Tag Archives: Yeshua

Defining the word “Shalom”

Sabbath Shalom! As the world steps into the 7th day millions around the world greet each other by saying “Sabbath Shalom”. The word “Shalom” has been a greeting used even in Biblical times to greet one another, and is still used to this day in Israel to greet each other. As we say Hello or Goodbye to someone, in Biblical times “Shalom” was used as the word of choice to greet a person. But what does “Shalom” really mean? Is it peace? completeness? Let us look at what the Scriptures reveal.

H7965
שׁלם / שׁלום
shâlôm
Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition:
1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
1a) completeness (in number)
1b) safety, soundness (in body)
1c) welfare, health, prosperity
1d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
1e) peace, friendship
1e1) of human relationships
1e2) with God especially in covenant relationship
1f) peace (from war)
1g) peace (as adjective)

Shalom as a greeting
These are some of the many instances when the word “Shalom” was used as a greeting when meeting a person or taking their leave.

Gen 29:6 And he said unto them, Is he well?(Shalom-H7965) And they said, He is well(Shalom-H7965): and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.
Gen 43:23 And he said, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
Exo 4:18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965).
Jdg 6:23 And the LORD said unto him, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
Jdg 19:20 And the old man said, Peace(Shalom-H7965) be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
1Sa 1:17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965): and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
2Sa 15:9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace(Shalom-H7965). So he arose, and went to Hebron.
2Ki 5:21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well(Shalom-H7965)?
2Ki 5:22 And he said, All is well(Shalom-H7965). My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
Jer 15:5 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest(Shalom-H7965)?
Dan 10:19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace(Shalom-H7965) be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

In many of the above interactions we see “Shalom” being used in the same way we say Hello today. But it is also the same word used in saying your farewells.

The many meanings of Shalom
As we see in the BDB Hebrew Dictionary Definition, the word Shalom has quite a few meanings which are used throughout the Scriptures. Some of the most popular meanings are:

Peace from War
Jdg 4:17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace(Shalom-H7965) between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
Ecc 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace(Shalom-H7965).
1Ki 5:12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace(Shalom-H7965) between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.

Safety/Soundness
Gen 37:14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well(Shalom-H7965) with thy brethren, and well(Shalom-H7965) with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
2Sa 18:29 And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe(Shalom-H7965)? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was.
Job 21:9 Their houses are safe(Shalom-H7965) from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.

Welfare/Health
Gen 43:27,28 And he asked them of their welfare(Shalom-H7965), and said, Is your father well(Shalom-H7965), the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health(Shalom-H7965), he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
Exo 18:7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare(Shalom-H7965); and they came into the tent.
1Ch 18:10 He sent Hadoram his son to king David, to enquire of his welfare(Shalom-H7965), and to congratulate him, because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass.

Salutation
Jdg 18:15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted(Shalom-H7965) him.
1Sa 10:4 And they will salute(Shalom-H7965) thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
1Sa 25:5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet(InquireH7592 + Shalom-H7965) him in my name:

Prosperity
Zec 8:12 For the seed shall be prosperous(Shalom-H7965); the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity(Shalom-H7965) of the wicked.
Job 15:21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity(Shalom-H7965) the destroyer shall come upon him.

Goodness
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace(Shalom-H7965), and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace(Shalom-H7965), and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace(Shalom-H7965) was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Friends – those who wish you well
Jer 20:10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars(Enosh-H582 + Shalom-H7965) watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
Jer 38:22 And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends(Eish-H376 + Shalom-H7965) have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.
Psa 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend(Eish-H376 + Shalom-H7965), in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

How to receive Shalom
The Scriptures connect God’s Word/Law with Shalom often and explain it is the way to receiving Shalom. Nothing else in Scripture is connected to Shalom this way.

Psa 119:165 Great peace(Shalom-H7965) have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Isa 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace(Shalom-H7965) been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
Pro 3:1,2 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace(Shalom-H7965), shall they add to thee.

The Sabbath and Shalom
The Sabbath is connected to the Millennial reign of Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) in the Scriptures. And this is the rest which is mentioned in Hebrews 4:9-11 which all of us will enter. In His Millennial Kingdom Shalom will reign supreme as we see it spoken by the Prophet Isaiah.

Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace(Shalom-H7965) there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

So the Sabbath in this sense, becomes a day to celebrate that eternal rest and the unending Shalom we would be able to taste someday.

