Tag Archives: Judah

What are Phylacteries?

Have you ever noticed or been puzzled by the word “Phylacteries” in the New Testament? Ever wondered what Christ was talking about in Mat 23:5? His words were “But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments”.

Pharisee I had paid little notice to this word before, picturing in my mind that it was some sort of clothing item that the Pharisees wore. Not paying full attention to details in the Bible can, and have, had a major impact on the beliefs that are prevalent in the Christian congregations.

The “Pharisees & Scribes” who were wearing phylacteries mentioned by Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) would have looked something like this. The “Phylacteries” or “Tefillin” as it is called in Hebrew, is a small box which contains Scripture with a strap, which can be bound on the Head or the Arms.

The importance of this verse is in the fact that it sheds light on a major misunderstanding in Christianity. Which one, you ask? “It’s the common belief among Christians that the Scribes and Pharisees Kept the Old Testament Law, and that this is why Yeshua called them Hypocrites and white washed tombs – because the Old Law was done away”.

The problem with this understanding is that both biblically and historically, we have evidence that the Pharisees did not keep God’s Law. In fact, wearing “Phylacteries” was not a Commandment given by God. Then why did the Pharisees wear these things? Because it was part of their “Oral Law”, known as the “Traditions of the Elders” throughout the New Testament (Mat 15:2,3,6, Mar 7:3,8,9,13, Gal 1:14). TefillinWearing “Phylacteries” was how they had interpreted Exo 13:9,16 & Deut 6:8, 11:18 which says that “God’s Word should be a sign upon our hands and between our eyes”. Obviously, this was a figure of speech to say “that we should do or obey as well as remember God’s Word”.

The Pharisaic Sect of Yeshua’s day had taken a piece of Scripture out of context and made a separate Law out of it. The “Oral Law” which is still in use today, known as the “Talmud” is strictly adhered to by Orthodox Jews around the world. Not only do they wear it, the “Talmud” provides strict laws on how to even put it on. (If you want to learn more about the Pharisees and their traditions, I recommend that you watch this video, brought to you by former Orthodox Jew – Nehemiah Gordon)

What does this mean? Are all Jews like Pharisees? Are all Pharisees alike? The picture of “Pharisees” and some times, even “Jews“, in a Western Christian mind, is that they were wicked, legalistic and nonspiritual people. This is hardly the case. We know that there were quite a lot of Pharisees who respected Yeshua, as well as some who believed in Him (Luk 13:31, Joh 9:16, Act 15:5). We should by no means generalize people. Furthermore, it is important to remember that Yeshua, His Disciples, His followers and even Apostle Paul, were all Jews.

The Orthodox Jews of today, still adhere to a plethora of extra laws (from the Talmud), thinking that it is genuinely what God expects from them. They are misguided, as much as the Christians who think the Law is done away in Christ. We must understand that not all Jews are like the Pharisees of Christ’s age. Consider the Karaite Jews who reject the Talmud and anything other than the Old Testament, and the Messianic Jews who believe in Yeshua.

The many persecutions which have fallen on the Jews have always happened because of this huge misunderstanding. A lot of people have persecuted “Jews” standing under Christ’s banner, making it impossible for them to except Yeshua as the prophesied Messiah.

What was the main Commandment which the Pharisees broke through their traditions?
God’s Word specifically instructs that no one can add or remove anything from God’s Law/Commandments.
Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
The Scriptures call anyone who adds to God’s Law, a Liar (Pro 30:6). This was one of the main concerns Yeshua had regarding the Pharisees, when He said “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men”(Mar 7:8) & “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Mat 15:3).

Are all traditions bad? Are all traditions sin? definitely not. But the moment we put “Tradition” over “God’s Commandments”, or teach “man made Traditions” as “God’s Law”, we are breaking His Words. This is why Yeshua said (quoting Isaiah 29:13)”But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“(Mat 15:9) regarding the Pharisees.

Adding and Diminishing & the 2 Houses of Israel
If you know about Biblical History, you would know that the people “Israel” divided into 2 Kingdoms after the death of King Solomon. These 2 Kingdoms were called “The House of Judah” & “The House of Israel/Ephraim”. “The House of Israel” was carried away by Assyria and scattered in the nations with a promise of being regathered, while “The House of Judah” was exiled for 70 years in “Babylon” being let back into the land. (Please go to this link for more info) It is interesting to see how “the Jews” (House of Judah) add to God’s Law, through their various traditions and man-made laws written in the Talmud, while “the gentiles” (House of Ephraim) diminishes from God’s Law, saying it is done away and that they are free from it.

