ZECHARIAH’S VISION OF THE HORNS AND THE SMITHS

ZECHARIAH’S VISION OF THE HORNS AND THE SMITHS

This prophecy is one of the first eight visions given in succession to Zechariah during one night. Significantly these eight visions are followed by the symbolic crowning of the high priest Joshua, the son of Josedech in Jerusalem. The prophet Daniel describes what the Gentile nations will do over the period of history up to the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom. This book describes God’s program and what He will do during the same time period, known as the Times of the Gentiles. The unity between conservative Christian and Jewish commentators regarding most of the images attests to the validity of the interpretation of the visions.

The Prophet Zechariah by Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel Cir 1512

The Prophet Zechariah by Michelangelo for the Sistine Chapel Cir 1512

The Horns

In Zechariah 1:15, the red-horse rider vision is the first of the eight and a key vision supporting the other visions that follow it. In that vision God makes is quite clear that He is very displeased with the Gentile nations because of their treatment of Israel and implied that a punishment would be coming to them. Therefore this vision of the horns and smiths should be viewed as a continuation, or fulfillment, of the events of the first vision. During the entire Time of the Gentiles the Jews have been horribly persecuted. God wants Israel to receive a sense of comfort that He is working behind the scenes to address the excessive punishment the Gentiles have and will continue to apply to Israel. The Temple is of immense importance to God and the life of the Israelites. It is through this vision, which is being given in 520 B.C. that the Lord is implying that Israel was now free from oppression and could start rebuilding the Temple that the Babylonians destroyed in 586 B.C.

Zechariah 1:18-19

18And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, four horns. 19And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. (ASV, 1901)

The Hebrew word for “behold” is heenay and it is a command to “pay attention to what will follow”. Zechariah, still in his vision state, lifts up his mind’s eyes and sees four horns. Remember that an angel who speaks to Zechariah’s mind is living outside of time and space in the spiritual world as he speaks to Zechariah’s spirit. The vision is written in the Hebrew perfect tense that means the action is completed regardless of whether the event occurs in the past, the present, or future. It is important to understand this because the next vision discusses the completion of some events that are yet future to the time of Zechariah and our time (2013) as well. Without considering this Hebrew grammatical concept it becomes difficult to identify the horns and the smiths of this vision and we are left guessing at their identity. Therefore, in the perfect tense of prophetic vision, everything appears to occur simultaneously when Zechariah sees the four horns and smiths together. In English grammar we can view this as the future perfect tense. Therefore think of these four horns, though successive in time, are being shown to Zechariah all at once, and the antagonism and cruelty to the nation Israel is already past and gone, even though some still has yet to happen in the future. He sees the horns and simply says to the communicating angel “What are these?” Then the text continued, “And he[the angel] answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” In other words the angel is referring to the four Gentile Empires described in Daniel chapters two and seven. Horns were used as a symbol of military strength and power in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Kings 22:11; Psalm 75:10; Ezekiel 29:21; Micah 4:13). Here they represent the four powerful nations who displaced the Jews, captured, and occupied Jerusalem. Zechariah has experienced two of these régimes in his lifetime, Babylon and Medo-Persia and realized that there are more to follow. The four horns (world empires) that subjugated the Jews are:

  • Babylon
  • Medo-Persia
  • Greece
  • Rome (or the governmental system of Imperialism)

Alexander The Great Artist Unknown

Alexander The Great Artist Unknown

The Smiths

Zechariah 1:20-21

20And Jehovah showed me four smiths. 21Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head; but these are come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it (ASV 1901).

Immediately following the vision of the horns is the vision of the “smiths” or craftsmen. Apart from the final and total overthrow of allied Gentile world-power in the future, the prophet is allowed to see what is described as an incremental process of the decay and overthrow of the four great empires. The smiths are skilled artisans, which in the Hebrew is charasheem. These are literally, “workmen,” or “craftsmen,” as some versions render the word. The Bible writers used a pattern of Hebrew text that is called “chiasmus order” to give meaning to their writings or to highlight details of particular importance. For example, a reversal in the order of words in two parallel phrases, as in “He went in, out went she” provides emphasis and additional information. The pattern of the Hebrew text in chiastic order suggests a mashcheet or a destroyer. It is the job of the mashcheet to bring to ruin and the smiths are the craftsmen who specialize in destruction. This is also seen in Isaiah 54:16 and Ezekiel 21:36 which are translated as “workers of destruction”.

It is important to recognize the difference between what the horn represents and what the smith represent. The “horn” is a governmental regime that scattered Judah and frightened the Jews. The “smiths”, or craftsman represent those individuals who terrify and cast down the nations that subjugated Israel. It is also important to note that while an individual leader will overthrow and conquer a regime repressive to the Jews, eventually the individual’s own governmental regime will turn into a “horn” and persecute the Jews again. Historically we know what empire the “horns” are, and likewise, we also know from history who the “smiths” are. They are:

  • Cyrus the Great of the Medes and Persians who conquered Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. The actual event is recorded in the sixth chapter of the book of Daniel wherein Darius the Mede conquered Babylon and Belshazzar the successor king of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was killed. Herodotus follows with an account of the siege of the city, and its subsequent fall in 539 B.C. to the Persian king Cyrus (same Darius as kings took more than one name). Besides the Bible and Herodotus, one other source confirms this story. That is the famous “Cyrus Cylinder” found at Babylon and now housed at the British Museum.
  • Alexander the Great of the Greeks conquered the Medes and the Persians. He conquered Jerusalem in 332 B.C. and invaded Media in the summer of 330 B.C and took control of the Medo-Persian Empire.
  • Pompey the Great   of the Roman Imperialistic Republic took the city of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. and appointed Hyrcanus II as High Priest and Antipater the Idumaean who is killed by his sons Phasael and Herod the Great.
  • King Messiah will have the Antichrist (armilius, the last of the imperialistic dictators who will assume power over the entire world) and the
  • False Prophet thrown in to the eternal Lake of Fire ending the Times of the Gentiles and ushering in the Messianic Kingdom.

