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Jesus Fulfilled The Law Part II

Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Law and Prophecies, He did not abolish them

Jesus and the Law artist unknown

Matthew 5:17–20

 

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 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. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (KJV).

 

Hebrew Bible Textl – Jewish Related Item

Jesus made some statements in the Sermon on the Mount addressed to the Pharisees that would be in sharp contrast with the Old Testament Law. Even though the fundamental Law was the 613 commandments within the Torah, the common understanding ofit expanded to the entire Old Testament by the time of Jesus’ first advent. During the early Second Temple period the religious authorities had left Old Testament Mosaic Law in favor of Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism is based on a man-centered philosophy. It also tied people up with so many conditions and rules there was no way a Jew could ever fulfill them. It would have been easy to conclude that Jesus wanted to abolish the Law that had been given through Moses, but Jesus assured his listeners that He had no such intention.

He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament by doing what those prophecies said the Messiah would do. He also “filled up” the law by pouring into it the meaning that had been forgotten by the teachers of Israel. This is what the Sermon on the Mount was teaching, that is, the intent of the Law. He applied the Law to thoughts and motives as well as to actions.

He also fulfilled the Law by accomplishing what the Law had failed to do. The Law revealed the standard of righteousness that God expected. The Law also revealed to people their sinful state and let them know that they were sinners, and their efforts were insufficient to earn eternal life (Romans 3:19, 20). The Law pointed out the need for a Savior, thus it served as a means “to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). When we come to Christ, the Law’s purpose is fulfilled; “we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Galatians 3:25).

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus was saying that not even the tiniest part of the Law would be removed or discarded “from the law, till all be fulfilled”. This occurred when Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Gospel replaced the Law which is the “good news”. God was now reconciling the world to himself through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

Jesus fulfilled the Righteousness God demanded

Jesus’ words highlight one of the principle functions of the Law and that was to reveal the righteousness that God demanded. God’s people under the old covenant owed their undivided obedience to the Law given from God through Moses, but Christians are under the divinely revealed Gospel.

Because the Sermon on the Mount was directed to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, it is not easily discerned two thousand years later what a bombshell these words were to the people who heard Jesus speak them. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were considered to be the people who kept the Law most precisely. It was difficult to understand, even in that day, how anyone’s righteousness could ever surpass theirs.

Since the Pharisees followed a man-made law, which was developed in the four hundred years before Jesus appeared, it was not of God. These individuals followed their Rabbinic law consisting of giving, praying, and fasting purely for show:

False Piety artist unknown

Matthew 6:1–8

 

1 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. 2 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. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (KJV).

They claimed to possess a great devotion to the law, but their true devotion was to themselves, their prestige, and their traditions. In much of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapter 5, Jesus contrasted the Old Testament Law and with the religious leaders of His day with His own teaching on a variety of subjects. In every instance, Jesus taught that sin and righteousness are found in one’s thoughts and motives as well as in one’s actions. To recognize this is to follow after the kind of righteousness that surpassesthat of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. The next section of Scripture examines a portion of this teaching found in Matthew chapter 5:

Matthew 5: 38–42

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (KJV).

In verse 38, the command of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” was part of God’s law (Exodus 21:23, 24; Leviticus 24:19, 20; Deuteronomy 19:16–21). It provided for the equal punishment of wrongdoing. It was meant to provide a punishment that fit the crime, nothing more or nothing less and no vengeance was to be taken. Its purpose was to limit acts of personal vengeance and thus to prevent bitter feuds from escalating into something worse.

In verse 39, Jesus made an assertion of divine authority. Whatever the letter of the Law said, God’s true will for man was now being revealed directly by His Son. A “smite on the cheek”, or a slap, was done to insult someone more than injure him. The essence of His teaching was the believer’s personal responseto personal insults and injuries. He was not abolishing law and order or the protection of the weak and helpless from cruel treatment by criminals. He was presenting the appropriate response to an insult by having the civic authorities handle the situation regarding preventing and punishing crime (Romans 13:1–4).

In verse 40, The “coat” was a tunic or the undergarment worn in the time of Jesus. If someone wants to be unjust enough to try to legally take your “coat” then “let him have your cloak as well”—your more costly and public outer garment. He was saying that it is inappropriate to be bitter or angry, even when you are treated unjustly. But rather show your attitude of goodwill by giving more than your adversary demands. This also does not mean that Christians are to be “doormats,” allowing people to take advantage of them. It means that Jesus wants his people to be more concerned about relations with others than with their personal rights.

In the first century Rome occupied Israel, Roman soldiers were authorized to draft a civilian at will to carry his pack for a “mile”. If a civilian cursed the solider or complained, he probably would be beaten. Verse 41 instead encouraged them to go along cheerfully and do even more than what was required.  This attitude and action would disarm any hostility and promote goodwill. From this teaching of Jesus comes the familiar phrase, “going the second mile.”

In verse 42, common sense and even love for others must qualify our response to someone who asks us for something. We should not give to people who will abuse our generosity. If a person who has a drinking problem asks for money so he can buy more liquor, we must deny that request. We are not obligated to give what is asked for. Sometimes the requests are made from people who have the responsibility to provide, but do not want to, and react with inappropriate behavior instead. The ideal presented here is that of helpfulness and generosity. One is not to develop a callous heart toward genuine needs, but neither is a person to grant another’s requests indiscriminately.

Jesus fulfills Gods command to Love our Neighbor

 

The Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants cir 1670

Matthew 5: 43- 48

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (KJV).

“Love your neighbor”was plainly written in the Law (Leviticus 19:18). In contrast, “hate thine enemy”is not specifically stated anywhere in the Law. Even so, God’s people sometimes were ordered to destroy entire nations of enemies, killing men, women, children and animals without mercy (Deuteronomy 7:2; 1 Samuel 15:3). Many Jewish teachers interpreted such commands as orders to hate one’s enemies. The Greek word for “love” in verse 43 isagape, and Jesus uses it here to refer to unselfish goodwill in action. Jesus’ followers must not only refuse to harbor enmity toward their enemies, they are told to seek what is in their best interests and to pray for them. This is certainly possible but is very difficult.

It is also important to recognize who Jesus considered our neighbor. In the Old Testament the word appears in four different Hebrew forms. They are Strong’s #’s 5997; 7138; 7934; 7453; 7468. In the New Testament there is only one form in the Greek. It is Strong’s # 4139. Generally, the various Hebrew forms refer to someone that is extremely close to you. The Jewish usage of the term neighbor always means any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth, that is, another Israelite. It can also refer to a brother, lover, companion, friend, or husband. Some forms include a general member of the human family, or a person that lives in close proximity or even sometimes an enemy. The Greek usage is similar, but with only one word it does not have the individual subtle usages found in the Old Testament Hebrew.

The verses which exemplifies its usage the most is found in the book of Matthew. In the following section of Scripture, the Lord is responding to a challenging question from one of the lawyers trying to trap Him in a theological debate related to the Mosaic Law:

Matthew 22: 35-34

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (KJV).

Here Christ is referring them back to the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19:18 where the “neighbor” is narrowly defined as another Jew:

Good Samaritan by Rembrandt cir 1630

Leviticus 19:18 

” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD (KJV).

The New Testament was written by and first given to the Jews. In fact, Christ made the declaration early in His ministry that He had come only for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). Paul tells us that the Gospel is to go to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). It is important to consider the Jewish roots of Christianity in order to properly understand the Biblical text. Stephen in his dissertation to the High Priest in the book of Acts uses the term “neighbor” to mean a fellow Hebrew, and the King James Version uses the word “brethren”:

Acts 7:24-25

24And seeing one [of them] suffer wrong, he defended [him], and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not (KJV).

Here Stephen is speaking of Moses’ attempt to defend another Jew against an Egyptian and calls the Jew a neighbor. Fellow Christians are referred to as “neighbors” in the New Testament (Romans 15:2; Ephesians 4:25; James 4:11-12). This is consistent within the context of Jesus referencing Leviticus 19 while talking about fellow Christians meaning other Christians are “neighbors”. Christ in the same passage of Matthew told the lawyers that we must love God first and then love our neighbors the same way we love ourselves. We must consider the context also of Christ’s commandment to love one another as related in John’s gospel:

John 13:34-35 

34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (KJV).

As Christians we are commanded to have a love for one another. This is consistent with Christ’s usage of loving our neighbors in Matthew 22:39. Here He narrowly defines the love we are to have for “others” is to be first be directed to others in the Body of Christ. Those “others” who are outside the Christian community will see our special relationship to God. The apostle John captures this subject in his first epistle. He demonstrates that a true believer loves “the brethren”, other believers, otherwise stated as our neighbors:

1 John 3:14-16 

14We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death. 15Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren (KJV).

This follows directly from the Matthew passage in that Christ said the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second as mentioned is to love your neighbor the same way you love yourself. This is not a commandment to engage in loving oneself. He knows that with the sin nature still in us we already love ourselves. The sin nature obviates the need for this commandment.

Neither do these passages refer to us loving, in a humanistic sense, the whole world’s population. The love that Christians should have for each other is to mark us as Christ’s disciples. If the commandment to love others were to the general population then there would be nothing significant about the passage in John 13. We are commanded to love other believers. That is real believers, not pretenders or those that hate us. They that hate us are depicted as being non-believers in the 1 John passage. Notice that we are not commanded to hate back. In fact, Christ tells the listeners of His Sermon on the Mount to love those that hate and curse you (Matthew 5:43-44). What does that mean? It is important to realize the nature of Christ’s statement so as not to confuse it with the passages commanding us to love other believers.

Jesus teaches His sermon on the mount

The Sermon on the Mount is Christ’s explanation of the standard of righteousness, which  God demanded, put in contrast with the Pharisaic interpretation of the kind of righteousness, which the Law demanded. The Pharisees interpretation was treating the Levitical passage as license to hate everyone that was not a Jew and particularly not a Pharisee. The Mosaic Law never intended this commandment to be carte blanche to hate any enemy. Rather, the Mosaic Law was given in the sense that one must love God and love those whom God loves, and conversely hate those who God hates. As an example, God hated the Canaanites because of their extreme wickedness and He commanded the Jews to exterminate them. Therefore, the Old Testament commandment was never meant to hate individuals through personal animosity or enmity.

The proper interpretation is to hate what God hates and love what God loves. God hates sin and we must hate sin. As far as loving our neighbor, we must first love other believers. We are not commanded to hate those that harm us or do not believe. We are to extend our love to the unbelieving community in that we would like to see them become children of God as we have become. All people are made in the image of God and a have worth. We should treat them with respect and concern. The love Christians have for each other is unique and a special living testimony to our connection to the Lord Jesus and the salvation that He has given to us.

Jesus pointed out that God gives numerous blessings to all people everywhere, even though they do not recognize Him as the source of these blessings. In fact, many live in defiance of His will for man, following what is evil and unrighteous. The patience and kindness of our Father in heaven should be a constant rebuke of others when in our flesh, we would prefer to retaliate.

There is nothing unusual about responding to good treatment with a good disposition. Even people who lack any kind of spiritual depth (pagans) can express gratitude to those who have treated them kindly. Jesus expects his followers to do more than others. The Christian is to go beyond what would normally be expected. In Matthew 5:48, the Greek word translated “perfect”means “complete” or “mature.” It indicates the complete development or final form of anything. The text is talking about such matters as loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We can and ought to love all those whom God loves, and we ought to do good to them as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10). Loving our neighbors means we would like them to become believers. It does not mean we affirm or join in to their pagan practices. 

The Sequence of Our Love

The sequencing of our love is to be:

  1. First, our primary love is to be directed to God.
  2. Second, our love is directed to other believers. We are to love those people first that God loves and realize that other Believers (Christians) are our neighbors.
  3. Third, our love is to be directed to those outside the church that need our assistance.
  4. Finally, we are to hate sin, and are to offer God’s love to sinners in hope that God will choose to save them. This stage is only after we have offered love and assistance to other believers. We are not commanded to first offer God’s love to those outside the church.

 

Daniel E Woodhead

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Jesus Fulfilled The Law Part I

The Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law

Hebrews 10:11-18

 

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof  the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (KJV).

This section of Scripture begins to compare what the Lord Jesus did in contrast to what the Levitical priests had to do repetitively. When Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven and now sits on the right hand of God. In other words, He completely fulfilled the Levitical Law, and by this one event His work is effective forever. While the Old Testament sacrifices did not remove sins, His death and resurrection did. Now Jesus waits for the time when He will return to finish the Great Tribulation exercising the complete victory over His enemies in the earth. This will be the fulfillment of Psalm 110:1:

Psalm 110:1

1Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool (KJV) .

The final sacrifice of Himself totally fulfilled all that God had ordained for the complete remission of sins. Jesus fulfills the promises of the New Covenant, which no longer required any animal sacrifices, and the Jewish believers, who are the intended audience of this book, can dispense with them without any loss of salvation. First, we must remember the original reasons for the Mosaic Law. It was to demonstrate God’s standard of righteousness, make us aware of sin, make us aware of our desire to sin more, and finally to act as a schoolmaster so we would be aware of our sinful state.

THE GOEL

Ruth in Boaz’s Field bu Julius Schnorr von Carolefield

The Old Testament contains important information for us to know in order to truly understand how Christ completely fulfilled the Law. He is the Goelfor all believers on earth, from the time of Adam and Eve right through into the future when the Great Tribulation begins. What is the Goel? Goelis the Hebrew word for “redeemer. The verb form means “to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman” (Strong’s Concordance, number 1350). Note the word “kinsman”, it modifies the word “redeemer” t mean one in which there is a “blood relationship”, or one who is tied to the redeemer role in the closest possible way.

Based on Old Testament Law, the Goelas a noun is the one who acts in the role of the kinsman redeemer, and there are three instances where Jesus Christ qualifies as the Goel, and these instances are described in the Mosaic.

AS THE GOEL HE IS OUR AVENGER OF BLOOD.

The avenger of blood artist unknown

Within the Mosaic penal code was the principle of personal retribution for murder. It is different than vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God. Vengeance is killing someone because you hate him or her, or because they have harmed you in some way. That is not what God allows. In a narrow sense, the only thing He allowed was the concept that if somebody killed a family member, the nearest kinsman, like is a brother, could be the avenger of blood and was justified in killing the manslayer in retaliation for their taking the life of one of the immediate family – particularly another brother. For example, under the Mosaic Law if a male Hebrew had a brother who was killed by another person, the living brother had the legal right to avenge the death by killing the manslayer, but only if it was first degree or premeditated murder.

The Mosaic Law did provide for legal retaliation. Later the Romans called it “Lex Talionis” and it is the legal principle upon which retaliation was justified. Even our legal system has it today, but the individual does not go off and kill somebody. They present the case to our court system that has a systematic way of dealing with the issue. As a believer you could forgive the person, but the manslayer is still responsible for what they did. The Mosaic Law gave the following directions for the kinsman redeemer acting as the avenger of blood:

The willful murderer was to be put to death, without permission or compensation, by the nearest kin of the deceased. In this narrow sense the blood avenger was limited to only killing the manslayer if the crime was first degree, or premeditated murder (Deuteronomy 19:11-13).

The law of retaliation was not to go beyond the immediate offender (2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4). In other words, there were a lot of things the avenger of blood could not do. For example, he could not go out and kill the manslayer’s family, or he could not steal all the manslayer’s money. If the individual committed second degree murder, or manslaughter, then he could flee from the blood avenger and take refuge in one of the Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19:2-9). The interesting aspect of this is that he could stay there without harm and be protected until the High Priest died. But, if he left the city of Refuge before the High Priest died, then he was subject to being killed by the blood avenger if the avenger was still nearby looking for him. When the High Priest died, then the blood avenger lost his legal right to kill the manslayer for murdering his kinsman.

