Tag Archives: Yeshua

Have you heard the Parable of “Unwashed Hands”?

Many a Christian turn to Matthew 15 as a proof text to show that we can eat anything that we like. But did you know that this Chapter contains a Parable? And may I suggest that it is one of the most misunderstood Parables of Christ?

So let’s look at the context before we look at the Parable.


An argument about eating with unwashed hands / transgressing the traditions of the Elders
Mat 15:1,2 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
At the onset, we must note that the argument between the Pharisees and Yeshua, is about the Traditions of the Elders and not about the Word of God. Actually in the next few verses, we see Christ distinguishing the Commandments of God from the Traditions of the Elders.

Commandments of God vs Traditions of Men
Mat 15:3-6 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
We see that Yeshua takes one instance that the Traditions of the Elders (Oral Law) breaks God’s Commandments, thus showing the inconsistency of the Traditions of Men with the Commands of God.

Isaiah 29:13 and Doctrines of Men
Mat 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Yeshua quotes Isaiah 29:13 as a proof-text for Traditions which are taught by men being adhered to with the hopes of honouring God, but falling short.

A Misunderstood Parable
Mat 15:10-11 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
All of us have read the above verses and thought “Does that mean, we can eat whatever we like?”. But note what Yeshua told the Multitude… Hear and understand! But what evidence is there to say that the above is a Parable, and what is its meaning, if it is a Parable?

The Disciples have questions
Mat 15:12-15 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
We see that the words of Christ hit a sore spot with the Pharisees, which was communicated to Him by the disciples. Yeshua’s reply to the conflict was quite harsh. But whatever caused the Pharisees to be offended was not understood properly by Peter (and most probably, the other disciples) who asked the meaning of the “Parable”. This proves the point that “It is not what goes into the mouth that makes a person unclean, It is what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean” is a Parable. It is not to be understood on face value. It has a deeper meaning which the Pharisees understood while the disciples didn’t.

The Explanation of the Parable
Mat 15:16-20 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

The Master explains the parable to be comparing the “Command of God” vs the “Traditions of Men”. The Command of God shows us to guard our Heart where all evil thoughts come from (Gen 6:5, 8:21). Sin surely defiles a man, while the traditions of men such as eating with unwashed hands, while having the outward appearance of Holiness does nothing to make a man holy before God, as it is at the end just vain worship commanded by man. Christ speaks nothing about food or the commandments of God about clean/unclean meats given in Leviticus 11, in Matthew chapter 15 or it’s parallel in Mark 7. The Pharisees were offended at this parable as they would have surely understood that Yeshua spoke of them and their hypocrisy.

Conclusion
Matthew 15:15 and Mark 7:17 prove that Christ spoke a parable about the Traditions of Men and the Commands of God which most Christians have taken out of context by reading the surface material while missing the explanation which shows we are to obey the Commands of God to keep ourselves from defilement of Sin while rejecting traditions given by blind human guides.

When you have no argument, name-calling and silencing becomes the only way to deal with those who have opposing views

“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” asked the High Priest from Peter. As a community of believers that were going against the mainstream, the Messiah had already warned the disciples about being rejected saying “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” The words of Yeshua ring true today, as it did then – “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”.

In an age that “every person does that which is right in their own eyes”, there can be no absolute Truth – only “my personal truth”. Truth in itself cannot be something that changes. If today’s truth changes tomorrow, that means it was not true at all. This is why Paul can say “let God be true, but every man a liar”. God does not change. As Malachi proclaims “The sons of Jacob are not consumed because YHVH does not change”. Just ponder on the thought that God changed His Mind on Israel and chose a new community called Christians – replacement theology – as it is known, calls to question the sovereignty of God and His Omniscience. He first chose Israel, then rejected Israel and chose a new community? (which disagrees with so many of the Prophets and even Paul) What’s next? Maybe He will reject “Christians” today and take a new community tomorrow? This is possible only if He changes. This is why He proclaimed Himself as “I am that I am”.

The Righteous Creator and our Loving Father is “Truth”. As James says “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. But what does the Mainstream believe today? if someone looks at it critically, they will have to conclude that they believe in a God that has changed in some ways. Which is antithetical to what we read in His Word.

So now we are being commanded to proclaim only the version of God that the authorities deem correct. In a world that disseminates most of our information online, the authorities have the power to silence any message that is not agreeable and label it as “Abusive content”. I can guarantee that their is no abusive content, or at least a word of abuse in the comments on this site, but for some reason it has been labeled as such. As a dear Sister, Ruth Meyers informed me, it says “Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”

Paul spoke of times such as this, when he wrote to Timothy saying “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” When you pronounce “The Truth” – which is the complete Word of God – not a jot or tittle less, we end up at the council having to defend ourselves against the authorities that are arbiters of the truth of the day. Our answer today is the same as what it was at Peter’s time “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye”.

I am not sure whether this is the case for everyone, but let them do what they can to report, defame and block God’s Word; We will keep proclaiming it to “all who have ears to hear”.

Obedience and Unleavened Bread

As we enter the season of Passover and our redemption from slavery to sin (John 8:34) through the blood of the spotless lamb of God (1Pet 1:19), Yeshua – our Savior who died on Passover, we step into the days of Unleavened Bread. 7 days of not eating anything that has Leaven (Yeast) in it, reminds us of purifying ourselves from all things that should not be in our lives as born-again believers. A life which is not puffed up with pride or any other foreign organisms.

