Tag Archives: God

Changing the Feasts of God – The Sin of Jeroboam

God’s Word does not change. His plans and ways stand the test of time, and what He wills, He accomplishes without any variation. The Appointments of our Creator highlighted in Leviticus 23 are a good example of this. Each of these “Feast Days” have a prophetic significance which is fulfilled and is yet to be fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua. They, just as the rest of His Word, cannot be changed, annulled or added to, till the Heavens and Earth themselves pass away. While many celebrate a variety of different Feasts and special days around the year, such as christmas and days venerating different saints, etc, God’s Holy days seem to be casted to the side as Old, Jewish and lacking. Nothing can be further from the truth. Casting His Word and “His Feasts”(as they are called in Lev 23:2) aside for days and traditions made by man was the exact “Sin of Jeroboam”, and one of many reasons that God sent “The House of Israel” into Assyrian Exile.

Jeroboam – The First King of the House of Israel
It all started with Solomon, son of David when he married many wives making covenants with the lands around them(1Kin 11:1,2). In his old age, Solomon was moved away from God by these many foreign wives(1Kin 11:3-8). And God, in His anger let many enemies rise around Solomon(1Kin 11:14-27). Furthermore, He would speak through Ahijah about His intentions to give 10 Tribes of the 12 to Jeroboam who Solomon had appointed ruler over the House of Joseph(1Kin 9-13 & 28-39). Only 2 Tribes consisting of Judah and Benjamin would be left for Solomon’s Son – Rehoboam(1Kin 12:21,23). So Jeroboam a man from the tribe of Ephraim would become the King of the 10 Tribes in the North known as the House of Israel/Ephraim/Joseph.

The Sin of Jeroboam
At the beginning of Jeroboam’s reign itself he did what he felt was right in his heart and before his eyes. As it reads,

1Ki 12:26-30 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

Not only did he appoint a place of his own making, as a worship place for God, he also made priests of anyone he deemed fit, making himself also a priest.

1Ki 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
1Ki 13:33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.

But his sin did not stop there; he went on to consecrate and make special feast (Appointed) days of his own.

1Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

From this point onwards, the Sin of Jeroboam is mentioned more than 20 times in the Books of Kings till the end of the Kingdom of Israel in 722BC.

1Ki 13:34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
2Ki 17:22,23 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Appointing our own ways of worship and ordaining our own special days was a detestable thing in the eyes of our Father in Heaven. If He and His Word does not change, maybe we should be much more hesitant at joining the ranks of Jeroboam in changing the ways God has ordained in His heavenly wisdom.

Also Read
The Parable of the Prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
What’s “out of place” in this picture of the Birth of Christ?
Was Christ born in December?
What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?

Hear or Obey? The Meaning of the Hebrew word “Shema”

When one of the Scribes asked Messiah Yeshua about the first of all commands, Christ answered with the declaration or Oath of Israel known as the “Shema” which is recited even today among the Jewish communities around the world. This oath encapsulated their calling and the main command which was given to them by our Creator in Heaven.

Mar 12:29,30 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

This of course was quoted from the Scriptures in Deut 6:4,5 by Yeshua, but we also see that it was common knowledge even at the time of Messiah’s ministry. This particular oath, The “Shema” is recited by the Jewish community and a growing amount of believers of Messiah every Sabbath around the world, and starts with the word “Shema” which is commonly translated as “Hear”. This translation does not do the Hebrew Word “Shema” justice, as there is a deeper meaning to the word than the common understanding of “Hearing” or “Listening”.

Looking at the usage of Shema in the Scriptures gives us a better understanding of this amazing Hebrew Word. As we see below, the word “Shema” is an active word which has a duality of meaning.

Shema – Hear and Obey

H8085 – שׁמע – shâma‛ – Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition:  to hear, listen to, obey
The below passages show that the words uttered in Deut 6:4,5 and Mark 12:29,30 starts with a call to action! Shema – Hear and Obey. It is not a passive “listen”, but an acting out of our faith. It is hearing with the intent of putting something into action.

Gen 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Exo 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Deu 11:27,28 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

2Sa 22:45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.

Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

Isa 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Jer 22:21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.

Jer 34:10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.

Jer 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.

Eze 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

Dan 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

Shema means not only to listen, but obey through listening. This is the Oath which God called Israel to make, and the same oath that Yeshua spoke of as the greatest of Commandments. Let us all strive to Shema – Listen and Obey!