Another way to connect the horns and smiths is in a chart:

Horns of Jewish Persecution Smiths of Destruction
Babylonian Empire Darius the Mede
Medo Persian Empire Alexander the Great
Greek Empire Pompey the Great
Imperialistic World Empire King Messiah

The time is coming when the nation Israel will no longer be under the yoke of any Gentile nations. In order for this to happen, they all must confess belief in Jesus their Messiah:

Deuteronomy 28:13-14

13And Jehovah will make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if thou shalt hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them, 14and shalt not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them (ASV 1901).

This verse sums up the final status of Israel after the Times of the Gentiles are complete. The persecutions will be complete and the Jews will have prominent positions in the world’s government under King Jesus in the Millennial Theocratic Kingdom.

Daniel E. Woodhead

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SATAN MUST DESTROY ISRAEL

WHY SATAN BELIEVES HE MUST DESTROY ISRAEL

By Tom McCall, Th.D.

Satan

Why does Satan believe he must destroy Israel from off the face of the earth? For thousands of years Satan has demonstrated an insane and insatiable drive to wipe out the Jewish people, but so far has not been able to fully accomplish his goal. Let’s review some of his major attempts:

When Abraham went to Egypt and lied about Sarah, nearly causing Pharaoh to violate her.

When Abraham had Ishmael with Hagar, bypassing Sarah.

When Ishmael ridiculed Isaac, attempting to usurp Isaac’s position.

When Esau attempted to gain Jacob’s blessing from Isaac.

Esau Sells his Birthright to Jacob by Rembrandt Cir 1648-50

Esau Sells his Birthright to Jacob by Rembrandt Cir 1648-50

When Pharaoh ordered all male Hebrew infants to be murdered.

When Pharaoh attempted to destroy Israel backed up against the Red Sea.

When Israel decided to worship the Golden Calf at Mt. Sinai.

When Israel decided to stay in the wilderness rather than go into Canaan.

When Moab tried to destroy Israel and stop them from entering Canaan.

When the Canaanites amassed all their armies to destroy the invading Israelites.

When the surrounding nations tried to destroy Israel during the time of the Judges.

When the surrounding nations tried to destroy Israel during the time of the kings.

When the Assyrian army destroyed Israel and much of Judah.

When the Babylonian army destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem.

When the refugees from Babylon and Persia were restoring the Temple and Jerusalem

When Haman attempted to destroy all the Jews throughout the Persian Empire.

 

Modecai's Triumph by Pieter Eastman Cir 1617

Modecai’s Triumph by Pieter Eastman Cir 1617

 

When the Greco-Syrian forces tried to Hellenize Judea under Antiochus Epiphanes

When the Roman army destroyed Judea and Jerusalem twice (70 AD and 135 AD)

When the Jewish people were scattered and persecuted throughout the world for 2,000 years.

When Hitler organized the Holocaust and destroyed over Six million Jews.

Photo from Dachau Concentration Camp from the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/dachaumartins.html

Photo from Dachau Concentration Camp from the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/dachaumartins.html

When the Jews attempted to return to Israel against extensive international opposition.

When Israel declared its independence in 1947 and was invaded by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

When Israel was invaded in 1967 and 1973 by its surrounding neighbors

When Israel was disrupted by numerous intifadas from Palestinians and Jihadists.

When Hamas hurled thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel in 2014.

So we see, for 4,000 years the Jewish people have faced relentless persecution, opposition and attempts to annihilate and destroy them. If it were any of other people, it would seem totally irrational and insane. However, with Israel, there appears to be a certain rational, though Satanic, strategy behind this animosity.

For Satan, the destruction of Israel is a matter of self-preservation. Ultimately, the survival of Israel results in the eternal perdition of Satan. How can this be? Because when Israel repents and nationally invites the Lord Jesus Christ to be their own Redeemer/Messiah, that generation of Israel will be saved, and Satan’s plan to destroy the Jews will be finally defeated. Christ will return to the earth, destroy the Satanic Antichrist and his armies at Armageddon, establish His Kingdom over Israel and the world for 1,000 years, and then cast Satan into the Lake of Fire forever and ever.

The key is that Israel must survive to receive Christ nationally as their own Messiah. As Jesus said when He lamented over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives a few days before He died and rose from the dead at His First Coming:

Matthew 23:39 – 24:1 39 “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

While the remnant of Israel in every generation would receive Him all during the long period between His First and Second Comings (the Church Age), the nation Israel will not receive Him until after the Rapture of the Church and the Seven Year Tribulation. Thus, when Israel receives Christ, this will usher in the events that spell the doom of Satan.

From Satan’s point of view, he must keep Israel from surviving to the point in time when they will be ready to receive Jesus as their long awaited Messiah/Redeemer. They had a great opportunity to receive Him at His First Coming, but as John states:

John 1:11-12  11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 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.

Israel did not know its great “hour of visitation” when Jesus came the first time, but when He comes again, the nation of Israel as a whole that survives the Tribulation will at last be ready, willing and eager to receive Him as Savior and Lord.

