Tag Archives: judgement

“Do not Judge” – Should we not judge anything at all?

_95739648_gettyimages-487787078“Do not judge others!” A common saying among the Christian Congregations of the day, a person who points out a shortcoming is often told not to judge others. But does this agree with God’s Word and the teachings of our Messiah Yeshua? Let’s look into the whole Word of God to see what the Bible teaches us about Judgement.

The commonly quoted Bible verse to show that we should not judge others, is the following

Mat 7:1,2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 

Enacting Righteous Judgement

But is this really what Yeshua was telling us not to do? That we should refrain from judging others so that we will also be judged leniently? Let’s read the rest of the verse as well.

Mat 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

In context, Yeshua tells us here to correct ourselves first, so that we may in turn correct others. In other words, a person should strive to judge righteously. This agrees with what he says in John 7, when the Pharisees judged Him by outward appearance for healing a person on the Sabbath day.

Joh 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

The Apostle Paul says a similar thing when he advices the Corinthian Congregation to judge sin amongst the members of the church when he says the following:

1Cor 5:12-13 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Moreover, Yeshua taught us the correct way to judge such matters in saying,

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

What God’s Word says about Judgement

Most of these misunderstandings stem from not knowing the foundations of judgement laid in the Scriptures (Old Testament). In God’s Word, there are 3 main concepts of judgement discussed. Let’s look at these 3 ideas of judgement to get a better understanding of what Yeshua and the New Testament writings are trying to teach us.

Palal – The Hebrew word “Palal” means to pray. Wherever we see “prayer” mentioned in God’s Word, the word Palal is used. The word’s true meaning is to intervene, intercede, mediate or judge. Overtime we pray, in fact, we do engage in a sort of judgement. A judgement of self, or judgement of what we want God to help us with. This is a judgement between right and wrong, between black and white, a judgement that proclaims this is right according to His Word or not.

1Sam 2:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge (Palal – H6419) him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.

Eze 16:52 Thou also, which hast judged (Palal – H6419) thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.

Mishpat – The Hebrew word “Mishpat” means a judgement. It is the decision and sentence which is provided when someone breaks a law. Most of God’s Law consists of such judgements. These judgements were to be given in a court proceeding by judges who were called to that position. Without such a position, we are unable to enact such judgements in our lives and interactions with our fellow human beings.

Lev 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment(Mishpat-H4941): thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Deu 17:9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment(Mishpat-H4941):

Din – The Hebrew word “Din” is the word used of the ministering of justice, meaning when a person is deemed guilty by a court or God, this pronouncing or Execution of Judgement is what this word encapsulates. We are not in a position to enact this facet of Judgement, as we are not Judges or The Righteous Judge of all the Earth – Almighty God.

Psa 9:8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment (Din – H1777) to the people in uprightness.

Jer 21:12 O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute (Din – H1777) judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Conclusion

While we are unable to decide a sentence (Mishpat) or minister justice by executing the said judgement (Din) in an instance where wrongdoings happen, we are clearly able to point out the wrong. This decision between right and wrong (Palal) is what Yeshua asked us to do in our daily lives. In an instance where a congregation is involved “Mishpat” and “Din” may also be enacted by the relevant authorities as mentioned by Yeshua in Mat 18:15-18 and by Paul in 1Cor 5:12-13. So the next time a person tells you not to judge, maybe you should ask which type of “judgement” he/she is speaking of.

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!

 

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.

Moral Laws & Ceremonial Laws? What are the true divisions in Scripture?

When God redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt, He brought them to Sinai to make a Covenant with them. This agreement between YHVH and the people of Israel, commonly known as the Mosaic Covenant, contained a host of requirements and laws which God wanted His people to follow.

The majority of Mainstream Christianity has vilified and shunned this Law of God viewing it as a kind of bondage; as if God broke the Children of Israel from Egyptian Bondage only to put them back in bondage through His Law. Proponents of this idea submit that the “Old” Mosaic Covenant has been done away. Yet, we have seen in an earlier study that the Ten Commands are the basis for the Mosaic Covenant, and one cannot exist without the other. Some even go to the extent to say that the “Ten Commandments” have also been replaced with “2 New Commandments”, when it is quite clear that the Golden Rule is merely a summary of God’s Law.