Leaven is equated to a lot of things in the Bible

1Co 5:6-8 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Luk 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Mat 16:12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

While Paul equates Unleavened Bread to Sincerity and Truth, which is the antithesis of a sinful life, we can also see an interesting connection between Commandments of God and Unleavened Bread when we look at the Hebrew Language.

In Hebrew, a Command is called a “Mitzvah” and the Plural form of it, which is “Mitzvot”. Unleavened in Hebrew is “Matzah”, and it’s plural form is “Matzot”. As we see above, both words carry the same consonants, other than the vowels that change the pronunciation of the two words. So what can we glean from this connection in the Hebrew? The Commands lead to an Unleavened Life! This idea actually agrees with what John says in 1John 3:4 “for sin is the transgression of the law.” If sin is transgression of the Law, Keeping the Law would be a life void of sin. Keeping “Mitzvot” would lead to a life that is “Matzot”. As we celebrate Passover and our Salvation from sin and death, we enter into the week of Unleavened Bread, which depicts an unleavened life void of sin and immersed in obedience to God. A life which is “Holy” after receiving the righteousness of God, as we see many times in the New Testament

2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
1Th 4:7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

And that is how a sinless life is connected to walking according to the instructions of God, and Unleavened Bread is connected to Obedience! Shalom!

The 10 Plagues and the 10 Commandments – Are they connected?

Our creator does not do anything without a purpose. Which means there is a purpose for each of the Plagues and for the plagues to be done in a certain order. Today we will look at this purpose and this authors view that God was sending a message and giving a teaching through each of the plagues.

The purpose of the plagues and wonders God did in Egypt in the eyes of Pharaoh
YHVH explains that one of the reasons He will do these mighty acts, is so that His people will “know” who He really is.

Exo 6:6,7 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Our Father in Heaven also says that these plagues are for the express reason that the Egyptians including Pharaoh who said that “he does not know who YHVH is” in Exo 5:2, will come to know who He is.

Exo 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
Exo 7:17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
Exo 8:10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.
Exo 8:22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.
Exo 9:14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.
Exo 9:29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’S.
Exo 10:2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.
Exo 11:7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.

Similarly, the reason for God’s Commands given at Sinai is for the purpose of getting to “know” Him – what He likes/dislikes and what He approves/disapproves for those who call themselves “The people of God”.

As Paul mentions in Romans 7:7 we would not know what is right and wrong if we do not know God’s Law. Sin is transgressing the Law as per 1Jn 3:4, and without it we would not have any knowledge of good and evil, thereby transgressing against God.
Jer 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Jer 4:22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Now let’s look at the Plagues and the Commandments side-by-side.

10 Plagues 10 Commandments Exo 20:1-17
1) Water turns to blood Exo 7:7-22 1) You shall have no other Gods before me
2) Frogs Exo 8:1-7 2) Do not make any graven images
3) Lice Exo 8:16-19 3) Do not take My name in vain
4) Flies Exo 8:20-24 4) Remember the Sabbath
5) Plague on Cattle Exo 9:1-7 5) Honour your Parents
6) Boils Exo 9:8-12 6) Do not Murder
7) Hail Exo 9:18-35 7) Do not commit Adultery
8) Locust Exo 10:1-20 8) Do not Steal
9) Darkness Exo 10:21-28 9) Do not bear false witness
10) Death of Firstborn Exo 11:1-8 10) Do not Covet

It may seem unrelated at first glance, but let’s look at each of these 10 statements given at Sinai alongside the corresponding Plague to see whether there maybe any connection between each pair.

1st Command & 1st Plague
The command reads “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” How could this be connected with the River of Egypt and all other water sources turning into Blood? The source of Life or as Jeremiah says “the Fountain of Living Waters” in 2:13 and 17:13 is the Creator of all living things. It is not the Nile, which was worshiped as one of the main deities in Egypt, that gave true life. This was the statement that God makes with this plague, where the source of life that the Egyptians believe in, becomes a place of Death, Stink and Thirst.

2nd Command & 2nd Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” The connection of Graven images is plain when you reflect on what a “graven image” really is. It is anything that God has created, that which comes from God, but is celebrated and worshiped as God. So it is fitting that the account of the plagues has frogs (the symbol of another deity of Egypt) “coming out” from the water sources such as the River of Egypt. This is an object lesson for everyone to understand how could it be that a thing (graven image/frog) that proceeds from another thing considered as a deity (the River of Egypt) could be a deity, itself.

3rd Command & 3rd Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” What can taking the name in vain have in common with “Lice”? First of all, Lice is a translation from the Hebrew Word “כּן- kên” which means “latch on or fastening” onto something. The word is closely related to another Hebrew Word “כּנה – kânâh” which means “call by name or surname” as seen in Isaiah 45:4 & 44:5. The text makes a connection in this sense with taking the name of God in vain, as “כּן- kên” has the idea of fastening on to something and becoming a parasite. It is the same with a person who takes God’s name in vain – as the name carries His authority and honour. When a person says “I am a child of God” and then acts in demeaning way, it is taking the name of God in vain. It does not only restrict itself to instances where people use the name improperly in speech, but it has far more gravity in being used in our day to day actions. So through this Plague God shows that a people who act befitting to the name bring disrepute to His name thereby taking something parasitically which does not belong to them.