There are important parallels to Jesus as our High Priest, and as our Goel, the avenger of blood. He died so that we can be redeemed from the spiritual (and sometimes physical) death that results from our sins. All sin leads to death, which of us is not guilty of sin? (For an extensive discussion of why we are saved from death because of our sins by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus our Redeemer see Romans chapter 8.) Remember, Satan brought sin and death into this world. Satan committed premeditated, first-degree murder by taking both the spiritual and physical life of Adam and Eve, and of every human being born since his crime in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve would have lived forever if they had not been tempted to sin by Satan. Because Jesus the Son was born as a human baby (which makes Him our brother), He is our kinsman and the avenger of blood for all who believe. He will completely destroy Satan who is the “manslayer “of the human race. When Jesus died, if you believe that he died and rose from the deal he is your Savior, you are released from the death penalty of sin, just like the one who was able to flee to a City of Refuge and then able to go free after the death of the High Priest. So, Jesus Christ fulfills the role of the High Priest and the blood avenger.

HE IS OUR GOEL IN THE LAW OF LEVIRATE MARRIAGE

Judah and Tamar by Arent de Gelder Cir 1667

Moses gave clear instructions for the Law of Levirate Marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). The idea was to carry on the family line of the individual that died within the Nation Israel. Essentially, the Law of the Levirate marriage was this: If a married brother dies with no male offspring, it would be his closest surviving brother’s obligation to marry the deceased’s widow. It was against the Law for her to go out and marry a stranger. The firstborn son of the union between the widow and her brother-in-law took the surname of the deceased, thus continuing the deceased’s name in the family register so that it might not perish out of the nation of Israel. This action labeled the surviving brother as the “kinsman redeemer”, the first instance of two in which this title is used.

(The second use of “kinsman redeemer” is in regards to redeeming property of a near relative which will be covered in the next section.)

If a brother did not wish to take his diseased brother’s wife as his own, she had the right to legally cite him for rejecting the marriage before the city elders who were the decision makers in civil matters. This required the woman and the brother-in-law to go to the center of the city square where the city elders were to be found, and the brother-in-law would remove his sandal to indicate he would not “walk in that way”, and which signified that he gave up all claim to the deceased brother’s estate. If he were to marry her, he got the brother’s estate. If he did not carry out the law, she could spit in his face. Spitting in someone’s face was an act of humiliation and it still is today.

We see this Levirate law in action in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis chapter 38. In summary this is what happened: Onan was one of Judah’s sons. Onan dies without any children and Tamar, his wife, comes to her father-in-law Judah and says, “I need a husband.” Judah had one more son who was a youth, and Judah says, “I’ll give you him when he’s old enough.” And she says, “OK, I’ll wait”, but Judah never gave her that son. So, what the Lord did was to bring Tamar to Judah some years later, dressed as a prostitute and enticed him into a sexual relationship. Before she would have intercourse with him, he said, “What do you want for payment?” She said, “Why don’t you give me your signet ring and your staff in the meantime, until you come back and give me what I am owed.” Judah agrees to do that, they have intercourse, and Judah returns to his home. But when he sends his friend to find her with the agreed payment, she is not there. Three months later, she is pregnant and the word goes out that Tamar has been having intercourse outside of marriage and she’s now pregnant. Judah is the man of retribution and demands “Who is she to do this? Under the law she needs to be stoned to death.” So, Tamar is brought before him but he does not recognize her as the harlot he had intercourse several months prior. He asks her “How could you do this?” She holds up his jewelry and staff and said she was pregnant “by this man.” Obviously, Judah is not willing to let the situation go any farther, and realizes he was the one who had committed the wrong against her by not following through on his promise to have her married to Onan’s brother. Tamar had twin boys, one of whom was Perez. It was through Perez that the family line was kept flowing through the generations leading to the birth of the Lord Jesus. This subterfuge and dishonesty could have been avoided if Judah honored the law of Levirate marriage. But Judah did not honor the Law, and the Lord intervened to keep the family line alive that would produce our Lord. The Law of Levirate Marriage and how relates to Christ as our redeemer is also explained in the book of Ruth, which is covered in the next section in more detail.

HE IS OUR GOEL AS THE KINSMAN REDEEMER

The Goelwas also called the kinsman redeemer in the case of redeeming property. To redeem means to “buy back”, “to take from”, and “to make right.” Land is very important to the Jews, and the Promised Land is extremely important. The property given to the Jews that encompassed the Promised Land was to be their permanent possession because it is God’s permanent possession:

Leviticus 25:23

23“The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you [Israel] are but aliens and sojourners with Me (KJV).”

Within the nation of Israel, provision was made for a poor person to sell their property, or himself into slavery for seven years to satisfy a debt instead of paying the lender money. However, they always had the ability to buy the property or themselves back if they came into enough money to pay the original debt. Even within the tribes, if the property was moving from one tribe to another, the original owner never lost it. They held a permanent deed to the property and in essence when they “sold” the property they were getting what we call a “lease-hold” arrangement whereby they were giving up the land for some temporary money. One could sell their property, and ideally if the nearest of kin had the willingness and the ability to buy it back, the nearest of kin could buy it back for them:

Leviticus 25:25

25“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (KJV)”

It is the Goel, the same person that can perform the Levirate marriage and take somebody out of slavery who can redeem the family land. In this case, the kinsman redeemer was essentially a rich benefactor. If a family member was forced into slavery, his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in to redeem the family member’s homestead which would allow the family to continue to live there.

The Law gave specific instructions for the Goelto redeem property of a relative to determine the cost paid by the redeemer (Leviticus 25:23-28; 48-55). The redeemer did not pay more than the original price, and the number of years that the property had been in the possession of other person was taken off the redeeming price to determine the value of the property. In the case of family members selling themselves into slavery to pay off a debt, the price was affected by the remaining years left of the original seven years of indenture. Usury or interest was not to be charged amongst the Jews at all. At the end of seven 7-year cycles (7×7=49 years), the fiftieth year is called the Jubilee Year, and all land went back to the original tribe that owned it, no matter who owed what now.

We see the concept of the kinsman-redeemer or Goelacted out in the book of Ruth. Elimelech was a Jewish man who sold his land and moved his wife Naomi, and their two sons to Moab to live since there was an extreme famine in the land of Israel. In Moab both of his sons married a gentile woman, and one of them was named Ruth. Jewish men were not to marry out of the faith but this story has a purpose. In time, Elimelech, and both his sons died. Naomi and her daughter’s-in-laws had lost their husbands, and now they were all widows. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families in Moab, however Ruth wants to stay with her because she loves Naomi and does not want to leave her. Ruth tells Naomi:

Ruth 1:16-17

16“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.17“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me (KJV).”

Naomi had become bitter over her situation and decides to return to Israel since the famine had abated, and Ruth goes with her. They travel back to the Bethlehem, the hometown of Naomi and her husband. Ruth meets Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband while gleaning grain in his field. She tells Naomi of the kindness Boaz had shown her. Naomi realizes a union with Boaz is a way for Ruth to have a family and be happy. She also knows of the kinsman redeemer directions in the Mosaic Law. So, she instructed Ruth in what to do, and how to set in motion the kinsman redeemer responsibility to activate the Goel’sresponsibility to redeem her dead husband’s land and marry Ruth. Ruth does as Naomi instructed, and Boaz is receptive to the idea but realizes there is another man who is closer in kinship than Boaz to Naomi’s dead husband. Boaz approaches this relative about redeeming the land for Naomi. The relative agreed to buy the land back until he found out that Ruth, a gentile woman he would also have to marry, came with the package. In Israel, that was forbidden – the Jews did not marry Gentiles. If they did, there was going to be a lot of problems for them socially. They were going to be outcasts unless that person converted. It still would be a tough marriage because the Jews would always view them as being an “outsider” even if they converted. The nearer kinsman backs out because he felt this redemption was going to harm his inheritance and agrees to let Boaz assume the kinsman redeemer role for the family of Elimelech. Boaz now becomes the nearest of kin and he has the privilege of redeeming Naomi’s land and Ruth with it. So, he marries Ruth and he takes the land.

 

In summary, Boaz was nearest of kin to Naomi’s deceased husband (Ruth 2:1). He was able to redeem by paying the price of redemption (Ruth 2:1), and he was willing to redeem the land (Ruth 4:4). Boaz was to become the kinsman redeemer, or the Goel. It is a beautiful love story too, but the central thread through this is showing us the role of the kinsman redeemer. Boaz, whose name is on one of the pillars of the Temple, became foundational in the family line that would bring the Lord Jesus Christ’s body into the world. That is what makes this story so beautiful. This story is a picture of the Christ and His Church.

The Bride of Christ artist unknown

What did Christ do? The Church is the Gentile Bride of Christ. He brought the Gentiles into the Church. Christ is a Jew. The Jews and the Gentiles are one in the Church. Christ is our Goel, our Kinsman Redeemer. That is one of the reasons why He fulfilled the Law.

 

 

Daniel E Woodhead

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The Lord Judges the Nations

Introduction

Ezekiel chapters 25-32 details Divine judgments against nations that have risen up many times against Israel as their adversaries. There are seven people groups singled out, and the text divides them in two groups. The first is a group of four that includes Ammon, Moab, Edom and the Philistines.  The second group is a group of three that includes Tyre, Zidon and Egypt.

Ammon, Moab, Edom and the Philistines are immediate neighbors to Israel. Their presence posed a constant spiritual as well as physical danger to Israel’s relationship to God and seemed to be a persistent frustration of the Divine plan for the Nation Israel. Most Bible teachers and commentators avoid specifying a time as to when these judgments will take place, but all accept that they have not yet occurred. When one sees the entire Bible as one long chronological story, the period of the timing of the judgment is brought into focus.

These eight chapters also seem to provide an answer to the psalmist Asaph’s imprecatory prayer in Psalm eighty-three asking the Lord to terrify them, to cause them to be confused, and to make them perish so that Israel’s adversaries will seek the name of the Lord Jehovah:

Psalm 83:1-8

1O God, keep not thou silence: Hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult; And they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 3They take crafty counsel against thy people, And consult together against thy hidden ones.4They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; That the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. 5For they have consulted together with one consent; Against thee do they make a covenant: 6The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre: 8Assyria also is joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot. Selah (ASV, 1901).

Some have written that this Psalm teaches that these nations will come against Israel before the Great Tribulation, and prior to the allied invasion described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. As we will see they already have come against Israel. But the case in point is that this Psalm does not describe an invasion of Israel by these nations, just a hatred of Israel.

Since the days of Abraham, there has been a long standing, adversarial relationship between the progeny of Isaac and Ishmael. God promised a covenant to Abraham along with a special child to receive the covenant that would come from his loins. It began in Genesis with the barren Sarah giving Abraham her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, as a concubine to produce a child for him. That child was Ishmael. Sarah later had a child of her own, Isaac, and he would receive the covenant promise (Genesis 16:12). Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau, and it was his son Jacob who received the covenant, and his twin brother Esau did not. In reaction to this, Esau married into the Ishmaelite family, thereby adding people to the group in conflict with Israel. This animosity has been obvious since the time of Abraham, and it was still there during the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-21), and into more modern history.

The nations listed in Psalm 83 are unified in their desire to annihilate Israel, and they do not want the name Israel to be remembered. The names used are the ancient biblical names, and have modern counterparts as shown in the comparison of the two maps below:

Maps from www.bible.ca/maps

In summary, here are the names from two different historical time periods:

 

Edom      –     Southern Jordan

Ishmaelites –   Father of the Arabs

Moab        –      Central Jordan

Hagarenes –    Egypt

Gebal     –      Lebanon

Ammon   –      Northern Jordan

Amalek    –     The Sinai Peninsula

Philistia   –      The Gaza Strip

Tyre         –     Lebanon

Assyria    –      Iraq and some of Syria

Current History Between Israel and these Nations

In the fall of 1947, the United Nations voted to give Israel sovereignty over the piece of land on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel declared statehood on May 15, 1948. A coalition of five Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq immediately invaded Israel.

The stated purpose of this invasion was to “push the Jews into the sea”, in other words, genocide. Assam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, declared their intentions:

“This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades. What Hitler didn’t finish three years earlier, the Arabs would finish once and for all.”[1]

A Nazi collaborator, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, led the Arabs of the former British Mandate of Palestine (a post-World War I division of Israel). He was charged at the Nuremberg trials before escaping in 1946. Al-Husseini actively supported Hitler’s aim to exterminate the Jews in World War II. Israel prevailed over all the military efforts of these cited nations to destroy them. The Arab nations failed miserably to destroy Israel.

Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, in the period leading up to June 1967, tensions increased dangerously. In reaction to the mobilization of Egyptian forces along the Israeli border in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel launched a series of preemptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields. On May 15, 1967 Nasser ordered a blockade of the Strait of Tiran. This blockade cut off Israel’s southern access to the Red Sea and beyond. By May 31,1967 Egypt had moved 100,000 troops, one thousand tanks, and five hundred heavy guns into the Sinai. By June 4, Arab forces outnumbered Israel three to one as they poised on Israel’s borders. This was Israel’s Six Day War and it was fought on three fronts, against three countries, in three overlapping stages. In the south, Israel engaged and defeated the Egyptians. In the central region, Israel engaged and defeated the Jordanians. In the north, Israel engaged and defeated the Syrians. In each of these theaters, Israel gained significant territory that would serve as its own buffers in future years.

On the morning of June 5,1967, the Israeli Air Force destroyed almost the entire Egyptian Air Force (more than three hundred planes) in less than three hours.  Israel’s armored divisions, under the leadership of General Ariel Sharon, also launched a lightning attack on the same day.

After some initial resistance, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered the evacuation of the Sinai. Israeli forces rushed westward in pursuit of the Egyptians, inflicted heavy losses, and conquered the Sinai. Nasser later acknowledged that eighty percent of Egypt’s Russian-supplied military equipment had been lost in the Sinai debacle. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. on June 8, Nasser accepted a cease-fire. On June 11, 1967 a ceasefire was signed. Arab casualties were far heavier than those of Israel with fewer than a thousand Israelis killed compared to over 20,000 from the Arab forces. More than eight hundred Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, and thousands of soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. Nasser later acknowledged that eighty percent of Egypt’s Russian-supplied military equipment had been lost in the Sinai debacle. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. on June 8, Nasser accepted a cease-fire.

 

However, there has been no settled peaceful relationship between them. After a third war in 1973, the Arab nations turned to terrorism (known as the Intifada), to attrition, and to “trying” Israel in the world press as a means of combat. God has obviously caused the Israelis to regain their land after being out of it since 586 B.C., for is a total of 2,533 years. As described, He has allowed them to prevail in several large-scale wars in which the nations in Psalm 83 state a desire to exterminate the Jews, but always lose militarily.

 

More Still to Come

These prophecies in Ezekiel chapters 25-32 and in Psalm 83 seem to indicate a Divine, permanent, and severe judgment against those nations.  Other Scriptures indicate a restoration of a relationship of varying sorts between these nations and Israel (Ezekiel 35:6-9; Isaiah 19:18-22; 23-25; Jeremiah 49:28-33; 34-39 etc.). Since there has not been a restoration of relationship between these nations and Israel as of 2018, it is necessary to consider when this might occur on the long chronological timeline of human history as laid out in the Bible.

These judgments have had a partial fulfillment, a past fulfilment, and the complete fulfilment is yet to come. The prophetic Word shows that the nations who have sinned against Jehovah and His people will be judged in “a coming day”, when Israel will be restored and be blest in the Millennial Kingdom. This is evident when we read the future promises to His covenant people Israel in Ezekiel 28:24–26 and 29:21. These unfulfilled promises concerning Israel’s restoration and spiritual prosperity make it clear that these judgments will be end time events, also known as the “latter”, or “last days”.

