Tag Archives: temple

The Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue & Church – What is the House of God?

What is the difference between the tabernacle, the temple, the synagogue and the church? Does God reside in buildings? Can any place of assembly be called “The House of God”? There is little clarity on this subject. Many believe that there was no requirement for a temple of God, and that it was an Old Testament precept removed with Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross. We shall delve into the subject and see what the Bible truly teaches about “The House of God”.

A. What is the Church & Synagogue?
B. What is the Tabernacle & Temple?
C. What is the difference between the Temple and a Church/Synagogue?
D. Can any place of assembly be equated to the Temple of God?
E. Does God reside in a building?
F. Did Christ Replace the Temple of God?

G. The temple of our Bodies

A. What is the Church & Synagogue?
Moses' Seat fromIn an earlier study, we have discussed the biblical definition of the word “Church”. Our findings were very clear – both, “Church” and “Synagogue” meant bodies of people. Not a building or a place – biblically speaking. It is a little known fact that the 1st Century believers attended Synagogue as per James’ Epistle (The word assembly in Jas 2:2 should be translated as synagogue). Even though modern Christians feel a Synagogue is for Jews while Church is for Christians, there was no such separation in thought among the 1st century believers. Both represented bodies of people and not any type of religious building.   

B. What is the Tabernacle & Temple?
The Tabernacle

After the deliverance from Egypt by the hand of God, the children of Israel were commanded to build a sanctuary(H4720 – Mikdawsh – Holy/Set-apart place). Specific instructions were given for the creation of this Tabernacle(H4908 – Mishkawn – Tent/Dwelling Place) and everything inside, to Moses on the Mount of Sinai(Exo 25:8,9,40, 26:30, Heb 8:5). The work was done accordingly (Exo 39:42,43) and the Tent was setup and finished according to further instructions(Exo 40:1-33). The Glory of Yehovah filled the Tabernacle with a physical thick cloud(Exo 40:34), so much so, that even Moses could not enter it. The physical Cloud and Fire were present in the Tabernacle for all the Children of Israel to see, wherever they went henceforth(Exo 40:35-38).

framework-and-tabernacle-layers-lesson-23The Levites were specifically chosen for the keeping of the Tabernacle(Num 1:50,51,53, Chap 3) and the Tabernacle itself was a covering (a sort of capsule) for God to walk with the Children of Israel(2Sam 7:6). This dwelling place moved to a variety of locations till finally under David, the Kingdom was unified. The main content of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant, which carried the tablets of the covenant written with the hand of God. After God settled the Children of Israel in the land promised to Abraham, there was no more reason for a tent which was pitched and removed – so King David planned to build a House for God which would house His Ark and His Glory(2Sam 7). But God wanted it built by Solomon, the Son of David(2Sam 7:12,13). It is clear that the Tabernacle, even though it was not a permanent structure, was also known as the House of God(Exo 23:19, 34:26, Deut 23:18, Jdg 18:31, 20:18, 21:2).

The Temple in Jerusalem
solomon-templeAfter Solomon came to power, he started the work for God’s House according to God’s command(1Kin 5:3-5) and finished it by moving the Ark from the Tabernacle to the Temple(1Kin 8:3-9). And similar to the establishment of the Tabernacle, where Moses could not enter because of the Glory of God, the cloud filled the holy place so that the priest could not stand to minister(1Kin 8:10,11). Furthermore, God appeared to Solomon and told him that He has consecrated the Temple to Himself by putting His name there, and His eyes and heart would be there perpetually. But He also warned Solomon, that if he or his children turn away from God, that the Temple will be destroyed(1Kin 9:2-9).

Babylonian Chronicles Because of the sins of Solomon, God decided to separate the unified nation of Israel(1Kin 11:9-13). Ten tribes were handed over to Jeroboam, known as the House of Israel, while the rest were left in the hands of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon(1Kin 11:29-36), known as House of Judah, from thereon. These were the two houses of Israel, mentioned in Jeremiah and Hebrews where the New Covenant is mentioned. Both these kingdoms would fall, according to the warnings of the Prophets due to their disobedience, firstly the Kingdom of Israel to Assyria; and then the Kingdom of Judah to Babylonia, where the Temple built by Solomon was also razed to the ground(2Chr 36:19, Ezr 5:12) in 587BC.

The 2nd Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple would be rebuilt under the patronage of King Cyrus of the Persian Empire, by Ezra and Nehemiah(Ezr 5:13, 6:14). The Ark of the Covenant is not mentioned being carried away by the Babylonians or to have been in the 2nd Temple, but is believed to have been hidden by the Prophet Jeremiah before the sack of Jerusalem according to the Apocryphal book “Second Maccabees”.

titusThe Temple we read in the Gospel accounts was the 2nd Temple built by Ezra & Nehemiah, and added onto by Herod the Great, while the same would be destroyed again according to the words of Yeshua, in 70AD by the Romans under Titus. It is believed that all the Disciples of Yeshua other than John, and even Paul would have been killed off by Rome, before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70AD.

The 3rd Temple in Jerusalem
Even though there is a fair amount of debate among Christian Denominations whether a 3rd Temple would ever be built, prophetic verses such as 2Thes 2:3,4, Dan 9:27 would have us believe, a main sign of the end of days which is the “Antichrist” better known as the “Son of Perdition/Destruction” would set himself up in the Temple of God, and shall stop the sacrifices. Considering sacrifices can only be offered in the temple of Jerusalem(Deut Chap 12, Psa 78:68, Psa 132:13,14, 1Kin 8:29) the place in which He chose to put His name (2Chr 6:6, 1Kin 11:36), we can deduce that the Temple of God where sacrifices will be offered in these prophetic verses is none other than a temple in Jerusalem. But since the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70AD, for such prophecies to come to fruition, there must be a 3rd Temple built in the future.

C. What is the difference between the Temple and a Church/Synagogue?
The Temple was built according to the command of God(1Kin 5:5) where God chose to place His Name – the city of Jerusalem/Zion(2Chr 6:6, 12:13). There was only one Temple where sacrifices could be brought to God. The Levites were given the right of service and the Sons of Aaron were the priests. No one else could serve in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Jer 33:17-26 shows forth that the word of God and the Covenants He has made with the Levites and David can never be broken.

In the 1st Century AD, synagogues were in every city around the Hellenistic empire which was under Roman rule(Act 15:21), as we see Yeshua, His disciples and even Paul attending many such assemblies. But there was ONLY ONE Temple. And Yeshua, His disciples and even Paul frequented the Temple in Jerusalem often. Paul even offered sacrifices of Purification for himself and others in Acts 21. This was the Temple where Yeshua was tempted(Mat 4:5). The place where Yeshua overthrew the moneychangers/sellers saying “My House shall be called the house of prayer(Mat 21:13/Isa 56:7), but you have made it a den of thieves(Mat 21:13/Jer 7:11). Where He healed(Mat 21:14). Where He taught daily(Mat 26:55, Luk 21:37,38). This was the same Temple where the 1st Century believers gathered daily(Acts 2:46). Where they taught(Acts 5:20,21). Where Paul offered sacrifices of purification(Acts 21:26,27, 24:18). And which was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.

The Temple in Jerusalem cannot be equated to a building or assembly, as it was ordained, planned & created according to God’s Word and Will. God let the House that was built for Himself be destroyed twice in history, because of the transgressions of the people. But as per the Prophet Micah:

Mic 4:1-3 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

As many of us know, the above verse talks of the Reign of Messiah, in which the House of God and Jerusalem are both mentioned to be active and very much in existence.