4th Command & 4th Plague
The command reads “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” The Sabbath institution is all about “Separation and Sanctification” as we see in Genesis 2:3. To Sanctify or to make Holy means to separate it from others (Lev 20:26). This sign of the Sabbath was given to His people as a sign of the Covenant forever (Exo 31:16,17) and was a sign to show that God sanctifies/separates them from all other people (Exo 31:13). In the 4th plague, the “Flies or Swarms” as it is translated in the text comes from a Hebrew word “ערב – ‛ârôb” which is connected with “ערב – ‛ereb” which means “mixed” as seen in Exo 12:38. So what is God communicating through this Plague? It is all about separation, and the text even says that God will put a division between His people and the people of Egypt (Exo 8:23). The plague speaks of mixing and the commandment speaks of separating ourselves to God.

5th Command & 5th Plague
The command reads “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” The next plague affects the cattle and all living animals that Egypt would consider their property and would be the inheritance of their children. The only reason a person honours their parents if not out of love would be because of the vast riches they would inherit from their parents. Without an inheritance, if there were such wicked people, they would not have a reason to honour their parents and would be completely unmasked. They would also be forced to to cherish their parents without any promise of earthly blessing. In contrast, God’s Command promises that honouring ones parents would prolong their life and become a blessing by itself.

6th Command & 6th Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not kill.” The corresponding plague mentions that Moses and Aaron took ashes out of the Furnace and sprinkled onto the air. According to Treasury of Scripture Knowledge “This was a significant command; not only referring to the fiery furnace, which was a type of the slavery of the Israelites, but to a cruel rite common among the Egyptians. They had several cities styled Typhonian, in which at particular seasons they sacrificed men, who were burnt alive; and the ashes of the victim were scattered upwards in the air, with the view, probably, that where any atom of dust was carried, a blessing was entailed. The like, therefore, was done by Moses, though with a different intention, and more certain effect. See Bryant, pp. 93-106.” If the furnace and the ashes were connected to human sacrifice done to Typhon/Set, the boils were then surely a punishment for murder.

7th Command & 7th Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” It is not a surprise that Plague which came upon Egypt next was Hail and Fire from the skies. Just as Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed for breaking this command as per Jude 1:7, here Egypt is punished in a like manner, connecting the 7th Plague with the 7th Commandment.

8th Command & 8th Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not steal.” Locusts attacked Egypt next with a harsh plague that covered the whole of Egypt from the fields to their very houses. Egypt was robbed of everything that they had gained all these years. Moses told Pharaoh that whatever was left thus far would be completely destroyed. A fitting punishment for the crime that Egypt had perpetrated.

9th Command & 9th Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Bearing False Witness is a key component of subverting justice and is condemned many a time in the Scriptures (Exo 23:6,7). Deu 16:19 reads “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” A false witness is ultimately a blind witness who cannot stand as a witness at all. This blindness of subverting justice was shown in the darkness that plagued the Egyptians for three days.

10th Command & 10th Plague
The command reads “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” The last plague which was seen as one of the most harsh punishments affected the Firstborn. This covetousness, as the author suggests was the beginning of Egypt’s downfall. The start of slavery came because of Israel who had become rich in abundance as seen in Exo 1:7. The Egyptians were caught coveting their neighbour who had become numerous in their own land. This led to the enslavement of Israel, whom God called “My Firstborn” in Exo 4:22 long before the plagues came on Egypt. In Exo 4:23 God also told Moses to warn Pharaoh, that if he did not let go of God’s Firstborn, that his own firstborn would die as a punishment.

Conclusion
God has a purpose in all that he does and nothing is done haphazardly by Him. He gave us His Commands the “10 Words” or statements to know who He is, so that we may act in a manner that is Holy, as He is Holy. Similarly the 10 plagues of Egypt were also sent to make a statement about who He is – so that all of Egypt would know who the Creator is. It is no wonder then that the 10 plagues that preceded the 10 commands were punishments that showcased all that Egypt had done against Him. It also is a lesson to look around and really think of what happens around us in the end of days that we live in. Look up to His glory in everything, and get to Know the one true God that does everything with purpose everyday of our lives. Shalom!

I am made all things to all men – misunderstanding regarding 1Corinthians 9:19-22

Many Christians use the following verse to say that we have to fit in with whatever culture, practice, society, tradition, etc so that we may win people to Christ. Many believe that Paul acted like a Greek among unbelievers and like a Jew in Jerusalem. But is this what Paul means? Let’s examine this idea.

1Co 9:19-23 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The Context
Paul is speaking of “Food sacrificed unto Idols” in this particular section which started at 1Cor 8:1 and finishes in 1Cor 10:33. In the 9th Chapter he touches on making himself a servant even when he has authority over the congregation. This particular section shows the Corinthians an example from Paul’s life, on how he put others before himself. But who were these others? and how did he put them before himself?

The Groups
Checking what the referenced groups in this particular section are, will further help us understand what Paul means.

1Co 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
1Co 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

At first glance, there seems to be 4 groups above. But actually Paul speaks of only 2 groups as shown below.

The Jews = them that are under the Law
them that are without law = The Weak

The Jews that are spoken of here, are those who are still in the understanding of being saved through the works of the Law. These are those who Paul calls them that are under the Law. If so, who are those who are without Law? They are called Weak, here as well as in 1Cor 8:10. These are people who are weak in the Faith – new converts who are still not grown in their walk. Hence, they do not know God’s Law fully, and are not living yet according to the whole Law.

A Jew unto a Jew and Weak unto the Weak
Paul was a Jew (Acts 21:39, Rom 11:1, Phil 3:5) and identified as one. He had no need to become a Jew in the midst of Jews. This is why becoming a Jew is connected to being as “one who is under the Law”. He had been careful to not do anything against even the traditions of the elders (Oral Law) all throughout his life (Acts 25:10, 28:17). Tradition is not an issue even for Messiah, upto the point where traditions start overruling the Word of God, as seen in Matthew 15 & Mark 7.

