Tag Archives: Yeshua

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.

You may also like reading
What’s out of place in this picture of the birth of Christ
Was Christ Born in December
Changing the Feasts of God – The Sin of Jeroboam
What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?
Where did Christmas come from?
What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?

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.

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

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

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

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

Enacting Righteous Judgement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What God’s Word says about Judgement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Changing the Feasts of God – The Sin of Jeroboam

God’s Word does not change. His plans and ways stand the test of time, and what He wills, He accomplishes without any variation. The Appointments of our Creator highlighted in Leviticus 23 are a good example of this. Each of these “Feast Days” have a prophetic significance which is fulfilled and is yet to be fulfilled in Messiah Yeshua. They, just as the rest of His Word, cannot be changed, annulled or added to, till the Heavens and Earth themselves pass away. While many celebrate a variety of different Feasts and special days around the year, such as christmas and days venerating different saints, etc, God’s Holy days seem to be casted to the side as Old, Jewish and lacking. Nothing can be further from the truth. Casting His Word and “His Feasts”(as they are called in Lev 23:2) aside for days and traditions made by man was the exact “Sin of Jeroboam”, and one of many reasons that God sent “The House of Israel” into Assyrian Exile.

Jeroboam – The First King of the House of Israel
It all started with Solomon, son of David when he married many wives making covenants with the lands around them(1Kin 11:1,2). In his old age, Solomon was moved away from God by these many foreign wives(1Kin 11:3-8). And God, in His anger let many enemies rise around Solomon(1Kin 11:14-27). Furthermore, He would speak through Ahijah about His intentions to give 10 Tribes of the 12 to Jeroboam who Solomon had appointed ruler over the House of Joseph(1Kin 9-13 & 28-39). Only 2 Tribes consisting of Judah and Benjamin would be left for Solomon’s Son – Rehoboam(1Kin 12:21,23). So Jeroboam a man from the tribe of Ephraim would become the King of the 10 Tribes in the North known as the House of Israel/Ephraim/Joseph.

The Sin of Jeroboam
At the beginning of Jeroboam’s reign itself he did what he felt was right in his heart and before his eyes. As it reads,

1Ki 12:26-30 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

Not only did he appoint a place of his own making, as a worship place for God, he also made priests of anyone he deemed fit, making himself also a priest.

1Ki 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
1Ki 13:33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.

But his sin did not stop there; he went on to consecrate and make special feast (Appointed) days of his own.

1Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

From this point onwards, the Sin of Jeroboam is mentioned more than 20 times in the Books of Kings till the end of the Kingdom of Israel in 722BC.

1Ki 13:34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
2Ki 17:22,23 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Appointing our own ways of worship and ordaining our own special days was a detestable thing in the eyes of our Father in Heaven. If He and His Word does not change, maybe we should be much more hesitant at joining the ranks of Jeroboam in changing the ways God has ordained in His heavenly wisdom.

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The Parable of the Prodigal Son & the 2 Houses of Israel
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Hear or Obey? The Meaning of the Hebrew word “Shema”

When one of the Scribes asked Messiah Yeshua about the first of all commands, Christ answered with the declaration or Oath of Israel known as the “Shema” which is recited even today among the Jewish communities around the world. This oath encapsulated their calling and the main command which was given to them by our Creator in Heaven.

Mar 12:29,30 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

This of course was quoted from the Scriptures in Deut 6:4,5 by Yeshua, but we also see that it was common knowledge even at the time of Messiah’s ministry. This particular oath, The “Shema” is recited by the Jewish community and a growing amount of believers of Messiah every Sabbath around the world, and starts with the word “Shema” which is commonly translated as “Hear”. This translation does not do the Hebrew Word “Shema” justice, as there is a deeper meaning to the word than the common understanding of “Hearing” or “Listening”.

Looking at the usage of Shema in the Scriptures gives us a better understanding of this amazing Hebrew Word. As we see below, the word “Shema” is an active word which has a duality of meaning.

Shema – Hear and Obey

H8085 – שׁמע – shâma‛ – Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition:  to hear, listen to, obey
The below passages show that the words uttered in Deut 6:4,5 and Mark 12:29,30 starts with a call to action! Shema – Hear and Obey. It is not a passive “listen”, but an acting out of our faith. It is hearing with the intent of putting something into action.

Gen 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Exo 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Deu 11:27,28 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

2Sa 22:45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.

Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

Isa 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Jer 22:21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.

Jer 34:10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.

Jer 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.

Eze 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

Dan 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

Shema means not only to listen, but obey through listening. This is the Oath which God called Israel to make, and the same oath that Yeshua spoke of as the greatest of Commandments. Let us all strive to Shema – Listen and Obey!

Elul and the King in the Field – The meeting of Bride and Bridegroom

The Month of Elul which is the name given to the sixth month in God’s Calendar, precedes the Seventh month with God’s Appointed Times of Trumpets, Atonement & Tabernacles. The Fall Feast Days, as they are called denote the 2nd Coming of Yeshua, The Judgement and The 1000 Year Kingdom He is going to establish among His people, ending with a New Heaven and New Earth. So it’s no wonder that the month of Elul is considered a month of repentance and self-examination in the earnest wait to meet the coming King.