In recent years, most Christians have viewed God’s Law to have 2 main divisions, namely

1) The Moral Law (consisting of moral precepts such as “The Ten Commands”) and
2) The Ceremonial Law (consisting of all other forms of precepts)

It is important to point out that the above classification is not found in the Bible and is a man-made division of His Law. It is just how some, if not most, theologians view the Law. Such a classification is inherently flawed as any person can give their own opinion on how the Law should be divided or adhered to. For example, one person could say “X” is part of the Moral Law and is in force, while another can say that the same “X” is part of the Ceremonial Law and is done away. Anyway, our objective will be to seek out the Scriptural divisions of the law instead of man-made divisions.

What does the Bible say? The Biblical Divisions of God’s Law
I believe that if there is any classification or division that Law is subjected to, it must be Biblical. Fortunately, we do see that the Scriptures and God Himself classifies His Law under a few categories. Although there maybe some classifications in the Law, this does not mean some parts take precedence over others. The whole body of the Law comes together under one Covenant, and as long as the Covenant stands, the minutest details will remain intact.

Let us now delve into the categories of Law mentioned in the Scriptures and the true meaning of all the terms God has used to describe His Law. The Law can be compartmentalized into the following sections:

  1. Dabar – (H1697) – Word, Matter, Saying
  2. Mishmereth – (H4931) – Ordinance, Charge, Watch, Duty, Observance.
  3. Khuqqah – (H2708) – Enactment, Appointment, Statute
  4. Mitzvah – (H4687) – Commandments, Precept
  5. Mishpat – (H4941) – Verdict, Judgement
  6. Torah – (H8451) – Law, Instruction

1. Dabar
The Hebrew word Dabar is generally used to refer to any “Matter” or “Word” which is said or done in the Hebrew Scriptures. This same word exclusively appears along side “Ten”, wherever the “Ten Commandments” are mentioned in our English Translations. In short, the 10 Commands would be better translated as “The Ten Words/Matters” as the Hebrew word used in these instances is not “Commandment”(Mitzvah) but “Matter/Word/Saying”(Dabar).

Exo 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words(Dabar) that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
Exo 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words(Dabar) of the covenant, the ten commandments(Dabar).
Deu 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments(Dabar); and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deu 10:2 And I will write on the tables the words(Dabar) that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.
Deu 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments(Dabar), which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.

These “10 Matters” take centre-stage over all other Ordinances, Commandments, Customs, Laws & Judgements, as they are a summary of God’s Law, and can be viewed as the “Constitution” under which the Children of Israel live.

The rest of the categories fall under the 10 matters which form the constitution of Israel and we see these categories mentioned in the words uttered by King David to his son Solomon, on his deathbed.

1Ki 2:3 And keep the charge(Mishmereth) of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes(Khuqqah), and his commandments(Mitzvah), and his judgments(Mishpat), and his testimonies, as it is written in the law(Torah) of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

2. Mishmereth
The Hebrew word “Mishmereth” constitutes to the calling God has placed on His people. It is the office of “citizen”, “priest”, “judge” or “king” that each person duly fulfills. Accordingly, there are Mishmereth for Citizens, priests, judges and kings – each have their own Duties to fulfill as citizens of God’s Kingdom. Each is called to Observe these Mishmereth to the best of their abilities.

Lev 18:30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance(Mishmereth), that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. (Regarding sexual misconduct among the Children of Israel)
Num 1:53 But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge(Mishmereth) of the tabernacle of testimony. (Regarding Levitical office)
Eze 40:45 And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge(Mishmereth) of the house. (Regarding Priestly office)

3. Khuqqah
The Hebrew word Khuqqah refers to decrees made by God. These decrees span a host of categories from appointed days to manners of living and customs of worship.

Lev 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever unto them throughout their generations.
Lev 23:41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Lev 24:3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever in your generations.
Num 27:11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute(Khuqqah) of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.

4. Mitzvah
The Hebrew word Mitzvah is rightly translated as “command”. These are direct principles set in order by God and together with the judgements(Mishpat) comprise the biggest portion of the Law.

Lev 4:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments(Mitzvah) of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
Lev 27:34 These are the commandments(Mitzvah), which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
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 thecommandments(Mitzvah) of the LORD your God which I command you.

5. Mishpat
The Hebrew word Mishpat stands for verdict, and is composed of Judgements, penalties and sentences regarding justice for all kinds of acts prohibited by the Law. Mishpat was carried out by judges and could not be dispensed by any individual without proper order.