“Phylacteries” are a good reminder of checking our lives, our doctrines and our thoughts for anything that we may be adding or diminishing from our Creator’s Words. It is a call to really put His Words in our hearts and souls, binding them on our hands by being obedient to Him, that His Words may be always foremost in our minds (Deut 11:18), so that we do not turn to the left or to the right from them (Jos 23:6) choosing God and His Word alone in the midst of man-made commandments & traditions.

The Biblical Timeline – From Creation to the time of Exile

Very few people understand that the “Bible” which we read, is a Historical Document as much as the Inspired Word of God. The Old Testament Scriptures give us an accurate timeline of everything that took place in the past, right from Creation upto the 4th Century BC.

Bible-timeline

If you are like me, and you had tried to read the Old Testament (or at least part of it), you would have noticed lengthy chapters on Genealogies and how old this person was, and how many children he had, and so on and so forth. All of this information was not included in the Bible for no reason. Other than the period of Judges written in the “Book of Judges”, the rest of the Scriptures provide us with such a wealth of information regarding history, that we can accurately piece together the Timeline of everything that has happened from Creation itself.

(There are many timelines of the Bible on the internet, but I could not find one with Scriptural Proof to go alongside it. So for quite some time I have been piecing together a timeline myself. This Timeline, while being Scripturally accurate could still have a few flaws. Please let me know if you find anything out of place, so I can correct it accordingly)

Why be bothered with a Biblical Timeline?
There are many reasons we should at least have a basic understanding of the Timeline recorded in the Bible. I will highlight a few key reasons that you should be well versed with this Timeline.

1. It will help you to create a clearer picture of Biblical events
For example, in my mind, the event of the Flood seemed to have happened relatively soon after Creation, while the Timeline makes it clear, that it happened 1600 years after Creation.

2. It will help you to understand the Chronology of the Scriptures
Most people think that the books in the Bible are in order. While this is true to an extent, the books of the prophets are dispersed alongside the time of the Kings of Judah & Israel. Knowing which prophet comes at which period helps us to understand the context of these books.

3. It will help you see details you would have not seen otherwise
For example, did you know that Shem, the son of Noah died after Abraham?

4. It will help you to understand that God works according to a plan
The Creation account itself gives us a prophetic overview of everything which would happen on earth. Some could dismiss this idea. But you be the judge of the similarities given below.
1st Day – Light and Darkness (in the 1st 1000 years, Adam sins, bringing darkness into the earth)
2nd Day – Separation of Waters (in the 2nd 1000 years, the Flood happened separating Noah from all other people on earth)
3rd Day – Earth brought forth trees through seed (in the 3rd 1000 years, Abraham is promised to be father of Nations through his Seed, bringing forth the nation of Israel)
4th Day – Lights in the firmament (in the 4th 1000 years, Messiah brings light to our world)
5th Day – Multiplying of creatures (in the 5th 1000 years, Populations soar, Many nations and Religions come into existence)
6th Day – God creates Man in His image (in the 6th 1000 years, the time period we live in, it seems that God is creating a people for Himself)
7th Day – God ended His work (in the 7th 1000 years, yet to come, Messiah will rule and reign on earth as it is written in the Scriptures)

5. It will help you to see that the end days are actually near
When you look at the Biblical Timeline, it is evident that Yeshua (Jesus’ real name) appeared on earth almost 4000 years after Creation. Almost 2000 years have passed after He finished His earthly ministry. We are living in the age where the end of the 6000th year is at hand. The 1000 years or Millennial reign of Messiah is almost upon us.

As I mentioned before, please help me improve this Timeline in anyway possible. Let me know your suggestions and your comments. I sincerely hope that this Timeline will help you in your studies, so that you would be able to have an even closer walk with God Almighty, who created all things, giving us His Word, to be a guide in our lifetime.

Defining the terms “Jew” & “Gentile”

Since we have already defined the word “Israel”, it is only fitting that we understand what it means to be a “Jew” or a “Gentile” as per the definition found in the Scriptures.