Thus Satan has strived mightily to destroy Israel through the centuries up until this present time so that there would be no Israel to invite Jesus to return to the earth. Why hasn’t Satan been able to accomplish his repeated purpose to kill off this small nation of only a few million people? It is because God has promised to preserve His covenant nation forever, as Jeremiah so eloquently explains:

Jeremiah 31:35-36 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 36 “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever.”

God here states what it would take to destroy Israel. One would have to first destroy the sun, moon and stars. Once that had been accomplished then, and only then, could someone go about destroying Israel. The last time I looked, the sun, moon and stars were still functioning, so that must mean Israel has not ceased being a nation.

Satan wants to destroy Israel so that he can keep God from sending him into eternal perdition, but God will not allow Satan to destroy His Chosen Nation. Israel is the apple of God’s eye, so it must survive as a nation before Him for all time.

Written by Thomas S. McCall Th.D.

 

Edited and posted by Daniel E Woodhead

 

 

 

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Factors About The Modern State of Israel’s Existence

SOME FACTORS SURROUNDING THE CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

By Daniel E. Woodhead

As a direct result of the Nazi persecutions, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted thirty-three to thirteen, with ten abstentions, in favor of a Partition Plan that created the State of Israel. On the same day, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted with a two-thirds majority to partition western Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.[1] Over seventy five percent of the land allocated to the Jews was desert. Desperate to find a haven for the remnants of European Jewry after the Holocaust, the Jewish population accepted the plan, which accorded them a diminished state. The Arabs, intent on preventing any Jewish entity in Palestine, rejected it.

Photo from Dachau Concentration Camp from the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/dachaumartins.html

Photo from Dachau Concentration Camp from the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/dachaumartins.html

On May 14, 1948, the last British forces left Haifa, and the Jewish Agency, led by Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, declared the creation of the State of Israel, in accordance with the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan. United States President Harry S. Truman immediately recognized the new state, followed hours later by Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. Arab League members Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq declared war and announced their rejection of the United Nations partition decision. Saudi-Arabia and Yemen also sent forces to participate in the invasion. The latest segment in the anti Jewish persecution was starting. This was not the first time that Muslims have persecuted Jews. In fact because of the Muslims persecuting Jews from the beginning of the long history of Islam they have never had a true Golden Age. [2]

In A.D. 627 Muhammad the founder of Islam while fleeing a Meccan tribe decided to attack the Jewish tribe of the Qurayza, which had refused to convert to Islam. He had trenches dug in the marketplace of Medina and according to Muslim sources beheaded between six and nine hundred Jewish men. One was reported to have converted to Islam and his life was spared. The women, children and property were divided among the Muslims. Jihad or holy war is a permanent state of war for Islam and it does not include the possibility of any true peace, ever. It has been this way from the inception of Islam and it is true today. Only the naïve and ignorant fall victim to the untruth of “Islam being a peaceful religion.” It never has been. [3] It seeks world domination and will stop at nothing to achieve its ends. They would have dominated Europe if Charles Martel had not slaughtered thousands of them at Lyon, France, which stopped their expansion in the early eighth century.

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) was the State of Israel’s first prime minister (1948-1953 and 1955-1963) and defense minister. He was born David Gruen in Plonsk (in Russia that became Poland), October 16, 1886. At age fourteen, he became one of the founders of the Ezra youth movement. Ben-Gurion joined the Poalei Zion (Zionist workers) movement at age seventeen and was arrested twice during the revolution of 1905-1906. He settled in Eretz Yisrael in 1906, first working in orange groves and wine cellars. As a watchman and farm worker, he became convinced that true Zionism meant settling the land. In Jerusalem in 1910, he began writing for Poalei Zion newspaper Ahdut, along with Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Rachel Yanait (Ben-Zvi). This was the first time he used the name “Ben-Gurion.” During World War I, he originally favored Turkey and adoption of Ottoman citizenship. Anti-Zionist persecution changed his mind. He and Ben-Zvi were exiled to Egypt in March 1915. Ben-Gurion went to New York where he was instrumental in preparing young Jews to come to Palestine immediately after the war. He married Paula Munweis in 1917. She was an integral part of everything he did until her death in 1968. After the war, he became general secretary of the Histadrut labor federation in 1921. In 1930 he formed Mapai, the Zionist labor party; and in 1935 he became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. When Britain limited Jewish immigration to Palestine in 1939, a decade of Zionist warfare began. Ben-Gurion was unrelenting, and finally in Tel Aviv, on May 14, 1948, he proclaimed independence for the State of Israel.

At four o’clock in the afternoon of May 14, 1948 the members of the provisional national council, led by David Ben-Gurion met in the Tel Aviv Art Museum. Ben-Gurion rose and read the following proclamation:

The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.

Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained, faithful to it in all countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom. . .

Accordingly we, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assemble today, the day of the termination of the British Mandate of Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people and the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL . With trust in Almighty God, we set out hand to this declaration, at this session of the Provisional State Council, in the city of Tel Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the fifth day of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth day of May, 1948.

David ben Gurian

David ben Gurion

At that time the British who were still governing Israel refused to implement the partition plan. The British government made it plain that it would do all in its power to prevent the birth of the Jewish state. The Abrahamic Covenant declared that the nations that blessed Israel would be blessed and those that cursed Israel would be cursed (Genesis 12:3). It used to be said, “The sun never set on the British Empire.” Almost immediately after this persecution of the Jews, Britain began to lose their great worldwide empire. In section IV.B.2 of this work we will see the full extent of the British decline.