Shalom in the New Testament writings
Although we do not see “Shalom” which is a Hebrew word in the New Testament writings, this is because the surviving New Testament Manuscripts are mostly in Greek. We can be assured that the greetings made in the New Testament used Shalom as we see in the below instances.

Luk 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Joh 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Conclusion
The word Shalom which is loosely translated as peace means so much more in it’s original Hebrew language. It is a word that encapsulates a multitude of positive aspects which is then used to greet one another. It is most likely that Messiah’s instruction to enter a house by saying “Peace be to this House” actually called for the Disciples to invoke this exact word – Shalom! And as God Instructed Moses to teach the sons of Aaron, I bless each of you, that you may receive God’s Shalom, as we see at the end of the Priestly Blessing that was prayed over His people.

Num 6:23-26 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace(Shalom-H7965).

SHALOM!

The nature of the Unbreakable Covenant

In the present day, words mean little to nothing. We see politicians say one thing but do another. We see governments amend founding laws of the land. It is even becoming impossible to trust a regular person’s word. The notion of a “Yes being a Yes” and a “No being a No” is quickly fading away. So much so, that we start to apply the same dynamics to God’s Word. His Word is used today as and when it is advantageous. Christians pick and choose what they like out of Scripture and leave the rest. They make out God to be a person who changes His Word.

But things were not always so. In the time of the Old Testament Scriptures and even in the New Testament Writings, a word spoken could not be easily backtracked. Covenants, which are essentially agreements whether it be spoken or written, given as a law or a blessing, were more so in this nature. There are many such earthly examples in the Bible, and today we will browse through some of these events.

1. Isaac gives Jacob the Firstborn Blessing
Have you ever wondered why Isaac did not reverse the blessing? Why he could not give the same to Esau? After the word is spoken it could not be changed.

Gen 27:33-37 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

2. Joshua is tricked by the Gibeonites
The Gibeonites who heard news of the incoming army of Joshua, made themselves to be like travelers from far away, and got Joshua to make a Covenant with them. Later when Joshua got to know of the trickery, even though Joshua wanted to he could not change the Covenant for any reason.

Jos 9:15-20 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim. And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.

3. King Darius and Daniel
The Decree signed by King Darius to stop praying to any other Gods but the King, was used against Daniel. And even though the King wanted to change his words, it was impossible.

Dan 6:9-15 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed.

4. King Ahasuerus and Haman’s Decree
Haman who created a Decree to kill the Jews with the blessing of the King was later found out. But the King could not reverse the Decree. Instead, He made a new decree allowing the Jews to rightfully defend themselves against the coming attack.

Est 3:9-13 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries. And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. And the king said unto Haman, The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring. And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.
Est 8:8-11 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

5. Pilate writes a title for Yeshua
Pilate’s title placed on Yeshua’s stake proclaimed that He was the King of the Jews. Even though the Chief Priest wanted it changed, Pilate gave his famous answer “I have written, what I have written” as a word spoken or written could not be later changed even at that time.

Joh 19:19-22 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

Paul explains the Unbreakable Covenant
One of the best explanations of the immovable nature of Covenants was made by Apostle Paul. He says even an earthly covenant cannot be changed after it is made. In the same manner, The Mosaic Covenant does not override or amend the Abrahamic Covenant which was made 400 years before.

Gal 3:15-17 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Conclusion
As we have done in an earlier study, we know that God, His Word & His Covenants do not change. We see Paul explaining this by comparing it to earthly Covenants. Even though at the present age, a word, a law or a covenant means little to nothing, it was strictly unchanging in Biblical times. We must start looking at our Bibles through the Biblical lens of time, rather than trying to understand it using our own backgrounds. Let our Yes be Yes, and our No be No, as we look into His unchanging Word.

Was Christ born in December?

With December comes celebration and merry-making. The celebration of the birth of Christ, one which was non-existent in the early church. In earlier studies, we have taken a look at the origins of Christmas:

The Chronography of 354 – What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?
Pagan influence on Christmas – Where did Christmas come from?

We have also seen the present “Christmas story” is critically flawed, as the “Magi” appeared close to two years after Christ’s birth according to the Gospel accounts:

The flawed Christmas story – What’s out of place in this picture?

Today, let’s attempt to narrow down the month of Christ’s Birth using only the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings. Was He born in December? Let’s look at the Biblical evidence.

People of Interest and the YEAR of His Birth:
There are a few key figures that are linked to history, mentioned in the Gospel accounts of Chris’t Birth. Using the following historical dates and the Gospel accounts we have studied, we can narrow down Christ’s Birth to 7BC to 5BC.