Only the Biblically illiterate fail to see that we are presently in the “last days.” The “last days” began with World War I. In the Olivet Discourse, Christ used the Jewish idiomatic phrase “nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom” to mean a conflict in the total region under discussion. In the Olivet Discourse He was discussing the events pertaining to the entire world surrounding His Second Coming. Matthew records our Lord’s words with respect to the beginning of the end, or as the Bible states the beginning of the “latter days”:

Matthew 24:7-8

 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places, 8All these [are] the beginning of sorrows (KJV).

According to all three synoptic Gospel writers, the sign of the end of the age is said to be when “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. This act will be coupled with famines and earth quakes in various places, and Jesus clearly stated that this would be the beginning of travail (“sorrows”). The term “travail” beans “birth pang”. It refers to the series of birth pangs that a woman undergoes before giving birth to a baby. The Jewish prophets also pictured the “last days” as a series of birth pangs before the birth of the Messianic Age, also known as the Millennial Kingdom. The beginning of travail, the first birth pang, and the sign that the end of the age has begun is when “nation rises against, nation and kingdom against kingdom”.

It is important to find out just exactly where and how this idiom is used in the Bible. It is used in at least two passages, and here the second group of three nations located geographically further away from Israel becomes important.  The nation of Egypt, is the subject of this next section from Isaiah. The first passage of “nations against nations” idiom use is about the land of Egypt, and points to a conflict all over the land of Egypt as the nation is involved in a civil war:

Isaiah 19:1-4

1Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence; and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2And I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst of it; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek unto the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4And I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts (ASV, 1901, underlining added).

A second passage using an idiom very similar to the previous section is found here:

II Chronicles 15:1-7:

1And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: 2and he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: Jehovah is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. 3Now for a long season Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law: 4but when in their distress they turned unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. 5And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in; but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the lands. 6And they were broken in pieces, nation against nation, and city against city; for God did vex them with all adversity. 7But be ye strong and let not your hands be slack; for your work shall be rewarded (ASV, 1901, underlining added).

In this passage the idiom states that the conflict encompasses the entire Middle East. In the Olivet Discourse it is the whole world that is in view. This is clear from Matthew 24: 14; 21; 30 and 31. So, this idiom refers to a worldwide conflict, and this worldwide conflict is the first birth pang, signifying that the end of the age, and that the “last days” have begun.

Interestingly, the Jewish rabbis have used the idiom “nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” in various texts outside of the Bible. One Jewish source known as the “Zohar Chadash” states:

“At that time wars shall be stirred up in the world. Nation shall be against nation and city against city; much distress shall be renewed against the enemies of the Israelites.” [2]

Another Jewish source known as the Bereshit Rabbah states:

“If you shall see the kingdoms rising against each other in turn, then give heed and note the footsteps of the Messiah (XLII:4)

The Rabbis clearly taught that a worldwide conflict would signal the coming of the Messiah. Jesus corrected this idea slightly, for He said that when the world war occurs, while it does not signal the coming of the Messiah, it will signal that the end of the age has begun. These “birth pangs” that He talked about are the same as the “footsteps” the rabbis talked about. “The footsteps of the Messiah” had to do with a series of events that led up to the coming of the Messiah.

World War I (1914-1918) was the fulfillment of this particular prophecy for that was the first time the entire world was at war. World War II was a continuation of World War I because it involved the same participants and was fought over the same issues. Both wars had a significant impact on Jewish history. World War I gave impetus to the growth of the Zionist movement, and World War II let to the re-establishment of the Jewish State.

Since World War I, history has entered the “last days” of the Church Age. However, the “last days” are an extended period of time. We do not know when the end of the “last days” will occur. The “last days” are a period that includes the consummation of the Church age and the Great Tribulation. The period of the “last days” up to the beginning of the Great Tribulation is unrevealed in Scripture. The Great Tribulation is seven years long. The sign that the end of the age has begun is the worldwide conflict fulfilled by World War I and World War II.

Therefore, our pinpointing the events of the judgment of the nations surrounding Israel seem to place themselves in the “last days”. Specifically, with the Great Tribulation still in the future, and the Arab nations continuing to be at odds with Israel, it is reasonable to place these judgments at the end of the Great Tribulation when all animosity toward Israel will end. It may also be at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom when Israel is at peace with all nations, and the Messiah is governing the world from His throne in Jerusalem. This state of the earth after the Great Tribulation is one where wickedness and sin has been defeated (Isaiah 13:9), and the animosity of the nations toward Israel will be over.

Daniel E. Woodhead

[1] Sachar, Howard M.  A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time: 2nd Edition. New York: A Borzoi Book, 1976. Reprint Alfred A. Knoff, Inc.,1996, 333.

[2] Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2003). The footsteps of the Messiah Rev. ed.,Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries. pp. 626–627.

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God Initiates Sacrifices, Festivals & Practices in the Messianic Kingdom

God Initiates The Ordinances of the Offerings

 

Ezekiel 43:18-27

18And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. 19Thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord Jehovah, a young bullock for a sin-offering (ASV, 1901).

This first set of ordinance offerings initiate the operation of the Messianic Temple. This is God’s first official act to consecrate the Temple and inaugurate its nearly full thousand year operation following its construction and operation. These very specific sacrificial offerings will be made upon the altar described in the previous verses in full sight of the Messiah as He sits in the inner Holy of Holies and looks out on the inner court as they are made in loving obedience to the Savior. The altar will be cleansed by the shedding of blood and used for offering whole burnt and peace offerings. Blood which the Bible regards as containing the life of the offering will be placed in the prominent place on the altar to communicate holiness. It imparts holiness and removes sin. This is a direct reference to the Lord Jesus whose blood imparted holiness to us and removed our sins. Now He is celebrating the fact that these two factors of the Messianic Kingdom have been achieved by Him. This is very similar to what Moses was commanded to do in the wilderness to inaugurate the Tabernacle over a seven day period. Details are important because similarity does not mean sameness.

 

Source: http://bible.ag/en/enezekieltranscript.htm

Leviticus 8:14-15

14And he brought the bullock of the sin-offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock of the sin-offering. 15And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it (ASV, 1901)

Since Ezekiel has been promised to be resurrected he will be able to actually give to the priests, the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord Jehovah, a young bullock for a sin-offering. This is promised to the faithful Old Testament saints in at lease two places. This is God’s Promise.

Isaiah 26:19:

19 Your dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead (ASV, 1901).

While this passage promises that a resurrection will some day take place a more specific promise regarding timing is found in the second passage found in the book of Daniel.

Daniel 12:2:

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (ASV, 1901).

This passage  is making a clear distinction between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the unrighteous. Only the righteous saints will be resurrected at this time in order to partake of the blessings of the Millennial Kingdom. These are the friends of the bridegroom (John. 3:29) who will be invited to the wedding feast with which the Messianic Kingdom will begin. The rest of humanity will be resurrected to everlasting destruction at the Great White Throne judgment after the Messianic Kingdom. Since Daniel chapter twelve begins with a discussion of Michael the Archangel prevailing at a time of trouble greater than any ever, it clearly points to the time of the end of the Tribulation. Therefore Ezekiel will be resurrected and provide the necessary first sacrifice to the Sons of Zadok of the priestly line to inaugurate the Messianic Temple. He may be the High Priest or at least have a significant role in the High Priest’s activities.

The Sons of Zadok are a very special group of which Ezekiel belongs and as God says, “are near unto me, to minister unto me.” All Hebrew names have meaning. The  Sons of Zadok have a unique name meaning “righteous.” As such Zadok was a type or model of the Lord Jesus. Zadok was a priest, who descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron  the first High Priest (I Chronicles 6:4-8). He aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom and was subsequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to the throne. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there. The Sons of Zadok have always been faithful to the Lord and His chosen elect.

In their rebellion Israelite priests had violated the Lord’s covenant by allowing foreigners to bring their detestable practices into the temple. Because the Levites had been unfaithful to the Lord, they will be demoted in the Messianic Temple. They will tend the temple gates, slaughter sacrificial animals, and assist the people, but they will not be allowed to handle the holy objects or offerings of the Lord. As a reward for their faithfulness the Zadokite line of the Levitical family would function as the Lord’s priests. Zadok was a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas (I Chronicles 6:3–8, 50–53). They will be the priests selected for service of the altar called in Hebrew the Mizbeyach in the Messianic Temple. The sacrifices while memorializing the atonement that Jesus provided for the world will also emphasize the divine election of the nation Israel. They will have been chosen to perform the very sacrifices that will impress upon the whole world the blessings of salvation and peace that have been provided by the Messiah Jesus. The very first sacrifice will be a young bull as a sin offering. The Hebrew word for sin is chatat.  Since Hebrew words are built on a root of three letters this word’s root is chat which means cleanse. It is actually more accurate therefore to describe this as a cleansing offering.

Administration of the Cleansing

 

Ezekiel 43:20-21

20And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse it and make atonement for it. 21Thou shalt also take the bullock of the sin-offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary (ASV, 1901).

Similarly was the case in the Mosaic Law when the blood was applied to the four horns of the altar with the priest’s finger (Exodus 29:12). Actually every sin offering mentioned in the Law was a blood applied on the four horns of the altar. Then in the Mosaic Law the remainder of the blood was poured on the base of the altar. In the Messianic Temple the blood will be sprinkled first on the four horns of the altar and then also sprinkled on the corners of the settle which went round it, for the priests to walk on, and carry out their activities.

This could be either the uppermost, or the lowermost settle, or both (see diagram).  Some will also probably be applied on the border or ledge that enclosed the settle. Here is another distinction between the Messianic Temple sacrifice and that of the Mosaic Law found in the book of Exodus.

Exodus 29:13-14

13And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul upon the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. 14But the flesh of the bullock, and its skin, and its dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin-offering (ASV, 1901).

In the Mosaic Law the inner parts of the bullock were burned on the altar. Here the command is to burn all the bullock outside the Temple. There is no mention of the Mosaic practice of allowing the priests to eat the flesh of the private sin or peace offerings here in the memorial sacrifices.

The Second Day’s Offerings

Ezekiel 43:22-25

 22And on the second day thou shalt offer a he-goat without blemish for a sin-offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. 23When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. 24And thou shalt bring them near before Jehovah, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah.

The Lord changes the offering for the second day from a bullock to a he-goat. This did not occur in the Mosaic Law at the Tabernacle’s inauguration. The bullock was used for the full seven days of that inauguration. The object of the offering of the “he-goat” was the same as that of the offering of the bullock is to continue the cleansing of the altar. Simmarily to the scapegoat in the Mosaic Law, the scapegoat took on the sins of the Israelites and removed them (Leviticus  16:10). This is again a memorial to what Christ has done for the world. After which on the same day a bullock and finally a ram all without any blemishes or flaws shall be offered. The use of salt with an offering is associated with the idea of covenant (Numbers 18:19; II Chronicles 13:5).  Salt was used as part of sacrificial communal meals and was a sign of purification and preservation. Therefore salt is a symbol of preservation of the promises of God and a sign of the purity of the  New Covenant, which promises no possibility of failure of God or His people in the Messianic Kingdom who will be under it

Jeremiah 31:33-34

33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV, 1901).

Ezekiel 36:25-27

25And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them (ASV, 1901).

 

Seven Days Shall be The Inauguration

 

Ezekiel 43:25-27 

25Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin-offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. 26Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it. 27And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and forward, the priests shall make your burnt-offerings upon the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord Jehovah (ASV, 1901). 

The pattern commanded for day two will be carried out for the entire seven days of the inaugural ceremony. That is, a he-goat, a bullock, and a ram all perfect without any blemishes. This also was not a practice of Moses when he inaugurated the Tabernacle. It was also not done by those that returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah after captivity in Babylon. This is another major change in the order of sacrifices in time to come, under Messiah. So this ceremony lasting seven days will provide a consecration of the altar to our Messiah. These particular sacrifices in this order will have the specific purpose to inaugurate the Messianic Kingdom’s services in the new Temple. From the eighth day forward the sacrifices will continue every day but they will be burnt offerings and peace offerings all ceremonial for what Jesus our Messiah has done for us. For God says that, “I will accept you, saith the Lord Jehovah.”

Select Concepts to Consider Regarding the Sacrifices on the Altar

 

  1. The sacrifices are a gift to our God and in burning them they become irrevocable as in a covenant that cannot be broken. They are promises of the people to God to keep His Law. The salt is a symbol of the preservation of these promises.
  2. Fire in the house of God is a type of the Shekinah which provides, power, (Exodus 9:24), wrath (II Kings 1:9–12), approval (Leviticus 9:24), guidance (Exodus 13:21–22), protection (Zechariah 2:5), purity (Isaiah 6:5–7), deliverance (II Kings 2:11), God’s word (Jeremiah 5:14), the Messiah (Malachi 3:2), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3), judgment (Matthew 25:41), the return of Christ (II Thessalonians 1:8), and the end of the present age (II Peter 3:10–12).
  3. A sign of God’s presence with His people (Ezekiel 43:27).
  4. It was associated with holiness, purity, and mercy, especially the horns of the altar (Ezekiel 43:15, 20; 1 Kings 1:50–51; 2:28). The sprinkling of blood on the horns of the altar was a rite of purification (Ezekiel 43:18–21).
  5. The altar was a tool of mediation (Ezekiel 40:47; 43:19). Offerings were translated from the physical world by burning and given to God as the smoke rose to heaven.
  6. The sacrifice was a means of communication with God and was considered a form of prayer (Psalm 141:2).
  7. The act of sacrifice was for a temporary atonement of sins committed knowingly and unintentionally (Ezekiel 43:25–27; Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:3–4, 15, 18; Numbers15:22–31).

 

At the conclusion of the seven days of cleansing God will completely accept the population of the Messianic Kingdom. The cleansing ritual is passed and from then on the  daily sacrifices are memorial for the world to affirm Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. It will be a reminder of the order, peace ,and promises He provided for this world.

The Second Cleansing  Sacrifice

Ezekiel 45:18

18Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In the first month, in the first day of the month, thou shalt take a young bullock without blemish; and thou shalt cleanse the sanctuary (ASV, 1901).

God speaks directly to Ezekiel giving him explicit instruction for the cleansing of the Sanctuary. Earlier in Ezekiel 43:19-20 a young bull was offered to cleanse the Altar.

With the Exodus (cir. 1444 B.C) God inaugurated a religious calendar for the Children of Israel that would replace the civil calendar for ceremonial purposes.

Exodus 12:1-3

1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household (ASV, 1901)

The events of the Exodus 12 passage took place in the seventh month according to the civil calendar which began in September with the new harvest. The passover & deliverance from their slavery was such a significant event that God would change the basis point from which they reckon time. A new year would signify a new beginning apart from the Egyptian solar calendar to a new lunar calendar.  So God then changed the religious calendar to the first month of the year which then He called Abib to commemorate a new start. This name was change to Nisan during the Babylonian captivity. God wanted this new start to be so significant to the Nation Israel that even the calendar was going to reflect it. The Antichrist as a false Messiah will try and do the same (Daniel 7:25). The rest of Israel’s law is given at Sinai, but this memorial of redemption was established in the land of Egypt. The religious calendar would begin in the time period of March-April.

This new Messianic cleansing will take place in Nisan but on the first day of the month not the 10th day as specified in Exodus 12:3 for the new beginning. The significance of this is that the 10th of Nisan was the month of Israel’s redemption from the persecution in Egypt. The final redemption of Israel’s persecution from this present age will also end on Nisan but on the first day of the month.

Ezekiel 45:19-20

19And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering, and put it upon the door-posts of the house, and upon the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and upon the posts of the gate of the inner court. 20And so thou shalt do on the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye make atonement for the house (ASV, 1901).