Who is a Jew?
The word Jew means “of Judah” or Descendant of “Judah” (1 of the 12 sons of Jacob).
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance – H3064 – יהוּדי – yehûdı̂y – yeh-hoo-dee’
Descendant of Jehudah (that is, Judah)

2 of the 12 tribes of Israel (Namely Judah & Benjamin) were in the House/Kingdom of Judah(1Kings 12:23) after the Division of Israel (1 Kings 11 onwards)

Later people coming from the House of Judah, even if they were from the Tribe of Benjamin, were known as Jews. (Esther 2:5,6)
Paul called himself a Jew, (Acts 21:39) but he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Rom 11:1)

The House of Judah was the only 2 tribes left in Judea when Jesus was on earth, as the other 10 tribes were scattered after being taken to Assyria. (2Kings 17:5-23, Eze 28:25) We will do a separate study on the Two Houses of Israel, in the near future.

Peter was called a Jew (Gal 2:14). Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus), His disciples and everyone living in Judea were called Jews (John 4:9)

In the last days people will ask the Jews about their God (Zec 8:23)

Judaism is “the Religion of the Jews”, which Paul claims He was a part of before, as a Pharisee. (Gal 1:13,14).

Not all Jews are followers of Judaism. There are Jews who believe in the “Oral Law” and the ways of the Pharisees called “Orthodox Jews”. There are Jews who believe in only the Old Testament(Tanakh) called Karaite Jews. Then there are Jews who believe in Yeshua as Savior, called “Messianic Jews”. The 1st Century Church of the New Testament was also called a Jewish Sect, called “The Way” at Paul’s time.(Acts 24:14,22, Acts 9:2)

Jews are only part of Israel, but all of Israel are not Jews.
The “Israel” mentioned in the Scriptures is not a country or a Land. The land given to Israel was called the “Land of Israel”.

Who is a Gentile?
There are few words in Greek, which have been interchangeably used as Greek & Gentile in the English King James Version Bible

G1672 – Ἕλλην – Hellēn – hel’-lane
From G1671; a Hellen (Grecian) or inhabitant of Hellas; by extension a Greek speaking person, especially a non-Jew: – Gentile, Greek.

The Places G1672 is used in the KJV Bible is given below
It is translated as Gentile in Joh_7:35, Rom_2:9, Rom_3:9, 1Co_10:32, 1Co_12:13,
It is translated as Greek in Joh_12:20, Act_14:1, Act_16:1, Act_16:3, Act_17:4, Act_18:17, Act_19:10, Act_19:17, Act_20:21, Act_21:28, Rom_1:14, Rom_1:16, Rom_2:10, Rom_10:12, 1Co_1:22, 1Co_1:23, 1Co_1:24, Gal_2:3, Gal_3:28, Col_3:11

G1675 – Ἑλληνιστής – Hellēnistēs – hel-lay-nis-tace’
From a derivative of G1672; a Hellenist or Greek speaking Jew: – Grecian.

The places G1675 is used are Act_6:1, Act_9:29 & Act_11:2

G1484 – ἔθνος – ethnos – eth’-nos
Probably from G1486; a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

G1484 has been translated as Nations in Mat_24:9, Mat_24:14, Mat_25:32, Mat_28:19, Mar_11:17, Mar_13:10, Luk_12:30, Luk_21:24, Luk_21:25, Act_13:19, Act_14:16, Act_17:26, Rom_1:5, Rom_4:17, Rom_4:18, Rom_16:26, Gal_3:8, Rev_2:26, Rev_7:9, Rev_10:11, Rev_11:9, Rev_11:18, Rev_12:5, Rev_13:7, Rev_14:8, Rev_15:4, Rev_16:19, Rev_17:15, Rev_18:3, Rev_18:23, Rev_19:15, Rev_20:3, Rev_20:8, Rev_21:24, Rev_21:26, Rev_22:2

G1484 has been translated as Gentiles in Mat_4:15, Mat_6:32, Mat_10:5, Mat_10:18, Mat_12:18, Mat_12:21, Mat_20:19, Mat_20:25, Mar_10:33, Mar_10:42, Luk_2:32, Luk_18:32, Luk_21:24, Luk_22:25, Act_4:27, Act_7:45, Act_9:15, Act_10:45, Act_11:1, Act_11:18, Act_13:42,
Act_13:46, Act_13:47, Act_13:48, Act_14:2, Act_14:5, Act_14:27, Act_15:3, Act_15:7, Act_15:12,
Act_15:14, Act_15:17, Act_15:19, Act_15:23, Act_18:6, Act_21:1, Act_21:19, Act_21:21, Act_21:25, Act_22:21, Act_26:17, Act_26:20, Act_26:23, Act_28:28, Rom_1:13, Rom_2:14, Rom_2:24, Rom_3:29, Rom_9:24, Rom_9:30, Rom_11:11, Rom_11:12, Rom_11:13, Rom_11:25, Rom_15:9, Rom_15:10, Rom_15:11, Rom_15:12, Rom_15:16, Rom_15:18, Rom_15:27, Rom_16:4, 1Co_5:1, 1Co_10:20, 1Co_12:2, Gal_2:2, Gal_2:8, Gal_2:12, Gal_2:14, Gal_2:15, Gal_3:14, Eph_2:11, Eph_3:1, Eph_3:6, Eph_3:8, Eph_4:17, Col_1:27, 1Th_2:16, 1Th_4:5, 1Ti_2:7, 1Ti_3:16, 2Ti_1:11, 2Ti_4:17, 1Pe_2:12, 1Pe_4:3, 3Jn_1:7, Rev_11:2