Being under the Law
As Paul understands, we are not “Under the Law”, for whoever is under law is under dominion of Sin(Rom 6:14). Although we are not under the law, does not mean we are free to sin(Rom 6:15). Since the Law defines what Sin is (Rom 3:20, 7:7, 1Jn 3:4), it is then important to understand what being “Under the Law” really means. Being under the Law is trying to be justified by the Law. In other words, having faith in ourselves to be able to receive salvation through adhering to the precepts of the Law. By doing this, we not only discard God’s Salvation & Grace, but because we cannot keep the Law perfectly – we fall into condemnation and stand judged by the Law, and under the Curse written in the Law which comes to all who transgress – Death. (Gal 3:10,11, Rom 7:5). So, to recap, being under the law is how Paul defined the mainline teaching of the Jews (Act 13:39).

Being as one who is under the Law, that I may gain those who are under Law
Paul is obviously not saying that he kept the Law for Salvation. But we know that he lived a life adherent to the Torah/Law (Acts 21:24). So he lived according to the Law after being made righteous through faith, among people who believed were saved through the Law. Wherever Paul travelled to, his first stop was the synagogue, so that he may speak to his fellow kinsmen. This is what he means by saying “being as one who is under the law”.

Being without Law
A person without Law would not know what sin is (Rom 7:7). If the knowledge of Sin is through the Law (Rom 3:20), then a person who lived without Law, would ultimately live in sin, as he/she does not know what God calls good & bad / holiness & sin. All who were new to the faith would be like this, and would learn about the Law every Sabbath (Act 15:21).

Not without law to God
Paul did not live a lawless life as he himself testifies (Acts 24:14, 25:8). James also says all of the rumours about Paul teaching against the Law was false and that he walks according to the law (Acts 21:24). So Paul’s mention of not living “without the law of God” is apt inclusion to make here.

Under the law to Christ
Even though he says that he is not under the law, he expands the idea of adherence to the law here, by saying being under the law TO christ. Note that it is not under the law OF Christ, so that we may think this is some other law. As Christ is the End-Goal (Telos) of the Law (Rom 10:4), Paul considers himself coming under the jurisdiction of Christ when he is living according to the Law.

Being as without law that I might gain them that are without law
Paul is obviously not saying that he is living a lawless life – which is a life of sin (1Jn 3:4). as seen above, we know that he lived a life adherent to the Torah/Law (Acts 21:24). So just as he lived according to the Law, among people who believed were saved through the Law (the Jews), he also lived according to the law in the midst of people who did not yet know of the Law properly. In light of all of the above, we can conclude that Paul is not saying he lives a hedonistic lifestyle among people who don’t know the Law. He attempts to say that he lives with understanding of all people and their weaknesses, in trying to place himself in their shoes.

I am made all things to all men
Paul does not say that he pretends to be all things to all men, or that he acts one way in front of one group and another way in front of another group. If he was pretending or acting, it would make him a double hypocrite, as he rebuked Peter for the exact same thing in Gal 2:11-14. Paul was not trying to please anyone(Gal 1:10) or act in a certain way in cunning (2Cor 4:2). “I am made” simply means I have lowered myself down to each man’s level, so that I may win them over to Christ. If Paul lowered his standards, swayed in certain places or blurred the lines when it was convenient, we would have a hard time believing anything he says.

Conclusion
This passage speaks of Jews who were “under the Law” and the Weak (new converts) who were “without the Law” and how Paul would lower himself to understand them from the place they come from. This does not mean that he was a chameleon, changing colours whenever it suited him best. He was not without Law to God, as he himself says, and was in subjection to the Law to Christ. The context of the chapter further proves the point of Paul speaking of lowering one self even when they have power and authority over others, so that they may become strong in their walk with God.

I leave this discussion with an interesting question. If the “weak” are called “those who are without law”, who are the “strong”?

God Forbid! May it not be! Paul’s advice not to misunderstand his words

Most of the divisions and denominations in Christianity stem from differences in understanding certain verses in the Bible. Paul’s words are no different. Peter gives his famous warning to his readers about taking Paul out of context, this way:

2Pe 3:15,16 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 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, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

It is a fact that many had misunderstood him and his writings, and there were many rumours about his teachings:

Act 21:21-24 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.

Many question Paul’s writings, asking why he could not make things clearer in a way people would not misunderstand. But it is a fact, that Paul has gone to great lengths to make it clear for someone who could and would take him and his writings out of context. This is what we will focus on today:

God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be!
Such an expression is often used by a person to highlight the importance of something and clearly say that “this should not ever happen”! We see this expression used often in Scripture.

Gen 18:23-25 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far (Chalilah – חללה) from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Gen 44:7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that thy servants should do according to this thing:
Gen 44:17 And he said, God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Jos 22:29 God forbid (Chalilah – חללה) that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn this day from following the LORD, to build an altar for burnt offerings, for meat offerings, or for sacrifices, beside the altar of the LORD our God that is before his tabernacle.
Job 34:10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it (Chalilah – חללה) from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

The expression “Chalilah” is used throughout the Bible to show that the statement made with it, should not be, not come to mind, should not happen. It is the strongest negative statement which can be made in Scripture and is often translated as “God Forbid” or “Far be it”. The same statement also appears in the New Testament.