Is Science at odds with the Scriptures? 10 Scientists who believed in God

“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

This is a quote from one of the most influential Scientists of all time. But before we uncover who said this, let’s look at the question at hand. Is Science at odds with the Scriptures? It is commonly believed that Science disproves God and the creation events, and that Scientists are Atheistic in their approach because of a lack of evidence to support belief in God. But is this true?

Today’s Science is built on the foundation of the giants in Science such as Sir Isaac Newton who by the way expressed the quote mentioned above. Sometimes it is easy to think that we know everything, and easier to forget that without these people who were in the forefront of discovery, we would not be where we are in the world in regards to Science today. Even though we think that Science and the Bible are on polar opposites, most of the fathers of Science didn’t think so. Most of these Scientists looked at the Bible and God as validation to what they observe around them. Let’s look at 10 of these Scientists who had a firm belief in God, and what they had to say about Science and Faith.

1. Sir Isaac Newton was a prominent scientist during the Scientific Revolution. He was a Physicist, and as we all know discovered gravity and the Newton’s Laws. Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Isaac Newton,where he states the Newton’s laws of motion, forming the foundation of classical mechanics; Newton’s law of universal gravitation; and a derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. The Principia is considered one of the most important works in the history of science. In it, he states the following:

“But though these bodies may indeed persevere in their orbits by the mere laws of gravity, yet they could by no means have at first derived the regular position of the orbits themselves from those laws…. This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. – Principia – Book III – Page 504

“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

2. A prominent astronomer of the Scientific Revolution, Johannes Kepler discovered Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. He had this to say about God, quoting Psalms 19:1

“I had the intention of becoming a theologian…but now I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for ‘the heavens declare the glory of God.’

3. Francis Bacon is credited with establishing the inductive method of experimental science via what is called the scientific method today. He said…

“A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back.”

“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”

4. Galileo Galilei the well known Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance had this to say about God..

“The laws of nature are written by the hand of God in the language of mathematics.”

5. Blaise Pascal was a thinker well known for Pascal’s law, Pascal’s theorem, and Pascal’s Wager. The Unit for pressure “Pa” (Pascals) is named in his honour. He said this about God…

“If I believe in God and life after death and you do not, and if there is no God, we both lose when we die. However, if there is a God, you still lose and I gain everything.”

6. Michael Faraday is known for his contributions in establishing electromagnetic theory and his work in chemistry such as establishing electrolysis. He said this about God. The unit of Capacitance is named in his honour: the farad.

“The book of nature which we have to read is written by the finger of God.”

7. Louis Pasteur was a French biologist, microbiologist and chemist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. The process of pasteurization is named in his honor.

“The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator. Science brings men nearer to God.”

8. James Prescott Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The unit of energy, the joule, is named after James Joule. He said…

“It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

9. Lord Kelvin did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honour.

“If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”


10. Guglielmo Marconi
was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi’s law and a radio telegraph system. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics. He said…

“I am proud to be a Christian. I believe not only as a Christian, but as a scientist as well. A wireless device can deliver a message through the wilderness. In prayer the human spirit can send invisible waves to eternity, waves that achieve their goal in front of God.”

While there are so many others who have expressed similar views, the above is more than enough proof that Science does not drive people away from God, but rather towards Him. The sad situation is most of us living in the 21st Century believe that we are technologically advanced, so much so, that we believe we are more intelligent than the Scientists who took the most influential steps in history. All of them saw what they discovered to be proof of God. Science did not disprove God for these people. It merely solidified their belief in a Creator bigger than themselves.

But what about Charles Darwin? Was he an Atheist? this is what he had to say about himself.

“In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” – Charles Darwin

Even Albert Einstein refused to be called an Atheist!

“The fanatical atheists…are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot hear the music of the spheres.” – Albert Einstein

Most of these influential scientists discarded Atheism, and held strong to a belief in a higher power. Maybe Science isn’t against the Scriptures after all. In fact, Science leads us to the belief in a Creator.

Judgement & Mercy – The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Our God is Gracious! and as Children of God, we have all received an immense amount of Mercy, so that we can escape the impending Judgement through Yeshua‘s Sacrifice. But do we use this mercy in the right way? Do we squander it? What should we do as people who have received the gift of Mercy?