When, immediately after the United Nations Assembly decision, the Palestine Arabs launched their preliminary onslaught on the Jewish community, the British Army gave the Palestinian Arabs cover and aid, which resulted in:

Obstruction of Jewish defenses on the ground;

Blocking movement of Jewish reinforcements and supplies to outlying settlements;

Opening the land frontiers for the entry of Arab soldiers from the neighboring Arab states;

Maintaining a blockade in the Mediterranean and sealing the coast and ports through which alone the outnumbered Jews could expect reinforcements;

Handing over arms dumps to the Arabs;

Sending in forces from Malta to bomb and shell the Jewish force when Jaffa was on the point of falling to a Jewish counterattack;

Continuing to supply the Arab states preparing to invade across the borders with all that they asked for and making no secret of it.

Map from Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Invade.html

Map from Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Invade.html

In 1948, after the United Nations voted to give Israel statehood, five Arab armies (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.”[4] A Nazi collaborator, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, led the Arabs of the former British Mandate of Palestine. 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.

Despite the disadvantages in numbers, organization and weapons, the Jews began to take the initiative in the weeks from April 1 until the declaration of independence on May 14. The Haganah captured several major towns including Tiberius and Haifa, and temporarily opened the road to Jerusalem. Czechoslovakia was the only country willing to provide the Jews with weapons. Because God wanted them to survive He allowed them to capture territory from which the Arab aggressors attacked. Jordan captured what is now referred to as the “West Bank” (their true Jewish names are Judea and Samaria) including the Jewish eastern half of Jerusalem (now known as “Arab East Jerusalem”). Egypt captured what is now known as the “Gaza Strip.” This was in ancient times known as the land of the Philistines. Both countries murdered or expelled every Jew who was living there at the time. During the nineteen years that Jordan and Egypt occupied those territories (now know collectively as the “Occupied Territories”), neither country was willing to create independent states for the remaining Arabs (now known collectively as the “Palestinians”) residing in those territories. Instead, those regions were plundered and allowed to rot. Jewish graves were desecrated, gravestones were used to pave roads and build latrines, and Jewish homes were given to Arabs. Most of these Jewish refugees went to Israel, and in just a few years doubled Israel’s population. The Ashkenazi Jews of Israel absorbed Arabic-speaking brethren into society. By comparison, displaced Arabs were forced into refugee camps by their Arab brethren and most remained there throughout the nineteen years of Arab occupation. There was not a policy of expulsion of Arabs from Israel.

In 1949 Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan, (which in April 1949 changed its name to Jordan). At this time Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria. Only Britain and Pakistan recognized this annexation as legitimate. This region became a source of many terrorists’ attacks against Israel’s citizens. In 1945 there were about 870,000 Jews living in the surrounding Arab countries. The Muslims call them the Dhimmi. During 1947 and 1948 the Arabs persecuted these Jews. Their personal and real property were confiscated. Yemen Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq had anti-Jewish riots. Zionism was declared to be a capital crime in Iraq. Approximately 600,000 Jewish refugees left the Arab states and were welcomed into Israel by the Ashkenazi Jews living there at that time. The Jews became full citizens of Israel. Due to the wishes of their Arab leaders the Arabs in Israel did not become citizens but remained in internment camps and remained “refugees.”

Having lost in battle, Palestinian Arab terrorist groups, called “Fedayeen”, began systematic raids against the Israeli civilian population. Thirteen hundred Israelis were killed and wounded by Arab terrorists between 1949 and 1956.[5] The “Fedayeen” operated from bases located in and controlled by Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

The next stage of persecution was the Suez Crisis, also known as the Suez War or Suez Campaign. This was a 1956 war fought on Egyptian territory. The conflict pitted Egypt against three allied nations, France, the United Kingdom and Israel. The alliance between the France and the United Kingdom and Israel was largely one of economic security; the European nations had economic and trading interests in the Suez Canal, while Israel wanted to open the canal for Israeli shipping. All three interests were financial. By the conclusion of the war, only Israel realized positive gains. The roots of the crisis extend back to 1952, when officers in the Egyptian army overthrew the monarchy under King Farouk. Abandoning policies, which were co-operative with European powers, the new government desired to undertake a more nationalistic and assertive stance. This led to conflict with Israel and the European powers over the Suez Canal.

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Throughout 1956, conflict increased between Israel and Egypt, with Israel launching frequent incursions into Egyptian territory and Egypt increasingly defending itself. Egypt, under the leadership of President Gamal Abdul Nasser, blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba and closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping. At the same time, Egypt nationalized the canal, a vital trade route to the east, in which British banks and business held a forty four percent investment. Through the nationalization process the Egyptians usurped title to the canal. They of course believed it was their right to do so. The British Prime Minister of the time Anthony Eden needed to persuade the British public of the need for war and compared Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal with the industrial and commercial nationalization of businesses under Mussolini and Hitler twenty years earlier.

On October 29th, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula and made rapid progress towards the Canal Zone. As per the agreement, Britain and France offered to reoccupy the area and separate the warring armies. Nasser (whose nationalization of the company had been greeted with delirium by Egyptian crowds) refused the offer, which gave the European powers a pretext for a joint invasion to regain control of the canal and topple the Nasser regime. The campaign progressed as planned at first, but the European forces never reached the canal itself. Although Israel captured the Gaza Strip in the course of the war, the whole episode is usually regarded in Britain as an embarrassment. Eden was forced to resign because of a combination of ill health and opposition from Labor and his own party over the invasion of Egypt. [6]

The invading forces were forced to withdraw in March 1957 under pressure from the United States, which saw good relations with the third world as being more important than defending Anglo-French interests. Perhaps more significantly, the United States also feared a wider war after the Soviet Union’s offer to intervene on the Egyptian side. After the withdrawal, the United Nations established the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) to keep peace in the area. There were a few thousand casualties, mostly Egyptian, many civilian. It is interesting to note that the super powers of the United States and the Soviet Union injected themselves into this issue. The campaign therefore broadened and took on a larger scope than the regional conflict it started out to be. The crisis greatly improved Nasser’s stature within the international Arab communities. It also hastened the process of decolonization as the remaining colonies of both Britain and France become independent over the next several years. In a way, it also marked the end of the British Empire as expressly stated in the Abrahamic Covenant.