Caesar Augustus (Luk 2:1) – Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 16 January 27 BC until his death in 19 August AD 14.

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (Luk 2:2) – In 6 CE Quirinius, the newly-appointed Imperial Legate (governor) of the province of Roman Syria, was tasked to carry out a tax census of the new province of Judea, one of the three territories into which the kingdom of Herod the Great had been divided on his death in 4 BC.

Herod the Great (Mat 2:1) – Herod was a Roman client king of Judea, who reigned from 37BC to 4BC.

Herod Archelaus (Mat 2:22) – Archelaus his son was ethnarch (Govenor) of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (Edom), including the cities Caesarea and Jaffa, from 4 BC to 6 AD.

We know that Herod died in 4BC, at which time Joseph returned from Egypt according to Mat 2:20-23. We also know that Yeshua was close to two years old, when the Magi visited(Mat 2:16). If Herod died the same year he ordered the killing of the children, that would place Yeshua‘s birth 2-3 years before Herod’s death. Which gives us an approximate 7BC – 5BC as His birth.

The Priestly courses and the MONTH of His Birth:
To calculate the month of Christ’s birth, we must look into the Birth of John much closely, as Luke provides some key details in his Gospel.

Zecheriah, father of John, was a Priest in the course of Abijah(Luk 1:5). Which was the eighth course out of 24(1Chr 24:7). Each of these priestly courses worked at the Temple for a period of one week(Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7). And all 24 priestly courses were present at the 3 main feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost & Tabernacles(2Chr 5:11, 2Chr 8:12). The Luni-Solar year according to the Scriptures consist of 51 weeks (A Lunar Cycle is 29.53 days X 12 Months). When you add the 3 weeks that all the priests work at the feasts to the 2 revolutions of 24 Priestly courses, you end up at 51 courses [(24×2)=48 +3 = 51].

Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses, The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul, The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah. These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7 He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the Priests from them, he found of these Priests twenty four courses: sixteen of the house of Eleazar, and eight of that of Ithamar: and he ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from sabbath to sabbath. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Zadok, and Abiathar the High Priests, and of all the rulers. And that course which came up first was written down as the first: and accordingly the second; and so on to the twenty four.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 3, Verse 9 – Samuel the prophet and David the king divided the Levites into twenty-four divisions; each division served for one week. The chief of a division divided the men of his division into subdivisions [family groups].— — The chiefs of the subdivisions distributed assignments among those serving on their particular day, each man performing his own task.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 4, Verse 3 – Our teacher Moses divided the priests into eight divisions, four from the family of Elazar and four from the family of Ithamar. They functioned that way until the time of Samuel the prophet, when he and King David divided them into twenty-four divisions. A chief was named over each division. One division a week would go up to Jerusalem for service. The divisions would change every Sabbath day, one leaving and the next one entering, until the cycle was completed. Then they would begin the cycle over again.

2Ch 5:11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

2Ch 8:12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.

Looking at the above information, we can attempt to create a depiction of the events that took place in their approximate time periods, as given below:

 If Zecheriah was engaged in his duties in the 9th Week of the year, he would have had to also work on the 10th week and would have gone home to Elizabeth in the 11th Week. If we estimate that Elizabeth conceived in the 12th Week, she would have given birth to John approximately at the en of the year. As Mary conceived 6 months after Elizabeth’s conception, we can then narrow down Mary’s conception to around the 39th Week of the year. If so, our Saviour Yeshua would have been born fairly close, if not right on the Day of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

There are a few reasons to believe that the Birth of Christ happened on Tabernacles
1. Emmanuel
Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 as he explains “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us” in Hebrew was a prophecy that came true, this day. The Feast/Appointment of Tabernacles was the one feast which commemorated “God Dwelling/Tabernacling among His people”. Furthermore, John 1:14 speaks of Messiah the same way using the word “Dwelt”(Skaynoo- G4637) which meant Tent or Encampment in Greek.

2. Perfect time for a Census
Luke speaks of a Census for the purpose of Taxation which was carried our by Rome. At the time of the 3 main Feast Days, all Jews come to Jerusalem to participate. So it would make perfect sense to keep a Census at this time

3. Locality of Bethlehem
Bethlehem was situated less than 10Km away from Jerusalem and a 2 hour walk away. This would have been an ideal situation for Joseph and Mary, as they could register with Roman authorities as well as attend the Feast which is close to where they would have stayed.

4. No room at the Inn
Lodging would be hard to get by in the time of a Feast, as many Jews travel back to Jerusalem at this time. This makes perfect sense with Luke’s account as many pilgrims would have already occupied all the establishments which were available.