Exo 21:1 Now these are the judgments(Mishpat) which thou shalt set before them.
Deu 16:18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment(Mishpat).
Deu 17:9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment(Mishpat):

6. Torah
The Hebrew word Torah which is translated throughout our English Translations as “Law” generally refers to all instructions given by God. The word can be used for a single law or even the complete body of law depending on the context. Each matter under the other 5 sections (Dabar/Mishmereth/Khuqqah/Mitzvah/Mishpat) can be considered a “law”, while the entire sum can also be known as Torah.

Exo 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law(Torah), and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law(Torah) in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 28:58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law(Torah) that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

Conclusion
Looking at the divisions in Scripture according to how God categorized His Law, we can see that you cannot remove parts of His law, while keeping others. They are not divided into “Ceremonial laws” and “Moral laws”, rather to “Duties”, “Appointments”, “Commandments” & “Judgements”.

While there is clearly no division called “Ceremonial” & “Moral” mentioned in His Word, some even go further, dividing the law to “Civil”, “Moral”, “Ceremonial”, “Dietary” & “Sacrificial”. While all of these categories are addressed by God in His Law, the Scriptures do not divide the body of the law this way. People whom suggest these divisions to His law, do so without any Biblical basis.

P.S.

Loving our Heavenly Father is connected to the law with its many divisions;

Deu 11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge(Mishmereth), and his statutes(Khuqqah), and his judgments(Mishpat), and his commandments(Mitzvah), alway.

And whomever despises and does not obey the law with its many divisions is said to be breaking His Covenant;

Lev 26:15 And if ye shall despise my statutes(Khuqqah), or if your soul abhor my judgments(Mishpat), so that ye will not do all my commandments(Mitzvah), but that ye break my covenant:

 

Christ – The Atonement Sacrifice – Allusions in Luke 4

It is a little known fact that Luke’s record of our Messiah’s ministry starts with an allusion to the Atonement Sacrifice. Luke alone gives an account of the timing of this event, and also shows how the people themselves unwittingly declared how Yeshua would take the sin of the nation upon Himself.

Knowing about the Day of Atonement is paramount to understand the story behind the story that Luke gives witness to. Considered the most important of the Appointed Days in God’s Calendar, The Day of Atonement is the only day of the year with a command for Fasting. In fact, since the Day of Atonement is intricately connected to Judgement, most Jews engage in a partial fast for a full 40 days before the Day of Atonement. The 40 Days start with the 6th month of God’s Calendar (known as Elul) and end with the Day of Atonement, which is the 10th day of the 7th Month, equalling to a full 40 days of Repentance. It is a time for Repentance and preparation of one’s life to stand before God. While it is not clear whether this tradition of Fasting existed back in 1st Century times, is it not wonderous that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) fasted 40 days in the same season of Elul and The Day of Atonement?

How do we know that His Ministry started in the time of the Day of Atonement? There are several hints given to us by Luke. Let us review his account in Chapters 3 & 4.

1.John preaches repentance –
Not only does John preach Repentance, a key aspect of meditation as it dawns toward The Day of Atonement, he also speaks of the coming Judgement as seen below.

Luk 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
Luk 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luk 3:9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Luk 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

2.Yeshua’s 40 day Fast –
Yeshua is baptized by John(Luk 3:22,23) and proceeds directly into the Wilderness of Judea(Luk 4:1) and remains there fasting for forty days(Luk 4:2). After being tempted of the Devil, He teaches in Galilee, and then comes to Nazareth – His hometown and steps into the Synagogue.

3.The Reading in the Synagogue –
Traditionally on the Sabbath, people meet in the Synagogue and read a Portion of the Torah (5 Books of Moses) & the Prophets which is done in a planned manner. Isaiah is read in close proximity to The Day of Atonement, and it just so happened that Yeshua was delivered the scroll of Isaiah on this particular Sabbath Day.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

4. Isaiah 61, Judgement & the Jubilee
Yeshua reads the following passage, stopping abruptly without reading everything proceeding “The Day of Vengeance”. “Proclamation of Liberty” is intricately connected to the “Year of Jubilee” which is announced on The Day of Atonement. The Day of Vengeance or His Second Coming, was yet to come. So it makes sense that He stopped before this part, but reading the full verse, we see that He consoles everyone who repents and is in Ashes, mourning & heaviness – which are central themes of The Day of Atonement.

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Lev 25:9,10 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

5. The Sacrificial Goat which took all the Sin of the Nation upon itself –
On The Day of Atonement, the High Priest enacted a sacrifice to atone the sins of the nation. This twin sacrifice had two goats, one of which was taken before the High Priest, who then proclaimed all of the Sins of the nation on its head, and was then led away to the wilderness.