Luk 20:16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

In the above verse, Christ speaks of a Parable against the Keepers of the Vineyard – the Jewish leadership and authority of the day, and how it would be destroyed… to which the response of the horrified leaders was “God forbid – May it not be!”.

God Forbid! Heaven Forbid! May it not be! in Paul’s writings
Paul uses this phrase the most in the New Testament Writings, 10 times in the letter to Romans, twice in the letter to the Galatians and once to the Corinthians. But why does he use this expression so often? 13 times in all? It is to make a point in saying “DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME”, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEAN!”. Let’s look at all of these instances and what Paul was trying to or rather not trying to say to his readers.

Rom 3:3,4 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
The faith of God does not become futile, just because some of His creation had no faith in him.

Rom 3:5,6 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
God is not unrighteous because His own unrighteous creation shows forth His ultimate Righteousness.

Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
We are made righteous (justified/saved) because of Faith which is “counted as” righteousness, and not by any commands that we keep. But we do not regard the Law as not needed and void for us. We confirm that the Law is required after we are justified, to live a holy life.

Rom 6:1,2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Because of the greatness of sin, we have seen greater Grace. Just because we have seen greater grace because of sin, does not mean we should continue in sin, and misuse the grace shown towards us.

Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
We cannot go on Sinning (Breaking God’s Law – 1Jn3:4, Rom 7:7) just because we are not under the Law(not made righteous/justified through the Law) but are under Grace(Justified through faith which is counted as righteousness through Grace).

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
We have been released from sin and the judgement which comes through the Law for the sins we have done. This does not mean that Sin is equated to the Law. There is no way to know what sin is, if we do not know the Law – as it is the knowledge of Sin.

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Sin which is the breaking of God’s Law brought about judgement and death. This does not mean that the Law is death. Sin brings about death. The Law which is Holy, Just and Good shows what sin is, and how sinful our actions against God are.

Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Just because God shows mercy to whomever He wishes to show mercy, does not mean that He is unrighteous.

Rom 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not abandoned His chosen people that descend from Abraham.

Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Israel has stumbled by not receiving the Messiah, but they have not stumbled in a way that they will wholly fall away, but as a means that the Gentiles will also have an opportunity to receive Messiah, and through it the descendants of Abraham may also find Messiah.

1Co 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
We cannot even think of engaging in licentious behaviour after we have become part of the body of Christ.

Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
We who are justified(declared righteous) through Faith and Grace which we have received because of the payment made by Christ, still sin unintentionally. This does not make Christ and “aider and abettor” of Sin.

Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
God’s Law cannot give us eternal life and make us Righteous(justify) in front of God. But this does not mean that the Law is not against the promises of God.

Study all of the above instances carefully, and you will see the lenghts that Paul went to, to make himself clear even to audiences that knew him. He did not want anyone to misunderstand his letters and think that he was against the Law of God and teaching something against God’s Law/Word. Nonetheless, there were many false rumours of such teachings about Paul (as testified by James in Acts 21) and many misunderstandings about deep things he had written (as testified by Peter in 2Pet3).

I believe it is high-time that we broke away from these misunderstandings and false ideas about Paul’s teachings & turned back to God and His Word which has no contradiction or variance. Shalom!

Are you building your House on the Rock or Sand?

We have all heard the popular Parable of the two Houses, and understand the importance of building ourselves on a firm footing rather than shaky doctrine. But let us revisit this Parable and look at it a little closer to understand another dimension of what Yeshua – Our Messiah really tried to teach us.

Mat 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Yeshua speaks of two kinds of people in this Parable. Ones who hears Messiah and does what He says and ones who hear Messiah and does not do. So it is easy to think that the second category of people have no action in their lives while the first category act out what they have heard. But the parable is directed at a different sort of person as we see in the context of the parable.

Mat 7:15-23 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The context is of two sorts of people, one kind has good fruit and the other evil fruit. We must remember that both of them have fruit, but Yeshua tells us to recognise who they are, by their fruit. The ones who have evil fruit have done many wonders in the Name of the Lord – such as prophesying and casting out devils, but they are called workers of “Iniquity” – Anomia in the Greek – which means “Transgression of the Law” as seen in 1John 3:4.

Outward appearances maybe deceiving
Getting back to the parable of the Houses, we see that the context is that both appear to have fruit, but one is good and is evil. Both appear to build some structure above the surface, but what is beneath reveals the truth. This is further explained in the version of the same parable recorded by Luke, where he writes about a key factor that makes all the difference.

Luk 6:46-49 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

So some could have a shallow understanding even of the parable itself, thinking that one person made the house on earth and another on the rock.

But the more accurate understanding is that both people made the house in the same exact location, but the difference was that one person dug deep till the Rock was found and then started building on it.

Appearances can be truly deceiving. But as Messiah said “you shall know them by their fruit”, and there will come a day when the foundations will be revealed. When that day comes, the houses built on sand/earth will be swept away, while the ones that dug deep and connected to the Rock will stand firm. The Rock is The Father (Deut 32:4,18, 1Sam 2:2, 2Sam 22:32, 2Sam 23:3, Psalm 92:15) and the Foundation that connects to the Rock is Yeshua (Jesus’ true name).

In fact, Apostle Paul speaks of this very event in the Letter to the Corinthians.