Once the bull has been sacrificed by the Levites they will put it on the door-posts of the Temple Doorway and the base of the four corners of the upper platform of the Altar and on the doorpost of the gate of the Inner Courtyard. Presumably this is the inner eastern gate.

This will be for any Gentile who unintentionally sins because intentional sin will not be possible for the Jew due to the New Covenant’s provisions. The simple person is also known as one who was foolish. It is generally seen as those who when the Babylonian captivity had ended decided to stay in Babylon instead of going back to Jerusalem. This procedure will be repeated on the seventh day of the month.

The Messianic Passover Celebration

Ezekiel 45:21-25

21In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 22And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin-offering. 23And the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt-offering to Jehovah, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a he-goat daily for a sin-offering. 24And he shall prepare a meal-offering, an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 25In the seventh month, in the fifteenth day of the month, in the feast, shall he do the like the seven days; according to the sin-offering, according to the burnt-offering, and according to the meal-offering, and according to the oil (ASV, 1901).

Passover will be celebrated on the fourteenth of Nisan as it has been since the Exodus. In keeping with the celebration of what the Messiah did for us by sacrificing Himself on the fourteenth of Nisan, the Passover will continue to occur on the same day. The actual festival of Passover (Pesach) begins the nightfall on the fifteenth day of Nisan. But on the fourteenth day, after the sixth hour of the day. Chometz, unleavened bread,  or any food that contains leaven (yeast) will be forbidden. Yeast is represented as sin in the Bible because it puffs up as in pride like the first sin of the anointed Cherub Hallal who became Satan the adversary of God and then mankind’s adversary. Then in the afternoon the Korban Pesach (Pascal lamb) is offered. Interestingly Jesus was sacrificed on the Passover, went into the tomb on Unleavened Bread and rose from the dead on First Fruits the third holiday of the Jewish agrarian year.

The Prince David will be the director of the services first for himself then for the people of the land with a bullock for a sin-offering. in the Mosaic system, the Passover was held within individual families with the head of the household performing the ceremony. In the Messianic Kingdom the Prince David will perform the ritual on behalf of the nation. In the Mosaic Law, the Passover was a one day festival, while in the Ezekiel, it will last for seven days. The Mosaic offered an unblemished lamb, while in the Kingdom a bullock will be offered.

David will offer a flour offering on the first Passover in order to consecrate the newly operational Temple. This and the timing of the seventh month in the fifteenth day will signify the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) which will have a significant attendance including all the Gentiles in the world.

Zechariah 14:16

16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the (Gentile) nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles (ASV, 1901).

Closing of the Inner Court East Gate

Ezekiel 46:1-2

 1 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. 2And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate; and the priests shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening (ASV, 1901).

The Sabbath of the Old Testament will be reinstituted. The Sabbath will be in force as soon as the Church is Raptured from the earth. This will continue for the entire reign of our Messiah during His one-thousand year Kingdom. The glory of our Messiah and in His honor the east gate to the inner court will be opened only on the Sabbath and the first day of the month (Hebrew Rosh Chodesh). The Prince will lead the worship and it will last until the evening at which time the east inner court gate will be shut again. It is by this gate that the Prince will enter into the sanctuary to preside over the worship services as the Levites prepare the designated offerings to our Messiah. The Hebrew text says the Prince will prostrate himself before the Lord not worship as our translation says. This is the appropriate level of obedience and honor one gives the king of the earth who gave us His life for our salvation.

People Worship at the Inner Court East Gate

 

 

Ezekiel 46:3-5

3And the people of the land shall worship at the door of that gate before Jehovah on the sabbaths and on the new moons. 4And the burnt-offering that the prince shall offer unto Jehovah shall be on the sabbath day six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish; 5and the meal-offering shall be an ephah for the ram, and the meal-offering for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah (ASV, 1901).

 

All people will come to worship at the Messianic Temple at the sabbath and the new moons.

In the Mosaic Law, the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles was required for Jews only. But this will change under the Kingdom Law, it will be mandatory for both Jews and Gentiles (Zechariah 14:16–21). Under the Law of Moses, only Jews could be priests, but under Kingdom Law, Gentiles will also serve as priests (Isaiah 66:18–21). This is not at all a return to the Mosaic Law, but it is a brand new Kingdom Law. It does not conflict with the  New Testament teaching that the Mosaic Law ended with Messiah’s death. Isaiah made it quite clear that these observances would occur when God gave him these prophecies nearly seven-hundred years before Jesus was born.

Isaiah 66:23-24

23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Jehovah. 24And they shall go forth, and look upon the dead bodies of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (ASV, 1901).

God makes it quite clear through His prophet Isaiah that the people coming to Jerusalem shall see the multitude of people who perished in the last siege of Jerusalem during the Great Tribulation. These nations that came against Christ will find themselves being trodden down by the King of the Jews. The city is Jerusalem and the winepress metaphor is the battle in the Valley of Jehoshaphat which today is called the Kidron Valley. It lies between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives.

Revelation 14: 19-20:

And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs (KJV).

From here the armies leave for Bozrah and then return ending the conflict. The blood stretches for 1,600 furlongs or 200 miles. Jeremiah best describes this:

Jeremiah 49:20-22:

20Therefore hear ye the counsel of Jehovah, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely they shall drag them away, even the little ones of the flock; surely he shall make their habitation desolate over them. 21The earth trembleth at the noise of their fall; there is a cry, the noise whereof is heard in the Red Sea. 22Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread out his wings against Bozrah: and the heart of the mighty men of Edom at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs (ASV, 1901).

The massive blood letting that began at Bozrah moves to the south down the Arabah until it empties into the Red Sea at the present-day cities of Eilat and Akaba. The distance to Jerusalem is about 200 miles. The level of the blood is about four feet high. The battle finally comes to an end in the Valley of Jehoshaphat ending the seventh stage of the campaign of Armageddon.

Offerings For The New Moon

Ezekiel 46:6-8

6And on the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish: 7and he shall prepare a meal-offering, an ephah for the bullock, and an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs according as he is able, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 8And when the prince shall enter, he shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and he shall go forth by the way thereof (ASV, 1901).

Israel’s calendar was change by God as they left Egyptian time reckoning from a solar year to a lunar year. God commanded that this change be recognized of the new moon in a significant manner. The feasts were all reckoned in relation to the various phases of the moon.

Today in some of Orthodox Judaism’s followers special prayers are recited at the appearance of the new moon.  This Messianic Kingdom change is a new offering brought by David and it differs from the Mosaic Law as prescribed by the Torah in that there is no mention of a sin offering (Numbers 28:11, 15). This is a brand-new offering unique to the Messianic Kingdom.

David enters by the outer door on the side of the east and he goes out the same way. He has a very prominent role as the representative of the people. He presents his offerings to the Lord God our Messiah, while the people stand as worshippers at the outer side of the inner east gate. The offerings the Prince is to bring on the Sabbath are larger than those commanded in the law. Both the burnt-offering and the meal offering brought by him on the Sabbath are more abundant than those offered under the Mosaic Law. This represents a higher form of worship of the Messiah who will live with us and restored Israel.

The Worship Procession

Ezekiel 46:9

9But when the people of the land shall come before Jehovah in the appointed feasts, he that entereth by the way of the north gate to worship shall go forth by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth straight before him (ASV, 1901).

During the Messianic Kingdom there will be a orderly procession of all the people of the earth coming to Jerusalem to honor the King at the appointed festivals. This is a public display of worship and honor to God. In order to prevent congestion and confusion all the people will be entering the Temple compound through either the north or the south gate. The Temple proper, known as the Heichal, will be passed by as the worshippers stream through the inner court and prostrate themselves before the Messianic King of the universe. Whatever gate they enter by they will proceed straight through to the other side and exit that opposite gate. So if they enter by the north gate they will go out by way of the south and visa-versa. God is very concerned with appropriate decorum in His House as well as worship practices and has stated that in the Mosaic Law as well as the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 16:16

16Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before Jehovah thy God in the place which he shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles; and they shall not appear before Jehovah empty (ASV, 1901).

This same concept holds true in the New Testament too. The apostle Paul when giving us rules of order in the proper expression of Spiritual Gifts (Greek Charismata), says that we should “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40). Paul does not limit the proper order to charismata. He says, “All Things,” which focuses on the worship and honor we pay to the Lord. In fact the book of I Corinthians from Chapter 11:2 to 14:40 reveals the proper order of Christian worship leading up to this section’s conclusion of the proper functioning of charismata. It includes the state of women and headship as well as the state of all at the Lord’s Supper. We will all stand before God to give and account. (Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10). God does not want us to follow the culture. He wants us to be obedient to Him in all things.

There will be an unknown number of people in the millions coming to Jerusalem during the Messianic Kingdom so order and decorum must prevail in our public display of worship. What is important for us to realize is that everything is divinely ordered. We may not understand it but God does everything for a reason. He wants our obedience.

David The Prince With His People

Ezekiel 46:10-12

10And the prince, when they go in, shall go in in the midst of them; and when they go forth, they shall go forth together. 11And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meal-offering shall be an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah. 12And when the prince shall prepare a freewill-offering, a burnt-offering or peace-offerings as a freewill-offering unto Jehovah, one shall open for him the gate that looketh toward the east; and he shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, as he doth on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate (ASV, 1901).

One of the most precious views of the attitude of David the Prince and why he was chosen for this role is the love for and obedience he had for God. He as the great leader is not pushing the people to properly worship God. He is showing them how to obey by doing it with them. Here he is in the midst of them; and when they go forth, they shall go forth together,  (David’s Lament in I Samuel 26:19; Sons of Korah Psalm 42:4; David’s Godly resolve in Psalm 132:1-5). God says that when David shall prepare a freewill-offering, a burnt-offering or peace-offerings as a freewill-offering unto Jehovah, one shall open for him the gate that looketh toward the east; and he shall prepare his burnt-offering and his peace-offerings, as he doth on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate. So the gate on the east of the inner court will be open for him to make his obeisance to The King of the world. After he came in with the people he will then ceremonially go in  and out of the eastern gate in obedience to God. The gate will be opened for him and closed after he has made his ceremonial offering leading the people in worship with the specified offerings in the volumes required. The outer eastern gate is permanently closed now after Messiah entered the Temple compound. The lesser leader David will obey a model of that with the inner eastern gate. The New Year offerings, the Passover offerings, the offerings for the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Sabbath offerings, will all take place at the inner eastern gate. The inner eastern gate will be shut for six days, but will always be opened on the Sabbath throughout the Kingdom period.

The Lamb of  Sacrifice

Ezekiel 46:13-15

13And thou shalt prepare a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah daily: morning by morning shalt thou prepare it. 14And thou shalt prepare a meal-offering with it morning by morning, the sixth part of an ephah, and the third part of a hin of oil, to moisten the fine flour; a meal-offering unto Jehovah continually by a perpetual ordinance. 15Thus shall they prepare the lamb, and the meal-offering, and the oil, morning by morning, for a continual burnt-offering (ASV, 1901).

During the period of the Mosaic Law the daily offerings consisted of a lamb every morning and of a lamb every evening (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8). In the Messianic Kingdom services the only burnt-offering mentioned is during the mornings. One more difference  to the Mosaic law is that the  offering volume is increased from one-tenth to one-sixth, and the oil from one-quarter of a hin to one-third.  This difference is intentional even though not clearly explained why. One observation we can make is that as the blessings of grace abound under the Gospel dispensation, and we should abound in our thanksgiving to God. The blessings of the Messianic Kingdom will be greater than at any time before and offerings should represent this greater blessing to us. This then brings an end to the commands for the new order of worship in the Messianic Kingdom.

The Rules of Inheritance of the Prince

Ezekiel 46:16-17

16Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, it is his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. 17But if he give of his inheritance a gift to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty; then it shall return to the prince; but as for his inheritance, it shall be for his sons. 18Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance, to thrust them out of their possession; he shall give inheritance to his sons out of his own possession, that my people be not scattered every man from his possession (ASV, 1901).

David the Prince will have some special rights or privileges because of his exulted position in the Temple. The fact that the Prince has sons, natural descendants is conclusive that the Prince of these last chapters of Ezekiel is not Christ. Clearly by decree in the Messianic Kingdom whatever gifts he bestows upon them shall be their possession by inheritance. During the one-thousand year Messianic Kingdom there will be twenty Jubilee years. In compliance with one of the laws for the Jubilee property will revert to its original owner as in the Mosaic Law. The Jubilee was celebrated after 7 sabbaths of years or 49 years. Then in the 50th year, counting from Israel’s entry into the Promised Land certain practices were to be set free.  The land was to lie fallow during the Jubilee year, Hebrew slaves were to be set free and, hereditary lands that had been sold were returned. The Jubilee was, in a sense, an entire year of festival, a year of liberty that restored the nation to the state it had enjoyed when God first established it. With the Messianic Kingdom being set free of sin, Satan and the curse on the earth at the Fall it will experience true liberty in Jubilee fashion too. So it is in this requirement of the Prince that when he gives gifts to those outside his family these gifts will revert to the original owner in the year of Jubilee which, is him. God sets limits on this practice referencing the abominable practices of the Jewish leaders in the confiscation of the people’s land in the period leading up to the Babylonian captivity and unfortunately after. David while not guilty of these practices during his reign as Israel’s king is nevertheless charged with providing for his offspring from his own personal property not that of others. The people will be protected as to their own personal property. This Jubilee return of gifts only pertains to that which Prince David gave to others outside his family.

Leviticus 25:23-24

23And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. 24And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land (ASV, 1901).

The Law of the Boiling of the Sacrifices for The Offerings

 

Ezekiel 46:19-24

19Then he brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers for the priests, which looked toward the north: and, behold, there was a place on the hinder part westward. 20And he said unto me, This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass-offering and the sin-offering, and where they shall bake the meal-offering; that they bring them not forth into the outer court, to sanctify the people. 21Then he brought me forth into the outer court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and, behold, in every corner of the court there was a court. 22In the four corners of the court there were courts inclosed, forty cubits long and thirty broad: these four in the corners were of one measure. 23And there was a wall round about in them, round about the four, and boiling-places were made under the walls round about. 24Then said he unto me, These are the boiling-houses, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice of the people (ASV, 1901).

This is a continuation of the discussion that the Messiah was providing Ezekiel which stopped at chapter 43:17. Starting at the side of the north gate He shows Ezekiel the spot where there is a one cubit gap in the northern wall of the inner wall and the knife depository. This is the place where the priests will boil the trespass-offering and the sin-offering, and where they shall bake the meal-offering; that they bring them not forth into the outer court, to sanctify the people.

The priests will cook the guilt offering and the sin offerings so as to not bring them out into the outer court. Since these sacrifices are of the highest quality and most holy, any transportation to the outer court would disqualify them for use in the services. If they went to the outer court then they would be exposed to non-priestly people wearing unsanctified apparel and this would render them unfit for use. The outer court where the Angel of Jehovah leads Ezekiel is also called the Women’s Court. This is because it completely surrounds the Temple and Inner Courtyard. From Proverbs 12:4 we see that a virtuous women is the crown of her husband. So it is that the women of the Messianic Kingdom are all virtuous and the outer court surrounding the inner court as a crown is known as the women’s court. In Solomon’s Temple the women’s court did not surround the inner court but stood east of it. The text in this section of Scripture ends with a description and location of the cooking chambers. Here the priests will cook portions of the sacrifices of the lesser holiness offerings such as the peace offerings and thanksgiving offerings, which are not disqualified if they are taken out of the inner courtyard.

Messianic Temple will not have the Ark of the Covenant.

http://www.bibleprobe.com/ark.htm

Jeremiah 3:16-17

16And it shall come to pass, when ye are multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith Jehovah, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of Jehovah; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they miss it; neither shall it be made any more. 17At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart (ASV, 1901).