5. Born on the 1st Day, Circumcised on the 8th
The Feast of Tabernacles is an 8-day feast(Lev 23:39). The 1st day and the 8th day are special/high Sabbath Days. Could it be that Yeshua was born on the 1st Day of Tabernacles and circumcised according to the Law(Lev 12:3, Luk 2:21) on the 8th Day of Tabernacles?

6. Shepherds grazing sheep in the cold?
As Luke mentions in Luk 2:8, there were shepherds grazing their flock in the night as Christ was born. It is highly unlikely that this would have been possible in the cold of December. It may have been possible around the 7th Feast as the fall rains would have made the pastures lush for the sheep to graze on. But would not have been too cold for them as close to the 9th Month (November/December) when the atmosphere is most cold.

The above clues may point to Yeshua’s Birth happening right on the Day of Tabernacles(Sep/Oct in our Gregorian Calendar). One other reason is that Yeshua’s Death happened on Passover (a feast day), He resurrected on Firstfruits (a feast day), He sent His Holy Spirit on Pentecost (a feast day). So it is very likely that God intended His Birth also on a Feast Day.

Other Possibilities
But we should also inspect a few other possibilities as well according to the above graph. Every Priestly course worked 5 times a year ; twice according to their course and thrice at the main feasts along with all other priestly courses. So there maybe 4 other possibilities as well. Let us see whether eith of them can lead to a December 25th Birth.

i) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Pesach/Passover, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 22nd Week which is the end of the 5th Month (July/August in the Gregorian Calendar).

ii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Shavuot/Pentecost, Christ’s birth would have taken place still on Sukkot/Tabernacles as it would have not changed the time he returned to Elizabeth.

iii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Sukkot/Tabernacles, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 45th Week which is the 11th Month (January/February in the Gregorian Calendar).

iv) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in the 35th Week, which is his 2nd course for the year, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 3rd Week which is in the 1st Month around Pesach/Passover (March/April in the Gregorian Calendar).

Conclusion
According to Luke’s account, we can make an approximation of Christ’s Birth to Sukkot, which makes sense in several different ways when looking at prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 or the other particulars in the story. I would not disregard any of the other possibilities as well, but it would be more probable that He was born on Sukkot. But it is certain that he could not have been born in December.

Where two or three are gathered… About Prayer or Judgement? Misunderstanding regarding Matthew 18:20

Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Quoted by people in congregations around the world this particular verse is taken to mean that God is present in the midst of two or three people who are engaged in Prayer. But the context of the passage provides a different picture. At the onset I wish to say that I do not disagree that God hears the prayer of two or three people gathered in His name. But we would also agree that He also hears us when we are alone. So what then is the meaning of Yeshua‘s words in Matthew 18:20? Let’s look at the context of the passage.

Mat 18:1-4 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Our journey starts with a question that the Disciples ask. “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”. To which Messiah says that all must convert (Turn Around – Strepho – G4762) meaning repent and turn back to God as humble little children to be called great in the Kingdom of God.

Mat 18:5-7 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Now Christ regards a believer who has turned to God as a “little child” and speaks of not “offending” (cause to stumble / lead to sin – Scandalizo – 4624) them, meaning leading them away from God. Yeshua bemoans such people who make others stumble. So far this passage sounds eerily familiar to what He said in Matthew 5:19 “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Here He explained who would be great in the Kingdom of God. In both places warnings are set towards those who lead His Children away from His word.

Mat 18:8-10 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Yeshua’s words continue in the same line of thinking. If a hand or foot meaning a fellow believer makes others stumble it is better to cut those limbs off, as otherwise the whole body could be in danger of missing everlasting life. He further explains that even if it is an eye meaning a person in leadership who is causing the body to stumble, it is better for the eye to be removed rather than the whole congregation being led away from His Kingdom. Yeshua expressly speaks to the disciples not to belittle/disesteem the new believers, calling them “little ones” as they are of great worth to God. This is an instruction from Christ to His Disciples to be vigilant of the body, so that no part or individual becomes a threat to the whole; especially those who could stumble easily. He would reconfirm this thought in verses 15-17.

Mat 18:11-14 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Yeshua brings the parable of the Shepherd to show how much He cares for the lone soul. He is still advising the Disciples how much they should care for even the newest of the believers – the “little ones”.

Mat 18:15-17 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.