Our Iniquities and the mercy we have received
The writers of the Scriptures were quick to voice out how large and in-numerous our iniquities were, and how there was no way to be or say that we are righteous in any way.

Ezr 9:6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Psa 38:4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
Psa 130:3,4 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Psa 143:2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
Job 9:2,3 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

But we see how equally large God’s Mercy is. For the sake of keeping this article short, all of these verses will not be listed here. But you can read a small sample of how Merciful our God was, and is to this day here.

The Talent and The Denarii : Be Merciful to receive Mercy
In the Gospel of Matthew, Yeshua answers the question, how much forgiveness or Mercy should we show our Brother, by conveying a Parable.

Mat 18:23-35 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

In the Parable, the first Servant is found owing 10,000 Talents to the King. While “Ten thousand” Μυριων [Strong’s G3461], could mean a vast number which cannot be counted, we can actually calculate how much money this would be, if it was today. A Conservative estimate of 1 Roman Talent is said to be close to 6000 US Dollars. In fact, the Historian Flavius Josephus says that one of the richest Kings – King David had 3,000 Talents in his tomb.

And now Antiochus was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judea, and sat down before Jerusalem and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege. Moreover, he was the first of the Jews that had money enough, and began to hire foreign auxiliaries also. (THE WARS OF THE JEWS – Book 1, Chapter 2, v5 – Josephus)

So there is no doubt that 10,000 talents was a vast sum of money, even to a King; and it would have amounted (even at conservative figures) to about 60 Million USD.

Compared to this, the second servant owed only 100 Denarii (G1220-Denarion). A Roman Talent is said to be 6000 Denariis, which means the second servant owed something close to 100 Dollars.

Roman Talent = 6000 Denarii (Mnemonics delineated, in a small compass and easy method, Intended as a supplement to Grey’s Memoria technica – 1836 – Section 5, Page 98)

So, now we can see the point more clearly, of the Parable told by Yeshua. The first servant was forgiven a debt which was even a large amount for a King, while he imprisoned a man who owed him a few day’s wages. The mercy shown towards him should have made him better, so that he showed the same mercy towards others. Was the first servant rightly owed that 100 Denarii, the same way that the King was owed the 1000 Talents? Yes. But the difference is that while the King showed him leniency, by not only giving him time to pay the debt, but by clearing the servant of his debt, the servant did not even allow the second servant time to pay the simple sum of money.

Conclusion
In the same way, our iniquities are high as the heavens, and we cannot possibly pay the debt. Our judgement would be imprisonment till the debt is paid, which we will never be able to do on our own. But our King is willing and able to clear the debt completely if we simply repent and ask for leniency. But in turn, we must remember to show the same mercy shown towards us, which showcases that we are grateful for the gift of forgiveness we have received.

This is why our Messiah and many of the New Testament writers asked us to show mercy to our neighbour and  even to the ones who do not deserve it (Mat 5:44-45, Luk 6:35-36, Eph 4:32, 5:1-2, Col 3:13). So that we prove to others the amount of mercy we have received when our judgement should have been so grave.

2Sa 22:26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Let us all strive to show mercy for the abundance of mercy we have all received!

 

The meaning of the word “Hebrew” and Crossing Over

Estimated Reading time – 10 to 20 Minutes

God’s chosen people identified themselves as Hebrews both in the Old Testament(Jon 1:9) and in the New(Philip 3:5). Abram was the first person to be called a Hebrew, even though he was from Ur of the Chaldaeans(Gen 11:31). So what does “Hebrew” really mean?

The word Hebrew in its simplest sense means “one from beyond”.

H5680 – עברי – ‛ibrı̂y – Hebrew
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
Hebrew = “one from beyond”

Abraham's route from Ur to Canaan

Abraham’s route from Ur to Canaan

This makes sense, as the first time we see the word “Hebrew” used is when Abram is called a “Abram the Hebrew”. This may have referred to the fact that Abram came from the other side of the Euphrates River and settled in the plains of Mamre. A closely connected word to “Ivri”/”Hebrew” in the Hebrew language is “Eber” which means beyond/across. So one who comes across or comes from beyond is a Hebrew.

H5676 – עבר – ‛êber – Eber
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
region beyond or across, side, opposite side

Another word connected with “Ivri” (Hebrew) is “Avar” which means “pass over”. All of these words are connected as the root (Ayin-Bet-Resh עבר) in Hebrew stays the same.