Lev 16:8-10  And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Lev 16:21,22  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

It is traditionally known that this goat was pushed off a cliff by the person who led it away signifying the complete erasure of the sins of the people.

The Rabbis, interpreting “Azazel” as “Azaz” (rugged), and “el” (strong), refer it to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down (Yoma 67b; Sifra, Aḥare, ii. 2; Targ. Yer. Lev. xiv. 10, and most medieval commentators)  Jewish Encyclopedia

The Sages taught: The word Azazel indicates that the cliff the goat is pushed from should be rough and hard. I might have thought that it may be located in a settled area. Therefore, the verse states: “In the wilderness.” And from where does one derive that the goat is pushed from a cliff? The verse states “gezeira,” indicating an area that is sharp, like a cliff. Yoma 67b – Talmud

Now read what happens after Yeshua reads the Scripture in Isaiah and has a dispute with the people in the Synagogue. The crowd unwittingly proclaims that Yeshua will be the sacrifice which takes away the sin of the nation, by trying to take Him to a hill and thrusting Him down from it.

Luk 4:28,29 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

6. The High Priest & the Atonement Sacrifice –
As the author of Hebrews make mention, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies only once a year – on the Day of Atonement(Exo 30:10), and he would also take the blood of the second goat which was applied inside. Hebrews clearly connects the Blood of the Atonement Sacrifice to Yeshua’s blood. He would be the High Priest of the Nation and the Sacrifice for the Sins of the Nation.

Heb 9:6,7  Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Heb 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Conclusion
It is very likely that Luke knew of the Atonement Sacrifice and the connection of Messiah to the redemption of the Nation as seen in the Scriptures. When Luke heard this account from witnesses before he wrote his gospel(Luk 1:2), he would have immediately connected the dots of the Goat which was led to the cliff with Yeshua who was almost thrust down in the same way, in the days of Repentance – The Day of Atonement. I am in no way saying that Christ was almost thrust down the cliff exactly on the Day of Atonement, but it was definitely close in proximity to this all important day, and the event itself definitely alluded to Him being the Atonement Sacrifice for all of us. As we repent for our own sins through fasting, let us remember the sacrifice that was made for our iniquities, transgressions and sins – our Saviour and Lord – Yeshua Ha Maschiach (Jesus the Messiah).

Defining the term “Hell”

Most Christians including myself have been taught that Hell is the opposite of Heaven. Hell is supposedly a fiery place where “Satan” himself rules, and all evil souls go for punishment after death, as depicted in popular media and taught in mainline Christianity. But is this depiction of “Hell” biblical? What is the true meaning behind the words translated as “Hell” in our English versions of the Bible? For this, we need to return to the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts – in search of answers and truth.

Sections covered in this post
Old Testament usage of “Hell”
A. Defining She’ol – the grave
B. Defining Bore – the Pit
New Testament usage of “Hell”

A. Defining Hades – The Grave
– Hades = She’ol = Grave
B. Defining Gehenna – The place of Fire
– Lake of Fire = Gehenna
C. Defining Tartaroo – The Deep Abyss
– Tartaroo = Bottomless Pit
Conclusion

Old Testament usage of “Hell”

A. Defining She’ol – the grave
Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word (She’ol) has been used for the abode of the dead. It is interesting to see how this same word has been translated to English as “Hell”, “Grave” & “Pit”.

H7585 – שׁאל    שׁאול – she’ôl  she’ôl – From H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranian retreat), including its accessories and inmates: – grave, hell, pit.

H7585 translated as “Hell” – Deu 32:22; 2Sam 22:6; Job 11:8; 26:6; Psa 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Prov 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11; 15:24; 23:14; 27:20; Isa 5:14; 14:9; 14:15; 28:15; 28:18; 57:9; Ezek 31:16; 31:17; 32:21; 32:27; Amo 9:2; Jon 2:2; Hab 2:5

H7585 translated as “Grave” – Gen 37:35; 42:38; 44:29; 44:31; 1Sam 2:6; 1Kin 2:6; 2:9; Job 7:9; 14:13; 17:13; 21:13; 24:19; Psa 6:5; 30:3; 31:17; 49:14; 49:15; 88:3; 89:48; 141:7; Prov 1:12; 30:16; Ecc 9:10; Son 8:6; Isa 14:11; 38:10; 38:18; Eze 31:15; Hos 13:14

H7585 translated as “Pit” – Num 16:30; 16:33; Job 17:16

A few examples from the above list for inspection
Gen 37:35  And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave(She’ol) unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
Job 14:13  O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave(She’ol), that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!
Psa 16:10  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell(She’ol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

B. Defining Bore – the Pit
Although the Hebrew word “Bore” which can be translated as a deep pit/dungeon has never been translated as “Hell”, it is used as a deeper/darker place than She’ol in the Old Testament Scriptures.