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3).

The crisis realized the transfer of power to the new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

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.

tumblr_n6z8k66CRJ1r65o3qo2_400

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. 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.

From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a divided city. The Arab Legion of Jordan had occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old City, since the War of Independence. The Jordanian troops had decimated the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, blowing up its synagogues and destroying every vestige of Jewish life there. During the initial battles with Egypt, Israel actually notified King Hussein that it had no intention of attacking his country. Hussein, however, believed Nassar’s lies and joined the Arabs. When the Arab Legion began to shell Western Jerusalem, the Israelis swiftly counterattacked, with success. Paratroopers landed and attacked from the Mount of Olives, entering the Lion Gate from the east. Israel was careful to minimize the use of artillery, which could have made their attack much easier with less loss of life. This was done out of respect for the numerous holy sites within the ancient walls. By June 8, Israeli troops were gazing at Herod’s stones of the Western Wall. Although Jerusalem was the central prize, Israel also captured in those four fierce days the areas of biblical Judea and Samaria. (Now called the West bank) These are not only the sites of biblical Jerusalem, but also the ancient towns of Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Bethlehem, and Hebron.

Egypt’s ally in the north was Syria. From their heavily fortified bunkers and miles of trenches along the Golan Heights, Syrian gunners had harassed the Jewish farmers and fishermen of the Huleh Valley and Sea of Galilee for nineteen years. The problem for the Israelis was that the Syrians literally held the high ground, and their Russian sponsors had helped them to fortify it well. With Syria also threatening Israel’s destruction, the army saw an opportunity to end this threat to its northern citizens once and for all. The battle for the Golan was difficult. This was not a desert, like the Sinai, where tanks could maneuver easily. Furthermore, the Syrians had planted numerous mines to deter any Israeli response to its constant shelling. The Air Force prepared the way by landing paratroopers behind the Syrian lines. Finally, Israeli bulldozers were able to clear the way so the armored units could batter the Syrian troops and drive them deep into the Golan. Syria accepted a cease-fire on June 10, 1967

Although it was an amazing military victory, the Six Day War left more than seven hundred Israelis dead and more than twenty five hundred wounded. Although figures were never officially released, Arab casualties were conservatively estimated at fifteen thousand. The Six Day War established Israel as a major military power, but it unexpectedly cast it in the role of “occupier”, a burden that has proven hard to bear for forty-three years. Israel eventually returned the Sinai to Egypt (after another war in 1973), when President Sadat finally acknowledged their legitimate existence. Israel remains in control of the Golan Heights, unwilling to see it return to a nest of bunkers and artillery positions. On the other hand, Israel is under great pressure to return most of the West Bank, those areas of biblical Judea and Samaria. Israel does not trust the Palestine Liberation Organization to oversee such a “Palestinian State” in light of its murderous record of terrorism.

 In March 1969, still humiliated by the 1967 defeat, Egypt launched a War of Attrition against Israeli forces in the Sinai with intense artillery fire against Israel’s “Bar-Lev Line” on the east bank of the Suez Canal. After large losses in May, June and July 1969, Israel responded with air raids into Egypt. Nasser, in response, appealed to the Soviet Union for aid and on March 19, 1970 Soviet missile batteries were installed in Egypt near the Canal. Moscow in addition to supplying weapons also participated in the war effort operating weapons for the Egyptians. Intense United States pressure led to a cease-fire on August 7, 1970 with plans to put into effect a United States plan for peace in the region based on land for peace. However, the cease fire, which called for a freeze on the situation in the Canal (no movement of either troops or military equipment) was breached by Egypt’s movement forward of forces on the same day it came into effect. Israel responded by suspending her participation in negotiations until the situation, which had prevailed on the eve of the signing of the ceasefire agreement, was restored. The peace plan was never implemented.

In an effort to force Israel to surrender captured lands, Egypt and Syria jointly attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Other Muslim states contributed troops and financial support. Caught by surprise, Israel suffered severe losses in human life and equipment. Following an Egyptian refusal to accept a cease-fire and a Soviet airlift to the Muslim states, the United States sent an airlift to Israel enabling a recovery from earlier setbacks. Saudi Arabia then led the Arab world in an oil embargo imposed on the United States and other western nations.

1Sept1914BattleNeryWWI

 

In the years following the 1973 war, Israel’s enemies realized that they could not defeat Israel on the battlefield. Churchill realized this many years earlier as he wrote of the Jews military superiority when he was Britain’s Prime Minister in a memo to General Ismay on January 25, 1944. [7] Therefore they turned to diplomatic warfare and sought to weaken Israel’s international diplomatic position. Due to pressure from the Muslim world, most African and third world countries broke diplomatic relations with Israel. In 1975, the Soviet-Muslim-Third World bloc at the United Nations succeeded in passing the infamous “Zionism equals racism” General Assembly resolution. This was an attempt to delegitimize the right of the Jewish people to return to their ancestral homeland. The resolution was not revoked until December 1991.

S.A.A. Maududi a Muslim wrote the following words in Jihad in Islam in 1991.

Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth, which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam. Islam requires the earth – not just a portion, but the whole planet.” And that God’s Law (Shariah) should be enforced in the world “by force of arms.” Truth cannot be confined within geographical borders. “The allegiance of a Muslim does not rest on his domicile in the country which is his, but on the faith to which he belongs … wherever there is the rule of Islam, there is his own country.[8]

The great expansion of Islam in the short time after its inception was mostly because of the military efforts of the new faith. Their conversion “by the sword” had great success on their expansion efforts. They had almost unbridled success until Charles Martel stopped them in 732 A.D., just one hundred years after the death of Mohammed. His victory over Abd-ar-Rahman at the battle of Tours stopped Muslim expansion into Europe.[9] A great many verses of the Koran [10] enjoin on Moslems to take up arms against polytheists, unbelievers and hypocrites. The words used in expressing this commandment are “Qital” (slaying, warfare) and “Jihad” (going forth to fight in the holy war). This latter word is more typical as its original meaning is striving with might and main; and, as will be seen, the dedication of maximum effort to the holy undertaking characterizes the commandment. Although the wording of one verse (Sura II.186) implies that fighting is justified when the enemy has attacked first, this is by no means the general rule. Nor is there any substance in the argument which is sometimes advanced to the effect that Jihad should be understood primarily in the sense of moral endeavor and self-discipline in the cause of service to Islam, and only secondarily in that of holy war. The verses quoted below will show that the emphasis is distinctly on warring against non-believers in order to propagate Islam and command to fight will receive a promise of rewards:

“Who is he that will loan to God a beautiful loan which God will double to their credit and multiply many times?” (Sura II.245-246). “Allah has given those that fight with their goods and their persons a higher rank than those who stay at home. He has promised all a good reward, but far richer is the recompense of those who fight for Him; rank of His own bestowal, forgiveness and mercy” (Sura IV. 97). “Those who believe, suffer exile and strive with might and main in God’s cause with their goods and their persons have the highest rank in the sight of God” (Sura IX.20). ‘Those who…fought in the path of God have the hope of the mercy of God…’ (Sura II.215). Those who fall on the battlefield in the course of holy war become martyrs. “Those that…fought and died for My cause shall be forgiven their sins and admitted to gardens watered by running streams…” (Sura III.194). “Think not of those who are slain in God’s way as dead; they are alive and well provided for by their Lord” (Sura III.163 and Sura II.149). “As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish…He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them” (Sura XLVII.5).

Other verses show God’s displeasure with those who shirk their duty of fighting. “And how should you not fight in the cause of Allah and for the helpless…?” (Sura IV.77). Except for a few verses which are revealed with reference to particular events such as the battles of Badr and Uhud, all the texts concerning Qital and Jihad have the same point; the obligation to engage in holy warfare is meant to persist, in the words of the Koran cited above, until God’s (Islam’s view) religion reigns supreme. Therefore, it follows that the prescriptions concerning holy war place the Islamic community in a situation of constant hostility towards the non-Moslem world. Jihad began with Mohammad and it is still being carried out through the Intifada, which continues to this day. In short Jihad is a state of permanent war and it does not have the possibility of true peace. [11]

The term Intifada is an Arabic name for “shaking off.” It refers to an uprising in the so-called Palestinian territories starting in 1987.[12] It involves demonstrations, strikes, riots and general violence performed in both the Gaza Strip (ancient Philistia) and the West Bank (Ancient Judea & Samaria). There are three principal groups behind the Intifada; Islamic Jihad, The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas. Hamas and Islamic Jihad both call for an independent State for the Palestinians within the borders of Israel. PLO’s goal is to organize terrorist attacks on Israel. These three groups have been the seedbeds of violence directed against the Israelis since they were established. The violence will continue until the Lord removes the Muslim nations from the earth along with the Germans and the Russians when He brings the coalition invasion against Israel led by Gog of Russia (Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39).

 

Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.

[1] Laqueur, Walter , ed. The Arab-Israeli Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict. New York: Bantam Books, 1969, 113.

[2] Trifkovic, Serge. The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth. Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, Inc., 2002. 193

[3] Ye’or, Bat. The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1985. 46

[4] 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.

[5] Ibid., 450.

[6] Brendon, Piers. The Decline and Fall of the British Empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopfof Random House, 2007, 503

[7] Churchill, Winston, S. Closing the Ring:. The Second World War. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953. Reprint Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press, 1989. 689

[8] Maududi, S.A.A. Jihad in Islam, Lahore 1991 (accessed July 20, 2008) http://www.peacefaq.com/jihad.html; Internet

[9] Britannica, Encyclopedia A New survey of Universal Knowledge, Published by William Benton Chicago, London, Toronto & Geneva 1962 Vol IV pg 293

[10] Atberry, R.J. The Koran Interpreted, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 1955, throughout book

[11] Ye’or, Bat. The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, 1985. 44, 46

[12] Price, Randall. Unholy War; America, Israel and Radical Islam. Eugene, OR. Harvest House 2001. 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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He is Risen – Jesus Did Really Rise From The Dead

 

It Is a Historical Fact that Jesus Rose from the Dead

 

Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio Cir 1602-03

Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio Cir 1602-03

On Easter (Resurrection Day) we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead. In the resurrection we see that Jehovah God sent Himself, a suffering servant (Isaiah 49-57), in the body of a man to atone for the sins of the world. His suffering reached a level of pain before and during the crucifixion that we cannot imagine as He bore the sins of the world and the cosmic realm as well. He met with the powers of darkness in the cosmic realm, which He battled and won the war (Luke 22: 53). Satan tried all he could to prevent Christ’s crucifixion. The death He experienced cleansed the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9: 23-26), which Lucifer polluted with his sin and fall, as well as providing for the salvation of all who would believe the gospel of Christ (II Corinthians 5: 21). Paul describes a situation that still exists today, doubt about the resurrection.