H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress
to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over, to pass beyond, to pass through, traverse, passers-through, to pass through, to pass along, pass by, overtake and pass, sweep by, passer-by, to be past, be over, to pass on, go on, pass on before, go in advance of, pass along, travel, advance, to pass away, to emigrate, leave (one’s territory), to vanish, to perish, cease to exist, to become invalid, become obsolete (of law, decree), to be alienated, pass into other hands, to be crossed, to impregnate, cause to cross, to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote, to cause to pass through, to cause to pass by or beyond or under, let pass by, to cause to pass away, cause to take away, to pass over

It should be noted that the story of Abraham is connected to the word “Abar” Pass-over, as we see it is one of the first things mentioned about him.

Gen 12:4-6 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through(H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

So it is now abundantly clear why Abram was called a Hebrew. This characteristic of “passing over” becomes part of the Hebrew experience, and is seen as part and parcel of the journey of God’s people as seen below.

Jos 24:2,3 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
Jos 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
Jos 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
Jos 24:14,15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Israel crosses the Red Sea

Israel crosses the Red Sea

In the above passage Joshua makes a distinction between Abram before he passes over, to the life he is called to live after he crossed over. Abram served other gods beyond the river, but when he passed over, he was committed to God. This repeats again with Israel as they cross the Red Sea towards freedom and Israel as they cross the Jordan towards the promised land. Passing over was a distinct feature of God’s people. Passing over the waters as much as it is a physical act, it also signifies a symbolic act of leaving the past behind and starting afresh. This is enacted in the Baptism/Mikveh that each of us go through as young believers as well.

When God speaks to Moses about the passover sacrifice, He Himself says that He will Pass Over the land using the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, as seen below.

Exo 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
Exo 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

We see the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, used again in the Song of Moses, after the Hebrews cross the Red Sea.

Exo 15:16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Essentially, the Hebrew is a person who has passed from death to life; from a life of sin to a life of righteousness through God’s Commands; from obeying false gods to obeying the one true Creator of the universe.

Yeshua speaks of this fact, saying that whoever hears Him and puts his/her trust in YHVH, would pass from death to life:

Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What is the evidence that one has passed from death unto life and become a true Hebrew? John explains it in the following way.

1Jn 3:14-24 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

John explains that the evidence that we have moved from death to life, shines through the love of God which is in our lives. A love that is ready to give even our own life for others. A love that is not in word but in deed, but according to the commandment that Yeshua raised to the next level – “Love one another(Lev 19:18), as I have loved you”(John 15:12). Through God’s love, we show whether we are truly a Hebrew or not. Whether we have truly crossed over from Death to Life. Let us strive to be like the great Hebrews of old such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and many more ; not forgetting Yeshua – A Hebrew of Hebrews, who gave His life so that we may cross over. Like the patriarchs, we may all have our shortcomings. But we should never forget the most important characteristic of a Hebrew – a willingness to cross over from our lives in slavery and death to a life in Covenant and Loving Obedience to God and Love towards everyone who has crossed over and is in the process of crossing over to God’s camp.

Passover and the Abomination of the Egyptians

Passover is intricately connected with the Blood of the “Lamb”, whether it be the remembrance of salvation through the Passover in Egypt or the fulfillment of Passover in Messiah who shed His blood on Passover day(John 19:14) as our Lamb(1Pet 1:19).

But most of us do not see the significance of God’s command to sacrifice a Lamb, especially when the Israelites were under the rule of the Egyptians.

Let’s look at the first hint given in Genesis when Joseph met his brothers for the first time:

Gen 43:32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

But why was it an abomination to the Egyptians to eat with Hebrews? No reason is given here. Many of us conclude that it would have been a cultural practice where the Egyptians saw themselves superior to the Hebrews. But this was not the reason it was seen as an abomination. Let’s look at the next hint:

Gen 46:33,34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Now the reason starts to become clearer, as it is mentioned herding sheep was seen as an abominable act to the Egyptians. This is why the Hebrews were settled in Goshen, away from the Egyptians. But why did the Egyptians see shepherds as an abomination? Let us look at the next hint:

Exo 8:26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

When Moses speaks to Pharoah and asks him to let the Hebrews go, so that they can sacrifice to YHVH, the Pharoah tells Moses to do their sacrifices inside Egypt. To which Moses replies in the above manner seen in Exo 8:26. The phrase “Abomination of the Egyptians” does not mean that they saw sheep as an unclean/abominable animal. On the contrary, they worshiped it. The phrasing is written in the perspective of the Israelites and not the Egyptians. Meaning the sheep was a sacred animal which was an abomination that the Egyptians were involved in, in the eyes of God and His people. We see evidence for this in the following verse.