1Co 3:9-15 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Conclusion
The Parable of the Builders/Houses look as if the two builders built their houses in 2 different locations – one on sand and one on a rock, but Luke’s Gospel gives us a little more insight into the Parable showing both of them built in the same place, while only one dug deep till the Rock was found, from where the foundation could be laid before the house could be built. The context of the Parable is about appearances; both seem to be built on God, but beneath the surface – only one has a foundation. As Yeshua says both have actions, both have fruit – but one is not connected to the Rock and does not acquire strength from it, and the same is not connected to the “good” tree and does not bring good fruit. We see that the ones that have bad fruit have also done wonders and miracles in the name of the Lord – so “good fruit” may not be gauged by the miraculous nature of actions, rather what the actions are built upon. A person who disregards the Word/Law of God but can even do wondrous actions in His Name, is the one compared to a person who builds on the Sand/Earth. Let us all dig deep and connect to God through the Son in obedience!

Why did the Veil of the Temple tear? Which Veil tore?

Among Christian Congregations, it is a common teaching that the Veil in front of the Holy of Holies Tore when Christ died, and that this means we are free to walk into the Most Holy Place without any barriers. Did the Veil before the Holy of Holies tear? and what was the true meaning of this sign?

Which Veil tore?
Before we inspect the reasons for the tear and the meaning behind it, let us try to understand how many veils were there in the temple and which one tore.

Num 4:25,26 And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers’ skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.

The Tabernacle in the wilderness which stood as the model for the Temple built by Solomon as well as the second temple built by Zerubbabel carried a number of curtains as seen below. The 3 main curtains (in purple color) were:
a) Dividing the camp from the courtyard
b) Dividing the courtyard from the Holy place
c) Dividing the Holy place from the Holy of Holies

Even though the Scriptures are not clear on this fact, the same pattern was carried over to the Temple building which was built by Solomon and Zerubbabel. We see the multiple curtains/veils in the Temple mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, Maccabees and in the historical accounts such as Josephus and Talmud. according to these accounts there were 2 main curtains in the Temple. One at the entrance into the Temple and one before the Holy of Holies.

Heb 6:19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Furthermore they set the loaves upon the table, and spread out the veils, and finished all the works which they had begun to make. The Book of Maccabees I Ch4 v50

When therefore he had carefully purged it, and had brought in new vessels, the candlestick, the table [of shew-bread], and the altar [of incense], which were made of gold, he hung up the veils at the gates, and added doors to them. Antiquities of the Jews Book 12 Ch7 v6

But that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it; it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height. But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v4

But the inmost part of the temple of all was of twenty cubits. This was also separated from the outer part by a veil. In this there was nothing at all. It was inaccessible and inviolable, and not to be seen by any; and was called the Holy of Holies. The War of the Jews Book 5 Ch5 v5

“The thickness of the veil [of the Temple] was a hand-breadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, each cord consisting of twenty-four strands. Its length was forty cubits, by twenty in width. It was made by eighty-two myriads of damsels, and two such veils were made every year. It took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it [if it becomes unclean].” Ein Yaakov, Chullin Ch 7

The First Veil
Analysing the above information helps us see that the first Veil was in front of the door of the Temple and that it covered the doors so that the Holy place was covered at all times. No Levite other than the Family of Aaron went past this veil into the Holy place. All of the other Levites would work outside the temple.

 

 

The Second Veil
The next veil was in front of the Holy of Holies inside the Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy. Only the High Priest of the line of Aaron went into this place which had the Ark of the Covenant; once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The other Priests of the Line of Aaron would not go past this place, and only serve inside the Holy place where the Menorah, The Table of Presence and Altar of Incense were situated. As the accounts of Ein Yaakov mentions, these two veils were so huge that it took 300 priests to hang them up. The thickness of the veils are said to be a handbreadth (4 inches) with a width of 20 cubits (10meters) by height of 40 cubits (20 meters) which would have been 8 stories high.

Which Veil Tore? the Outer Veil or the Inner Veil?
Because most Christians do not know about the Temple precinct and that there were 2 veils in the temple, they immediately assume that the Inner Veil Tore. This would have not been a sign that the Israelites could see, as the outer veil would be covering it. But if the Outer Veil was what tore, everyone would have been able to see it because of the height of this massive veil which towered over most of the other buildings. It would have been clearly sighted by everyone who was in the outer courts of the Temple.

In fact this was not the first time that the Outer Veil of the Temple tore. Josephus notes that in the days of King Uzziah, such an even happened with an earthquake, which is mentioned by Zecheriah.

2Ch 26:16-21 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.

Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

While Uzziah was in this state, and making preparation [for futurity,] he was corrupted in his mind by pride, and became insolent; and this on account of that abundance which he had of things that will soon perish; and despised that power which is of eternal duration: (which consisted in piety towards God, and in the observation of the laws:) so he fell by occasion of the good success of his affairs; and was carried headlong into those sins of his fathers, which the splendour of that prosperity he enjoyed, and the glorious actions he had done, led him into: while he was not able to govern himself well about them. Accordingly when a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar; which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the High Priest, who had fourscore Priests with him, and who told him, that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice: and that “None besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.” And when they cried out, that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground, and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it; and fell upon the King’s face; insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled it self four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain; till the roads, as well as the King’s gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. Now as soon as the Priests saw that the King’s face was infected with the leprosy, they told him of the calamity he was under, and commanded that he should go out of the city, as a polluted person. Hereupon he was so confounded at the sad distemper, and sensible that he was not at liberty to contradict; that he did as he was commanded; and underwent this miserable and terrible punishment for an intention beyond what befited a man to have, and for that impiety against God which was implied therein. So he abode out of the city for some time, and lived a private life: while his son Jotham took the government. After which he died with grief and anxiety at what had happened to him; when he had lived sixty eight years, and reigned of them fifty-two. And was buried by himself in his own gardens. Ant. of the Jews IX Ch10 v4

Josephus mentions that the earthquake made a tare in the temple referring to the Veil, through which rays of sunlight (which came from the East directly through the doorway) fell on Uzziah. This was divine judgement. We should note that the veil was torn in this case, but was not completely made into two parts. In this way, the tear made at the time of Yeshua’s death was much more significant. This sign of the tear could not have been seen by the people if it was the inner Veil. Now lets try to understand the reason for such a tear.

