Tag Archives: shepherd

Passover and the Abomination of the Egyptians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The unknown Assyrian Exile

Most Christians have heard of the Babylonian Exile of the Israelites. We are familiar with the story of Daniel, and have heard about the Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar. But what about the Assyrian Exile? Why is it that Christians do not even have a clue about this event?

NationalGeographicDon’t believe me? Let’s turn to history. The National Geographic Society has published a book called “Essential Visual History of the World” which contains a very concise history of all the major civilizations and kingdoms of the earth. In this book, you find empires such as Egypt, Syria, Persia, India, China right upto Greece, Rome and even into modern history of the great World Wars. The interesting pages that caught my eye, was the ones that mentioned “the Israelites”. In page 42 & 43 of the book (pictured below), it clearly mentions the division of the Kingdom into North & South and of its fall into Assyria and Babylon respectively.

Divided-Kingdom-of-Israel

Click on thumbnail for expanded view

If you were like me, you would be scratching your head thinking where an Exile to Assyria is even mentioned in the Scriptures? The reason we do not know about this event is because very rarely do Christians read the lengthy, name heavy, books of Kings & Chronicles.

For a thorough examination of the Divided Kingdom of Israel, and how it effects our understanding of God’s Word, read the following posts;
Parable of the Prodigal Son and the 2 Houses of Israel
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people, through Messiah

Here is a very brief look at what happened to Israel after the reign of King Solomon
1. After David, Solomon was anointed King and when Solomon was old, his many wives made him sin against God (1Kin 11:4-7).
2. As punishment, Solomon’s servant Jeroboam received 10 tribes to rule over, and the rest were ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (1Kin 11:30,31/ 1Kin 12:16,17).
3. Rehoboam ruled over the Tribe of Judah & Benjamin, collectively called the “House of Judah” (1Kin 12:23).
4. From this point onwards in the Books of 1st & 2nd Kings, Jeroboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Israel” in the north of the land while Rehoboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Judah” in the south of the land.
5. After much rebellion against God, and not giving ear to the Prophets, The House of Israel was taken captive to Assyria(2Kin 17:6,18,23).
6. The Majority of them were scattered among the nations(Hos 8:8, Jer 31:10).
7. Even though, The House of Judah, was much better than The House of Israel, they also disobeyed God and was taken captive to Babylon(Dan 1:1,2).
8. God let Judah return back to their land after 70 yrs in exile(Jer 29:10, Ezr 2:1, Neh 7:6).

The divided Kingdom of Israel, was known as the “House of Israel” & the “House of Judah” from the time after the death of King Solomon. The New Covenant was made exclusively with these two divided houses/kingdoms as we can see below.

Jer 31:31  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Heb 8:8  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

The Scriptures do not speak of a New Covenant made with any other nation. Christ himself said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 15:24). This was the same Good News prophesied by Ezekiel when he spoke of a day when the 2 kingdoms would be united under one shepherd.

Eze 37:16-24  Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.

This is the same mystery that Paul spoke of, when he explained that all believers are grafted into the Olive tree, which is God’s people “Israel” in Romans Chapter 11. (Compare Rom 11:19 and Jer 11:16). All of prophecy in the Scriptures hang on the simple fact of the division, dispersion and regathering of His people under Christ our Shepherd. How can we understand any of these complex ideas given to us in Scripture, if we do not understand the basics that even History proclaims to be true?

My prayer for each of you who have not heard of this part of history, is that you would search the Scriptures and read for yourself, so you would be able to better understand everything written by the Prophets as well as the New Testament writers such as Paul, bringing you to a closer walk with our Heavenly Father.

The Five Fold Ministry. Before or After Christ?

Most Christians believe that the Five Functions or duties noted by Paul in Eph 4:11, commonly known as the “Five-Fold Ministry” came about after Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus). Namely, The Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers. Even though we do not see many Apostles, the other categories are seen in almost all “Free Churches” as well as ones from traditional backgrounds.

Are these functions new ones? Were these functions there before Messiah’s appearance, even in Old Testament times? Are these Positions of Power or Duties to be carried out as Servants? These are some of the questions we will try to answer today.

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

In the following explanations of each of these functions, we will also take a closer look at the origins of these titles by looking at the Greek and Hebrew words which the English words derive from. The Strong’s Greek/Hebrew concordance has been used for this purpose, alongside the KJV Translation of the English Bible. 

1. The Apostle
G652 – ἀπόστολος – apostolos – ap-os’-tol-os –
a  messenger, he that is sent

The word “Apostle” in the English language originates from the Greek equivalent “Apostolos” which meant “a messenger” or “one that is sent”. This was not a title specifically made for Christianity, for any messenger would have been called “Apostolos” in Greek. In Joh 13:16, the Greek Word “Apostolos” is translated as “he that is sent” while in 2Cor 8:23 & Philip 2:25 it is translated as “messenger” revealing the true meaning behind the word apostle.