2Ki 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.

In the above verse we see that the “Abomination of the Zidonians” was “Ashtoreth”. The “Abomination of the Moabites” was “Chemosh”. The “Abomination of the Ammonites” was “Milcom”. These were all pagan gods that were abominations in the perspective of God and His people. In the same way, the “Abomination of the Egyptians” was the “sheep”. There is historical evidence that the sheep was venerated by the Egyptians, and this makes perfect sense of the first hint we saw in Gen 43:32 as they saw Hebrews as a people who raised, kept and killed sheep as livestock. This is why shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians as seen in Gen 46:33,34.

Pagan gods with the likeness of Sheep in Egyptian History
Khnum and Anum were the two main deities of the Egyptians that had a connection to the Sheep.

Khnum was one of the earliest-known Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile. The worship of Khnum centered on two principal riverside sites, Elephantine and Esna, which were regarded as sacred sites. At Elephantine, he was worshipped alongside Anuket and Satis as the guardian of the source of the Nile River.

Amun is a major ancient Egyptian deity which was later fused with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra or Amun-Re. Amun-Ra held the position of transcendental, self-created creator deity and was positioned as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods and was depicted at one point as a ram-headed deity.

Prior to entering the Temple of Amun in Karnak, there is a long row of Sphinxese depicting the ram of the god amun with the king standing under its paws beneath its chin.

The first plague that came upon Egypt may have also targeted Khnum, as he was regarded as the guardian of the Nile.

Conclusion
One can only wonder whether the Hebrews were making bricks for such temples that depicted the sheep as a god figure. In such a background, now we can understand the true circumstances of having to sacrifice sheep to YHVH. Now we can understand why Moses goes to say “would they not stone us” if they sacrificed inside Egypt (Exo 8:26). The stakes were very high, as God was commanding the Hebrews to take a stand against the gods of Egypt. When they sacrificed the lambs at Passover, they would have had to have complete faith in God. If they were wrong, the Egyptians very well could have stoned them the next day for desecrating their land.

By asking to make a public display of the blood of the lamb, God was saying there is no other who can protect the Hebrews other than YHVH. And on the other end God was asking His people to put their faith in Him. To rise up against the abominations of Egypt and show that they are ready to follow God instead.

And there lies the parallel for us, as we enter the season of Passover. As we remember the death of Yeshua on Passover day according to the Gospels, let’s remember that we are also called to rise against the abominations of our past and put complete faith in him. Let us put our slavery to death behind us, and walk towards the Land God has promised His people. Amen.

The nature of the Unbreakable Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Kingdom of God? and how do we seek it?

The “Kingdom of God” is a term seen often in the New Testament writings, but is interpreted in numerous ways by many. Interpreting the meaning of “The Kingdom of God” using the Scriptures and the New Testament writings maybe the best way to understand the true meaning of this phrase, as well as understand how we are to pursue it.

Messiah, in one of the most popular verses in the Gospel, speaks of the coming Kingdom of God, and the worries of the present life this way, asking us to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness:

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

While this particular phrase is connected to generosity and giving alms, as we see with the context of the passage as well as it’s parallel verse written in Luke, there is much more to “The Kingdom of God” as much of Yeshua‘s ministry revolved around the teaching of the Kingdom.

Giving of Alms and the Kingdom of God
The whole of Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel is dedicated to the teaching of the power of giving and the Kingdom of God.

Mat 6:1-4 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Mat 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The following two verses use a common Hebrew Proverb which is also seen in the Book of Proverbs. A “good eye” (Tov Ayin) means to be generous while an evil eye is the opposite.
Mat 6:22,23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Pro 22:9 He that hath a bountiful(H2896-Tov) eye(H5869-Ayin) shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

In Mattew 6:24-32 & verse 34 Messiah Yeshua explains how we should not be worried about what we eat, drink or wear let alone be concerned about riches in this life, as God knows to provide us with all our needs. The only concern we should have, according to Yeshua is to seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness; as Our Father in Heaven knows to provide us with everything else.

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

This same idea is paralleled in Luke’s Gospel as seen below.