While the Church/Synagogue are assemblies of people, the Temple in Jerusalem was a vessel for God to have an existence on the earth. It was His palace on earth from where He ruled as King over His people.

D. Can any place of assembly be equated to the Temple of God?
You may have heard some of today’s church buildings being called the House of God. While our bodies are called the “House of God” in several places in the New Testament, nowhere has a building ever been called the Temple/House of God, or equated to the Temple that stood in Jerusalem.

E. Does God reside in a building?
Even though the Temple in Jerusalem was known to be a place of high importance in the scriptures, there are many who believe that the Temple was purposeless after the Resurrection of Messiah. The fact that the early church spent most of their time in the temple(Acts 2:46) and that Apostle Paul offered sacrifices of purification at the temple(Acts 21:26,27, 24:18) should be enough to show that the importance of the Temple never dwindled in their eyes.

Many question the necessity of the temple because of verses such as:

Act 7:48-50 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?

Act 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

The fact is that the thoughts conveyed above by Stephen and Paul are nothing new, but originate from the Old Testament Scriptures. The Temple was not a place made for God to live in, as even the Heavens cannot contain Him. These thoughts are not new ideas revealed after Christ, but what was always apparent to everyone before Christ.

1Ki 8:27  But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

2Ch 2:6  But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?

2Ch 6:18  But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!

Isa 66:1  Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Also read Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy on Acts 17:24

The Temple was never built to contain God, but as a place/vessel/body that was specially chosen to host His Holy presence on Earth. It is very unlikely that the significance of the Temple ever changed after Messiah’s resurrection, because of this reason.

F. Did Christ Replace the Temple of God?
Another reason many do not see a reason for a physical Temple in Jerusalem, is because of the thought that Christ replaced it. It is true that He equaled Himself to the Temple(John 2:19-21). Rightly so, as God’s full glory resided in Christ just as in the Temple.

Verses such as these have led people to believe that Christ has done away the Temple of God:

Joh 4:21  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Mar 15:37,38  And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

While John 4:21 could be most likely speaking of the destruction about to fall of Jerusalem as He spoke of many a time in His ministry(Luk 19:44, 21:6), the idea of the Veil being torn has become one, if not the main reason that many believe in the futility of a Temple. In the Gospels, Christ’s death leads to the veil of the Temple being torn in two. Many interpret this as a sign that the separation between God and Man was removed through this act, and that we can now freely go into the holiest of holies. While I do not disagree that Christ’s Death & Resurrection corrected our standing with God, I see a few key details which need to be pointed out before we make any assumptions.

map32It is important to point out that there were 2 veils in the Temple. One which separated the Courts from the Holy place and one which separated the Holy place from the Holiest of Holies. In Hebrews 9:3, when the author speaks of the veil between the Holy place from the Holiest of Holies – He calls it “the second veil”. So it is very likely that what was torn was the outer veil. Furthermore, if the Temple acted as a Garment/Covering that encapsulated God, the tearing of the Veil at the death of Messiah could signify an act of mourning done by God towards His only begotten Son. We see similar practices in the Scriptures in Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31, Jos 7:6.

G. The temple of our Bodies
Some believe that our bodies have wholly replaced the Temple in Jerusalem. There are many verses in the New Testament writings that compare our bodies to the Temple of God, such as:

1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
2Co 6:16  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

tmSo what are we to make of this? Have our bodies replaced any remnant of a physical Temple in Jerusalem? While our bodies are a dwelling place for God, as Paul himself writes in 2Corinthians 6:16, he is quoting “I will dwell in them, and walk in them” from the Old Testament Scriptures (Exo 29:45, Lev 26:12, Eze 43:7). So it is not a new thought to think of ones body as a dwelling place for God.

The physical Temple in Jerusalem on the other hand, is a central part of both God’s Word and prophecy.

Isa 2:2,3 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isa 56:6,7 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

See Ezekiel chapter 40 to 48

Conclusion
As we saw God instituted the tabernacle, and later the temple in Jerusalem, while the synagogue and the church both stood for bodies of people and not physical structures. While God is not contained in a man-made house, it was His choice to create such a place for His glory to reside and for the people to come to Him with the designated Sacrifices. While not all assemblies or buildings can be called “The House of God” in a Biblical sense, The Temple of God is for from an abolished precept. Yeshua(Jesus’ true name), His disciples or Paul never directly said anything about the Temple being anything other than the House of God. In fact the interaction between the Temple and the 1st century believers was a close one, as we even see with Paul. The tearing of the veil at Christ’s death or the fact that our bodies are called a dwelling place of God, does not mean that the Temple in Jerusalem was any less important in the Bible we hold in our hands today.

 

Was the “Last Supper” a “Passover Meal”?

The Pre-Passover MealSome believe that the last meal which Christ shared with His disciples, is a “Passover meal”. There are valid reasons for this connection to have been made. In this short study, it will be our aim to check whether the “last supper” was a “Passover meal” or not. If it is, indeed a “Passover Meal”, then the communion taken by millions of Christians worldwide every week, signifies this meal. If it was Christ’s last meal that He taught to be kept as a remembrance, it makes a significant difference in how we view the Last Supper of our Lord.

This post is broken down into these parts
1. What we know about the Biblical Passover Commandment
2. Discrepancies in the Gospels? Or a simple misunderstanding?
3. Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?
4. Was Christ partaking in a Passover meal?
5. Conclusion

Required Reading
What is the Biblical Day, Week, Month, Year? and does it really matter?
Good Friday or Passover?
Did Christ die on a Friday? The fulfillment of the Sign of Jonah

1. What we know about the Biblical Passover Commandment
1. The Passover meal is consumed at the end of the Passover day, at sunset, when the 15th day is starting, and has to be consumed before the next sunrise(Exo 12:8-10). Effectively, it is consumed on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread before the coming dawn. The Passover day would be on the 14th day of the 1st Biblical month, and does not align in anyway to the current Gregorian calendar which is used by everyone today.
2. The meal itself consists of 3 things, namely, a) Lamb roasted in fire b) Bitter Herbs & c) Unleavened Bread(Exo 12:8).
3. The Passover Lamb was killed on the 14th Day of the 1st Biblical Month, which is the Passover Day, in the evening(Exo 12:6)
4. The Passover Lambs were to be sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem, and nowhere else(Deut 16:1-7).
5. This was a commandment which was to be kept forever(Exo 12:24).

2. Discrepancies in the Gospels? Or a simple misunderstanding?
At first sight, the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) seem to be in disagreement with John’s Gospel on whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal or not. While Matthew, Mark & Luke seem to be saying that Christ and His disciples were having a Passover Meal, John witnesses that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) was crucified on the Day of Passover. If the Synoptic Gospels are correct, and they were having the Passover Meal, the crucifixion would have happened on the day preceding Passover, which is the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread – A High/Special Sabbath day(Lev 23:6,7, Joh 19:31). My belief is that all of the Gospel accounts are correct, and that there are no discrepancies between them. Out of the 3 possibilities that arise from the Gospel accounts, only one could be correct – and all 4 gospels need to agree, while disproving the other 2 possibilities. For a timeline of the time from the Last Supper to Christ’s Death, please go here.