In the same thought as removing the limb or the eye, Messiah explains of how this task should be carried out. First the issue should be brought to light one on one. If the person refuses the counsel, then two or three witnesses should confirm it to the individual. If the person still refuses to change his/her ways, then it is brought forward to the whole congregation/assembly after which the person is cut off from the assembly if corrective measures are not taken. It is important to note that Paul gives the same advice to the Corinthians in two instances (1Cor 5:1-5, 2Cor 2:5-11).

Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 speaks of “Binding” and “Loosing” which were the terms used in First Century Judaism for “Prohibiting” and “Permitting”. The power to prohibit and permit was in the hands of the Pharisees in the first century as per the writings of  Josephus:

War of the Jews Book I, Chapter 5, Section 2  …and became themselves[the pharisees] the real administrators of the public affairs: they banished and reduced whom they pleased; they bound and loosed at their pleasure….

There is further proof to say that the belief of God agreeing with earthly rulings were also prevalent in First Century Judaism as seen in the Talmud below:

Talmud Makkot 23b …There are three matters that the earthly court implemented and the heavenly court agreed with them, and these are they: Reading the Scroll of Esther on Purim, and greeting another with the name of God, and bringing the first tithe to the Temple treasury in Jerusalem…

In the case of the passage in question, Yeshua is giving this authority to His Disciples over His Congregation. They could prohibit or permit anything in the assembly according to God’s Word and it would be seen as valid before God. The greatest example for this would be Acts 15. The same teaching is seen again in the second epistle of Clement to James where it mentions that Peter had named Clement of Rome (35 – 100AD) as his successor giving him the power of binding and loosing, as seen below.

Clementine Homilies – Introduction – Epistle of Peter to James, Chapter 2 Wherefore I communicate to him the power of binding and loosing, so that with respect to everything which he shall ordain in the earth, it shall be decreed in the heavens. For he shall bind what ought to be bound, and loose what ought to be loosed, as knowing the role of the Church.

Upto this point we have seen the teaching revolving around the congregation, taking care of the new believers and how to manage believers who disrupt the assembly. Yeshua gives the authority of such decisions to the Disciples here, and moves on to say…

Mat 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

As we come to the verse in question, we see that Yeshua gives authority of communal life to His Disciples and says even if two of them agree on earth regarding such issues, the Lord Himself stands amongst their midst. Such requests/decisions will be agreed upon by the Father in Heaven, as they are made from the standpoint of God’s Word. The same idea can be seen again in Jewish sources:

Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 3:2 But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them, as it is said (Malachi 3:16): “Then those who feared the Lord spoke one with another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who feared the Lord and for those who thought upon His Name.”

Talmud, B’rakhot 6a From where is it derived that three who sit in judgment, the Divine Presence is with them? It is derived from this same verse, as it is stated: “In the midst of the judges He judges,” and the minimum number of judges that comprises a court is three. From where is it derived that two who sit and engage in Torah study, the Divine Presence is with them? As it is stated: “Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with the other, and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). The Divine Presence listens to any two God-fearing individuals who speak with each other.

It is for the “Binding and Loosing” (Prohibiting or Permitting) powers that Yeshua bestowed upon His Disciples that He says He will be in agreement in their presence for such matters whether two or three are gathered. Prayer or other sorts of fellowship is not part of the context of this passage.

Conclusion
So we see that the phrase “For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” is speaking regarding judgement and making Godly decisions. In this sort of situation, God stands in agreement with the Disciples. The decision taken by James and agreed upon by the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 is a perfect example of this. There is no doubt that God listens to our prayers whether we are alone or with one or more in fellowship. But according to context, the passage in question is not about prayer but judgements made before God.

What is the Kingdom of God? and how do we seek it?

The “Kingdom of God” is a term seen often in the New Testament writings, but is interpreted in numerous ways by many. Interpreting the meaning of “The Kingdom of God” using the Scriptures and the New Testament writings maybe the best way to understand the true meaning of this phrase, as well as understand how we are to pursue it.

Messiah, in one of the most popular verses in the Gospel, speaks of the coming Kingdom of God, and the worries of the present life this way, asking us to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness:

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

While this particular phrase is connected to generosity and giving alms, as we see with the context of the passage as well as it’s parallel verse written in Luke, there is much more to “The Kingdom of God” as much of Yeshua‘s ministry revolved around the teaching of the Kingdom.

Giving of Alms and the Kingdom of God
The whole of Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel is dedicated to the teaching of the power of giving and the Kingdom of God.