Luk 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The power of giving alms cannot be emphasized enough, as we see a clear example in the story of Cornelius where the Angel says that His Alms was one of the reasons God’s eye was on him.

Act 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

While Matthew 6:33 is clearly connected to the power of giving, we should also inspect what God’s Kingdom truly is, and how we can seek His Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament
The Kingdom of God is Prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures often. The coming of a King in the line of David, the ruling from Jerusalem/Zion and the people who gather to this combined Kingdom of Israel & Judah, where Peace & Justice will reign supreme, has all been spoken in God’s Word:

Isa 2:2-4 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isa 9:6,7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jer 23:5-8 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. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

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 7:13,14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Dan 7:18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and 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.

Mic 4:6-8 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock, 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.

Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zec 14:9-11 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

The Beginning of the Kingdom of God
The coming Kingdom of God began with Messiah Yeshua’s first appearance. John’s message was that the Kingdom of God was about to appear. Later Yeshua continued this message. It is clear that the fulfillment of Yeshua’s Ministry on Earth through His Death & Resurrection would become the start of this Kingdom as He took authority over death back into His own hands.

Special Note: “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are the same thing as only Matthew uses the wording “Kingdom of Heaven” which can be paralleled to other verses in the rest of the Gospels which use “Kingdom of God”. (Mat 11:11-12 = Luk 7:28) (Mat 13:11 = Mark 4:11, Luk 8:10) (Mat 13:24 = Mar 4:26) (Mat 13:31 = Mar 4:30, Luk 13:18) (Mat 13:33 = Luk 13:20) (Mat 18:3 = Mar 10:14, Luke 18:16) (Mat 22:2 = Luk 13:29) 

Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mar 1:14,15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mat 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Act 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

Many in the 1st Century believed the Kingdom would be established in their lifetime
While many of the aspects of the Kingdom were explained by Yeshua through parables, the disciples among others thought that the Kingdom would be fully established by Yeshua and that He will rule as King on His first appearance on Earth.

Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Act 1:6-8 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. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Completion of the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God which will be physically established on Earth, is one which will come to fulfillment in the near future. It will be established as the one true kingdom which will endure forever once Yeshua returns to earth on His second appearance.

2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Luk 23:42,43 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Luk 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Mar 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

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.

Luk 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luk 13:28,29 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God starts with individuals like you and me
Now that we have a more clearer picture on what “The Kingdom of God” is, let’s see how one can enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who are reborn in God’s image. The Kingdom itself is established in our lives which are changed in His image.

Luk 17:20,21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

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.

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Mat 18:3,4 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Seeking His Righteousness and giving up iniquity/lawlessness
The other portion in Mat 6:33 which Yeshua spoke of is seeking God’s Righteousness. As we see below, there is only one way to seek His righteousness. That is to follow His Word/Law and remove one self from transgressing it.

Knowing God’s Law as seen in the Old Testament brought the Scribe a step closer to the Kingdom of God, while Keeping the commands and teaching people to obey God’s Law would make a person great or least in the Kingdom of God.

Mar 12:33,34 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It is clear that His Kingdom will be void of people who engage in iniquity/lawlessness which is to say those who violate God’s Law.
G458 – an-om-ee’-ah – From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

Mat 7:21-23 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(G458).

Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity(G458);

Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity(G458).

Mat 24:12 And because iniquity(G458) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness(G458)? and what communion hath light with darkness?

1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law(G458).

Conclusion
God’s Kingdom is not like a kingdom of this world. It is based on His Law and precepts from His Word such as Love and generosity. While most people are engaged in collecting treasure in this world and worrying about our physical needs, God expects us to seek His Kingdom through being content with what God provides us and loving others and God as much as we love ourselves. This Love is contained in His Word/Law which was given to us in the Old Testament Scriptures. Let us actively seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness and help others to obey Him and enter His Kingdom at His second appearance on this Earth.

Is making Oaths prohibited? Misunderstandings regarding the Sermon on the Mount

It is a common teaching that as Christians, we should not make oaths or swear in the name of God, and that Messiah taught explicitly against swearing in His Sermon on the Mount. At face value it seems that Christ said making oaths/swearing which was a precept from the Law of God was evil. Have we misunderstood Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37 ? further study maybe needed to check the validity of this claim.