CaptureThe 3 possibilities we are left with are:
A) The Last Supper was a Passover Meal & Christ died on the eve of the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread
B) The Last Supper was not a Passover Meal & Christ died on the eve of the day of Passover
C) The Last Supper was a Passover Meal which Christ & His disciples consumed a day earlier, and Christ died on the eve of the day of Passover

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Matthew
Mat 26:4,5 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Mat 26:17  Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

Mat 27:15  Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

Mat 27:62  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Mark
Mar 14:1,2
After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

Mar 14:12-16 And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Mar 15:6  Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.

Mar 15:42  And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of Luke
Luk 22:7-13
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Luk 22:15,16 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

Luk 23:16,17  I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

Luk 23:54  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

Verses that are in need of inspection – Gospel of John
Joh 13:1,2
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

Joh 13:27-29 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

Joh 18:28  Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

Joh 18:39  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

Joh 19:13,14 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

Joh 19:31  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Joh 19:42  There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Out of the above verses, John is very clear that the “Last Supper” happened at the start of the Day of Passover. The Passover lambs would be killed at the Temple of Jerusalem on the following day from Noon till Evening, and the meal would be taken afterwards at Sundown as it ushered in the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread.

But why do the Synoptic Gospels give a different story. Or do they? According to Matthew, Mark and Luke – the disciples came to Yeshua and asked about the Passover meal, on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. At first sight, a person who knows about the Passover may become quite confused, as it seems to be implying the Passover was killed on the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. It would be too late to prepare for a Passover meal on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, as the Passover was eaten between Sunset and Dawn(refer above graphic). Also it seems to be in direct conflict with their own words where they mention the day of Christ’s crucifixion as “the Day of Preparation”(Mat 27:62, Mar 15:42, Luk 23:54) which was another name for the Day of Passover – as that was when they prepared for the Passover. These verses from the Synoptic Gospels tend to agree with John’s words in 19:14,31&42 as well.

There is a valid reason why the Passover and the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread seem to be mixed up in the Synoptic Gospels. In the 1st Century AD, The Passover & the Week of Unleavened Bread were not counted as 2 different feasts but one. Josephus, the famous 1st Century Historian regarded the feast to last 8 days beginning on the 14th (Antiq II, 15.1). So, when the Synoptic Gospels speak of the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread, it is in fact speaking of the Passover – the Day of Preparation – which all 4 Gospels agree to in Mat 27:62, Mar 15:42, Luk 23:54, Joh19:14,31&42.

We can rule out a crucifixion and death on the day after Passover (1st Day of Unleavened Bread) because of the above reasons. Furthermore, Mat 26:4,5 & Mar 14:2 witnesses that the Chief Priests & Scribes wanted to refrain from putting Yeshua to death on the Feast (The 1st Day of Unleavened Bread was a High/Special Sabbath day where courts would have not operated). Also, we see that the Synoptic Gospels witness that Pilate released a prisoner on the Feast Day(Mat 27:15, Mar 15:6, Luk 23:16,17) which agrees with Joh 18:39 to be the Passover.

3. Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder?
But why then does Christ say “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” as seen in Luke’s Gospel? Some conclude that Yeshua had the Passover a day before the prescribed time, because of such verses.

Some of the many similarities that are spoken of, between the Passover Meal and the Last Supper are as follows:
(1) The Last Supper took place in Jerusalem
(2) Held in a room made available to pilgrims for that purpose
(3) The meal was held during the night
(4) Christ celebrated the meal with his “family” of disciples
(5) They were reclining while they ate
(6) Bread was broken during the meal
(7) Wine was consumed
(8) A hymn was sung
(9) The symbolic significance of the meal was discussed

Of the above mentioned similarities, most could be part of any meal. The fact remains that the Last Supper was not taken on the eve of Passover, as we have already tested. The eve of Passover, leading to the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, was the time when the Passover meal was commanded to be consumed(Ex 12:2,6, Lev 23:5, Num 9:3). Messiah was crucified on the day of Passover(John 18:28, 19:14) and He died on the evening of the same day (Mat 27:46-50, Mar 15:33-37, Luk 23:44-46). The Last Supper was eaten, the evening before Passover eve, at the start of the Day of Passover. The Biblical Passover meal consisted of Lamb killed at the Temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Passover, Bitter Herbs & Unleavened Bread. None of which are mentioned by the Gospel writers. Even the Bread mentioned by authors of the Synoptic Gospels is regular bread(G740-Artos) and not “unleavened bread”(G106-Azumos). Furthermore, Christ and His disciples could not have been partaking of a seder similar to a Passover meal today, as some believe – reason being, the Passover Seder was created after the destruction of the Temple in 70AD by the Rabbis, and was not in use before.

4. Was Christ partaking in a Passover meal?
The question then remains, why did Yeshua speak of a Passover Meal? A little known fact about the evening before the Passover (evening that starts the 14th of the 1st Biblical Month) is that the Jews in the 1st Century, and even today celebrate the start of the Passover with a meal. Evidence of this tradition can be seen in The Jerusalem Talmud (Jer. Pes. 27d) reckoned that “the Pesach (Passover) of that time to actually begin on the 14th”. The Foundation Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, edited by Safrai, Stern, Flusser and Van Unnik, produced the work entitled “The Jewish People of the First Century” which states of the evening before Passover (evening which starts the 14th of Abib/Nisan) “The eve itself was a sort of feast because the paschal sacrifice was offered that afternoon” (Volume 2, page 809). The Last Supper was most probably a Pre-Passover Meal that was shared in anticipation of the Passover ahead.

Luk 22:15,16 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

As we see in Luke’s testimony, this Pre-Passover meal was the closest Christ would be to sharing a Passover meal with His disciples. He had desired to eat the Passover together with His disciples before He suffered, but knew that He would not be alive the next evening. He wishes to share this missed Passover Meal with them, when He returns again and tells them He would not partake of it till then. Looking at this verse in this sense aligns with all of the other verses, as the Last Supper is clearly not a Passover Meal, but a Pre-Passover meal.

5. Conclusion
The Last Supper was a meal shared at the beginning of the 14th Day of the 1st Month of the Biblical Year. Although the Synoptic Gospels and John’s Gospel seem to be contradicting each other, they all agree that Christ died on the Passover and the Last Supper was held the night before. The Last Supper may seem like a Passover seder, but there isn’t enough evidence to prove the likeness of this theory. The Last Supper would have most probably been a Pre-Passover meal shared in celebration of the ushering in of the Passover day, and the upcoming Sacrifice, through which we came out of slavery to Sin, just as the Israelites came out of slavery to Egypt.

Understanding Sacrifices and Offerings, and whether they are done away in Christ

The “Scriptures” or the Old Testament, as it is known today, consist of many Sacrifices and Offerings which were instituted by Our Heavenly Creator. Though many of us are vague on the details of such, and see these sacrifices and offerings as archaic and barbaric, we must not forget that they are part of God’s Word. While these sacrifices/offerings have ceased with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD, many Christians believe that they are done away in Christ, never to be re-instituted again. While much of this thinking stems from the idea that “God’s Law is a curse that was done away in Christ“, there are many prophecies which speak otherwise.

the-lamb-illustration-1It is the objective of this study to give you, the reader, a basic understanding of the different kinds of sacrifices and offerings instituted by YHVH through Moses, to unravel the reasons for such actions and see whether they have ceased altogether or whether they will reappear in the time of the Millennial rule of Messiah Yeshua.