Are we Gentiles?
We WERE Gentiles till we accepted Yeshua as Savior (1Cor 12:2, Eph 2:11).
Gentiles do not know God (1Thess 4:5). Gentiles are the ones who seek worldly things such as food and clothing (Mat 6:32)
Peter tells the believers to be honest among the gentiles they live around (1Pet 2:11,12)
Israel is scattered among gentiles (Joh 7:35, Hos 8:8, ) Gentiles have different Gods and sacrifices(1Cor 10:20)
Gentiles got converted (Act 15:3) God picked a people out for Himself out of the gentiles (Act 15:14)

The above instances show a clear separation between Gentile, and believers in Almighty God. The Old Testament also agrees with this concept, saying a Gentile who lives among Israel is to be considered as one born in the land (Lev 19:34). When someone becomes a “Christian” (one who imitates THE Anointed one), he is no more the Old Gentile who dwells in the Gentile Ways, He is a new Creation. One who imitates God’s ways, God’s people. He is grafted in to God’s people Israel (Rom 11:16-26). The title “Gentile Christian” is an oxymoron, as a “Gentile” is one who does not know God and a “Christian” is one who imitates THE Anointed one. Effectively, “Gentile Christian” means “One who imitates THE Anointed one, who does not know God”.

Remember, that the Good Shepherd has only one flock (John 10:16). If God has said that Israel is His people/His flock forever(2Sam 7:24, 1Chr 17:22, 2Chr 20:7, Psa 125:2), can Gentile Christians be another flock?

Whether we call ourselves Gentiles or whether we try to separate ourselves far off, from the Jews, one thing is Clear. We have to shape our ways into God’s People. We cannot act like Gentiles. We must start living how He wanted His people, “Israel” to live. That is for sure!

Defining the term “Israel”

A lot of us see “Israel” on the news. Christians pray for “Israel”. They visit “Israel”. This “Israel” is a cause for anger for some, and relief for others. But, is this the “Israel”, mentioned in the Word of God? Or is the Definition for “Israel” something else? Is it a place? Is it a country? What exactly is “Israel”?

The name of Jacob
Most of us are familiar with the story, where Jacob wrestled with God. In Gen 32:28, The “man” who wrestled with Jacob, blessed him saying “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Let us study the word “Israel” before we proceed any further –
The Strong’s Hebrew Concordance – H3478 – ישׂראל – yiśrâ’êl – yis-raw-ale’
From H8280 and H410; he will rule as God; a symbolical name of Jacob

Let us also study the two words that form the word “Israel” which are “H8280” & “H410”
H8280 – שׂרה – śârâh – saw-raw’
to prevail: – have power (as a prince).

H410 – אל – ‘êl – ale
strength; as adjective mighty; especially the Almighty God, power, strong.

Looking at the above meanings, it is clear what the Blessing of the name “Israel” meant. Jacob and all who would be called Israel after him, would carry the meaning of “to have Power as a Prince, with Almighty God”.

God reaffirmed and repeated this name in Gen 35:10, and went on to say, ” I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.”

The people which came from Jacob and his 12 Sons or 12 tribes were called “Israel” after Jacob’s death. The main thing we see throughout Scripture is that “Israel” is not a place, but a people. The Land which the Children of Israel lived in, was called the “Land of Israel”. Most Christians believe that the People of Israel were the “Chosen People” before, but that they are no more the “Chosen People”. That the Christian Church is the new “Chosen People”. Let us see what God says about Israel, and whether this claim is true.

Israel is called God’s Firstborn Son

God calls the people – Israel – His Son – His Firstborn (Exod 4:22).