Oaths in the Law of God
While Oaths and vows seem to be the same, a vow is a “solemn promise” made between two entities, while an oath is a commitment one makes towards telling the truth or any other matter usually by calling towards something greater than him/herself.

The law is clear that words of an oath cannot be broken and that false Oaths should not be made in God’s name. The amalgamation of these two laws are what Yeshua mentioned in Matthew 5:33.

Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

In the Law of God, it was expressly stated that if one makes an Oath, it should be made in the name of no other entity or pagan god, but YHVH‘s name.

Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Deu 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There was also other laws which governed breaking of oaths and being a witness of such acts.

Lev 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 5:4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.

There are many cases in the Old Testament where an oath is made. It was strictly adhered to (Jos 2:12-14; 6:25) even if it was later revealed to be disadvantageous (Josh chap 9).

Missing the point of Matthew 5:34
When Christ says “Do not swear at all”, it is juxtaposed against the precept from the Mosaic Law “Do not swear falsely in God’s name, but complete any oaths you make”(Lev 19:12, Num 30:2). The Law was against swearing falsely in God’s Name. So here Messiah is simply saying do not swear falsely in any other matter or in any other entity whether it be Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem or your own head. The highlight remains on “falsehood”, not swearing itself.

Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse 37 where the phrase “Let your yes be yes and no be no” is often the reason why many misunderstand this teaching. To state it simply, so far Christ has essentially only said that “you have heard it being said don’t swear falsely in God’s Name and that you should keep your oaths, but I say to you don’t swear by anything else falsely either”. He then adds the fact that swearing is not needed at all if you are a person who keeps his/her word. If you say yes and do it or no and don’t,(If you are a man/woman of his/her word) essentially there is no reason for swearing in God’s name or any entity.

Further proof that Messiah’s reasoning was only about swearing falsely in any matter
There is other evidence which can shed light on this passage, of which the Hebrew Matthew stands out. The Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel perfectly preserves the fact about falsehood as you can see below:

Mat 5:33 (Shem Tob – Hebrew Gospel of Matthew translated by George Howard) Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God, nor by earth because it is the footstool of His feet, nor by (Jerusalem) because it is the city of God, nor by your head for you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be yes yes or no no. Everything in addition to this is evil.

The Biblical Apocrypha book Sirach (200-175BCE) also carries the same theme of making oaths very conservatively, and keeping oneself altogether from making oaths which once you break, amount to sin and unrighteousness.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:9-11 Don’t let your mouth get used to making solemn pledges,and don’t get accustomed to saying the name of the holy one. Just as a household slave who is constantly examined won’t be lacking bruises, so also the person who always swears and speaks the Lord’s name will never be cleansed from sin. People who make many solemn pledges will be full of lawlessness, and a scourge won’t depart from their house. If they break their solemn pledges, their sin is on them, and if they disregard it, they sin doubly, and if they swear falsely, they won’t be justified, but their houses will be full of misery.

Philo of Alexandria (20BCE – 50CE) who’s works influenced many church fathers had the same to say about oaths.

Philo: The Decalogue 84 That being which is the most beautiful, and the most beneficial to human life, and suitable to rational nature, swears not itself, because truth on every point is so innate within him that his bare word is accounted an oath. Next to not swearing at all, the second best thing is to keep one’s oath; for by the mere fact of swearing at all, the swearer shows that there is some suspicion of his not being trustworthy.

Matthew 5:37 is oddly similar to a passage in the central text of Rabbinical Judaism which also carries the same theme of keeping ones word and not making commitments which one does not intend on fulfilling.

Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a The Gemara raises an objection: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: What is the meaning when the verse states: “A just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have” (Leviticus 19:36)? But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah? Why is it necessary to state both? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your yes [hen] should be just, and your no should be just. Apparently, it is a mitzva for one to fulfill his promises. Abaye says: That verse means that one should not say one matter with his mouth and think one other matter in his heart. It is prohibited for one to make a commitment that he has no intention of fulfilling.

Conclusion
Words are connected to actions, and the power of words can be seen in the Laws of Oaths among others. When we say yes or no, we should all adhere to keep our word and as Philo explained; aim to be a person who is trustworthy enough to not need an oath from. As our Messiah showed us, we should not falsely swear in any name or entity although we are still able to make an oath if we need to, as long as we stay committed to fulfilling it by all and any means. It is better for us to be Christians who keep their word and be considered trustworthy enough to never have to or need to make an oath. Let us all keep away from evil by being true to our words.