Since the Messiah who is God Himself will be dwelling in and reigning from Jerusalem, there will be no need for any Ark of the Covenant. The contents of the Ark of the Covenant were the  tablets of stone that were the embodiment of the Law of Moses, a jar of manna and Aaron’s budded rod. The fact that the Law of Moses is no longer in effect is another reason why the Ark of the Covenant will be missing. Finally the Law of the Messianic Kingdom will be the New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV, 1901).

The Ark will not be needed because God says, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prophetic Significance of Jerusalem

The Significance of the USA Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

 

As he promised on December 6, 2017 President Donald Trump of the United States of America to relocate the American embassy to the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the nation of Israel he followed through and did it. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Jerusalem is mentioned more than any other city in Scripture: more than 800 times. It is named in 660 verses in the Old Testament, and in 142 verses in the New Testament.  Jerusalem appears in some two-thirds of the books of the Old Testament, and almost one-half of the books of the New Testament. While Jerusalem is its most common title, it also occurs under other names such as Zion, Salem, The City of David, and Ariel. It is symbolically named in allegory as “Hagar and Mount Sinai in Arabia” (Galatians 4:25) and in prophecy as “Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). Of the over 800 biblical references, 465 in the Old Testament and 24 in the New Testament refer to prophecies of Jerusalem yet future to the time they were stated.

First Mention of Jerusalem in The Bible

Genesis 14:18-20

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. 19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be God Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all (ASV, 1901).

Jerusalem, formerly known as “Salem” first appears in the book of Genesis in the Bible where “Melchizedek, the king of Salem” blessed Abraham, the first Hebrew. “Melchizedek” is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. Here he is said to be “priest of the God Most High”, and this is the first mention of a “priest” in the Bible. The title “God Most High” in Hebrew is El Elyon. This Hebrew title of God is found three times in these verses. It is only found elsewhere in once in Psalm 78: 35. Frequently we find the phrase “Most High” in other Bible passages, but only here and in Psalm 78 do we see the phrase “God Most High.” This designation has special significance, and verse 19 specifically states that God is the “possessor of heaven and earth”. It also means that Jehovah God had a relationship with “Melchizedek”, for “Melchizedek” was a follower and minister of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Here “Melchizedek” is said to be both a priest and a king. Abram acknowledged Melchizedek as his superior, and seemed to recognize that God had revealed Himself to this man. In the New Testament and Psalm 110, “Melchizedek” is treated as a type of Jesus. He is never seen as the Lord Jesus. A type is an example or model of something else. The book of Hebrews says he was like the Son of God (Hebrews 5,6,7). What is important to realize is that Melchizedek is a representative of God as the text says “priest of the God Most High.” Abraham recognized this and gave Melchizedek a tithe of one-tenth of all he owned.

God Says Jerusalem is His Dwelling Place.

Here the psalmist declares that Jerusalem is God’s earthly dwelling place:

Psalm 76:1-3

1In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel. 2In Salem also is his tabernacle, And his dwelling-place in Zion. 3There he brake the arrows of the bow; The shield, and the sword, and the battle, Selah (ASV, 1901). 

Jerusalem is a very special place in God’s plan for this earth, and He can do with it as He pleases:

Psalm 87:2

2Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. 3Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God (ASV, 1901).

Moreover, it is this city alone to which God took up His residence in the Tabernacle, resided in the Temple, and sacrificed Himself in the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist again states:

Psalm 132:13-14

13For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. 14This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it(ASV, 1901).

As a result, Jerusalem is both the Holy City, and the city at the center of the world (Ezekiel 5:5).

God Gave the Land of Israel to The Jews

Joshua 1:2-4

2Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spake unto Moses. 4From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border” (ASV, 1901). 

After the death of Moses, God made Joshua the key figure to fulfill His program. His instructions were very explicit. Joshua was to lead the people across the Jordan River into the land that God was about to give to them. It is entirely God’s right to give Canaan to the Israelites for He owns all the earth. The psalmist affirmed this:

Psalm 24:1

1The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein,(ASV, 1901). 

God Gives Jerusalem to The Nation Israel

II Samuel 5:6-10

6And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither; thinking, David cannot come in hither. 7Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David. 8And David said on that day, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites, let him get up to the watercourse, and smite the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul. Wherefore they say, There are the blind and the lame; he cannot come into the house. 9And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. 10And David waxed greater and greater; for Jehovah, the God of hosts, was with him” (ASV, 1901). 

 

The Jews were now given the city of Jerusalem for their capital because God was with King David, and caused him to grow ever more powerful in terms of enlarging his dominions for Israel. The Jews were subject to the conditional Mosaic Covenant, and they were apt to lose their occupation of the land if they were disobedience to God’s Law. But they would never lose the title to it (Leviticus 26:3-45). Furthermore, He promised to always love them regardless of whether they sinned or not. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians because of their disobedience. Jeremiah 31:38 tells us the city will be rebuilt later, and God described two characteristics of this new city of Jerusalem. First, it will be “holy to the Lord” (Zechariah 14:20–21). The city and its inhabitants will be set apart to God, who will dwell in her midst (Ezekiel 48:35). Second, the city will no more be uprooted or demolished. The ravages of war will not be experienced in this new city. However, these verses were not fulfilled after the Babylonian Captivity ended because the Jewish leaders did not cease from sin, and failed to recognize God when He appeared in the Lord Jesus. As a result, the city that was rebuilt by Ezra and the returning Jews from Babylon, and was expanded upon until the time of Jesus was destroyed again in A.D. 70 by the Romans. The new city of Jerusalem spoken of by the prophets Jeremiah, Zechariah and Ezekiel will be fully restored as Bible says, but not until the Messianic Kingdom (Ezekiel 40-48). From the time after the Roman destruction until the Zionist movement of the late 1800’s the land was not again occupied by the Jews. God told the Jews through the prophet Ezekiel that He would lead them back to the land in stages starting with the Zionist movement (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Those stages are:

  • The Zionist Movement
  • The end of World War I and the establishment of the Mandate
  • End of World War II and the creation of the sovereign State of Israel
  • The National Regeneration of Israel and beginning of the Messianic Kingdom

In the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:1-14 the valley is covered with bones. Ezekiel also makes the observation that there was a large volume of the bones, and they “were very dry”. These bones were scattered about and not in piles. This is an indication that they were not produced in a single event, but over a great length of time, and no vivid life had been in them for an extended period. For example, from the time of the last invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. to the rebirth of the nation Israel in 1948, Israel had been without life for 2,534 years. This is quite in keeping with the Lord statement of “The Times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).

The Times of the Gentiles

Jerusalem occupies a strategic position with respect to two major prophetic periods/events: “The times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) and the Allied Invasion led by the Russians (Ezekiel 38-39). “The times of the Gentiles” is that long period of time from the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.) until the Second Coming of Jesus. In “The times of the Gentiles” the Lord Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until that time period ended, and during this time the Gentiles have control over the city of Jerusalem. There have been times of temporary Jewish control over the city. For example:

  • Maccabean Period (164-63 B.C.)
  • First Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70)
  • The second Jewish Revolt (the Bar-Kochba Revolt) against Rome (A.D. 132-135)
  • As part of the end of 1967 Six-Day War

Any Jewish takeover of the city before the Second Coming is temporary, because Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles for at least another 3 ½ years during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 11:1-2). Thus, the current situation of Jerusalem as of 2017 does not mean that “the times of the Gentiles” have ended. “The times of the Gentiles” can only end when Gentiles cannot “tread down” Jerusalem any more.

The times of the Gentiles” is also the period of time when Gentile empires will follow one another in sequence, with the Fourth Empire of imperialism going through several different stages. But eventually this will give way to God’s setting up His Own Kingdom. So even though the Jews won through battle in 1967 the control of Jerusalem, their presence there has been disputed by the eastern block of nations, including Russia and the Islamic nations. The affirmation of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital city by the United States is one link in the sequence of events in “The times of the Gentiles”. It is important to realize that the United States, through President Harry Truman, was one of the first nations to recognize the modern state of Israel in 1948 after they declared their independence. Now President Donald Trump is officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. These affirmation of Israel, and Jerusalem’s sovereignty, are much in keeping with the blessings promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant is the first unconditional covenant that God made with Israel.  The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. As such, these three major promises of this Covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel, and universal promises to all the people of the earth. God promised that He would bless Abraham and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to “bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him” (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17). God also made national promises concerning Israel. They are to make a great nation of his descendants, to give land from the eastern most branch of the Nile delta (called the river of Egypt) to the Euphrates to his descendants forever, and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendants forever (Genesis 17:19; 21; 26:2-4; Genesis 28:12-15). As a result of these promises, we can see the period after the Second World War as having unprecedented prosperity to the United States of America, thus fulfilling God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel. We can look forward to addition prosperity following President Trump’s affirmation of Israel’s capitol as Jerusalem.

However, as expected, the Muslim Arab nations are violently reacting to President Trump’s declaration. This may trigger the allied invasion as described in Ezekiel 38 & 39. It will at the very least cause the allies of Russia to desire the invasion in an ever more urgent manner.

The world is setting the stage for this prophecy to be fulfilled by various peace negotiations, demanding that Israel give up land, and most importantly, constantly threatening their security. The biblical text as stated in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16 describe an invasion of Israel from the north, and the subsequent total destruction of the coalition of invading forces once they reach the area of “the mountains of Israel”. It appears that there is a preemptive attack by the Israelites with a nuclear weapons exchange that results in a seven-year clean-up period. The unidentified person who will be leading this alliance is named in Ezekiel 38:2 as “Gog”. Some have referred to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the notorious Russian Jew hater, as the one who would be “Gog”. It could also be Vladimir Putin, the present Russian president, or some other person.

The various nations that will invade Israel have their origin in Genesis. In the two charts below, notice that the names of the Genealogy of Noah/Japheth colored in blue in the first chart are the same names, among others, listed in the second chart naming those who invade Israel:

Chart by The Author

 

Invading Nation of Israel from Gog and Magog War Ezek. 38 & 39 Art by Daniel Woodhead

God’s love for Israel underlies His promises to protect them and His Land by decimating the invaders of His land. God Almighty has had enough, and His fury is unleashed. This invasion of Israel is equilivant to the cup of iniquity being full, the apple of God’s eye being touched, and the Wife of Jehovah being violated, thus arousing God’s anger so that He moves out in judgment to destroy the invading army. Several causes of destruction are listed, and these include an earthquake civil war breaking out among the invading soldiers, pestilence, blood, flood, hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Since these things totally destroy the invading army without the aid of other nations, God’s purpose is seen as succeeding in its objective. God is indeed sanctified in the eyes of many people.

Prelude to the Messianic Kingdom

This invasion is immanent and could occur at any time. With the recent announcement of moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the Muslins have been rioting, and shooting rockets into Israel. Russia has been relatively quiet, only making slight affirmation of disagreement with the United States’ announcement, and thus affirming their allegiance to their Muslin allies. Once this invasion occurs it will trigger a major step in “the times of the Gentiles”. It will remove all the eastern bloc Islamic nations as well as Russia from political prowess on the world stage. This will pave the way for super dominance by the western democracies, and usher in the one world government. Later following this, the Antichrist will emerge as the sole leader.

It is necessary to have some basic realization of power in human relationships. This power over the world shifts from person to person and empire to empire. All the while though, God remains in control at least 2 ways. He creates, or makes things happen (His Creative Will), and He allows things to happen (His Permissive Will). All the events that lead up to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom are affected by both God’s Creative Will and His Permissive Will. It is important to direct our attention to the Fourth Gentile Empire, described in Daniel Chapter 2 and 7, which is included in the chart below:

Chart drawn by Cathy Bateson

 

Both Daniel passages in Chapters 2 & 7 make it clear that the Fourth Gentile Empire begins with the end of the Third Gentile Empire, which was Greece, and continues until Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom. The Fourth Empire is an Imperialistic Empire. Imperialism is simply a policy of extending a country’s influence through diplomacy or military force.

This Fourth Empire is diverse from all the rest. It goes through five distinct stages. Rome is only the first of the stages. Rome is not the name of the successive stages. I realize that some Bible teachers believe that there will be a revival of the old Roman Empire, but the text never says this. It is man’s speculation that leads to that idea. What Rome did that was different than all the other empires was to establish the imperialist form of government. It is this form that the Bible speaks of as the Fourth Gentile Empire, not just Rome. There is no break or gap in the imperialist form of government on the earth from the initiation of the Roman Empire until Christ returns. Nowhere in Scripture is this stated. This form will go through five successive stages. We need to study those to see where history fits in this exposition.

  1. The United Stage-Rome is the first stage of the imperialist form of government. The first stage, or the United Stage, started about 43 B.C and lasted until A.D. 364. However, there were five types of government that Rome went through from its origin and subsequent development, which is referenced in Daniel chapter seven.
  2. The second stage or the Empire of Imperialism was the Two Division Stage. This stage was foreseen by Daniel 2 (Legs of Iron), but not by Daniel 7. It began in A.D. 364 when Emperor Valentinian divided the Roman Empire into an east and west division. There was an earlier division in A.D. 285 that was of short duration. The Emperor Constantine in A.D. 312-313 reunited the empire. The A.D. 364 division was permanent. The Western Headquarters was in Rome and the Eastern Headquarters was in Constantinople. This lasted until A.D.1453 when it collapsed in the Turkish invasion. When Constantinople fell the political rulers, scribes, and scholars fled north into Russia, infiltrated the government there, and set up an imperialist form of government. The rulers called themselves Czars, which is Russian for “Caesar.” Later Russia began calling itself the Third Roman Empire. Eventually the eastern balance of power was centered in the Soviet Union and included the Communist block of nations. When European communism collapsed, the eastern balance of power shifted to Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Presently power transfers are still occurring, with Islam becoming a major eastern power. More settling is sure to occur in the future until this Two-Division Stage gives way to the as of yet future One-World Government Stage (The Allied Invasion).   The western division of power remained in Rome from A.D. 364 until A.D. 476 when Rome fell. From there it shifted to France, especially the power gained by Charlemagne in A.D. 800. He called his domain the Holy Roman Empire of the Frankish Nation. In A.D. 962 Otto I of Germany defeated the Franks and set up the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The leaders called themselves Kaiser, which is German for “Caesar.” Since then, especially after World War I, the western balance of power has been centered in the democratic nations of the west. So, the Two-Division Stage, which began in A. D. 364, continues to this day and there may be some shifting yet to come before the east-west balance becomes the third stage.
  3. All the remaining 3 stages of the Empire of Imperialism are yet future to us today in 2017.  Daniel 7:23 clearly states that at some time the Fourth Empire will “devour the whole earth”. Rome never did this. Rome did not even extend to the borders conquered by the Greeks under Alexander the Great. The Imperialist form of government will at some time exercise control over the whole earth.   Rome must not be seen as the total of the Fourth Empire, but as only one stage of the Empire of Imperialism.  The Allied invasion of Israel, which will occur prior to the Great Tribulation, will cause the Russian and Muslim nations to lose their authority. (Ezekiel 38:1-39:16) This event will give way to the One-World Government Stage. 
  4. The Ten-Division Stage is seen in both Daniel 2 with the ten toes, and in Daniel 7 with the ten horns. This stage is clearly stated to come out of the One World Government Stage. The Bible is silent as to why the division occurs. These ten kingdoms will cover the entire earth and not be limited to some specific continent such as Europe. They will begin sometime before the Great Tribulation, and continue into the middle of the Tribulation.  To be consistent with Daniel’s prophecy, perhaps one could consider the Club of Rome’s recommendation that the world be divided up into ten administrative districts to avoid economic collapse. The Club of Rome is a global think tank, and center of worldly innovation and initiative. As a non-profit, non-governmental futurist organization, it brings together scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five continents who are convinced that the future of humankind is not pre-ordained, and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.
  5. The Antichrist Stage follows the Ten-Kingdom Stage. The Antichrist rises to power during the Ten-Kingdom stage, uproots three of the ten kings, and the other seven submit to his authority. This then becomes the Stage of Absolute Imperialism. Once this submission occurs the Antichrist Stage officially begins. This stage is the fifth and final stage of Gentile World Imperialism.