God made His Covenant with Israel
God made His Covenant at Sinai with Israel (Exod 34:27) and promised to renew it with them in the future (Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10)

Israel is God’s People
God calls Israel, “My people” (Exo 3:10 ; 5:1, 7:4, 1Sam 9:16, 2Sam 3:18, 5:2, 7:7,8,10,11, 1Ki 6:13, 8:16, 14:7, 16:2, 1Chr 11:2, 17:6,7,9,10, 2Chr 6:5,6 Psa 50:7, Isa 1:3, Jer 7:12, 12:14, 23:2,13, 31:1,33, Eze 14:9,11, 21:12, 25:14, 34:30, 36:8,12, 38:14, 39:7, Joe 3:2, Amo 7:8,15, 8:2, 9:14,    Mat 2:6, Luk 2:32, Heb 8:10, Rom 11:1)

Israel is called God’s People forever
2Sam 7:24, 1Chr 17:22, 2Chr 20:7, Psa 125:2)
If God said that Israel is His people forever, they “are” His people “forever”.

At this point, I want to stop and make something clear. I am not saying that the “Country which is called Israel” today, is of no importance. It is after all, part of the Promised Land. The country Israel, does not contain most of His people though, because the majority who are called “Israelites” today, are only Jews(from the Tribe of Judah, 1 of the 12 tribes of Israel). We will do an in depth study of what happened to the other 11 Tribes, in a future Study. A person shouldn’t confuse the Land with the People. And as per the Scriptures, most of “Israel” is scattered around the world, not knowing who they really are. These are the lost Sheep. More on that later.

Yeshua had a strong connection with Israel
Yeshua was the Savior of Israel as per God’s Promise (Acts 13:23)
Yeshua is called the King of Israel (Joh 1:49)
Yeshua said that He was sent only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Mat 15:24)
Yeshua is said to rule over the House of Jacob (also known as Israel) forever. (Luke 1:32,33)

What about all of us “Gentiles”?
We will define the word Gentile also in a separate study. But, it is of value to notice that Paul called “Israel” an Olive tree that ALL believers are grafted into (Rom 11:16-26). What this means is, when you believe in God and His Salvation, you become part of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12). And notice that not everyone who calls himself an Israelite, is an Israelite. It is not through flesh, but through spirit. (Rom 9:6-8)

By this time, if you are thinking what I am trying to say with all of this, this is it. Whoever believes in God, is “Israel”, a part of His Chosen People. According to John 10:16, Yeshua does not have two folds of sheep. He has only one. If Israel is God’s People Forever, we must be part of His People. I was a Gentile, as long as I did not know God and walked according to my own ways. When I believed in Him and started obeying Him, He became my God and I became a part of His People, Israel. Remember how Ruth, a “Moabite” woman, the great grand mother of David and from whom Yeshua, our Savior also proceed, became part of Israel. In Ruth 1:16, she says to Naomi, for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God, my God“.

Further proof that we can no more be Gentiles
The gate to Heavenly Jerusalem has 12 gates with names of the 12 Tribes of Israel.(Rev 21:12) If we are Gentiles, where do we Gentiles enter through? It does not talk about a 13th gate.

The New Covenant is made with the House of Judah and House of Israel. Together they form Israel. (Heb 8:8-10). Where is the Covenant for the Gentile?

Yeshua is said to rule over the House of Jacob (also known as Israel) forever. (Luke 1:32,33). Where are the Gentiles in this Kingdom?

The Good Shepherd has only one flock.(John 10:16) If God has said that Israel is His people/His flock forever, can Gentile Christians be another flock?

Does it matter whether we are “Gentiles” or “Israel”?
In my humble opinion, yes. Because God has not made any Covenants with any Gentiles. All His promises are for His people, Israel. All the prophecies revolve around Israel. And calling ourselves Gentiles is as if we are saying we are not His People. This separation from Israel has brought about much confusion in Christianity, as people think that there is one Law for Israel and another Law for the Gentile. One set of Commandments for Israel and another set for the Gentile. The Sabbath for Israel and Sunday for the Gentile. and the list goes on. We must get rid of the separation. and fully understand the God we serve. and in return, who we are, as well. We are called to reign with Him (Rev 20:6), which by the way, is the essence of the name “Israel” as we first discovered. (Israel = to have Power as a Prince, with Almighty God)

Remember Paul’s words in Gal 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Yeshua, The Anointed One(Jesus Christ)”. What has, is and will be, this ONE people? none other than Israel!