What does the Bible say about Suicide?

The topic of Suicide has become a hot topic in the past few weeks after several celebrities went down this path. But what does the Bible have to say about this subject? Even though it is not specifically mentioned as a Sin in Scripture, God’s Law may have the answers we seek.

God’s Law is complex just like any other body of law. Sometimes it may not cover or specify a particular action as Sin, although there maybe similar judgments which can be used to narrow down on a clear answer for this particular action. Now we must understand that, suicide sometimes is not the most black & white of paths that some choose to tread. There maybe a multitude of reasons for someone to consider ending his or her own life; from depression, mental disorders, substance abuse, persecution or torture. The purpose of this study is not to judge any person, but to look at the judgments that God has laid out in His word against such an act. With that being said, let’s proceed.

In the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings we see a few individuals mentioned as having taken their own lives.

Jdg 9:53,54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (Although Abimelech was probably going to die, he hastened his death thereby committing suicide)
Jdg 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Samson avenged himself and also sacrificed himself to destroy the Philistines with his last breath. This may or may not be accounted as suicide)
1Sa 31:3,4 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (Saul commits suicide for fear of torture)
1Sa 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (Saul’s unnamed Armour Bearer also commits suicide)
2Sa 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. (Ahithophel who had conspired against King David and councelled Absalom, committed suicide in despair for being cast aside)
1Ki 16:18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, (Zimri commits suicide for fear of capture after he murdered Elah & his family)
Mat 27:3-5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Judas was so filled with guilt that he committed suicide)

While nothing really negative is mentioned about any of the above, other than Judas Iscariot; there is no specific mention of Suicide as a sin. In the case of Saul, Samuel prophesies to him from the grave in 1Sam 28:19 saying “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me”; meaning they will join Samuel in Death. This shows that at natural death or suicide people go to Sheol (The Grave) and what is to come, comes afterwards. (Please read this link for further study on this subject)

Taking a human life
God is very clear that taking a human life is a punishable offence. As per His judgement, the murderer deserves death, as long as it was not an accidental death.

Lev 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:12-14 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Num 35:31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.

Your life is not your own
Suicide is essentially the extinguishing of ones own life. And we see proof to the extent that we don’t own our own lives, for God has paid a price for us. Our lives, then are a gift from God.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:19,20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Bought with a price
Being purchased by God is a mirror of the Exodus event where God saved the Firstborn of the Children of Israel, thereby making God the purchaser and owner of their lives.

Num 3:13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.
Lev 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.
Num 18:15,16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Isa 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

In the same way, if we are now bought for a price, thereby not being sole owner of our own lives, this would mean we have no right to extinguish our own lives. It would simply equate to murder as we are taking a life, and especially one which is owned by God.

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:18,19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

People who overcame
We can not complete this study if we do not look at the people who overcame the deepest pits of despair. Their lives can be an example to the one who contemplates suicide and the one who struggles with life without losing hope.

1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (Elijah was comforted by God when he felt he could go no further)
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah who was depressed was taught by God on why his perceptions needed to change)
Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job suffered on all fronts to the extent where he was receiving advice to give up)
Psa 116:3
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (Many of the psalms speak of the hardships that came on David)
Jer 20:14,18
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah saw the oncoming destruction upon God’s people and was in deep sorrow)
Mat 26:38
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Yeshua went through darkness knowing the trials He was about to go through)
Mar 14:72
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Peter essentially did the same sin as Judas Iscariot – betraying his Master)
2Co 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (Paul felt he could not go on with all the persecution that came their way)

The above examples show how we can and must go through trials and tribulations, putting our trust in God. Their are no shortcuts.

Conclusion
Suicide directly effects much more than the individual who walks down that path; rather having ramifications in the lives of friends and family. While I do not seek to judge a person who goes through with suicide, in the above way, a case could be made against suicide, although as I mentioned earlier, there is no direct command against taking ones own life. The above study is not a judgement against a life which is lost, but hopefully an explanation for all of us who could go through dark times in our lives.

The question boils down to whether the person who contemplates suicide believes his or her life belongs to God and whether he or she has willingly given it to His care? If so, you are not taking your own life, but a life which was paid for and bought by God, being under His ownership. In this way, it could be compared to Murder which God has specifically ruled against. So let us put our hopes in Him, and be encouraged that He will never let us go.