Most people have misunderstood Luke 6:13 to mean that Christ created this new position called “Apostle”. Luk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. The true meaning should be that He chose 12 amongst His pupils as the ones who would take His message out into the world.

As the word “Apostle” derives from its Greek cognate “Apostolos”, this word cannot be found in the Old Testament. But this does not mean “messengers” who spread God’s Word were not found in the time before Messiah. Haggai was known as the “messenger” of the LORD (YHVH) centuries before the Apostles in the New Testament(Hag 1:13). The priests who worked in the Temple were also known as “messengers” of God(Mal 2:7). The Scripture say that many “messengers” of God were sent before the Babylonian exile(2Chr 36:16).

2. The Prophet
H5030 – נביא – nâbı̂y’ – naw-bee’ –
a prophet or (generally) inspired man: – prophecy, that prophesy, prophet.
G4396 – προφήτης – prophētēs – prof-ay’-tace
a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy an inspired speaker; prophet.

Much like the “Apostle” which derived from the Greek word “Apostolos”, the English word “Prophet” also derives from the Greek Word “Prophetes”. The Old Testament had many Prophets. Naming them, I think, is unnecessary. Although, I must mention a few to help you understand what it means to be a Prophet. A Prophet is not only the ones who are called, “Prophet – so and so”. Whoever speaks for God, in the name of God, and represents Him, is a Prophet. It is not a designation. It is merely a duty and a description of what the person does. Abraham (Gen 20:7), David (Acts 2:30), Enoch (Jude 1:14) are but a few characters written in the Scriptures who were never known specifically as “Prophets”, even though they were clearly considered Prophets.

Yeshua was also called a Prophet (John 4:44, Luke 4:24, 13:33, Mat 13:57, Acts 3:22,23, 7:37), and prophesying through the Holy Spirit was done before the Day of Pentecost. Zechariah, Father of John, prophesied being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67). A person can also prophesy(Say something that comes from God) without knowing it, like Caiphas, the High Priest who prophesied about Yeshua dying for the whole Nation(John 11:51)

The duty of a Prophet could fall onto a Male or a Female. Miriam, Moses’ sister (Exo 15:20). Deborah, the Judge of Israel (Judg 4:4), Huldah (2Kin 22:14), Philip’s four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9) & the widow Anna (Luke 2:36) were all female prophets.

It is also important to note that just like some can Prophesy in Truth and in God, some can prophesy falsely saying it is in God’s name(Jer 23:21, 28:15-17, 29:31, Eze 13:7, 1John 4:1). Not all who Prophesy in Christ’s name, is known by Him (Mat 7:22,23).

3. The Evangelist
G2099
– εὐαγγελιστής – euaggelistēs – yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’
a preacher of the gospel: – evangelist.
G2098 – εὐαγγέλιον – euaggelion – yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on –
a good message, gospel.
G2097 – εὐαγγελίζω – euaggelizō – yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo
to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel: – declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

The above 3 Greek words (“yoo-anghelistace”, “yoo-anghel-eeon”, “yoo-ang-elidzo”) are closely connected to the meaning of “Good news”. The word translated as “Gospel” in our English Translations is G2098 – “yoo-anghel-eeon”. So effectively, the word “Evangelist” means a “Preacher/bringer of Good News”. Matt 11:5 is a good example of this fact. “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. The pharse “the gospel preached to them” is translated into English off a single Greek Word, which is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. This same word is used as “Preach” in the case of John (Luk 3:18), of the 12 Disciples (Luk 9:6, Acts 5:42), of Christ (Luk 4:43, 7:22, 16:16, 20:1), & of all believers (Act 8:4), making them all Evangelists.

The Greek word “yoo-anghel-idzo” cannot be seen in the Old Testament Scriptures which were written in Hebrew. Much like in the case of the word “Apostolos”, this does not mean the function of an Evangelist (who brings/preaches Good News) was not there in Old Testament times. The word “Evangelist” itself can be seen only 3 times in the New Testament (Eph 4:11, Acts 21:8, 2Tim 4:5) even though the function of an Evangelist (Bringing/preaching Good News) “G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo” can be seen over 50 times.

In the Old Testament Scriptures, we see that Isaiah is known as one who “preaches good news”(Isa 61:1) which was also quoted by Christ in Luk 4:18. The word used by Yeshua in Luke 4:18 for “preach the gospel” is none other than G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”.

The author of Hebrews in Heb 4:2 says “For unto us was the “gospel preached”, as well as unto them“. The word which is translated as “gospel preached” here is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. Who does the author refer to as “them” in this verse? The context reveals that it is the people of Israel in the Old Testament, which means “Evangelizing” happened in the Old Testament times as well. (Please read Heb 4:6 for a similar verse and Chapter 3 for context)

4. The Pastor
G4166
– ποιμήν – poimēn – poy-mane’
a shepherd (literally or figuratively): – shepherd, pastor.
H7462 – רעה – râ‛âh – raw-aw’
to tend a flock, that is, pasture it; pastor, shepherd.