H953 – בּור – bôr – bore – From H952 (in the sense of H877); a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or prison): – cistern, dungeon, fountain, pit, well.

Psa 30:3  O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave(She’ol): thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit(Bore).
Pro 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave(She’ol); and whole, as those that go down into the pit(Bore):
Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell(she’ol), to the sides of the pit(Bore).
Isa 38:18  For the grave(She’ol) cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit(Bore) cannot hope for thy truth.
Zec 9:11  As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit(Bore) wherein is no water.

Looking at the terminology used in the Old Testament, “She’ol” the word translated in our English Translations as “Hell” means simply the “Grave” which is destined for us all. It simply meant “Death” or a figurative place for the Dead – almost as if they are in stasis. and not a fiery place which is ruled by “Satan”. The pit “Bore” on the other hand has some connotations of being a place which is deeper, but never paints a picture of anything similar to the “Hell”, we are accustomed to.

New Testament usage of “Hell”

In the New Testament, there are 3 Greek words that have been translated to English as “Hell” in our Bible versions.

A. Defining Hades – The Grave
G86 – ᾅδης – hades – hah’-dace – From G1 (as a negative particle) and G1492; properly unseen, that is “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: – grave, hell.

G86 translated as “Hell” – Mat 11:23; 16:18; Luk 10:15; 16:23; Act 2:27; 2:31; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13; 20:14

G86 translated as “Grave” – 1Co 15:55

A few examples from the above list for inspection
Luk 16:23  And in hell(hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
1Co 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave(hades), where is thy victory?
Act 2:27  Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell(hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Rev 20:14  And death and hell(hades) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Hades = She’ol = Grave
Out of the above, the most important verse to highlight is Act 2:27. In it Peter quotes Psalm 16:10 directly, making an all important point abundantly clear.
Psa 16:10  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell(She’ol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Act 2:27  Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell(hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
As per above She’ol = Hades. If She’ol means simply “Grave”, as we have seen above, the word “Hell” in the New Testament should also mean “Grave”. If this is not apparent, 1Cor 15:55 even translates Hades as “Grave” in our English Translations.

 

B. Defining Gehenna – The place of Fire
G1067 – γέεννα – geenna – gheh’-en-nah – Of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem.

G1067 translated as “Hell” – Mat 5:22; 5:29; 5:30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33; Mar 9:43; 9:45; 9:47; Luk 12:5; Jas 3:6

A few examples from the above list for inspection
Mat 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell(Gehenna).
Mar 9:43  And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell(Gehenna), into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Luk 12:5  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell(Gehenna); yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

The third and final Greek word which has been translated to English as “Hell”, is of Hebrew origin. “Gehenna” stems from the Hebrew words “Ga’hee – Hinnom” which translates to Valley of Hinnom, a place in Jerusalem.

An 18th-century German illustration of Moloch ("Der Götze Moloch" i.e. The Idol Moloch).The Valley of the Sons of Hinnom was a place which had been used to burn children alive, as sacrifices to Molech – the chief god of the Ammonites (2Kin 23:10). This same place was used by Ahaz & Manasseh – Kings of Judah to burn their own children (2Chr 28:3, 33:6) & by the people of Judah themselves to do the same (Jer 7:31, 19:2, 32:35). A historical account of this practice states “Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved:” – John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible – Jer 7:31.

Hinnom1God spoke of the place as a place of immense slaughter, and a place where there will be so many carcasses of men with no space to bury them (Jer 7:32, 19:6) – it was also directly connected to the Exile of Judah under Babylon. In the 1st Century, the valley of Hinnom contained tombs and also “Aceldama” – also known as “Potter’s Field” or “field of blood” mentioned in Mat 27:7,8 & Acts 1:19.

With the information above, it should be abundantly clear that the word “Gehenna” is completely different to “Hades”/”She’ol” and “Tartaroo”. Gehinnom is a place of Destruction, fire and immense wickedness. It is not surprising that this physical place was paralleled to a place of destruction beyond this world. One thing is certain – Gehinnom is not the same as Hades/She’ol/Grave and is much more similar to the “lake of fire”.