Why did the veil tear in two?
Many hold to the understanding that the inner veil tore, signifying that everyone is able to go to the Most Holy Place freely. But this is a gross misunderstanding of protocols in the courts of God. Only The High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. All other priests of the lineage of Aaron were barred from such an offense. Christ as the High Priest (Heb 9:11) is able to approach the Most Holy place, while all other priests were to stand before God in the Holy Place.

1. A sign of Priesthood
God has called us to be a Kingdom of Priests as we see this as part of His Covenant given through Moses(Exo 19:6) and also reiterated by Peter (1Pet 2:9). A tear of the Outer Veil shows a clear path to approach God and serve Him in the Holy Place as a priesthood, while the Holy of Holies is reserved for the Messiah and High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.

2. A sign of Grief
In the bible a father usually rents his clothes as a clear sign of Grief when one’s son is dead (Gen 37:34, 2Sam 13:31). Two of the Gospel writers make an interesting observation when they say that the veil was torn from top to bottom, which is an indication of a garment of a father being torn in two. While God does not live in buildings made with hands(1Kin 8:27), God promised to dwell among the people through the Tabernacle/Temple (Exo 25:8, 1Kin 9:3) which stood on the earth as a microcosm of the Heavenly reign of God (Exo 25:40, 26:30). So the Outer Veil could be looked at as God’s outer garment on Earth, which being torn in two would denote a sign of Grief as His son paid the ultimate price for our sin.

Mat 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Mar 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

3. A sign to the People and leaders in Jerusalem
The Outer veil being torn would have also been a sign which would have amazed everyone in Jerusalem and a piece of news that would have travelled around the land. In fact, this could have been one thing that the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus would have been referring to, when they said:

Luk 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

A clear sign such as this would have been a witness to many who were doubtful about Yeshua’s claim to be the Son of God. Both the Ruling parties and the people who had come for Passover would have nothing else to talk about as the torn veil was accompanied with darkness and an earthquake.

Conclusion
The tearing of the Outer Veil did not signify the end of God’s Temple or His Law as tearing one of the veils could not lead us to this conclusion. It is much more likely that it was a sign of Grief by God, The Father and an invitation for the Priesthood to be called from around the world unto Him as well as a mighty sign that witnesses Yeshua was truly the Messiah. While Christ, the High Priest took office, the tear signified that the Priests who would take office could approach the Holy Place, after Him. The tear was also a major sign for the authorities as well as the people of Jerusalem and the whole of Israel, that an important event had taken place.

Migdal Eder and the Birth of Christ

We are all familiar of the story of the appearance of Angels to lowly shepherds watching over their sheep at night when Christ was born. But were these normal shepherds? Did the Angels tell them where to exactly look in Bethlehem? Or were they privy to some information we have not understood?

Prophecies of the Birth place of Messiah and Migdal Eder
Comparing the following verses, we see that the burial-place of Rachel is called the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder in Hebrew). This may have been called as such in remembrance of Rachel who was a shepherdess(Gen 29:9). Micah 4:8 and Gen 35:21 reference the same place – the Tower of Eder also called the Tower of the Flock. Micah is a clear reference that Messiah would be born in this place.

Mic 4:8 And thou, O tower(Migdal) of the flock(Eder), the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Gen 35:19-21 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

In fact the Pillar of Rachel’s grave mentioned above may have been the Tower of Edar. So why is this Tower of the Flock of any interest to us? As Micah has prophesied, the Kingdom and Dominion comes to the Tower of the Flock. 6 verses down, Micah again references the same Shepherd who will arise from Bethlehem and feed His flock, to whom all of Israel will return. These prophecies were well known at the time of Yeshua‘s birth, as we see below.

Mic 5:2-4 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

Mat 2:4-6 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Joh 7:42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

It is very likely, considering they lived in the land and knew the various landmarks, that the Tower of Edar was also well known for its significant prophecy mentioned in Micah.

Priestly Shepherds tending the sheep in the Lambing Season
We have all heard that the Shepherds in Luke’s account of the birth of Messiah, were outcasts and poor people taking care of their sheep at night. But we must ask the question of why shepherds would be out at night risking losing their livestock to predators and the like. The reason would be lambing season.

Gustaf Dalman who did extensive field work in the land of Israel before the 1st World War, mentions in his work “Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina (Work and Customs in Palestine) V1, 183” that he observed 3 lambing seasons; early lambs born in November-January, Spring Lambs born in February-March and Summer lambs born in June.

The Spring Lambing Season is of special significance to us, as that is the time of the Passover Sacrifice which required a 1-year old Lamb. For Messiah to be born in this season as the Lamb of God, would be an amazing foreshadowing of His Ministry of becoming the Passover Lamb that brings redemption to His people.

