he use this expression so often? 13 times in all? It is to make a point in saying “DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME”, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN!”. Let’s look at all of these instances and what Paul was trying to or rather not trying to say to his readers.
Rom 3:3,4 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. The faith of God does not become futile, just because some of His creation had no faith in him.
Rom 3:5,6 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? God is not unrighteous because His own unrighteous creation shows forth His ultimate Righteousness.
Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. We are made righteous (justified/saved) because of Faith which is “counted as” righteousness, and not by any commands that we keep. But we do not regard the Law as not needed and void for us. We confirm that the Law is required after we are justified, to live a holy life.
Rom 6:1,2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Because of the greatness of sin, we have seen greater Grace. Just because we have seen greater grace because of sin, does not mean we should continue in sin, and misuse the grace shown towards us.
Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. We cannot go on Sinning (Breaking God’s Law – 1Jn3:4, Rom 7:7) just because we are not under the Law(not made righteous/justified through the Law) but are under Grace(Justified through faith which is counted as righteousness through Grace).
Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. We have been released from sin and the judgement which comes through the Law for the sins we have done. This does not mean that Sin is equated to the Law. There is no way to know what sin is, if we do not know the Law – as it is the knowledge of Sin.
Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. Sin which is the breaking of God’s Law brought about judgement and death. This does not mean that the Law is death. Sin brings about death. The Law which is Holy, Just and Good shows what sin is, and how sinful our actions against God are.
Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Just because God shows mercy to whomever He wishes to show mercy, does not mean that He is unrighteous.
Rom 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not abandoned His chosen people that descend from Abraham.
Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Israel has stumbled by not receiving the Messiah, but they have not stumbled in a way that they will wholly fall away, but as a means that the Gentiles will also have an opportunity to receive Messiah, and through it the descendants of Abraham may also find Messiah.
1Co 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. We cannot even think of engaging in licentious behaviour after we have become part of the body of Christ.
Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. We who are justified(declared righteous) through Faith and Grace which we have received because of the payment made by Christ, still sin unintentionally. This does not make Christ and “aider and abettor” of Sin.
Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. God’s Law cannot give us eternal life and make us Righteous(justify) in front of God. But this does not mean that the Law is not against the promises of God.
Study all of the above instances carefully, and you will see the lenghts that Paul went to, to make himself clear even to audiences that knew him. He did not want anyone to misunderstand his letters and think that he was against the Law of God and teaching something against God’s Law/Word. Nonetheless, there were many false rumours of such teachings about Paul (as testified by James in Acts 21) and many misunderstandings about deep things he had written (as testified by Peter in 2Pet3).
I believe it is high-time that we broke away from these misunderstandings and false ideas about Paul’s teachings & turned back to God and His Word which has no contradiction or variance. Shalom!
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.
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: whosoevereateth 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:
Lev 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 25:8He 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 1:18No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Pro 30:4Who 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 14:2,3In 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!