Lake of Fire = Gehenna
Even though the “Lake of fire” is mentioned as an end times punishment – it is more likely to be connected to “Gehenna”. Most of the verses containing the word “Gehenna” speaks of fire (Mat 5:22, 18:9, Mar 9:47, James 3:6) – and even fire that will not be quenched (Mar 9:43,45).

Burning with Brimstone
Rev 19:20  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Rev 20:10  And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Rev 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Isa 30:33  For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

In Jer 7:32, The Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) is also called “Tophet” and is referred by Isaiah to be a place prepared with piles of wood and fire which is ignited by God’s breath which is like Brimstone. “Gehenna” or “The Valley of Hinnom” or “Tophet” was the physical place of Fire and Brimstone which would later come to signify the place of fire and destruction at the end times.

“Death” and “Hell”(Hades) cast into the “Lake of Fire”
Another important concept to grasp is that the Book of Revelations specifically says that “Hell” (Hades/She’ol/Grave) will be cast into the lake of fire as well – making it abundantly clear that they are 2 different distinct places.
Rev 20:14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
From the day that the Grave is destroyed, there will be no more death – but eternal life.


C. Defining Tartaroo – The Deep Abyss
G5020 – ταρταρόω – tartaroo – tar-tar-o’-o – From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades)

G5020 translated as “Hell” – 2Pe 2:4  For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell(Tartaroo), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Seen only once in the whole of the New Testament, “Tartaroo” is mentioned by Peter in connection to the “Angels that sinned”. The mere fact that a different term to “Hades” is used here, should give an indication that it is a different place. Even though it is translated as “Hell” in our English versions, it is a completely different place to “Hades”/”She’ol”/”Grave” and is clearly apparent to be a dungeon of sort containing the Angels who sinned, chained and reserved for judgement. In that case “Tartaroo” should not be mixed up with “Hades”.

Tartaroo = Bottomless Pit
As we saw above, Tartaroo signified a deep abyss where angels were chained up till the time of judgement. This again falls in line with the account of the Book of Revelations. In it, we see the Bottomless Pit(Abyss) being opened(Rev 9:1,2), and from it arising the king of the angels who were held inside named Abaddon(Hebrew for Destroyer) and Apollyon(Greek for Destroyer)(Rev 9:11). A Beast also arises from the same Abyss(Rev 11:7, 17:8). Finally The Great adversary is bound and put into this same pit at the time of the 1000 year reign of Messiah(Rev 20:2) – only to be let out for a while, at the end of the 100 years(Rev 20:3) before he is destroyed in the lake of fire along with death and Hades(Rev 20:10,14).

G12 – ἄβυσσος – abussos – ab’-us-sos – From G1 (as a negative particle) and a variation of G1037; depthless, that is, (specifically), (infernal) “abyss”: – deep, (bottomless) pit.

Rev 9:1,2  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit(Abusos). And he opened the bottomless pit(Abusos); and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of thepit(Abusos).
Rev 9:11  And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit(Abusos), whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
Rev 20:1-3 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit(Abusos) and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit(Abusos), and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The Bottomless Pit (Abyss) is different from both “Hades/She’ol/Grave” & “Lake of fire/Gehenna” and is equivalent to Tartaroo – the place where Angels who had sinned were chained up.

Conclusion
The Scriptures speak of 3 distinctly different areas called “Grave”, “Abyss” and “Lake of Fire”. While the Lake of fire is the place of torment and destruction(Rev 20:10), the Grave(She’ol/Hades) merely stands for the abode of the dead. The Abyss(Pit) is different from both other places as the Angels who sinned are the ones held here. Hell as we see depicted in popular media and mainline Christianity merely does not exist, and it is quite beneficial for us to understand that the word “Hell” in our English versions can be quite misleading, as all 3 of these 3 distinct places have been called Hell, even though they are vastly different from each other.

Should we stone sinners, if we obey God’s Law?

It is part of God’s Law – So, should we? As a means of showing the impracticality of God’s Law, many pose the question, “if we are keeping God’s Law, why don’t we stone adulterers and other sinners specified by the Law?”. A recent comment I received from a dear brother read “If we cannot pick and choose which ceremonial law applies to us, then when keeping the OT law after being saved, we should be sure to stone adulterers.” He went on to ask why Christ forgave the woman who was accused of adultery. And to reiterate the point by commenting that “We should stone. Stone, stone, stone.” While I completely understand the point of view, and the hint of frustration in this brother’s words, I believe this common view among Christians is quite a misinformed one at best. The “issue of stoning” is taken as one of the easiest argument against keeping God’s Law – in a haphazard way, with little to no understanding of how the Law functions.