The word “pastor” is connected to shepherd both in the New Testament as well as in the Old. Not only is it connected, it is more often than not, translated as “Shepherd” throughout the Bible. In fact, the English word “pastor” is seen only in Eph 4:11 while the Greek word that it is translated from (G4166 – poy-mane), is seen 18 times in the New Testament, translated as “shepherd” into English 17 out of 18 times(Mat 9:36, 25:32, 26:31, Mar 6:34, 14:27, Luk 2:8,15,18,20, Joh 10:2,11,12,14,16, Heb 13:20, 1Pe 2:25)

The English translation of the Old Testament contains the word “pastor” many more times (Jer 2:8, 3:15, 10:21, 12:10, 17:16, 22:22, 23:1,2) than the New Testament which contains it only once(Eph 4:11). But similar to the New Testament Translation of the word “Pastor”, the actual meaning of the Hebrew word(H7462 – raw-aw) which is translated in these instances is “shepherd”. The word “shepherd” itself is used in the capacity of “leader” in the Old Testament (Isa 56:11, 63:11). Even though “G4166 – poy-mane” & “H7462 – raw-aw” are translated as “pastor” in some places and “shepherd” in others, the true meaning is “shepherd” (a leader of a flock).

5. The Teacher
G1320 – διδάσκαλος – didaskalos – did-as’-kal-os –
an instructor (generally or specifically): – master, teacher.

The Greek word which is translated as “teacher” in Eph 4:11, is in most places translated as “Master” (mosty pertaining to Yeshua). The true meaning of the word is instructor/teacher, as the Greek word “G1320 – didaskalos” derives from the word “G1321 – didasko” which means “to teach”.

The Old Testament Scriptures also prove that there were many teachers appointed by God before the time of Christ. Moses was a teacher appointed by God (Exo 24:12, Deut 4:5). There were appointed people who went around the land of Israel teaching God’s Word (2Chr 17:8-10). The tribe of Levi were instructors of God’s Word and His ways (Deut 17:9-11, 24:8, 33:8-10, 2Chr 30:22, 35:3). The priests (Aaron’s sons) were mainly appointed to teach God’s people (Lev 10:8-11, 2Chr 15:3, 2Kin 12:2). Samuel who was a judge of Israel was also a teacher (1Sam 12:23). Nehemiah and Ezra were also teachers (Neh 8:9) along with a host of others (Neh 8:7). It was a Commandment of God to teach everyone in Israel, man, woman & child (Deut 31:11-13).

Positions or Duties? Leaders or Servants?
In some Christian congregations today, being an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher carries a sense of power and hierarchy. These have become titles and designations rather than functions in the body of believers. It is important to respect everyone, from a fellow believer to one who is appointed to lead/serve. But sad to say, this respect has been misused, and at times, changed into positions of power.

Christ is the embodiment of all the 5 functions mentioned in Eph 4:11.
He was an Apostle (“one that is sent”) sent by Our Heavenly Father. (Joh 5:30, 6:39, 8:42, 17:8)
He was a Prophet (“one who represents & speaks for God”). (Mat 13:57,Luk 13:33, Joh 6:14, 7:40
He was an Evangelist (“one who preaches Good News”). (Matt 11:4,5, Luk 4:18, 8:1, 20:1)
He was a Pastor (“Shepherd”). (Matt 25:32, 26:31, Joh 10:11,14, Heb 13:20, 1Pet 2:25)
He was a Teacher (“one who teaches God’s Word”). (Mat 10:24,25, 22:16, Joh 1:38, 3:2, 13:13)

wash feetEven though He was the epitome of Righteousness and God’s image, what did He say to His Disciples under Him? What was the example He left with His followers who were to become leaders in the body of believers?

Joh 13:14,15  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Mat 20:26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Luk 22:25-27  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Whoever is appointed to serve, whether he/she be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, they are all servants. And according to the example left to us by Yeshua, whoever is a leader, is in fact a servant who is humble enough to wash the feet of whoever is put under his/her authority.

Conclusion
The “Five fold Ministry” is thought by many to have been instituted after Yeshua, even though there are clear indications that all of these functions existed well before New Testament times. Most of these misunderstandings have come about because of the English translations we read. As seen in the evidence above, even though most of these cognate words (English words that have derived straight from the Greek counterparts – eg. Apostle & Apostolos, Evangelist & Yooanghelistace) cannot be seen in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures (because they derive from Greek), it does not necessarily mean that the function did not exist in Old Testament times.

Not only were all of these functions or services there in the Old Testament era, they were part and parcel of God’s Word. Accordingly Christ Himself embodied all of these functions, acting as a servant rather than one who is served, leaving His Church an example to follow. “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”.