It is very valuable to understand the course of “the times of the Gentiles” so we can get an understanding of biblical eschatology itself, and see that various world events clearly fall into line with God’s overall Plan.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

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Jesus Arrived in the Fullness of Time

Divine Intervention into Time and Space

 

ADORATION OF THE LAMB BY JAN VAN EYCK CIR 1432

ADORATION OF THE LAMB BY JAN VAN EYCK CIR 1432

Divine Intervention

 

Galatians 4:3-7

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (NKJV).

The world’s population is locked into the sinful ways of this world (elements of the world). Prior to the advent of Jesus the Jews were like slaves to sin. That is, they were children in spiritual immaturity driven by the urges that entered their minds. This is still the state of the unsaved. The Jews were and still are locked into the basic principles of the Mosaic Law. This has run its course since the Jewish Messiah has come and fulfilled its requirements for all to take advantage of. The Gentiles are in bondage too but under the miserable principles of the various heathen religions of the world. Both Jews and Gentiles are locked into life guidance principles best described as slavery (bondage) to some set of rules for life that are not what God intends for the human race. Since the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden God set up the redemption of mankind (Genesis 3:15). He would send His Messiah to this earth to emancipate the earth through His teaching, death and resurrection.

God Himself stepped forth in Divine Intervention to bring hope and freedom to mankind. Just like a father has chosen a time for his child to be designated as an adult (e.g. Roman elevation of a son to an adult; Jewish bar mitzvah of a boy to manhood) so too did our Heavenly Father choose the time to bring Christ His Son to earth. He designated the perfect time in all of world history to send Himself in the body of a human to make provision for the people’s transition from bondage under the Law or pagan cults to spiritual sonship. He prepared the world in several ways that are apparent.

The Fullness of Time

God decided that the preparation of four thousand years since He first announced His coming (Genesis 3:15) to Adam, Eve and Satan was fulfilled. He chose the perfect time and made all the adequate preparations. It should have not been a surprise to those who love Him and know His Word. It was a surprise though and Jesus wept over the Jews lack of understanding regarding the timing of His appearance on this earth. Their lack of recognition of the timing of God’s appearance to them in the greatest ever Shekinah Glory led to the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers in A.D. 70.

Luke 19:42-44

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation (NKJV).”

Prophecies had been given to the Jewish prophets regarding the Christ’s appearance on earth and the Jewish leaders disregarded them even though they knew of them. They intellectually understood their details but did not take them to heart as a direct message from God. From II Corinthians 3:6 (The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life) we see this principle. God gave His strict Law but it is meant to lead us to God’s Spirit. The Law is a teacher but not a Savior. The Jews had become so deeply adherent to God Law that they did not see its intent. It was a teacher meant to lead us to Him and a relationship with Him. The Law was fulfilled in Jesus and His teaching. The entire Sermon on the Mount was directed at the Pharisees who were so deeply immersed in the specifics of the Law that they did not recognize its central message. Frequently in this Sermon Jesus says, “You have heard it said by them of Old… But I say unto you.” He is describing their pickiness over the details but not seeing the intent of the Law. They did the same thing with the prophecies of His first advent.

When the Magi visited Herod he immediately conferred with the chief priests and scribes to learn where the Messiah would be born. They told him that Micah 5:2 said in Bethlehem in Judea. So they all knew what the Scriptures said but did not take any of it to heart for their personal spiritual belief and benefit. God says that He does nothing except He first reveals it through His prophets (Amos 3:7).

God Gives Daniel the Exact Day of His Appearance

Daniel 9:20-26a

20And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21yea, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22And he instructed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee wisdom and understanding. 23At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment went forth, and I am come to tell thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision. 24Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times. 26And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, but not for Himself (KJV).

Daniel was taken captive in 605 BC by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon and taken there. During that time he became the prime minister, chief of the Magi and a devoted prophet of God. While praying on evening he was visited by Gabriel the angel with a message of the Messiah’s appearance on earth. This vision specified some length of time that must pass before the Messiah would appear. Gabriel further said that the Messiah (Anointed One) would be killed (cut off) but would die not for Himself. In other words this Messiah would die for some others. Gabriel used the terms seven weeks and threescore weeks and two weeks to reference several pivotal events on God’s timetable for the Fullness of Time to bring His Messiah. The Hebrew word used is shavuim, which means sevens. It refers to seven of something. The context governs the topic of which the sevens apply. Here Daniel is praying about the seventy years of captivity and assumed it would end according to what the prophet Jeremiah had written (Jeremiah 29:10) after seventy years. So the seventy sevens (seven, threescore or sixty and then two weeks) are actually 490 years.

Gabriel gives Daniel the start of the seventy sevens. The starting event, which would begin the countdown, is the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. The culminating event, which is the appearance of the Messiah on earth, is cited, as unto the anointed one, the prince is sixty-two weeks or 483 years of the entire 490 years. The Jews had been in Babylon when the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians. They did not have any reason to keep them captive so they were told they could go home and rebuild Jerusalem. According to Isaiah’s prophecy Cyrus the Persian, whom the Lord called His shepherd, would give this command and perform all His pleasure “even saying of Jerusalem, She shall be built; and of the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (Isaiah 44:28). I believe that God through Isaiah spoke accurately when He said that Cyrus would issue the edict for the restoration of the temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes issued a reaffirmation of this decree, which more finely prophecied as being applied to the walls of Jerusalem, in 445 B.C. to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8). This command seems to be the most fitting to initiate the math of the seventy weeks prophecy. So if we count out from there we can get to Jesus appearance in Jerusalem. So there is a mathematical prophecy. The Jewish (and Babylonian) calendars used a 360-day year; 69 weeks of 360-day years totals 173,880 days. In effect, Gabriel told Daniel that the interval between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of the Messiah as King would be 173,880 days.

Dates

The date that the Jews were released from captivity in Babylon was March 14, 445 B.C.. Accounting for the different calendars of 360-day years and 365 ¼ day year we come to 173,880 days to get to the date of April 6, 32 AD. This is the date that Jesus presented Himself on Palm Sunday as the Jewish King.

The Jews who should have know this probably knew it in their minds but not in their hearts. They knew their Messiah was coming from this prophecy just as they knew where He would be born but they ignored it.

 He Was Expected

Historians record for us that at that general time there was a strange expectation in the world for a coming king. The people in the east had it, which partly explains why the Magi came. People in many places were anticipating the arrival of a king, something even the Roman historians acknowledged:

  • Suetonius wrote in The Twelve Caesars, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world.” Writing during the second century A.D. about such things as Vespasian’s conquering of Israel in A.D. 70, Suetonius looked back and said that the first century was a day when there was an expectation for men coming from Judea to rule the world. Consequently, people’s eyes were focused upon that place.
  • Tacitus, the famous Roman historian, tells of the same belief in The Annals that “there was a firm persuasion…that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire a universal empire.”
  • Josephus, in Wars of the Jews, said that the Jews had a belief that “about that time one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.”

Jewish Facilities Were Prepared For His Teaching

Since the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C. Rabbinic Judaism rose up with Synagogues for teaching. The oldest dated evidence of a synagogue is from the 3rd century B.C., but synagogues doubtless have an older history. Some scholars think that the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. gave rise to synagogues after private homes were temporarily used for public worship and religious instruction. The Jewish Orthodox use a term shul, provides additional information of the synagogue’s primary function. That is as a house of study (beit midrash). It is the place where Jewish men and male children receive their religious education and instructions. Jesus frequently went into the Synagogues to teach. The teaching facilities were ready to receive Jesus and His apostles after Him. By the time of Christ, there were synagogues all over Israel and in many cities of the Roman world (The Diaspora), which helped the spread of Christianity. Paul is mentioned as going into synagogues in Damascus (Acts 9:2); Salamis (Acts 13:5); Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14); Iconium (Acts 14:1); Thessalonica (Acts 17:1); Berea (Acts 17:10); Athens (Acts 17:17); Corinth (Acts 18:4); and Ephesus (Acts 18:19; 19:8).

Luke 4:16-21

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son (NKJV).”

In this prophecy Jesus quoted part of Isaiah 61:1-2. Here as He was teaching in the Synagogue He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. He followed this by saying this Scripture is fulfilled in their hearing. They should have realized that was a quote from Isaiah and they would have known it and its meaning.

Isaiah 61:1-2

The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2to proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (ASV 1901).

This prophecy that Jesus quoted has another aspect which He left out It is the day of vengeance of our God; He didn’t say that because it relates to His Second Coming when He will take back the earth with the Great Tribulation which is the day of vengeance of God restoring the earth.

 Alexander Brings a Common Language

Because of the conquests of Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) Greek language was delivered as Alexander carried the Koine form of the Greek language, along with Greek culture more generally, across the empire he conquered. It became the standard language of commerce and government, existing along side many local languages. Greek was adopted as a second language by the native people of these regions and was ultimately transformed into what has come to be called the Hellenistic Koine or common Greek.

Map of Alexanders Empire from Time Maps

Map of Alexanders Empire from Time Maps

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek a language the region of the world, which Alexander had conquered, knew well. Greek could be read and communicated quickly by a wide variety of people across many cultures and countries.

Roman Roads Facilitate Christianity

Roman road system, extended from Britain to the Tigris-Euphrates river system and from the Danube River to Spain and northern Africa. The Romans built 50,000 miles (80,000 km) of hard-surfaced highway, primarily for military reasons.

The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Appia (Appian Way), begun by Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 B.C., originally ran southeast from Rome 162 miles (261 km) to Tarentum (now Taranto). By the beginning of the 2nd century B.C., four other great roads radiated from Rome: the Via Aurelia, Via Flaminia, Via Aemilia, the Via Valeria, and the Via Latina, running southeast and joining the Via Appia near Capua. Their numerous feeder roads extending far into the Roman provinces led to the proverb “All roads lead to Rome.”

The Roman roads were very straight, had solid foundations, cambered surfaces facilitating drainage, and use of concrete made from pozzolana (volcanic ash) and lime. The Roman engineers followed basically the same principles in building abroad as they had in Italy. The Roman road system made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the rapid expansion of Christianity. Despite deterioration from neglect, it continued to serve Europe throughout the Middle Ages, and many fragments of the system survive today.

 Roman Empire First Century A.D. by C.S. Hammond & Co. NY

Roman Empire First Century A.D. by C.S. Hammond & Co. NY

God sent His Messiah in the Fullness of Time. He gave the prophets the exact time that he would appear. He prepared the way for Jesus appearance at the perfect time.

There was a great anticipation among the Jews and the Romans of that time that the Messiah would come.

Rome had unified much of the world under its government, giving a sense of unity and peace to the various lands. Also, because the empire was relatively peaceful and the Romans built roads, travel was possible, allowing the early Christians to spread the gospel. Such freedom to travel would have been impossible in other eras.

While Rome had conquered militarily, Greece had conquered culturally. A “common” form of the Greek language (different from classical Greek) was the trade language and was spoken throughout the empire, making it possible to communicate the gospel to many different people groups through one common language.

The Jewish Synagogue had become prevalent across the Roman Empire and was places of religious learning at the time Jesus came.

The mystery religions of the time emphasized a savior-god and required worshipers to offer bloody sacrifices, thus making the gospel of Christ, which involved one ultimate sacrifice believable to them. The Greeks also believed in the immortality of the soul (but not of the body).

The Roman army recruited soldiers from among the provinces, introducing these men to Roman culture and to ideas (such as the gospel) that had not reached those outlying provinces yet. The earliest introduction of the gospel to Britain was the result of the efforts of Christian soldiers stationed there.

God Himself stepped forth in Divine Intervention to bring hope and freedom to mankind. Just like a father has chosen a time for his child to be designated as an adult so too did our Heavenly Father choose the time to bring Christ His Son to earth. He designated the perfect time in all of world history to send Himself in the body of a human to make provision for the people’s transition from bondage under the Law or pagan cults to spiritual sonship.

Daniel E. Woodhead

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The Star of Christmas – A Special Sign in Heaven

 

The Star

 

 

God spoke to the Magi through the prophet Daniel to let them know 600 years earlier that His Messiah would be coming. Daniel was the prime minister of Babylon during two successive administrations; the Babylonians and Media-Persia. God wants us to know Him and enjoy His glory. The intent of the physical universe is to declare and display the majesty and glory of its Creator. This discussion will reveal a portion of His will in this regard.

Matthew 2:1–12 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written through the prophet,  

(From Micah 5:2)“And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel. “  

Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship him. And they, having heard the king, went their way; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

The star they saw guided them to Jerusalem (east to west) and then on to Bethlehem (north to south). This was a special star identified as “His Star.”  This star appeared to them while they were in the east and they knew that it signified the Christ or Messiah had arrived. God uses the stars in the heavens to bring messages to the world about Himself. In this study we will explore how God uses the stars to communicate to us and then we will conclude with a discussion of the special star of Bethlehem. We must always remember that Satan has corrupted God’s message to us and the message in the stars is typical of that corruption. Nevertheless Christ told us to search the Scriptures (John 5: 39). This we must do to understand what God wants us to know.

 On the fourth day of creation God made the stars in the heavens.

Genesis 1: 14-18 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.  

One of the reasons for making the stars in the heavens was for a sign. A sign signifies or represents something. One dictionary defines a sign as: An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the presence or occurrence of something else.  Signs therefore, are meant to lead one to something else. The sign itself is not the end meaning. It is the method employed to direct our attention to something else. In the stars God is the direct object the signs point to. We should realize that His entire creation which theologians call “general revelation,” speak to Him and coming from Him. In fact God charges all mankind to know Him through the ‘signs” He has provided.

Romans 1: 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

God is trying to tell us things about Himself through the stars in the heavens. The heavens declare His creative output.

Psalm 19: 1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them he has made a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run it’s race. It’s rising is from one end of heaven, and it’s circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from it’s heat thereof.

This psalm of David announces that the heavens declare the glory (splendor) of God’s handiwork. Verse one is a summary statement: the majestic Creation is evidence of the even more majestic Creator-God. The heavens continually (every day and every night) display the fact that there is a Creator.

Even though Creation does not speak audibly as humans do, its message goes out for all the earth to witness. The message from nature about the glory of God reaches all nations, and is equally intelligible to them all. It is a universal language.

The stars in the heavens move around a circular path. The band of stars on both sides of this path (circuit), which is known today as the Zodiac, is called the Mazzaroth in Hebrew. The names of these stars, Virgo, Pisces, Capricorn, Leo etc., are familiar to us today, because astronomers and navigators designate various areas of the sky with them. Satan has corrupted them for occultic purposes, which are very far from the original truth. The 12 signs have NOTHING to say about man, however they do have a great deal to say about God’s plan of redemption for mankind – from the virgin birth (Virgo) to the triumph of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Leo). The stories He is trying to tell us about are directed straight at Himself. He wants us to know and acknowledge Him through these “signs.”

Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

God wants us to see Him through these stars. He is not in the stars, as some would believe. He created them. He wants us to realize just how powerful He is. God, who cannot be compared to anyone or anything knows everything about His Creation and sustains it. In His strength He created and also controls and sustains millions upon millions of stars, each one of which He, amazingly, has named.