 

 

This study is broken down to the following sections:
1. What are Offerings & Sacrifices?
2. The different varieties of Offerings
3. What was the reason for offering sacrifices?
4. Sacrifices & Messiah
5. Earthly Priesthood & Heavenly Priesthood
6. Sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom?
7. Conclusion

1. What are Offerings & Sacrifices?
Offering – The word translated as “offering” in our English translations of the Bible come from the Hebrew word “Korbawn” (H7133 – something brought near the altar, that is, a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering). An offering was a gift brought before God, similar to a manner of approaching a king, with humility and due honor. It did not necessarily consist of Animal Sacrifices, but could be anything from bread to jewels(Num 28:2, 31:50). We see Yeshua alluding to the same “Corban” in Mark 7:11 when rebuking the Pharisees.

Sacrifice – The word translated as “sacrifice” in our English translations of the Bible come from the Hebrew word “Zabach” (H2076 – to slaughter an animal. usually in sacrifice: – kill, offer, sacrifice, slay). An Offering was not necessarily a “Zabach” (animal sacrifice). The difference could be seen clearly in Lev 3:1 And if his oblation(Korbawn) be a sacrifice(Zabach) of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD.

2. The different varieties of Offerings
While Animal Sacrifices(Zabach) was just one type of offering, there are also many other types of offerings, that we are not familiar with. Offerings could be divided to 2 main categories as “blood offerings” and “bloodless offerings”.

BLOOD OFFERINGS mainly consisted of
“Olah” translated as Burnt Offerings (H5930 – ascending, going up in smoke: – ascent, go up)
“Shelem” translated as peace offering (H8002 – requital, that is, a sacrifice in thanks)
“Chattath” translated as sin offering (H2403 – offence, and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also an offender: – punishment of sin, purifying for sin, sinner). Both “Sin” and “Sin Offering” is called “Chattath” (Lev 4:3).
“Asham” translated as Trespass offering (H817 – guilt; by implication a fault; also a sin offering: – guiltiness, offering for sin, trespass)

BLOODLESS OFFERINGS mainly consisted of
“Minchah” translated as Meat/Meal Offering (H4503 – apportion, that is, bestow; a donation; euphemistically tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering. usually bloodless and voluntary: – gift, oblation, meat offering, present, sacrifice).
“Nesek” translated as Drink Offering (H5262 – libation; pouring out, pour)

RITUALS OF OFFERING THE ABOVE
“Terumah” translated as Heave Offering (H8641 – something raised, lifted, offered up). For example, part of the Peace offering could be lifted up, and therefore called a heave offering (Lev 7:32)
“Tenuphah” translated as Wave offering (H8573 – tumult; specifically the official undulation of sacrificial offerings: – offering, shaking, wave). For example,  part of the Peace offering could be waved, and therefore be called a wave offering (Lev 7:30). Several offerings were waved, such as the Leper’s trespass offering (Lev 14:12), Consecration offering (Lev 8:27), Sheaf of Firstfruits (Lev 23:11) and Loaves at Pentecost (Lev 23:17).

THE SIX MAIN OFFERINGS COMMANDED BY GOD
1)Burnt Offering (Olah)
2)Meal Offering (Minchah)
3)Peace Offering (Shelem)
4)Sin Offering (Chattath)
5)Trespass Offering (Asham)
6)Drink Offering (Nesek)

Different combinations of these above categories of offerings were used for different instances – such as – consecration of priests, nazarite vow, cleansing of leper, person defiled with issue, women giving birth, jealousy trial, etc.

3 MAIN GROUPS OF OFFERINGS
• Sweet savour offerings – Burnt and Peace offerings
• Atonement offerings – Sin and Trespass offerings
• Supplementary offerings – Meal and Drink offerings (added to other offerings)

1) BURNT OFFERING
Burnt Offerings are first seen many years before Moses, being offered by Noah(Gen 8:20),  Abraham(Gen 22:2) & Job(Job 1:5). Better translated as “Ascending Offerings”, these were wholly burnt at the Altar.

Commanded Burnt Offerings –
1) Continual Burnt Offering – One lamb was to be offered each morning and evening (Exo 29:42) at the Temple, and the fires would continually burn through morning to evening, and so on.
2) Sabbath Burnt Offering – On top of the continual burnt offering, on the Sabbath, two lambs were offered (Num 28:9,10).
3) New Moon/Month Burnt Offering – Two young bullocks, one ram & seven lambs were offered on the first day of each month (Num 28:11).
4) Burnt offerings at the seven Feasts/Appointments – Passover(2Chr 30:24), Unleavened Bread(Num 28:24), Firstfruits(Lev 23:12), Pentecost(Lev 23:18), Trumpets(Num 29:2), Atonement(Lev 16:24), Tabernacles(Num 29:13-38)
5) Consecration – of priests(Lev 8:18, 9:2), of people (Lev 9:3-7) of Levites(Num 8:12)
6) Dedication – of the altar – (Num 7:87), of the temple(1Kin 8:64)
7) Cleansing – of women bearing children(Lev 12:6), of lepers(Lev 14:19), of people with some kind of bodily discharge(Lev 15:15), a defiled Nazarite(Num 6:11)
8) Completion of a vow(Num 15:8), specifically a Nazarite vow as well(Num 6:14)

Each day, each sabbath, each month, each feast, in consecration, dedication, cleansing and completion of oaths, physical contact with God was prescribed. They were constant reminders of who is King, Lord & God. All important events and commemorations were celebrated by offering such gifts to God.

Voluntary Burnt Offerings
An individual could bring a burnt offering on his own free-will, but what should be offered and how it should be offered was instructed(Lev 1:2 onwards). Even the people who were not native born Israelites (aliens/strangers) were capable of making burnt sacrifices(Lev 22:18). The poor could also offer pigeons and turtle doves instead bullocks and lambs(Lev 12:8 & 1:14).

The process of sacrifice
• Offering – being accepted by God
It was offered only at the brass altar in front of the door of the tabernacle/temple(Lev 17:8-9).
The offerer then laid the hand on the animal, identifying with it, and showing that he himself is offered up(Lev 1:4)
• Shedding blood – being atoned/covered by God
The offerer killed the animal and shed the blood, which was sprinkled around the altar by the priest(Lev 1:5). Then he had to skin the animal, at which point the skin was kept by the priest(Lev 7:8). Then the offerer cut the meat into pieces, which was placed on the altar by the priest(Lev 1:6-8). The inwards and legs were washed with water, and placed by the priest on the altar(Lev 1:9)
• Burning – Being adored by God
Then all of the animal was completely burnt on the altar as a pleasant smell to God(Lev 1:9)

While in some offerings, the offerer and the priest shared a part, in the burnt offering they burnt it whole to God as a sweet savour. The same applied for a poor man who brought a pigeon – the only difference being the priest would kill it instead(Lev 1:14-17).

The burnt offerings were accompanied by a drink offering and meal offering, with various sizes according to the animal(Num 15:3-12). Trumpets were sounded over the burnt offerings done on the New Moon days and appointed feasts(Num 10:10).

2) MEAL OFFERING
Usually translated as meat offering in the King James Version, the reason for this was that “meat” was generally used for food in the early days. It is also translated as meal offering or grain offering in various translations, but the meaning derived from the Hebrew word “Minchah” is Gift/tribute/apportion. First seen in Gen 4:3-5 in the offerings of Cain & Abel, it is seen again in Gen 32:20 & Gen 43:26 translated as present. The Meal offering is an act of remembrance(Lev 2:2), of worship, gratitude and request for future blessing. As a supplementary to other offerings such as the daily, Sabbath, Feast day offerings, Consecration of the priests & levites, End of a Nazarite vow and the Cleansing of the leper, the portion of the meal offering varied according to the animal sacrificed(Num 15:4-10).