StoneBut is it a pointless question to ask? Absolutely not. In fact, understanding this subject could bring any Christian who can look at theology in a critical fashion, a bit closer to God’s Word. While this post will focus on the “issue of stoning”, if you would like to read into God’s Law a bit further – please go here.

First of all, I must explain that I, myself as a Christian who was taught that God’s Law was done away in Christ, had the same opinion as the brother whom I mentioned earlier. I had little understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, even though I had read parts of it – And was ready to defend my faith against who I believed to be “Judaizers” with comments such as “We don’t need to keep God’s Law. If we do, then we need to stone people”. So enough about me – on to the question in hand!

Capital Punishment
When God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and gave them His Law, many commandments were set forth. There were commandments for land owners, men, women, soldiers, fathers, levites, aaronic priests, judges, witnesses, etc. – much like the laws that govern us in our own respective countries. Many countries have laws, that if broken can lead to capital punishment. This was the case with God’s Law. There were certain acts which were punishable by death – according to God’s Law. And it involved stoning as an act of putting fear in the Godless.

Can anyone stone a sinner?
Imagine a land which is run on a law that specifies that anyone can give the lethal injection to a person accused of murder or adultery. No trial? No judge? No witnesses? Immediate punishment! What sort of land would that be? But this is exactly how Christianity views the Land of Israel under God’s Law in the time before Christ. Barbaric. It is such a pity that we have been taught to view God’s Law which was called liberty by David(Psa 119:45) & James(Jas 1:25), in such a way. The critical question which needs to be asked is “can anyone stone a sinner?”. And as we will see below, similar to the Law of the secular world, God’s Law (when it came to public matters) was to be put to effect through a system of Law.

The making of a ‘system of Law’
When God led His people out of Egypt, at the helm was Moses. He was the only judge at that time, and did his duties from morning to evening (Exo 18:13). It was his duty to enact fair judgement according to God’s Law and statutes (Exo 18:16). Heeding the advice of his father-in-law, Moses chose God-fearing men of truth, and appointed them rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens – teaching them God’s ordinances and Laws (Exo 18:19-21). These rulers were to judge the people under them, and bring any case which was hard for them to resolve, unto Moses (Exo 18:22). Moses in turn would bring any matter he was unsure about before God for resolution(Exo 18:23, Lev 24:12). This was the system of Law at the time – the god fearing rulers/judges would try the easy cases while bringing hard ones to Moses – the head judge, who in turn went to God, when he was unsure of a matter(Exo 18:26). God was supreme ruler and judge of the children of Israel at the time.

After Moses, the mantle of judge passed onto Joshua (Deut 31:14,23) and then to the judges mentioned in the book of judges(Judg 2:16-18) until the time of Samuel, when God gave the people a king at their request. From Saul onward, the kings acted as the head judge – to whom all hard cases were brought to(1King 3:16-28). This system established at the time of Moses was to continue(Deut 16:18) with the help of the priests according to God’s own command (Deut 17:8-12), and was even in effect after the return from the Babylonian exile(Ezr 7:25, 10:14).

The office of the judge
In the book of Deuteronomy, we see Moses recollecting the event where the judges were selected(Exo 18:13-26) with some more detail. In it, he makes an important statement (highlighted in bold with underlining for emphasis)

Deu 1:12-18 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

Moses clearly states that the judges should judge righteously, for the judgement would come from God, if they acted/judged according to God’s Word/Law. This same idea is echoed again in 2Chr 19:6. The fact is that judges were to dispense the Law, when it came to public cases. We see this abundantly in the Scriptures – a few examples follow:

Exo 21:22  If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
Exo 22:8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.
Exo 22:9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.
Deu 19:17,18 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;

The judge who dispenses sentences according to God’s Law needs to be a properly appointed God fearing, righteous person with a thorough knowledge of the Law. Every person could not act as a judge, as it was a position of authority presented to a person, similar to the appointment of a King.

The calling of Witnesses
A judge could not simply put someone to death without hearing a case against him/her. There had to be witnesses called forth, especially in the case of capital punishment. NO ONE COULD BE PUT TO DEATH WITHOUT HEARING 2 TO 3 WITNESSES.