I Corinthians 15: 12-20a

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead (NKJV).

Paul’s prayer for the Corinthians is real specific. Some were denying the resurrection without any evidence. They simply said, “resurrections don’t occur.” Unbelievers say the same thing today. They say it couldn’t have happened because resurrections just don’t happen. Paul goes on to say that if there are no resurrections then Christ did not rise from the dead and our only hope is to trust in the powers of this world. If that were true our faith is misplaced in a false hope of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore we would be the most miserable lot in the world because the world only offers, among other troubles death, divorce, financial hardship, health problems, wars, tyranny and strained relationships. He concludes this passage with the strong assertion that Christ is risen from the dead. It is a matter of historical fact. The resurrection of Christ is the only hope for the world that there is remediation for the sinful decaying and dying world we live in. There is no other way out of the decay and sin we live in. God Himself provided the way. We only have to recognize that this really happened and accept it as fact.

Paul’s also offered a prayer for the Ephesian believers, which is very specific. He asks God to bestow upon them a deeper knowledge and understanding of Christ that we today must also experience. This is not something that one can learn in a seminary or even in a Bible study or from reading devotional books. Paul’s desire for them was that they would willingly receive from God “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ” (Ephesians 1:17-23).

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Jesus The Messiah in the Passover

Jesus The Messiah in the Passover

 

The resurrected Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov 1806-1858

The resurrected Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov 1806-1858

Introduction

Abraham, the first Hebrew named in the Bible, received a covenant from the Lord God in approximately 2040 B.C. One of the components of that covenant was that at some time in the future his progeny would be enslaved by another nation.

Genesis 15:13-14

13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance (KJV)

Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name was changed by God to Israel, went from the land of Canaan to live in Egypt due to the famine in Canaan (Genesis 32:28). He and his family totaling seventy souls went to Egypt in approximately 1844 B.C. They would stay in Egypt for four hundred years. By the time God was ready to have them leave and start the journey back to Canaan, they had grown to a population numbering more than two million people (Exodus 12:37; Numbers 1: 46; 26: 51). Moses, their leader, petitioned Pharaoh to let them go and he refused. The Lord God sent ten plagues in succession into Egypt to force Pharaoh to release them. The first nine had no effect upon Pharaoh but the tenth finally caused him to release the Hebrews.  They fled the country along with many riches given by the Egyptians to send them off (Exodus 12:35-36). The prophecy that God gave Abraham was unfolding exactly as it was given. It is the last plague “The Death of the Firstborn” that begins our discussion of the Passover.

The Passover

Exodus 11:4-7

4 And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel (KJV)

God promised Moses that He would not harm any of the Israelites, but in order for them to be protected they had to follow a very specific process during the tenth plague in which all the first-born of animals and people would be put to death. If the Jews followed the Lord’s instruction explicitly they would delivered from the death that all the first-born would experience:

Exodus 12:21-28

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they (KJV)

The story continues explaining that the Children of Israel were “saved” from the death of the destroyer when he would “pass over” their homes. They were told to “observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.” Further they were told “when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.”

This ritual is rich with meaning for Christians, and shows that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the central figure in this ancient Jewish feast. Christianity is actually a continuation and fulfillment of God’s plan for mankind. 
He elected the Nation Israel to would bring forth the Messiah. When Christ appeared and started His ministry the Jewish population flocked to Him. All the early Church believers were Jewish. Most of the Jewish leaders rejected Him not wanting to accept who He because they feared losing the benefits of the profitable charade that they imposed on the people. They persuaded most of the people not to follow Him claiming their superiority as official leaders of the Jewish community (Acts 4:2). So for approximately 1980 years the non-Christian Jews have been trying to follow the Mosaic Law because they did not believe that Jesus is their Messiah. Even though Jesus is clearly the central figure in the Passover, most Jews follow the ritual without ever realizing this. God told them that this was to be a perpetual celebration and that they were to carefully explain to their children.

Stained Glass of Jesus as the Paschal Lamb-Artist Unknown

Stained Glass of Jesus as the Paschal Lamb-Artist Unknown

 

The Passover became the first of the seven festivals of the nation Israel (see a brief description of the seven festivals and how they relate to Christ at the end of this article). The Passover occurs during the month of Nisan. The 10th day of Nisan is when they single out the lambs and the 14th is the Passover. Their day started at sunset. This festival also begins their religious calendar in the spring.

The Passover is a key event in the history of Israel and becomes an underlying current throughout the entire Old Testament. It is interesting that by tradition, in the orthodox Hebrew culture, almost every major event in Israel’s history is regarded as having occurred in Passover or seems to surface at historically significant Passover dates. These include:

  • The Covenant with Abraham is regarded as occurring on Passover in Genesis 15.
  • Abraham is regarded has having entertained his heavenly guests by the oaks of Mamre on Passover.
  • Sodom is regarded as being destroyed following Passover.
  • Jericho is regarded to have fallen on Passover.
  • The handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5 is regarded to have been on Passover.

The first place in Scripture this event occurs, which is a type of the Passover, is Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve clothe themselves with handmade fig leaves. God then covers them with a coat of skins. This is the first shedding of innocent blood by God as a covering after their sins. The Levitical system can actually be traced to Genesis 3. This gives us more insight into story of Cain and Abel because the sacrifices were instituted in the Garden of Eden and prophetically point to the Redeemer. Abel, by faith, observed the system and presented a blood sacrifice to God. Cain did not observe the system and presented what he wanted to offer, the fruits of his own hands, a non-blood sacrifice in contrast to Abel’s offering.