The ingredients of the meal offering consisted of fine flour, oil and frankincense(Lev 2:1). Every meal offering was also seasoned with salt, called the “salt of the covenant”(Lev 2:13). Salt being a preservative agent, was certainly used to ratify covenants(Num 18:19, 2Chr 13:5). Anything Leavened was not part of Meal offerings.

The process of sacrifice
The meal offering according to Lev 2:2-3 is;
• a memorial – reminder of the indebtedness to God
• Offering made by fire – consumed by fire to indicate being devoted wholly to God
• Sweet Savour – Giving satisfaction to God

3 states of wheat could be used for the meal offering:
1) Corn – Ears of wheat parched on a pan and rubbed to obtain roasted grains (Lev 2:14)
2) Flour – Wheat ground into fine flour and mixed with oil to make a batter (Lev 2:1)
3) Bread – The flour baked into bread could be offered by baking in the oven, baking in a flat plate or baking in a frying pan (Lev 2:4,5,7)

It was brought by the offerer to the priest, who burned the necessary quantity at the altar. The amounts of oil and frankincense used with the component of wheat differed according to the animal sacrificed(Num 15:4-11)

After it was burnt at the Alta, whatever was left was provided to the priests (sons of Aaron) as food. It was to be eaten inside the holy place, in the court of the tabernacle, and never to be baked with leaven. Only people who were ritually pure could eat it, and this was said to be a statute forever(Lev 6:14-18).

3) PEACE OFFERING
Derived from the root word “Shalam” (H7999) meaning to be safe, it was an offering of giving thanks, and were divide into 3 types of peace offerings (Lev 7:11-16)
1)Thanksgiving for received salvation(Lev 7:12)
2)a fulfillment of a vow – when expected salvation is received(Lev 7:16)
3)voluntary offering of giving thanks(Lev 7:16) – as an expression of rejoicing with God, as in the case of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (1Kin 8:63)

The peace offering consisted of a part of an animal sacrificed to God through fire, part given to the priest as food and the rest eaten as a festive meal in fellowship.

The offerer could bring an ox, sheep or goat from his flock(Lev 3:1,6,12) but it would need to be without blemish. There was more freedom of choice as a male or female could be offered up, but there was no provision for a pigeon or dove as the whole point of the offering was the sacrificial meal, and a chance to join with God in a time of fellowship and thanksgiving.

The peace offering was also accompanied by 4 varieties of cakes(Lev 7:11-14)

The process of sacrifice
Similar to the burnt offering, the offerer brought the animal to the door of the tabernacle, laid hands on it, identifying himself with it, and killed it. The priests sprinkled the blood, after which the offerer removed all the fat of the animal as part of God’s burnt offering(Lev 3:3-5,9) set forth as a sweet savour to Him. The fat was prescribed as the food of YHVH offered up by fire(Lev 3:16). The second portion was given to the sons of Aaron as per the instructions of God(Lev 7:34, 10:15) The remainder was used in a sacrificial meal eaten inside the temple court with all of the offerers family including his servants(Deut 12:11,18) with much rejoicing(Deut 12:7). This is what Paul alludes to in 1Cor 10:18. They were having communion with God. The meal was to be partaken on the same day, but could be eaten the next day if it was for a vow or a voluntary offering. Whatever was left had to be burnt with fire on the third day, and nothing left or eaten(Lev 7:15-18).

If the sacrificed meat came in contact with something unclean, it could not be eaten but burnt. All who ate it had to be ceremonially clean as well. Any who broke these precepts were said to be cut off from His people by God Himself(Lev  7:19-21).

The fat was not to be eaten as it was God’s portion, and the blood was not to be eaten(Lev 7:22-27) as it was used for atonement and had life(Lev 17:11).

4) SIN OFFERING
With the giving of the Law, everyone was given the knowledge of Sin (Rom 5:13). No more could one say “I did not know”. This offering was intended for such a person who had broken God’s Law to be restored back to a right relationship with God(Lev 4:31). Willful sin could not be atoned through this offering. Lev 4:2,13&22 shows whether it is the individual, the congregation or a ruler, they must all atone for sinning through ignorance. Lev 5:1-4 specifically mentions a few unwitting sins – a witness who keeps quiet, a person who touches an unclean thing and realizes it later and a person who makes a rash oath and realizes his guilt. Confessing the sin was of utmost importance(Lev 5:5). The sacrificed animal would take the place of the person for his guilt and act as atonement.

Different people in different offices had to bring different sacrifices according to the greater responsibility they carried. The higher the rank, the more valuable the sin offering would be.
• The high priest must bring a bullock (Lev 4:3-12)
• The whole congregation must bring a bullock (Lev 4:13-21)
• A ruler must bring a male goat (Lev 4:22-26)
• A common man must bring either a female goat(Lev 4:27-31), a female lamb(Lev 4:32-35), two turtledoves or two pigeons(Lev 5:7-10), or a tenth of an ephah of fine flour(Lev 5:11-13).

Sin done knowingly was not covered through the sin offering and God had mentioned that people doing such would be cut off from His people(Num 15:30).

The process of sacrifice
The offering was brought to the brass altar at the door of the tabernacle(Lev 4:18). Then the offerer laid his hands on the offering(Lev 4:33), and possibly confessed the sin(Lev 5:5, 16:21). Then the animal was killed by the offerer(Lev 4:29). Blood was sprinkled as atonement(Lev 4:5-7) and the fat was burnt on the bronze altar(Lev 4:8-10). The remainder would be burnt wholly outside the camp in case of the priest’s or congregation’s sacrifice(Lev 4:12,21), but was left for the priest’s consumption in other cases(Lev 6:26).

5) TRESPASS OFFERING
The trespass offering and sin offering are closely associated to each other. While sin was the act, trespass was the result. The word “Asham” (H817) is used for the trespass(Psa 68:21), the trespass offering(Lev 5:18) and the compensation paid for it(1Sam 6:3).

Trespasses were divided among things done against God(Lev 5:14-19) & things done against the neighbor(Lev 6:1-7). A trespass against his neighbor is also counted as a trespass against God (Lev 6:2).

The process of sacrifice
The trespass was confessed, assessed and paid with a fifth being added to what was taken/lost(Num 5:7). After the trespass was recompensed, a ram was offered to God(Lev 6:5-7). When David said “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned”, he understood that the trespass against Uriah was a sin against God. If the person who was wronged was dead or had no family, the payment would go towards the priest(Num 5:8). Just as in the sin offering, the animal was killed near the altar, blood sprinkled and the fat burned, while what remained was given to the priest to be eaten in the holy place(Lev 7:1-6).

6) DRINK OFFERING
The drink offering which had the act of pouring out, usually consisted of Wine. In Gen 35:14 Jacob pours a drink offering as well as David is seen doing the same in 2Sam 23:16. Used as a complementary offering, it was used for all offering other than the Sin offering and Trespass offering. Even though oil and water was also used as drink offerings, the prescribed drink offering of the temple was of Wine(Exo 29:40). And even strong wine was used(Num 28:7).

The process of sacrifice
Various quantities of wine was offered alongside the main sacrifice, and was poured on them(Num 15:5,7,10). The table of shewbread consisted of a jug and cup for the pouring out of these sacrifices(Exo 37:16, Num 4:7 – cover should be translated “poured out/cup”). The drink offering was most probably poured on the sacrificed animal(Lev 23:18). It was a sweet savour offering before God’s eyes(Num 15:10) and is never mentioned to have been drunk by the priests.