In Isaiah chapters 40-66, God is revealed as the Creator and Maker. He does not want us to worship the stars, as in astrology (Isaiah 47: 13-14; Deut. 4: 19; 17: 2-5; Isaiah 47: 13-14). He wants us to worship Him.

Amos 5:8  [Seek him] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name:

The psalmist also tells us that God has provided names for the stars as well as knowing exactly how many there are. He is clearly demonstrating His sovereign control over His creation.

Psalm 147:4 He counteth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.

Isaiah 40: 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

Since God has created the heavens and the stars as signs pointing to Him and His message for us it should not be surprising that Satan has corrupted it along with the rest of God’s creation. The specific signs that the stars told have been obscured with satanic corruption.

Mazzaroth or Constellations

The Jewish historian, Josephus, attributes the origin of astronomy to Seth, the third male offspring of Adam after Able and Cain. (Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 2:3). Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old. He further refers to Seth as virtuous and of excellent character, and reports that his descendants invented the wisdom of the heavenly bodies (astronomy). The Hebrew word for the constellations is Mazzaroth. We see this word in the plain text of Scripture. The first appearance of the word is in Job chapter thirty-eight. God is having a discussion with Job. In order to demonstrate Job’s weakness as a man compared to the power of God He uses the constellations as an example.

Job 38: 31-33 Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season? Or canst thou guide the Bear with her train? Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth?  

Job 9: 7-9 That commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, And sealeth up the stars; That alone stretcheth out the heavens, And treadeth upon the waves of the sea; That maketh the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south;

Job is the oldest book in the world. It was written during the period of the patriarchs who lived at the time of events of the book of Genesis. It clearly shows that God had named the constellations by that time. The Zodiac of astrology was originally the Mazzeroth of Job 38. It got corrupted like all things beginning with the fall. Then the worldwide communication disruption at the tower of Babel caused all human communication to become corrupt. Satan will use any circumstance to corrupt what God is doing. He had willful servants in Nimrod and his followers attempting to reach for heaven. The signs of the Mazzeroth are not figures in the sky. They are actually a set of stars with names that mean the figure that they describe. We are not to follow the Zodiac and its perverse soothsaying however, we are instructed to be neither afraid of the message of the stars.

Jeremiah 10: 1-6 Hear ye the word which Jehovah speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: thus saith Jehovah, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are vanity; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are like a palm-tree, of turned work, and speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good. There is none like unto thee, O Jehovah; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.  

The signs of the Mazzeroth are not figures in the sky. They are actually a set of stars with names that mean the figure that they describe. If you look at the pictures that astrology says the stars depict you will require a vivid imagination to see the pictures they allegedly describe. This is the corruption.

 

 

This is not the message that God created for a sign in the heaven with the Mazzaroth. There are twelve constellations in the Mazzaroth. Each of them has three sub-constellations called decans. There are a total of forty-eight sets of stars bringing forth God’s message to us. Each constellation has a message and so do each of the decans. It is the names of these stars and star groupings through which He communicates His message. The problem we have discerning the message is that it has been corrupt for so long that we don’t have accurate information regarding its nature.

Virgo Drawn Connecting The Stars

In Hebrew Virgo is Bethulah = Virgin who bears Names in the sign:

Hebrew Tsemech = Branch Hebrew Zavijaveh = Gloriously Beautiful

1st decan: Hebrew Coma = The Desired One

2nd decan: Hebrew Centaurus= The Despised

3rd decan: Hebrew Bootes = The Coming One

The corruption causes some of the Hebrew words to be unavailable to us.  The constellation in Virgo explains that this coming “Branch” will be a child, and that He should be the “Desire of all nations.” The ancient name of this constellation is Coma, the desired, or the longed for. We have the word used by God in in Haggai 2:7 “The Desire of all nations shall come.”

The ancient Zodiacs pictured this constellation as a woman with a child in her arms. Albumazar, an Arabian astronomer of the eighth century, says, “There arises in the first decan, as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, and the two Hermes and Ascalius teach, a young woman whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy having a Hebrew name, by some nations called Ihesu, with the signification Ieza, which in Greek is called Christos.” Blessed One, “the Desire of all Nations.”

The ancient Egyptian name for this constellation was Shes-nu, the desired son!  Some view the constellation of Coma in which “the Star of Bethlehem” appeared. There was a traditional prophecy, well known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born (Numbers 24:17).

The Star that Appeared to the Magi

 German astronomer, mathematician and writer, Johannes Kepler in 1607 believed he identified the Christmas star that guided the Magi or “Wise Men” to where Jesus was born, and with precise event and date. To Kepler the “Star of Bethlehem” was a planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the evening sky, described to mean a close approach of planets in the sky. Many others have struggled to find natural explanations for the star. The fact that God controls all things in all times and all places leads us to look to Him for an explanation. Therefore it must be an appearance of the Shekinah Glory.

The Shechinah Glory is a visible manifestation of the presence of God in time and space. In the Old Testament most of these manifestations took the form of light, fire or a cloud including some combination of these. He appears in the Old Testament in the following manners:

  1. The Garden of Eden as fellowshipping with Adam and Eve
  2. Meeting with Abraham as a smoking furnace.
  3. To Moses as a burning bush.
  4. During the Exodus as a pillar of fire and a cloud.
  5. On Mount Sinai as a cloud, thunder and lightening as well as a trumpet.
  6. A kind of visible manifestation to Moses said to be His back.
  7. Dwelling within the Tabernacle and Temple and lighting the brazen altar in the Temple as fire coming down from Heaven.
  8. Departing from the Temple.

In the New Testament He appeared:

  1. To the shepherds and the Magi as the Christmas Star.
  2. He also came as flesh (John 1: 1-14) in the body of Jesus.
  3. At the Transfiguration as a white lit Jesus.
  4. Tongues of fire to the apostles.
  5. Bright light on the Damascus road to Saul.
  6. Smoke in the Tribulation Temple from Revelation 15:8.
  7. At the Second Coming as Matthew 24:30.
  8. In the Millennium as the Risen Jesus ruling the world (Ezekiel 43: 1-7a).
  9. In the Eternal Order as seen in revelation 21: 1-3; 10-11 and 23-24.

After the Shechinah Glory appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus the Messiah it next appeared to the Magi. The star led them to Israel. It appeared to them on at least two occasions. It led them from the east to the west and from the north to the south. It finally stood over the very house where the child Jesus was; and was unique to Jesus and no other. Coming in the form of special light this was a physical manifestation of the Shechinah Glory announcing the birth of the Messiah to a group of Gentiles from Babylonia.

SEE THE COROLLARY STORY OF THE MAGI

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

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God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

Conversion of the apostle Paul by Rubens cir. 1601-02

Conversion of the apostle Paul by Rubens cir. 1601-02

 

Ephesians 1: 3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (KJV).

This verse begins one long sweeping statement and goes without a major stop from the beginning of verse three to the end of verse fourteen. Paul touches on all the great biblical themes in that complex sentence—sanctification, adoption, redemption, and glorification—and they all rest on one foundational doctrine, the doctrine of election also known as predestination. The highest spiritual blessings stand on Ephesians 1:4 where the text says that God has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world. It also says that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. God didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided or even acted in some random way to select us. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.
The term predestination, which follows those words, simply means to determine ones destiny beforehand. The Bible never says how God does the choosing. This is exclusively God’s territory. It never gives us His methodologies. This term has produced much division in the Church of Jesus Christ since He departed back to Heaven. Mostly though this heated up with the reformers in the sixteenth century.  Many theologians and Bible teachers have engaged in intensive debate over this term and entire denominations have been split as well as formed around it. We will provide a comprehensive explanation so that we can understand what the Bible teaches on this subject and also what some denominations teach that is actually outside the biblical text. Most discussions of this topic produce too little light and too much heat. It is taught in seminaries as a part of Soteriology, (the doctrine of salvation), within systematic theology.

Four very important truths must be first advanced:

  1. God is entirely sovereign over His creation, is in complete control of it, and He can do whatever He likes (II Kings 19:15; Job 26:13; 38:4; Psalm 103:19; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 42:5; 44:6; 45:12; 66:2; Jonah 1:9; Revelation 1:8; 3:14; 4:11).
  2. Man, living in time and space is incapable of realizing a full understanding of God and all His ways (Job 38 & 39 etc.).
  3. Because He lives outside of time and space He can look down the long corridors of time and see all events and decisions simultaneously. He knows what will be decided in the human heart and what will happen in the future before it happens (Isaiah 44:7-8; 45:21; Psalm 139; Genesis 3:15;)
  4. Prior to salvation all humans deserve to enter Hell. Without God we cannot change and save ourselves. NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT SAY THAT GOD HAS SPECIFICALLY CHOSEN SOME TO ETERNAL DAMNATION.

Jeremiah 13: 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil (KJV)?

Romans 3: 10-12 according as it hath been written — `There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who is understanding, there is none who is seeking after God. All did go out of the way, together they became unprofitable, there is none doing good, there is not even one (KJV).

Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And in the same Gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). And Paul said, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13).

Those statements defining God’s sovereign choice of believers are not in the Bible to cause controversy, as if God’s election means sinners don’t make decisions. Election does not exclude human responsibility or the necessity of each person to respond to the gospel by faith. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). Even though a simple reading of this verse appears to mean that God has chosen people to salvation before the world was formed, other verses indicate that mankind has to choose God in order to be saved (John 3:15; Acts 16:31 etc.). The dichotomy grows wider with predestination seemingly tightening to mean that God has chosen some people but not all to salvation (Romans 9:18; John 10: 25-29). On the other hand some verses indicate that God wants all people to be saved (John 12:32; 2 Corinthians 5: 14 etc.).

You must understand that your faith and salvation rest entirely on God’s election

(Acts 13:48). And yet the day you came to Jesus Christ, you did so because of an internal desire—you did nothing against your will. But even that desire is God-given—He supplies the necessary faith so we can believe (Ephesians 2:8). If your salvation depends on you, then praise to God is ridiculous. But, in truth, your praise to God is completely appropriate, because in forming the Body before the world began, He chose you by His sovereign decree apart from any of your works. The doctrine of election demonstrates God being God, exercising divine prerogatives. For that we must praise Him.

Some are shocked to find that God seemingly didn’t choose everyone to salvation. Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). God the Father chose certain individuals to form a Body as a gift to Jesus Christ. Every believer is part of that love gift to Christ—a gift of the Father’s love to His Son.

To those who say that is unjust, Paul answers: “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “ ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:14-15).

So why does God still find fault in unrepentant sinners when He didn’t choose them? Doesn’t this deny human responsibility? Is it fair for God to still hold them accountable? FAIR? What is fair? Humans all have a different vision of fairness depending on our experience base. God is in control of His creation and as such can make His own rules. God’s choices are always perfect. In our weak human understanding we see a sense of unfairness with God’s choice. But we must remember He know everything all events, past, present and future. His choices are always perfect or else He would not be God. He has not left anybody out. He made perfect choices.

Paul answers all such questions with a rebuke:

Romans 9: 20-21 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (KJV)

Certainly HE does!

Some believe that is terribly cold and calculating. But that is only one side of God’s sovereign election. Paul continues in the next chapter by saying:

Romans 10: 9-13 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “WHOEVER calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (NKJV)

These two sides of God’s truth; His sovereignty in choosing us; (Romans 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Romans 10) is IMPOSSIBLE for us to reconcile and understand. But Scripture declares both aspects of salvation are true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and accept them by faith.

This seemingly unsolvable difference in two truthful biblical concepts that can’t be reconciled is called an antinomy. It is not a paradox or a contradiction. Those concepts require that one or the other is untrue. This situation is when both are true. Another biblical antinomy is the Trinity. God is one God in three persons. Both of those imply that either one or the other is true, not both. However, both God’s Divine Sovereignty and man’s ability to choose are true. Hence, they provide antimony. The human’s problem is that we are unsettled with antinomies and try to take one side or the other.

Many denominations take the predestination verses in the Bible as fact and while they can’t reconcile predestination with man’s choice they say man has no choice. In taking this position they must invalidate the verses that clearly show that man has choice. Others take the opposite position and say man has all the choice and God does not choose. They then relegate the verses, which clearly state that God has chosen us to obscurity, or restate them to mean something else. When we don’t accept both ideas as fact and choose one or the other we are engaging in heretical acts. Reformed churches historically take the total predestination position and Baptist churches usually, but not always, take the other. The total predestination position is usually called Calvinism after John Calvin the French reformer of the sixteenth century. The entire emphasis on man’s exclusive choice in the matter of salvation is usually called Arminianism after Jacob Arminius a sixteenth century Dutch theologian who advanced this concept. The problem for us is that both concepts are true and we must accept them as such.

Somewhere in the councils of God this makes sense but on this earth it never will and many have tried to no avail unless they take one side or the other. This then results in heretical teaching. The doctor of souls will do all he can to keep heresies out of the church. They are to the Church of Jesus Christ what disease is to a medical doctor that cares for human bodies in time and space. Both legitimate doctors will do all they can to prevent or stop heresies and diseases in their respective bodies. Unfortunately there are more quacks in the spiritual realm than in the physical temporal one. This is because the prize for pure spiritual truth is eternal life. It is the greatest prize on earth to receive. Nothing has greater value. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations, and seminary teachings. As a result few find eternal salvation and Satan has accomplished one of his goals: the eternal destruction of human souls.

Matthew 7: 13-15 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

The deception leading into heresy by religious authorities is not new. Jesus condemned the religious authorities of His day for leading the Jews away from eternity.

Matthew 23: 13-15 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. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves (KJV).

What is important for us to do is clearly explain the antimony and continue to witness for Christ. We never know who will accept. We also cannot take the position that God has chosen those who will accept His call and stop telling others. We must always praise the God of the universe for who He is and stay humble for allowing us to believe. FINALLY IT IS IMPORTANT TO REALIZE THAT WE ARE NOT GOD. IT IS NOT UP TO US TO CHOOSE WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN OR ASK WHY. His choices for salvation and ministry are entirely His providence. That is entirely God’s domain and not ours. It is best that believers NOT argue about this and try to enforce their position. This all belongs to God. God is sovereign and man has responsibility to Him. If you keep arguing about this you will just cause divisions in the Body of Christ. This all belongs to our Lord. He is in charge. Keep teaching and witnessing and lastly, Never, never, never, never, give up.

Daniel Woodhead

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Maturing in Our Walk With Jesus

 Maturing in our Walk With Jesus

  Daniel E. Woodhead

Hebrew Bible Textl – Jewish Related Item

Hebrews 6:1–8

 

1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (KJV).

Moving from Basic Belief to Perfection

This section of scripture makes obvious the need to fully realize the audience that this book was intended to address. Failure to do so will lead to inappropriate interpretations and cause confusion with other passages in the New Testament assuring that salvation is by grace through faith and cannot be lost once a believer truly believes the gospel. Paul in this section of Hebrews treats this group of people as genuinely believing although some may not have been. He addresses them as having genuinely affirmed their belief that Jesus of Nazareth died and rose from the dead. Frequently readers who are untrained in fundamental hermeneutics will divorce passages from their proper context. Lack of understanding regarding the author’s intended audience as well as a knowledge of the issues facing them leads to an improper understanding of many passages. This whole book to the Hebrews deals with Jewish believers who were seriously considering returning to the Levitical system to avoid the general persecution imposed by the Sanhedrin, Temple priests, and the Romans. These people thought they could return to the Levitical system and get saved at a later time when the persecution decreased. Thus, they would be Christian apostates which is a massive sin. But in doing so they thought that the new affirmation of faith when they returned to the Church would erase their sin of apostasy.