Mat 6:1-4 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Mat 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The following two verses use a common Hebrew Proverb which is also seen in the Book of Proverbs. A “good eye” (Tov Ayin) means to be generous while an evil eye is the opposite.
Mat 6:22,23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Pro 22:9 He that hath a bountiful(H2896-Tov) eye(H5869-Ayin) shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

In Mattew 6:24-32 & verse 34 Messiah Yeshua explains how we should not be worried about what we eat, drink or wear let alone be concerned about riches in this life, as God knows to provide us with all our needs. The only concern we should have, according to Yeshua is to seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness; as Our Father in Heaven knows to provide us with everything else.

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

This same idea is paralleled in Luke’s Gospel as seen below.

Luk 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The power of giving alms cannot be emphasized enough, as we see a clear example in the story of Cornelius where the Angel says that His Alms was one of the reasons God’s eye was on him.

Act 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

While Matthew 6:33 is clearly connected to the power of giving, we should also inspect what God’s Kingdom truly is, and how we can seek His Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament
The Kingdom of God is Prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures often. The coming of a King in the line of David, the ruling from Jerusalem/Zion and the people who gather to this combined Kingdom of Israel & Judah, where Peace & Justice will reign supreme, has all been spoken in God’s Word:

Isa 2:2-4 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isa 9:6,7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jer 23:5-8 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

Dan 7:13,14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Dan 7:18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

Dan 7:27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Mic 4:6-8 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock, 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.

Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zec 14:9-11 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

The Beginning of the Kingdom of God
The coming Kingdom of God began with Messiah Yeshua’s first appearance. John’s message was that the Kingdom of God was about to appear. Later Yeshua continued this message. It is clear that the fulfillment of Yeshua’s Ministry on Earth through His Death & Resurrection would become the start of this Kingdom as He took authority over death back into His own hands.

Special Note: “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are the same thing as only Matthew uses the wording “Kingdom of Heaven” which can be paralleled to other verses in the rest of the Gospels which use “Kingdom of God”. (Mat 11:11-12 = Luk 7:28) (Mat 13:11 = Mark 4:11, Luk 8:10) (Mat 13:24 = Mar 4:26) (Mat 13:31 = Mar 4:30, Luk 13:18) (Mat 13:33 = Luk 13:20) (Mat 18:3 = Mar 10:14, Luke 18:16) (Mat 22:2 = Luk 13:29) 

Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mar 1:14,15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mat 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Act 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

Many in the 1st Century believed the Kingdom would be established in their lifetime
While many of the aspects of the Kingdom were explained by Yeshua through parables, the disciples among others thought that the Kingdom would be fully established by Yeshua and that He will rule as King on His first appearance on Earth.

Luk 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Act 1:6-8 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Completion of the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God which will be physically established on Earth, is one which will come to fulfillment in the near future. It will be established as the one true kingdom which will endure forever once Yeshua returns to earth on His second appearance.

2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Luk 23:42,43 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Luk 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Mar 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

Mar 14:25 Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Luk 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luk 13:28,29 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God starts with individuals like you and me
Now that we have a more clearer picture on what “The Kingdom of God” is, let’s see how one can enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who are reborn in God’s image. The Kingdom itself is established in our lives which are changed in His image.

Luk 17:20,21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Mat 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Mat 18:3,4 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Seeking His Righteousness and giving up iniquity/lawlessness
The other portion in Mat 6:33 which Yeshua spoke of is seeking God’s Righteousness. As we see below, there is only one way to seek His righteousness. That is to follow His Word/Law and remove one self from transgressing it.

Knowing God’s Law as seen in the Old Testament brought the Scribe a step closer to the Kingdom of God, while Keeping the commands and teaching people to obey God’s Law would make a person great or least in the Kingdom of God.

Mar 12:33,34 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It is clear that His Kingdom will be void of people who engage in iniquity/lawlessness which is to say those who violate God’s Law.
G458 – an-om-ee’-ah – From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: – iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

Mat 7:21-23 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(G458).

Mat 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity(G458);

Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity(G458).

Mat 24:12 And because iniquity(G458) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness(G458)? and what communion hath light with darkness?

1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law(G458).

Conclusion
God’s Kingdom is not like a kingdom of this world. It is based on His Law and precepts from His Word such as Love and generosity. While most people are engaged in collecting treasure in this world and worrying about our physical needs, God expects us to seek His Kingdom through being content with what God provides us and loving others and God as much as we love ourselves. This Love is contained in His Word/Law which was given to us in the Old Testament Scriptures. Let us actively seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness and help others to obey Him and enter His Kingdom at His second appearance on this Earth.