3. What was the reason for offering sacrifices?
The sacrifices each person had to offer for various reasons at various occasions created a profound sense of responsibility, accountability of personal actions and duty/reverence towards the King over all – our Father in Heaven. While in our current lives we have no way of measuring sin, or better, the wages of sin – the people who made physical sacrifices of blood and wine experienced what it took to cover sin, to approach God, to be holy before Him. Offerings gave weight to Sin, in a way we can never understand, as each person had to offer their own sacrifices, killing animals, thereby getting covered in their blood – experiencing first hand, that it took life to cover death – it took blood to cover sin.

Another reason for many of the misunderstandings regarding these offerings, stem from a wrong understanding of what Atonement is. Derived from the Hebrew word Kaphar(H3722) “Atonement” means “to cover”, as covering your sin. A good example for the above is Gen 6:14, where “Kaphar” is used as cover instead of atonement. While the blood covered the shamefulness, nakedness and sin, the forgiveness wrought from offering sacrifices could not have been a complete, spiritual forgiveness. In Yeshua, we have spiritual forgiveness so that even if our body dies, it can be resurrected anew. The earthly forgiveness, that sacrifices brought was a temporary bridge so that we were not cut off from a Holy God because of our Sinful nature. To understand this more fully, we must understand the connection between Sacrifices & our Messiah.

4. Sacrifices & Messiah
As a lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Messiah’s Sacrifice was the pinnacle of all Sacrifices, and it is evident that all sacrifices pointed to Him. But it is important to understand that His sacrifice is not offered up in an earthly temple, but in the heavenly construction(Heb 9:23-26). What was created on earth was a duplicate of the heavenly(Exo 25:40, Heb8:5), and it is in this heavenly temple that Yeshua offers up His blood. His sacrifice is what purifies the soul and clears our conscience(Heb 9:9), which could not have been wiped clean with the blood of earthly sacrifices, but only covered(Atoned).

When we as Children of the Most High, sin, we bring shame to Our Father. And for such actions we should ideally be punished – but Our Messiah took on our shame, thereby taking the just punishment we should receive, on Himself. The love that Yeshua showed us is boundless for this reason. In animals, the life given for our own, was of a lesser being which was only able to cover us for the time, but not give just satisfaction for the trespass done against God. Yeshua’s Life was a just exchange for our own lives which were destined for death, but in Him have been transformed to Life.

So the question should never be “whether Earthly Sacrifices are done away in Christ”. Rather, the Heavenly Sacrifices offered by Yeshua are a means of receiving purification for our life beyond the earthly bodies, while the earthly sacrifices were a means of being covered on earth, so that we are not cut off from God, in our walk till we attain eternal life. The two should not be mixed up, as one has nothing to do with the other – the heavenly being for eternal life and the earthly being for the temporary life on earth.

5. Earthly Priesthood & Heavenly priesthood
In the previous section we saw that the Earthly Temple built in Jerusalem was a copy of a Heavenly temple structure. The Earthly Temple was handed over to the Levites and the Sons of Aaron to be managed, and it is a clear fact that Yeshua can never be a priest on earth(Heb 7:13,14). All throughout the Book of Hebrews, its author explains how Yeshua, in the order of Melchizedek, has taken charge of the heavenly service and sacrifice, where better sacrifices are offered(Heb 9:23). On earth, fleshly bodies needed cleansing even after Yeshua’s death. A good example being Paul’s own sacrifice and purification done in the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as the Earthly Sacrifices should not be mixed up with the Heavenly Sacrifices, the Earthly priesthood should not be mixed up with the Heavenly priesthood. One does not replace the other, but only foreshadows the better – the Heavenly.

Heb 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

6. Sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom?
Most of the prophets in the Scriptures speak of the Millennium reign of Yeshua. And one interesting fact is that almost all of these verses speak of various offerings such as Burnt sacrifices and Animal Sacrifices made at the time. A few such instances are given below.

Isa 56:6-8 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings(Olah) and their sacrifices(Zebach) shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

Jer 33:15-18 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings(Olah), and to kindle meat offerings(Minchah), and to do sacrifice(Zebach) continually.

Dan 9:27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice(Zebach) and the oblation(Minchah) to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The greatest detail of such sacrifices comes from not these, but Ezekiel Chapter 40 to 46. All sorts of details from the sizes to the appearance of the new temple is prophesied through Ezekiel. Ezek 43:18-27 speaks of the animal sacrifices offered on the altar by the Levites, while chapter 44 goes on to speak of the Levites in service and especially the lineage of Zadok. Chapter 45 & 46 continue to speak of animal sacrifices, and all of the instituted offering in the book of Leviticus, as well as specific offerings made on the sabbaths, new moons and feast days.

Eze 40:42  And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering(Olah) and the sacrifice(Zebach)
Eze 44:11  Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering(Olah) and the sacrifice(Zebach) for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.
Eze 46:24  Then said he unto me, These are the places of them that boil, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice(Zebach) of the people.
Eze 43:18-27 And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings(Olah) thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering(Chattath). And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it. Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering(Chattath), and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary. And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering(Chattath); and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering(Olah) unto the LORD. Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering(Chattath): they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves. And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings(Olah) upon the altar, and your peace offerings(Shehlem); and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.

The context of the above Scriptures is the Millennial Kingdom beyond any doubt. And it is clear that these prophets have spoken of Sacrifices being offered up at that time, just like before. So the thought we need to consider is why such sacrifices are offered in the future. As mentioned before, the Heavenly Sacrifices done through the Heavenly Priesthood is Spiritual in nature and brings eternal life through the wiping away of sin, while the Earthly Sacrifices done through the Earthly Priesthood is physical in nature and acts as a temporary cover from sin on earth.

In the Millennial Kingdom, Sin is still an active facet of life(Zec 14:16-19, Rev 20:7,8) and will not be expunged till the end of the Millennial Kingdom(Rev 20:14). Paul is right in saying “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin(Rom 3:20).” During the 1000 year reign of Yeshua, righteousness and holiness will prevail, but those with earthly bodies will still have a sin nature, and there will be a need to teach about how offensive sin is to a holy and righteous God. Animal sacrifices will serve that purpose, “but in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year”(Heb 10:3). A temporary cover for sin will be required at this time, through offerings made at the active Temple in Jerusalem. Only after the Millennial reign, will the Heavenly Jerusalem come down, replacing the Old Temple with the Heavenly(Rev 21:1-4). When sin and death are cast off, there will be no more reason for physical animal sacrifices – till that time, the re-instituted system of Temple Offerings will stand according to Scripture.

7. Conclusion
The reason for the objections brought against an earthly sacrificial system stem from the belief that “Sacrifices” took away sin. We have seen that the blood of animals could never wipe away sin, but rather act as a temporary covering. What’s more, the sacrifices also gave weight to “Sin” and served as a lesson to the sinner, that the relationship with God was based on purity and obedience. Just as one cannot approach a king without right attire, a man in sin could not approach a Holy God. In the earthly realm, the instituted offerings dressed up the person so that they were not naked before God, in their walk in this temporary body. Offerings showed how great and holy God was and what drawing near to Him entails.