The word Elul is mentioned in Jewish Writings* to be an acronym which stands for “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” from Songs of Solomon 6:3, the actual phrase being “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” ( אני לדודי ודודי לי). This fits in with the picture of the Bridegroom(Yeshua) who weds the Bride (His People) at the End of Days.

Furthermore, This month has also been called** the month where “The King is in the field”. This denotes the Fall Harvest, where God sends out His Angels to collect the Wheat unto His Barn and burn the tares. It also shows a picture of a King who the worker may not see everyday, who has come in His abundant mercy, to meet the common man.

The Story of Rebekah & Isaac
How Rebekah meets Isaac is a picture and symbolizes how God chose Israel and how Yeshua is coming back for His People. Let’s look at the many Allusions made in the story of Rebekah and Isaac and how they speak about coming events and the Month of Elul when the King is in the Field.

Abraham sends his servant to procure a Bride for his son (Gen 24:1-10)
Eliezer was no simple servant. He was in line to inherit Abraham’s possessions as we see in Gen 15:2. He is tasked with finding a Bride for His Son from a far away land. In the same way, God tasks Moses, His Servant(Num 12:7) to go get Israel, His Bride(Jer 3:20) from a far away land. In the same way, God tasks Yeshua, His Servant(Mat 12:18) to go get Israel, His Bride(Joh 3:29, 2Cor11:2) from the ends of the earth, for a Newly Resurrected King – Yeshua.

Rebekah is willing to leave her life to be joined to Isaac (Gen 24:46,58)
Rebekah shows her love and kindness to Eliezer who by his message, makes up her mind to leave her present life for a suitor who she has not seen. Israel puts their trust in Moses and leaves a place which provided for them (Exo 16:3) to the promised Land and a God they have never seen. In the same way, we have chosen to follow Yeshua, leaving our old life, after believing He is the Saviour even though we have not seen Him

Rebekah is brought out by giving the bridal price (Gen 24:53)
Rebekah’s Kin is given “precious things” (H4030/G1435- Gift, Offering, Sacrifice) to take her away from them. Israel is brought out by the precious blood of a lamb and similarly we are also bought by the Blood of our Messiah – the unblemished Lamb(Joh 1:29)

Rebekah receives gifts as a promise from said suitor (Gen 24:22,53)
Eliezer gives precious jewels of Silver, Gold and Clothing to Rebekah as a deposit. Similarly Israel came out with a lot of jewels of Silver, Gold and clothing (Exo 12:35,36). In the same way Yeshua left the Holy Spirit with us as a pledge of the promise He has made(Eph 1:13,14)

Rebekah goes to her suitor with a procession (Gen 24:59,61)
Rebekah leaves her family, but does not travel alone – but with a procession. Israel also comes out with a mixed multitude(Exo 12:38). It is the same with the Bride of Yeshua (Rev 19:7-9). Some would be the Bride while others will be invited to be in the procession(Rev 19:7,9).

Isaac comes from the Well of the Living One Seeing Me (Gen 24:62)
Isaac is mentioned to come from the well known as “LahaiRoi” which means the Well of the Living One who sees me. This is an allusion to Both God(Psa 36:8,9) in Israel’s story of receiving the Covenant as well as Yeshua(John 4:10,11)

Rebekah covers herself with a Veil (Gen 24:65)
Rebekah puts on a cloth and covers herself just like a modern bride in front of her bridegroom, denoting modesty. This is the same way God wanted His people to act (through obeying His Covenant) and Yeshua wants us to live(1Co 7:34) as He is our Husband.

Isaac takes Rebekah to her mother’s Tent and makes her his wife (Gen 24:67)
Rebekah is then taken by Isaac with love, as a wife and given the tent of his mother. In the time of Israel, they reached the promised land as the completion of the promise that God gave them. In the same way, Yeshua has promised us that we will enter His Kingdom as a wife in the end of days(Rev 19:7).

Isaac & Yeshua – The King in the Field
Now we must also understand that Isaac was not just a normal man but a King/Lord. Abraham was a wealthy man with riches who even fought against Kings and was offered tribute (Gen 14:14-24). Kings made covenants of peace with both Abraham(Gen 21) and Isaac(Gen 26). Isaac was then a Prince and a King in the time. Now let’s read Isaac’s meeting of Rebekah.

Gen 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

This is a symbol of “The King in the Field”. Just as Isaac meets the Bride in the Field, Yeshua also comes to meet us especially at this time – the days of Repentance – The Days of Elul, before the “Day of Atonement” when everyone will be judged. The best time to call to Him and meet Him is the Days of this Holy appointment. As we await His Return for His Bride, let us make supplication at this time so that we may grow closer to our Heavenly Groom!

 

*Avudraham, Seder Rosh Hashanah, ch. 1; Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaTeshuvah, ch. 4.
** Likkutei Torah – Re’eh 32b (English translation: Sichos In English, 5750) where it says “Before a king enters his city, its inhabitants go out to greet him and receive him in the field. At that time, anyone who so desires is granted permission and can approach him and greet him. He receives them all pleasantly, and shows a smiling countenance to all”