Is making Oaths prohibited? Misunderstandings regarding the Sermon on the Mount

It is a common teaching that as Christians, we should not make oaths or swear in the name of God, and that Messiah taught explicitly against swearing in His Sermon on the Mount. At face value it seems that Christ said making oaths/swearing which was a precept from the Law of God was evil. Have we misunderstood Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37 ? further study maybe needed to check the validity of this claim.

Oaths in the Law of God
While Oaths and vows seem to be the same, a vow is a “solemn promise” made between two entities, while an oath is a commitment one makes towards telling the truth or any other matter usually by calling towards something greater than him/herself.

The law is clear that words of an oath cannot be broken and that false Oaths should not be made in God’s name. The amalgamation of these two laws are what Yeshua mentioned in Matthew 5:33.

Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

In the Law of God, it was expressly stated that if one makes an Oath, it should be made in the name of no other entity or pagan god, but YHVH‘s name.

Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Deu 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There was also other laws which governed breaking of oaths and being a witness of such acts.

Lev 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 5:4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.

There are many cases in the Old Testament where an oath is made. It was strictly adhered to (Jos 2:12-14; 6:25) even if it was later revealed to be disadvantageous (Josh chap 9).

Missing the point of Matthew 5:34
When Christ says “Do not swear at all”, it is juxtaposed against the precept from the Mosaic Law “Do not swear falsely in God’s name, but complete any oaths you make”(Lev 19:12, Num 30:2). The Law was against swearing falsely in God’s Name. So here Messiah is simply saying do not swear falsely in any other matter or in any other entity whether it be Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem or your own head. The highlight remains on “falsehood”, not swearing itself.

Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse 37 where the phrase “Let your yes be yes and no be no” is often the reason why many misunderstand this teaching. To state it simply, so far Christ has essentially only said that “you have heard it being said don’t swear falsely in God’s Name and that you should keep your oaths, but I say to you don’t swear by anything else falsely either”. He then adds the fact that swearing is not needed at all if you are a person who keeps his/her word. If you say yes and do it or no and don’t,(If you are a man/woman of his/her word) essentially there is no reason for swearing in God’s name or any entity.

Further proof that Messiah’s reasoning was only about swearing falsely in any matter
There is other evidence which can shed light on this passage, of which the Hebrew Matthew stands out. The Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel perfectly preserves the fact about falsehood as you can see below:

Mat 5:33 (Shem Tob – Hebrew Gospel of Matthew translated by George Howard) Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God, nor by earth because it is the footstool of His feet, nor by (Jerusalem) because it is the city of God, nor by your head for you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be yes yes or no no. Everything in addition to this is evil.

The Biblical Apocrypha book Sirach (200-175BCE) also carries the same theme of making oaths very conservatively, and keeping oneself altogether from making oaths which once you break, amount to sin and unrighteousness.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:9-11 Don’t let your mouth get used to making solemn pledges,and don’t get accustomed to saying the name of the holy one. Just as a household slave who is constantly examined won’t be lacking bruises, so also the person who always swears and speaks the Lord’s name will never be cleansed from sin. People who make many solemn pledges will be full of lawlessness, and a scourge won’t depart from their house. If they break their solemn pledges, their sin is on them, and if they disregard it, they sin doubly, and if they swear falsely, they won’t be justified, but their houses will be full of misery.

Philo of Alexandria (20BCE – 50CE) who’s works influenced many church fathers had the same to say about oaths.

Philo: The Decalogue 84 That being which is the most beautiful, and the most beneficial to human life, and suitable to rational nature, swears not itself, because truth on every point is so innate within him that his bare word is accounted an oath. Next to not swearing at all, the second best thing is to keep one’s oath; for by the mere fact of swearing at all, the swearer shows that there is some suspicion of his not being trustworthy.

Matthew 5:37 is oddly similar to a passage in the central text of Rabbinical Judaism which also carries the same theme of keeping ones word and not making commitments which one does not intend on fulfilling.

Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a The Gemara raises an objection: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: What is the meaning when the verse states: “A just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have” (Leviticus 19:36)? But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah? Why is it necessary to state both? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your yes [hen] should be just, and your no should be just. Apparently, it is a mitzva for one to fulfill his promises. Abaye says: That verse means that one should not say one matter with his mouth and think one other matter in his heart. It is prohibited for one to make a commitment that he has no intention of fulfilling.

Conclusion
Words are connected to actions, and the power of words can be seen in the Laws of Oaths among others. When we say yes or no, we should all adhere to keep our word and as Philo explained; aim to be a person who is trustworthy enough to not need an oath from. As our Messiah showed us, we should not falsely swear in any name or entity although we are still able to make an oath if we need to, as long as we stay committed to fulfilling it by all and any means. It is better for us to be Christians who keep their word and be considered trustworthy enough to never have to or need to make an oath. Let us all keep away from evil by being true to our words.