Yeshua’s sacrifice and His Blood could never be offered in the earthly temple, but in the Heavenly construction where it cleared the conscience and made us pure in Spirit so that one could receive Eternal Life. While the earthly foreshadows the heavenly, the two are separate and have nothing to do with each other – one meant to be a temporary cover for temporary life and the other wiping away sin wholly, opening a path to Eternal Life. This is why the Sacrifice of Messiah did not abolish the Earthly Sacrifices. It is why even the Apostle Paul went to purify himself through sacrifices in the temple many years after the death of Messiah(Acts 21:23-26). It is why the prophets speak of a time where offerings will be re-instituted with the building of a third Earthly Temple in Jerusalem.

Even though these offerings were expressions of ones heart, symbolic of the offerer being offered up as an offering, they were never a substitute for obedience to God(1Sam 15:22, Mic 6:6-8). The psalmist put it aptly when he said “An afflicted heart would be desired more by God, than burnt sacrifices(Psa 51:16,17)”. What matters is obedience, when it comes to His Word. And the sacrifices and offerings instituted by YHVH are part of His word. It was never abolished in Yeshua, but rather ceased temporarily with the destruction of the temple only to be re-instituted when it is rebuilt. In the interim we can only bring our prayers as Offerings, and our lives as a sacrifice unto Him. Let us be obedient in all He has instituted, walking in holiness, and do what is possible till the prophesied time of His return.

Paul – falsely accused of breaking God’s Law

130093-004-9B9100F0Did Paul break God’s Law? Did he teach believers to do the same? one third of the New Testament writings consist of Paul’s letters, and it is a fact that his letters create most of the central doctrine of Christianity today. So it is advantageous for us to know whether Paul was indeed a breaker of God’s Law written in the Old Testament, and whether he taught the same to other believers. Or are all of these false accusations against a Law abiding Child of God? Let us look at the evidence.

Act 21:18-24 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

It is fairly clear that the accusations against him, such as – “Paul is teaching the Jews outside Judea, to forsake Moses (God’s Law), not to circumcise their children & walk after their customs” – were all false. According to James, Paul was “walking orderly, and keeping the Law”. But since there were rumors and accusations against Paul, the elders along with James wanted to publicly announce and demonstrate the truth to his accusers.

Now many would not really understand the deep meaning of the act that was performed to exhibit that Paul was obedient to God’s Law. Let us take a closer look at what Paul actually did to showcase his obedience.

Vows & Purification
It is clear that James asked Paul to “purify” himself with four others that had made a vow. But what was this “vow”, what was this “purification” and why did Paul purify himself along with these people?

Paul had made a Nazarite vow
In Acts 18:18 we see that Paul shaves his head because he had made a vow. The only vow made to God that had instructions to shave ones head was – a Nazarite Vow specifically mentioned in Numbers Chapter 6.

Nazarite Vow
The only vow of its kind mentioned in God’s Law, the Nazarite vow was all about separation and being consecrated (Nazarite – Nawzeer in Hebrew, means separation/consecration). Mentioned in detail in Numbers chapter 6, the Nazarite vow consisted of these specific instructions;

  • The Nazarite was to abstain from wine, intoxicating liquors and eating or drinking any substance that contains any trace of grapes.
  • He/she had to refrain from cutting the hair, and allow the hair to grow.
  • He/she could not become ritually impure by contact with corpses or graves.
  • At the end of the period of the vow, the Nazarite was to be purified by bringing one male lamb as a burnt offering, a female lamb as a sin offering and one ram as a peace offering along with a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, with a drink offering to the priest at the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Finally the Nazarite should shave his head at the courtyard of the Temple, take the hair and put it in the fire as part of the peace offering.

James’ instructions
Even though Paul would have gone to the Temple to complete his Nazarite vow, by offering the necessary sacrifices and shaving his head once again, James saw that this was clearly not enough to make a declaration. He asked Paul to pay for the four other men as well for their purification, so they can also get their heads shaved.

Paul’s purification
In Act 21:26 Luke records “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” Paul finished the vow and paid for the necessary sacrifices for purification, for himself and the four men. Later Paul would tell the Governor Felix that “Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult”(Act 24:18).

Conclusion
It is fairly clear that Paul was obedient to God’s Law, both because of James’ declaration that “the accusations/rumors were nothing because he walks orderly and keeps the law” as well as Paul’s act of taking a Nazarite vow and purification at the temple. Even today, the majority of Christians believe in the rumors and false accusations that were laid against Paul. If we would only read James’ words regarding Paul’s walk with God and understand the acts that Paul did, we would clearly see that he did not teach against God’s Law or break it in anyway.

What about the Gentiles?
Now most of us who read the above and agree that Paul indeed kept God’s Law and did not teach against it, would have a question about the need to obey God’s Law as Gentiles. In Acts 21:25, James himself says that they have written to the gentiles about their decision on what they should compulsorily observe, alluding to the judgement made in Acts 15. (A lengthy discussion can be found on this topic as a complete study by clicking on this link) This decision pertained to the believers coming in from the Gentile nations, and was the absolute minimum which they had to do, to be considered part of the congregation. The four key commandments which were, abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, strangled animals, blood & fornication, are all specifically taken from Leviticus chapter 17 & 18.

What has led to this big confusion and misunderstanding about Paul and his letters?
Paul is definitely one of the most misunderstood people in the New Testament. Being so far removed from the time and circumstances, as well as reading with proper context could be pointed out as the main reasons for this confusion.

Even the apostle Peter warned the congregations about Paul’s letters when he wrote “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest(pervert), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked(lawless), fall from your own stedfastness (2Pet 3:16,17). Peter said that Paul’s letters are hard to understand, and his words are being twisted by the unlearned and unstable to be led to lawlessness.

The middle wall of partition – Misunderstandings regarding Eph 2:14-16

Ephesians 2:14-16 is one of the many verses used to say that God’s Commandments/Law written down in the Old Testament has now been abolished, in Christ. It is popularly taught that the “middle wall” that separated us from God, is God’s Commandments/Laws, and that they were taken down through Christ’s sacrifice, because they were hostile towards us.

Today, we will test this theory, taking archaeological evidence alongside historical context, to understand the true meaning of Paul’s words. It is this authors belief that this verse, like countless other statements made by Paul, has been misunderstood by mainstream Christianity today. And now let’s move on to the verse in question.

Eph 2:14-16 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition (between us); Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, (even) the law of commandments (contained) in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

In this study, we will break down this verse and research into what Paul is describing, to better understand what he is trying to teach the Ephesians. This study will focus on the following:
1. Context and background of the verse
2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
6. Conclusion

1. Context and background of the verse
Starting at the beginning of chapter 2, we see Paul making these following points:-
Eph 2:1-3 We were all living in sin and disobedience as Gentiles
Eph 2:4-7 But God who loved us, showed us mercy, by saving us through His grace
Eph 2:8-10 And through grace alone, are we saved – and not by anything that we do
Eph 2:11-14 You were all gentiles, called “uncircumcised” by the “circumcised” (Jews), without God and Christ, aliens to the citizenship of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise – but now have been brought close to God through Christ.

Note that Paul makes a clear statement that the Ephesians were gentiles without hope, living in Sin, till God saved them through His Grace. He says that they had no part in the citizenship of Israel and the covenants of promise, till they were brought near by Christ. In other words, through Christ and God’s Grace, they have been given citizenship of Israel and also ability to partake in the covenants of promise. This is the background and context of the verse in question.

2. What is the middle wall of partition/separation?
Even though most Christians believe that the “middle wall” mentioned in this verse is a metaphorical expression used to speak of God’s Law, this is far from the truth. The context of this verse, lets us know that Paul was speaking of the division of Gentiles and Jews(uncircumcised & circumcised), and how gentiles had no part in Israel before Messiah.