Additionally, they were demonstrating as seen in the last chapter a very immature view of Christianity. They had not grown in sanctification and were in a state of spiritual immaturity as many in Christianity are today. They had set themselves in a sense of a halfhearted Christian commitment. The hearers were called to move beyond teaching the need to repent of works which lead to death.Instead of involving themselves in dead works, they must respond in faith to God’s provisional growth in Christ. These people were not committed to the doctrines of the Christian faith and stayed in a life style of sin and disobedience. If they did not embrace the advanced doctrine of the Christian faith they could be locked into spiritual immaturity. This receives no blessings from God in this life or the Messianic Kingdom to follow.

Finally, the teaching of salvation and security is abundantly clear from many other passages in the Bible. The hermeneutical principal here is that Scripture does not contradict itself. Therefore, if the majority of passages teach eternal security one verse cannot negate that. The difficult passage which is thought to suggest it must be evaluated and interpreted from the light provided by the clear ones.

Hebrews 6:1

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God (KJV).

This verse connects the previous chapter and brings out the necessity to leave the first principles of doctrine and move on to more weightier things of Scripture. If they were believers they were babies in these doctrines. They had a spiritual life but it was stuck at the elementary level and that would be harmful to them. He is admonishing them to take the elementary knowledge of Christ and press on to perfection. This is one fundamental purpose for the book of Hebrews to teach the need for believers to press on to spiritual maturity (perfection). There is great peril of relapse to the basic elements if they leave the faith and then return. This verse begins to list some basic doctrine of the faith which must be left behind and advanced from. One of those is not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God.

Repentance from dead works, which is, conversion, regeneration, and repentance from a spiritually dead state. In the case of the Jews is was the dead ended Levitical system. Christ fulfilled the Law and it was never meant to be a practice providing salvation. Paul is saying here “don’t return to sin again, for then you must have the foundation to lay again.” That will lead to a second conversion a repenting not only of, but from, dead works. Life in the Levitical system was temporary. It had already come to an end with the death of the Messiah. While the sacrificial system was still being practiced by unbelievers, it was no longer viewed by God as being effective to please Him or grow in the new Dispensation of the Church Age. The turning of their faith towards God meant that the positive factor in conversion meant the once-for-all time commitment to Jesus is what actually brought them into the salvation they experienced.

The repentance mentioned in verse one describes the very first realization one makes upon belief. When the Holy Spirit enters us at belief He illuminates us to our sinful condition and sets about to convict us whereby we repent of previous sins and our sinful state while on this earth. The apostle describes the process in his second letter to the Church at Corinth.

II Corinthians 7:9–11

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorrowful in a godly way, that you might not suffer loss in any way through us. 10 Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, which you sorrowed in a godly way: What carefulness it produced in you, what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what intense desire, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In all things you have proven yourselves to be innocent in this matter (MEV).

The apostle is affirming that repentance from dead works is the most elementary affirmation of the beginnings of sanctification and a new life in Christ.

To Bury the Dead Sebastien Bourdon Cir 1616-1671

Hebrews 6:2–3

2 of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit (KJV).

Regarding baptism the use of the plural in the term baptisms is indicative of multiple immersions or washings. Because this audience was Jewish is meant ceremonial cleanings presently in uses such as in mikvahs. The Christian baptism which is done after belief would make public the newly converted Jew to Christianity and show others their final point of separation from Judaism and the Levitical Law. The event of being baptized by a minister of Christ with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is the outward sign or seal of the covenant of grace, making public the person being baptized affirming their final break with the old life. And the Spirit or inward baptism, of the Holy Spirit brings the justification, and the graces of the Spirit for sanctification. This ordinance of Spirit baptism is a foundation of the Christian faith and is not to be repeated. Even though some Christian groups believe it is to be repeated there is no Scriptural support for this.

Laying on of hands was an Old Testament means of identification either as appointment to an office or association with some sin. A priest was appointed to his office in this manner and it became the means in the New Testament of affirming the chosen men appointed the offices of elders and deacons. One example is the scape goat that was used as a means of transferring sin from the nation Israel to the goat.

Leviticus 16:20–22

20And when he hath made an end of atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting, and the altar, he shall present the live goat: 21and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness: 22and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness (ASV, 1901).

The last two fundamentals were the resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment from the Great White Throne and the Lake of fire were not to be repeated. They should be realized early and then the believer should press on to more mature doctrines.  Finally, it is God’s will that they move beyond these elementary aspects of Christianity and move on to spiritual maturity. God will not force any to maturity any more then He forces belief. However, one cannot move forward while desiring to stay in the milk stage of belief. It is God’s will for them and us to press on. The lack of pressing on, the lack of maturity, the failure to press on is not God’s fault. Failure to do so shows personal dullness is not yet irrevocable or irreversible. These believers can still choose to go on to maturity. They have not yet made the decision to go back to Judaism. However, it is still possible for them to move backward in sanctification so far that it will be impossible to make substantive progress toward maturity. They can regress so much that God will not allow them to renew their faith.

Hebrews 6:4–6

 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (KJV).

 

This is the core section that is important to understand. Paul begins with an affirmation that something is impossible for these Jewish believers. It is a renewal of the basics of Christianity. The readers here experienced five spiritual privileges. What Paul is saying is that it is impossible to redo something that has already been accomplished. These are given in the Greek aorist tense which emphasizes a completed action. These people were regenerated, that is they were saved. They tasted the heavenly gift and truly embraced the Messiah and the salvation He provides. Tasted of the heavenly giftmeans they had a real, conscious experience of the blessings, of grasping this gift and its true nature. They had possession of real spiritual experience of being born again. Since the born-again experience only happens once and its effect complete, they could not go back and do it again. Several verses affirm this issue from the New Testament.

John 10:28-29

28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (KJV).

 John 3:16.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV).

Ephesians 1:13

12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ: 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (KJV).

 When we believed and fully trusted that Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who the Bible says He is we received the Holy Spirit. One way of expressing the certainty of the Christian hope is to say that the people of God have been “Sealed with the Spirit.” The term occurs three times in the Epistles; (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). In the Old Testament the literal meaning of sphragizois somewhat more common, but in the New Testament (at times also in the Old) the term is used only metaphorically, in the sense of “ratify”, “confirm”, “attest”. In the three texts in which Paul uses the term it refers to the marking of the believers as God’s property. The Holy Spirit is the mark of the child of God. But the sealing has a reference to the end of the age, for God will deliver all those who have his stamp on them (Revelation 7:4). However, sealing with the Spirit is an assurance of the hope of the believer and can be seen as the “earnest” (deposit) of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21.) for future redemption at the Rapture and Resurrection.

The audience of the Book of Hebrews are not people who only came near to seeing the Holy Spirit work. They were real participants in the Holy Spirit. They had experienced the Spirit baptism with the Holy Spirit. The seriousness and completeness could only come about from an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwelled them.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (KJV).

There almost universal agreement amongst conservative Bible teachers and commentators that this teaches salvation which is not of works, but of faith. However, some who actually believe this, will turn around and teach that, while good works cannot get us saved, bad ones can get us unsaved. This is one of the verses that those who teach that one can lose their salvation have a hard time justifying their illogic.

The Jewish believers had tasted the powers of the age to come. They once-and-for-all tasted of the power that they experienced in their realization of the Messianic Kingdom also known as the Millennium. The word powersis the same one used of miracles in 2:4. Tasting it means they experienced real Spiritual rebirth in their lives. They were able by way of their new knowledge, to experience the powers of the age to comein their lives. The age to comewas the common Jewish term for the Messianic Kingdom. The Jewish believers did not have the option giving up their salvation, going back into Judaism, and being saved again later because that requires Jesus’ re-crucifixion. Time moves forward not backward. Therefore, Jesus will not be coming back to be re-crucified. He has already completed the process. He has already saved us believers completely. Their first option was to go back into Judaism. That will not mean the loss of salvation. It could very well mean a loss of their physical lives in the judgment of A.D. 70 though the Romans killed over one million Jews and took down the Temple. The Jewish believers were warned by Jesus the route of escape (Matthew 24:16–20). It would be best though if they made a complete break from Judaism once and for all. For Jewish and Gentile believers, then and today, that comes by means of immersion of water baptism (public declaration of their faith). After that, they need to press on to maturity. The rest of chapter six is trying to encourage them to do just that—to press on to maturity.

The term “if they shall fall away” is not speaking of the termination of their salvation, but rather of their failure to continue toward maturity. Maturity will be demonstrated by faith in God in their present trying circumstances. A serious warning of the consequences of such a failure to walk by faith is given “It is impossible … to renew them to repentance.” Just as that generation from Egypt permanently lost the blessings provided by God to those who demonstrated their faith in Him by their obedience to His command to enter the land, so these (by a definitive decision to return to the outward forms of the Judaism that they had renounced at their baptism) would permanently lose the blessings and privileges promised to those who walk by faith.

The greatness of the sin of apostasy is crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame. This affirms that they approve of the Jews crucifying Christ, and that they would do the same thing again. They pour the greatest contempt upon the Son of God, and therefore upon God himself. They represent Christ and Christianity as a shameful thing and would have him to be a public shame and reproach. This is the nature of and great misery of apostates. It is impossible to renew a sanctifying faith again unto repentance. The sin here mentioned is plainly apostasy both from the truth and the ways of Christ. God can renew them to repentance, but he seldom does it; and with men themselves it is impossible. Even though they were saved and will be in Heaven there will be no growth in sanctification and its blessings, which include crowns here and position in the Messianic Kingdom.

Hebrews 6:7–8

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (KJV).

Even as the apostle says about our works receiving a payment in I Corinthians here those who do not perform in the exercise of the gifts we are given to build up the Church will be treated as wood, hay, and stubble. Here they are called thorns and briers. When the fire of judgment is applied then the loss of sanctification time spent in apostasy will yield the works being burned up, but we shall still be saved (I Corinthians 3:15).

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

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Damascus Became a Ruinous Heap

DAMASCENE PROPHECIES

Assyrian Besiegers

Isaiah 17:1-3

1The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. 2The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. 3And the fortress shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith Jehovah of hosts (ASV, 1901).

This prophecy of Damascus, Syria is titled a burden or in the Hebrew a “massa.” This is a heavy, heavy set of declarations on this city. At the time Isaiah wrote this oracle against Damascus the Northern ten tribes of Israel had allied with Syria called Aram in the Bible. Because Assyria had threatened the Southern Kingdom of Judah God spoke through Isaiah the prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah assuring them that Damascus would become a ruinous heap (Hebrew Mapala) and not a threat. This conquering and despoiling was done by Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, as explained in 2 Kings 16:9 it had been a very ancient city and now was in ruins. This city would be rebuilt and then destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian King described in Jeremiah 49:21. Therefore, this prophecy given to Isaiah was fulfilled in the two invasions of Damascus by Assyria and Babylon both of which destroyed the city and left it in ruins (Mapala).

It is important to see how the Northern kingdom of Israel aligned itself with Damascus. These are some references to what happened to Damascus primarily for Israel (northern 10 tribes) aligning itself with pagan Damascus.

  1. Damascus has become helpless (Jeremiah 49:24).
  2. The king of Assyria took Damascus and exiled its inhabitants (2 Kings 16:9).
  3. Ahaz copied the altar in Damascus (2 Kings 16:10).
  4. Ahaz sacrificed to the gods of Damascus (2 Chronicles 28:23).
  5. I will set fire to the wall of Damascus (Jeremiah 49:27).
  6. The spoil of Damascus and Samaria will be carried away to Assyria (Isaiah 8:4).
  7. Is not Samaria like Damascus? (Isaiah 10:9).
  8. The kingdom will disappear from Damascus (Isaiah 17:3).
  9. I will break the [gate] bar of Damascus (Amos 1:5).
  10. For three transgressions of Damascus and for four (Amos 1:3).
  11. The oracle of the word of the Lord will rest on Damascus (Zechariah 9:1)

From Isaiah 7:1–2. We see that Rezin, king of Aram, northeast of Israel, and Pekah king of Israel (752–732B.C.) had made an alliance. Rezin may have usurped the throne of Aram, and Pekah was a usurper. Rezin was Aram’s last king, and Pekah was Israel’s next-to-last king. After Jeroboam II (793–753) of Israel died, the Northern Kingdom became increasingly weak. Rezin convinced Pekah to join him in a war against the Southern Kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 15:37; 16:5). They threatened to replace Judah’s King Ahaz with a puppet king (Isaiah 7:6). The prospect of such formidable enemies as Aram and Israel caused the people of Judah to be afraid. The house of David (v. 2) refers to King Ahaz who was of that kingly line. Hearing of the Aram- Israel alliance Ahaz was terrified. Ephraim, Israel’s largest tribe, represented in a synecdoche the entire northern nation as is also the case in the Book of Hosea (Hosea 4:17; 5:3, 5, 9–14). This was in the year 734 b.c.Ahaz foolishly thought he could call on the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727) to come to his aid and attack the Aram-Israel confederacy. What happened though was the king of Assyria took Damascus and exiled its inhabitants (2 Kings 16:9). Then in 722 B.C. He conquered the Northern Kingdom and took them back to Assyria and populated the Northern Kingdom with people from many different areas.

IL Kings 17:24

24And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof (ASV, 1901).

The inbreeding of these people with the remaining people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel produced the Samaritans which were hated by the Jewish people.

The Arab states and Damascus will all receive a final judgment at the start of the Messianic Kingdom. It is difficult to predict if there will be another invasion of Damascus before the final destination which is a result of their perpetual hatred of Israel as characterized as early as Numbers 20:14-21 and in summary form in Psalm 83:1-8. Some believe that the civil war which started in 2011 in Syria is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 17:1, but there is no biblical indication that this is accurate. It is outside sound hermeneutics to look to the news first in order to justify a prophecy in the Bible. We look to the Bible to see what God has said will happen then look to world events to see if they match up exactly as prophesied.

Damascus presently is not in ruin as when the Assyrians and Babylonians destroyed the city. Some might view this prophecy in Isaiah 17:1 as indicative of a type of prophetic fulfillment called the “double reference.” Hermeneutically those instances refer to a near and far term view of a prophecied event such as in Deuteronomy 18 where Moses predicts a prophet who would succeed him. Although Joshua fulfilled the near-term fulfillment, Acts 3:22-23 applies it to Jesus, hence, the near and far view fulfillment. There might be yet a future destruction of Damascus equally ruinous as the Assyrian and Babylonian destructions were, but so far it has not occurred. There is still no biblical reference to a far term reference to this despoiling of Damascus in our time as the Acts 3:22-23 passage refers to the far term fulfillment of Jesus as the object of Moses’ prediction of a prophet to succeed him. Many see the text of Psalm 83:1-8 as the fulfillment of the far term prophecy of Isaiah 17:1 but that is simply an imprecatory Psalm, not a prophecy of an event that will come to pass. Therefore there is no clear indication in the Bible that this will have a far term fulfillment.

God says that in the Messianic Kingdom He will bring peace between Israel and Damascus (Part of Assyria) through a conversion of their peoples to become believers and live with Israel in peace in the Messianic Kingdom.

Isaiah 19:23-25

23In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall worship with the Assyrians. 24In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth; 25for that Jehovah of hosts hath blessed them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance (ASV, 1901).

The Kings Highway Ancient International Trade Routes

Verse 23 describes a highway which connects Egypt, Israel and Assyria. In the Messianic Kingdom, when peace will be restored, all borders will be open, and this highway, a symbol of free trade trafficking, will be restored between these Middle Eastern states. The means by which this will occur is conversion (vv. 24–25). Not only will Egypt undergo a conversion experience, but so will the ancient area of Assyria. Assyria will become a blessing in the earth and will receive a blessing from God. The three former enemies will now be spiritually and economically unified. So peace during the Messianic Kingdom will come between Israel and Assyria (part of Syria) by means of conversion. When this happens, there will be economic, political, and religious unity, because they will all worship the same God.

Daniel E. Woodhead

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