What does the Bible say about Suicide?

The topic of Suicide has become a hot topic in the past few weeks after several celebrities went down this path. But what does the Bible have to say about this subject? Even though it is not specifically mentioned as a Sin in Scripture, God’s Law may have the answers we seek.

God’s Law is complex just like any other body of law. Sometimes it may not cover or specify a particular action as Sin, although there maybe similar judgments which can be used to narrow down on a clear answer for this particular action. Now we must understand that, suicide sometimes is not the most black & white of paths that some choose to tread. There maybe a multitude of reasons for someone to consider ending his or her own life; from depression, mental disorders, substance abuse, persecution or torture. The purpose of this study is not to judge any person, but to look at the judgments that God has laid out in His word against such an act. With that being said, let’s proceed.

In the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings we see a few individuals mentioned as having taken their own lives.

Jdg 9:53,54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (Although Abimelech was probably going to die, he hastened his death thereby committing suicide)
Jdg 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Samson avenged himself and also sacrificed himself to destroy the Philistines with his last breath. This may or may not be accounted as suicide)
1Sa 31:3,4 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (Saul commits suicide for fear of torture)
1Sa 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (Saul’s unnamed Armour Bearer also commits suicide)
2Sa 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. (Ahithophel who had conspired against King David and councelled Absalom, committed suicide in despair for being cast aside)
1Ki 16:18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, (Zimri commits suicide for fear of capture after he murdered Elah & his family)
Mat 27:3-5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Judas was so filled with guilt that he committed suicide)

While nothing really negative is mentioned about any of the above, other than Judas Iscariot; there is no specific mention of Suicide as a sin. In the case of Saul, Samuel prophesies to him from the grave in 1Sam 28:19 saying “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me”; meaning they will join Samuel in Death. This shows that at natural death or suicide people go to Sheol (The Grave) and what is to come, comes afterwards. (Please read this link for further study on this subject)

Taking a human life
God is very clear that taking a human life is a punishable offence. As per His judgement, the murderer deserves death, as long as it was not an accidental death.

Lev 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:12-14 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Num 35:31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.

Your life is not your own
Suicide is essentially the extinguishing of ones own life. And we see proof to the extent that we don’t own our own lives, for God has paid a price for us. Our lives, then are a gift from God.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:19,20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Bought with a price
Being purchased by God is a mirror of the Exodus event where God saved the Firstborn of the Children of Israel, thereby making God the purchaser and owner of their lives.

Num 3:13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.
Lev 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.
Num 18:15,16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Isa 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

In the same way, if we are now bought for a price, thereby not being sole owner of our own lives, this would mean we have no right to extinguish our own lives. It would simply equate to murder as we are taking a life, and especially one which is owned by God.

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:18,19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

People who overcame
We can not complete this study if we do not look at the people who overcame the deepest pits of despair. Their lives can be an example to the one who contemplates suicide and the one who struggles with life without losing hope.

1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (Elijah was comforted by God when he felt he could go no further)
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah who was depressed was taught by God on why his perceptions needed to change)
Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job suffered on all fronts to the extent where he was receiving advice to give up)
Psa 116:3
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (Many of the psalms speak of the hardships that came on David)
Jer 20:14,18
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah saw the oncoming destruction upon God’s people and was in deep sorrow)
Mat 26:38
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Yeshua went through darkness knowing the trials He was about to go through)
Mar 14:72
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Peter essentially did the same sin as Judas Iscariot – betraying his Master)
2Co 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (Paul felt he could not go on with all the persecution that came their way)

The above examples show how we can and must go through trials and tribulations, putting our trust in God. Their are no shortcuts.

Conclusion
Suicide directly effects much more than the individual who walks down that path; rather having ramifications in the lives of friends and family. While I do not seek to judge a person who goes through with suicide, in the above way, a case could be made against suicide, although as I mentioned earlier, there is no direct command against taking ones own life. The above study is not a judgement against a life which is lost, but hopefully an explanation for all of us who could go through dark times in our lives.

The question boils down to whether the person who contemplates suicide believes his or her life belongs to God and whether he or she has willingly given it to His care? If so, you are not taking your own life, but a life which was paid for and bought by God, being under His ownership. In this way, it could be compared to Murder which God has specifically ruled against. So let us put our hopes in Him, and be encouraged that He will never let us go.