The interesting fact that many Christians are unaware of, is that there was a physical barrier(a middle wall) that separated gentiles and Jews in the days of Paul, at the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the “soreg”, this partition prohibited gentiles from entering into the temple courts. We will look at a few pieces of evidence on this fact below.

It is important to note at this point, that “Jews” are only a part of Israel – and hence, all Israel cannot be called Jews. Please read the articles, “The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel” , “Defining the terms Jew & Gentile” & “Defining the term Israel” for a better understanding on the above statement.

ESV-temple

Archaeological Evidence
The soreg was a low wall surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem, which served as a boundary/partition wall.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) - Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 - Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Museo della civiltà romana a Roma (Eur) – Room 15 (Christianity) # 4 – Cast of the plaque forbidding any non-Jews to enter the second precinct of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original stands in the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

Beyond this point, entry was permitted only to Jews who were not impure through exposure to death.

The soreg featured signs, in a number of languages, that warned these unauthorized people against entering the area of the Holy Temple.

Some of the signs which were placed on the “soreg” have been discovered, of which one is pictured to the left. The inscription says “No outsider shall enter the protective enclosure around the sanctuary. And whoever is caught will only have himself to blame for the ensuing death” – (Translated by K. C. Hanson & Douglas E. Oakman)

Biblical Evidence
A) It is a known fact, that there were Gentiles who went up to the Temple in Jerusalem to Worship God.
Joh 12:20  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

B) The fact that the Gentiles were kept separate from the Jews is also apparent
Act 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Historical Evidence
In the “Wars of the Jews” written by the scholar Josephus Flavius around 75AD, he says the following:
When you go through these [first] cloisters, unto the second [court of the] temple,
there was a partition made of stone all round, whose height was three cubits: its construction was very elegant; upon it stood pillars, at equal distances from one another, declaring the law of purity, some in Greek, and some in Roman letters, that “no foreigner should go within that sanctuary” for that second [court of the] temple was called “the Sanctuary,” and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. (A description of the temple – Book 5, Chapter 5, Verse 2)

Considering all of the above facts, it is safe to say, that Paul was referring to this “partitioning wall” in his letter to the Ephesians, as it was a prominent feature of the Jerusalem Temple at that time, which restrained gentiles from entering in. It is also important to note that this wall was not part of the design God had given, but was a later addition made by the Jews in authority, to keep gentiles from entering the temple precinct. Nowhere in the Old Testament would you be able to find of such a structure that separates people into two groups. But this had become the norm in the 2nd Temple times, and no Gentile could enter into the Temple precinct because of it. As such, this was a man made barrier, and a man made commandment which kept Gentiles from coming to God’s Temple.

3. What is the “law of commandments in ordinances” which is called “enmity” by Paul?
Most Christians would jump to the conclusion that the “law of commandments in ordinances” mentioned by Paul, is none other than the Law which was given through Moses, in the Old Testament by our Heavenly Father. What most of us fail to see is that this term is completely different to “The Law of God” and “The Commandments of God”. To understand this difference, we must look into the meaning of the word translated as “Ordinances”.

In the Original Greek Manuscripts, the English word translated as “Ordinances”, comes from the following : G1378 – δόγμα – dogma – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance. This word is seen only 5 times in the New Testament in the following verses:
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Col 2:14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances(G1378) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Looking at the above verses, one thing should become apparent to you. The word “ordinance”, means and can even be translated as “Decree” – which means “an official order that has the force of law”. While God had given Commandments and His Law, Decrees were laws that were man-made. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree” in his letter. Paul could have only been referring to man-made orders, in this verse through the term “Ordinance”. These “ordinances” were indeed hostile, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12)

4. Connecting the “law of commandments in ordinances” with the “middle wall of partition”
It is a clear fact that Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, spoke of the broken down “middle wall of partition” to be connected solely to the “law of commandments in ordinances”. As we have seen above, if Paul was speaking of the physical wall of partition at the temple, and man-made decrees that enforced such separations, this makes perfect sense, as the partition wall was a man-made decree which separated the Jew from the Gentile. In other words, the Jews in authority at the time of Paul, had made a decree that was regarded as official Law and a Commandment, that Gentiles could not enter into God’s sanctuary, even though it was allowed for Jews. Paul was merely saying that this separation that men had imposed on people was now no more because of Messiah. To understand more about the decrees (which were regarded as Law) imposed on the 1st century people by the ruling Jews such as the pharisees, please watch the this teaching.

5. What are the “two” that are reconciled (made into one) through Messiah?
What puts this argument completely in place, is the idea Paul speaks about in connection with the broken down wall of partition. Paul says that Christ has “made both one” and again, that “twain one new man”. What or who are these two parties which are made one?

Let’s review the facts that we know already
1. The context of the Chapter speaks about how, gentiles had no part in the covenants of promise and they were excluded from the citizenship of Israel, before they were saved through God’s Grace and sacrifice of Christ.
2. History proves that there was indeed, a physical partitioning wall at the Temple which kept Gentiles separate from Jews. Paul spoke of this wall to have been broken down through Christ’s sacrifice.
3. The original Greek wording seen in the verse in question, is specifically speaking of man-made decrees, and not God’s Law. There were many such laws/decrees imposed on people by the ruling parties, such as the pharisees.

If Paul is speaking of this partitioning of Gentiles and Jews, and that this “man-made” partitioning or “middle wall” was not in effect because of Messiah, what are these 2 parties he is referring to? Is he not saying that there is no more division? there are no more jews & gentiles? that no one can keep the covenants of promise from the gentiles? that gentiles are now fellow citizens of Israel?

Consider the following:
1. Christ came to gather Jews & Gentiles into one nation
Joh 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

2. Christ said there would be one flock under one shepherd
Joh 10:16  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

3. Paul says Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the promises given to Israel
Eph 3:6  This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

4. Paul says that the gentiles are grafted into the Olive tree which is Israel
Rom 11:17  But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, (Please read the whole of Chapter 11)

5. Paul says that there are no more divisions such as Jew & Gentile – we are all one in Christ
Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In short, this is what Paul is trying to say:
As sinful gentiles, we had no part in the covenants of promise, and were also excluded from the citizenship of Israel. But when Christ came and saved us through God’s Grace, the partitioning wall that kept us outside, was broken down. No man-made decree can keep us away from enjoying the covenants of promise or the Citizenship of Israel, as all who believe in God are now made into one people. We were once hostile to God, but now through the blood of Messiah, we have been drawn into His sanctuary, not to be separated ever again.

6. Conclusion
Even though Eph 2:14-16, is usually used as a proof text for “the Law of God being done away”, we have made every effort in the above study to understand this passage in its original historical and biblical context. This has led us to the conclusion that Paul was speaking of a separation of God’s People, rather than an abolishing of God’s Law. Paul used a physical wall of separation to show how Gentiles had no part with God, before Christ. He further showed the Ephesian congregation, that the man-made decrees of separation were no more in power, because of God’s grace, as he had drawn believers, both Jew & Gentile unto Him, to make both one in Him. There are no more gentile. No more Jew. No separate flocks or peoples. Only His people “Israel”. If we consider ourselves His people, we are “Israel” – let us not separate, what God has made one, through the sacrifice of Yeshua.

Essential Reading:
The Parable of the prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the terms Jew & Gentile
Defining the term Israel
The betrothal, Divorce & Re-Betrothal of God’s People through Messiah