Another interesting fact is that there were Shepherds who were from the priestly families according to the Mishnah Bekhorot 5:4. Could the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 be Priests?Migdal Eder is also mentioned by name again in the Mishnah regarding lambs who were found in the vicinity being accepted as Passover offerings, making it very likely that this area was a common grazing place for Priestly-Shepherds.

Beasts which were found in Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder and within the same distance in any direction: Males are [considered as] burnt-offerings; Females are [considered as] peace-offerings. Rabbi Judah says: that which is fit for a pesach offering, is a pesach-offerings within thirty days before the pilgrimage [of Pesach]. Mishnah, Shekalim 7:4

If the Shepherds of Luke 2:8 were in fact Priests, this may also explain how the shepherds knew where to go, as the Angels never mentioned a particular place. It is unlikely that normal shepherds would know about the exact prophecies mentioned in Micah, while Priestly Shepherds would have a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.

Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Was the Tower of the Flock the place of Yeshua’s Birth?
Even though many of us have grown up seeing Yeshua being laid in a rack for fodder called a manger, the text says something else. Luke mentions that he was laid in a “Phatne” in Greek, better translated as stall, as per examples given below.

Hab 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls(phatne):
2Ch 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls(phatne) for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Luk 13:15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall(phatne), and lead him away to watering?

Compare the above to the instances of Phatne in the Birth of Messiah:

Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger(phatne); because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(phatne).
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger(phatne).

It is clear that the imagery of the trough is not a Biblical one, and it is more likely that Messiah was born in a stall that was made for Lambs. Could this have been connected to the Migdal Eder? Did the Tower of the Flock also consist of a “Phatne” (stall) which could hold newborn lambs for the shepherds who were out at night in lambing season? This could explain how they found Mary, Joseph and Yeshua so easily.

Conclusion
Migdal Eder which is connected to Prophet Micah’s prophecy, may very well be the exact place of Yeshua’s Birth. What better place and time for the Lamb of God to be born, other than in the Spring Lambing Season close to Passover at the “Tower of the Flock” and be visited first by Shepherds who were priests. With God’s track record of foreshadowings and prophetic imagery, it is not far fetched to imagine the Birth of Messiah happening in this fashion.

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Peter’s Denial: Before “the Rooster” or “the Morning Proclamation”?

All of us have read Peter’s denial of Messiah in the Gospels, but an interesting fact about the historical background of the Temple and this recorded event in the gospels could be very well pointing to showcase that all of the four gospels were in fact written originally in Hebrew.

The Gospel Accounts
All of the gospel accounts agree that Yeshua‘s trial in front of the Jewish leaders had come to a conclusion by the time of the “cockcrow”.

Mat 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

Luk 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Joh 18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

Historical issues with the Gospel account
Although all of the Gospel authors mention the “cockcrow”, Historically, no fowls were allowed in or around Jerusalem when the temple stood. The restriction may have been instituted to reduce the noise or annoyance once Temple ordinances were enacted. The Mishnah which records the background and history of the temple period says the following:

It is forbidden to rear small herd animals in the Land of Israel, but it is permitted to rear them in Syria or in the wildernesses of the Land of Israel. It is forbidden to rear fowls in Jerusalem because of the “Holy Things” Mishnah Bava Kamma 7:7

The “Cock’s Crow” inside the Temple precinct

But in another section, the Mishnah records (in contradiction to what we saw above) that there was a “cock’s crow” in Jerusalem which signaled a particular time to enact certain temple activities. It records the following:

Every day they would remove [the ashes from] the altar at the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) or close to that time, either before or after. But on Yom HaKippurim from midnight, and on the festivals at the [end of the] first watch; And the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) would not arrive before the Temple court was full of Israelites. Mishnah Yoma 1:8

Anyone who desired to remove the ashes from the altar used to rise early and bathe before the superintendent came. At what time did the superintendent come? He did not always come at the same time; sometimes he came just at cock-crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר), sometimes a little before or a little after. The superintendent would come and knock and they would open for him, and he would say to them, let all who have bathed come and draw lots. Mishnah Tamid 1:2

Once, Rabban Gamliel and the elders were reclining in the house of Boethus ben Zonin in Lod, and they were occupied in studying the laws of Pesach all that night, until the cock crowed(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר). They lifted the table, made themselves ready and went to the house of study [to pray]. Tosefta Pesachim 10:12

The Cock-crow mentioned here in these historical documents is not of a fowl as the words used here is “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation of the Man”, and may have been referred to as the Cock-Crow because of the timing of the call. This is thought to be a call signifying the end of the night watch, and the start of the final watch also known as the Third Watch. We see this in the gospel accounts as follows:

Mar 13:34,35 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

Luk 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

The cockcrowing mentioned above is used as one of the watches; The First Watch starting at evening (around 6pm), The Second Watch at midnight (12am) and The Third Watch also called cock-crow (around 3am to 4am).

In fact the Greek words used in the Gospel accounts of Peter’s Denial and Luke 12:38 is “alektor” (ἀλέκτωρ) and “fonay” (φωνή) can mean the voice of the rooster/chanticleer or one who sings/chants which could very well be connected to the Temple Services very easily.

Conclusion
If the “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation/call of the Man” is in fact connected to the Temple activities as seen above, we can easily assume that the use of the word “cock-crow” (alektorophōnia) could have been a misunderstanding / mistranslation of the “Proclamation made at the third watch” or simply a direct translation which later translators of Greek who did not know about the Temple Services used unwittingly. If so, it is most probable that all of the four Gospels were written in Hebrew and that there are many more such nuances and details lost in translation throughout the ages.