Num 35:30  Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
Deu 17:6  At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deu 19:15  One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Not only was a judge to hear the case with adequate evidence before putting someone to death, the witnesses had to cast the first stone, when it came to punishment.

Deu 17:7  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

Following proper procedure
Each case was to be judged according to God’s Law – and proper procedure was to be followed for each case. For example, in the case of adultery, both the man and woman had to be punished (Deut 22:22, Lev 20:10) – the case would be heard with 2 to 3 witnesses present, and if found guilty by the judge, both of them would be stoned. If the man had forced himself on the woman, the man would be stoned, while the woman was set free. If the woman was not betrothed or married to another, the man would have to marry her and not be permitted to divorce her till his death. (Deut 22:23-29). Without adequate witnesses or following of proper procedure, the Judge would not be able to give a proper sentence.

The verdict
With the above information in hand, we can see that stoning or any other punishment could not have been dispensed without the use of the proper authorities. According to God’s Law, the common man could not take any action against a sinner without the judge and proper witnesses. Two to three witnesses needed to provide testimony for a judge to dispense proper justice. Anything outside these boundaries would have been “vigilantism”, which was not approved by God. No person could take the Law unto his/her own hand, much like the law of the secular world today. Just like we cannot give a ticket to a drunk driver or put a murderer on the electric chair, God’s Law did not allow everyone to judge & punish the guilty.

Why did Christ let the woman accused of adultery go free?
Many Christians believe that Yeshua(real name of Jesus) reinterpreted or changed God’s Law against adultery, when he let the woman accused of adultery go free. Let us review the words in John 8:2-11.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

A few important facts to point out:
1. The pharisees say that the woman was taken in the act of adultery – but the man with whom the act of adultery was committed is not present (both man and woman should be produced before the judge for proper sentencing – Deut 22:22/Lev 20:10)
2. They point to God’s Law given through Moses, and the connected punishment of death by stoning, as part of punishment for adultery – even though without a proper hearing it cannot be determined what action should be taken (the woman would be stoned if it was consensual along with the man/ the woman would be set free, while the man was stoned if she was forced upon / the woman would be given in marriage to the man with no ability of divorce if she is not betrothed to anyone – Deut 22:23-29)
3. Yeshua asked the one without sin to cast the first stone (the one who is familiar with God’s Law would have known that the person to cast the first stone needed to be the witnesses – Deut 17:7) – in light of this, whether any real witnesses were present would have been questionable, and even if they were present, the fact that they were sinful as much as the woman, made it impossible for them to judge anyone.
4. Yeshua asks whether no one passed sentence on the woman, and tells her that neither will He – to go and sin no more (The fact is that Yeshua was not an appointed judge who could carry out a death sentence, let alone punish anyone. He even denies to being any kind of judge in Luk 12:14. This was not the court, the partner who should be accused alongside the woman was missing and whether there were any real witnesses is questionable. It is important to highlight that the Pharisees and Scribes could not put anyone to death under Roman rule anyway, as it was prohibited by Roman Law(Joh 18:31) – this would have been why this situation was used as a way of finding fault with Christ. If Yeshua said “no”, He would have gone against God’s Law. If He said “yes”, He would have gone against Roman Law. Just as with the case of “paying taxes to Rome”, in this situation He showcased God’s Wisdom, in unraveling the plot and silencing the hecklers while putting them to shame by their own acts.

Conclusion
Stoning the guilty, much like the rest of God’s Law, is misunderstood by most. While this specific part is used to make God’s Law look ancient, impractical and even barbaric – it must be noted that dispensing of God’s Law when it came to a public matter, was not open for everyone. People could not stone each other haphazardly for every accusation. There was a system in place for this purpose with witnesses providing testimony and judges determining the verdict – all done according to specifics pointed out in God’s Law. If we stoned someone outside these instructions, our actions would go against God’s Law. For example, Stephen was stoned against God’s Law, as they produced false witnesses(Acts 6:11-14) against him and stoned him without a proper trial or verdict (Acts Chapter 7). While there were many such instances of kangaroo courts, mob attacks & vigilantism – none of it is in accordance to God’s Law, which systematically produces righteous judgement and unbiased punishment. Let us be thankful that Christ has taken on Himself the punishment for sins, which we should be stoned for, and have granted us to live a life full of Grace through walking in His ways/Words/Laws.

Further Reading:
Could anyone in Old Testament times, take “an eye for an eye”?
Is God’s Law a curse?
Defining the terms Sin, Law & Grace