Perhaps the most dramatic prophecy of a type of the Passover was when Abraham was instructed by God to offer up Isaac (Genesis 22). They traveled three days and they went up the hill known as Mount Moriah. When Isaac asks where is the lamb for offering, Abraham says the “God will provide Himself, a Lamb (underlined added). And He did there and 2,000 years later on the wooden cross at Calvary He provided Himself as a sacrifice to redeem us by His blood. Throughout these chapters the word “Lamb” never appears in the plural, it is always singular which makes it very personal. This feast is not a Levitical feast; it is very different than the other feasts. It is much more than that. The High Priest slaughtered the lambs for the rabbinical feasts. In contrast, the lamb for this festival is slaughtered for every household by the head of the household. It is also partaken of and eaten personally by the entire family.

“The Blood of The Lamb”

Exodus 12:3-5

Speak 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 the house of [their] fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take [it] according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats (underlining added, KJV).

Note the sequence of steps from “a lamb” to “the lamb” to “your lamb”. It is very personal. Each person’s redemption is only achieved by his own belief, not by a minister or priest or family member. It has to be done by each person in relationship with Christ.

Every detail in the Scriptures about The Passover points to Jesus Christ.  “Your lamb shall be without blemish” (Leviticus 22:18-20; 1 Peter 1:19). Psalm 34:20 “He keepeth all his bones: Not one of them is broken” and Exodus 12:46neither shall ye break a bone thereof” both speak of not breaking a bone of the Passover Lamb. Jesus’ bones were not broken while the other two crucified with Him had their broken to hasten their death as described in John 19:31-37:

31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced (KJV).

Passover represents the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world for us. We essentially become “covered by the blood” once we accept the Lord into our lives. It is our decision just as it was the ancient Israelite’s decision to mark the doorposts and the lentil with the blood of the lamb. Once we choose this we are “Justified.” God provides several actions, which occur at the moment of belief. We call this being “born again”. It is easy to understand Nicodemus’ inability to comprehend this, since he was not yet born again at the time of his conversation with Jesus in John chapter 3. Here is the sequence of actions that happens to a believer as he is covered by the “blood of the Lamb”, and born again:

  • We are justified, and we make peace with God.
  • We receive the peace of God.
  • We are sanctified and begin to grow more Christ –like which lasts our whole lives.
  • We receive the Holy Spirit as an earnest deposit to be redeemed by God at either the rapture or the moment of our death, whichever happens first.
  • We are endowed with Spiritual Gifts.

If the ancient Israelites chose not to accept God’s atonement provision the destroyer would kill them.  God did not do the destroying. It is important to note this as He provided the salvation. If we choose not to accept Christ, upon death we go straight to hell. There is no redemption after that for the unbeliever.

Romans 15:4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (KJV)

Amos 3:7

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (KJV).

 Exodus 12:14

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever (KJV).

Note that the Lord instituted this for all times. It was not to end. The Jews still keep the Passover. The Messianic Jews do not slay the Lamb (Jesus) since the Lamb was slain once for all. Most of them still keep the feast and they call it the Haggadah or the Seder.

THE MODERN PASSOVER SEDER (Order of Service)

The Instituted Passover that God ordained as a memorial relationship and a prophetic relationship for His children is the modern Passover is held in homes, and is presided over by the head of the house, the grandfather or father. The ceremony is performed on the 14th and 15th of Nisan, with the 14th being optional and the 15th being mandatory.

The woman of the house also has an important part. The first preparation is a thorough house cleaning by the hostess, and a ceremonial search (the Bedikat Chametz) for leaven by the host. He uses a lighted candle, a wooden spoon, a feather and a napkin. When he finds the last bits of leavened bread, he wraps it in the napkin and says the Kal Hamira – “Now I have rid my house of leaven.” The napkin and its crumbs are burned. This service is a type of the Last Supper of Jesus.

The normal dishes are all packed away, and a special set that’s used only once a year is brought out. The hostess cooks a festive meal, but doesn’t set it on the table until later in the service. The hostess begins the actual Seder by lighting the candles and chanting a blessing. The table is set with several prescribed items, as follows:

The Seder Plate, a blue-enameled brass dish that has six compartments for the following foods:

  • The zeroah, or shank bone of a lamb (no meat). For the first 1500 years, they actually sacrificed a lamb, and then ate its meat in the Passover meal. But in A.D. 70 when the Roman, Titus, destroyed the Jerusalem Temple proper sacrifices became impossible. Thus, the bone is now placed on the plate as a memorial.
  • The bytzah or haggigah, a hard-boiled egg roasted brown. The egg was not there originally; it is a Babylonian symbol of fertility and may have started during their Babylonian captivity during the 6th century B.C.
  • Three kinds of “bitter herbs” are the chazereth (whole horseradish root), the maror (freshly ground horseradish), and the karpas (lettuce, parsley or celery). 
The bitter herbs were to remind them of the misery their ancestors suffered.
  • The charoseth, a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and wine. The charoseth represents the mortar they used in making bricks in Egypt.
  • A bowl of salt water. The salt water is a reminder of the water of the Red Sea and also of their tears.
  • There are also three matzohs (unleavened cracker-like wafers of bread, pierced and striped during baking). These are in a matzo tash, a square white silk bag having three sections.
  • The host has four wine goblets. Sometimes the other celebrants also have four, or sometimes, instead their goblets are refilled several times. The four goblets represent the four verbs in Exodus 6:6-7, “I will bring you out; … I will deliver you; … I will redeem you; … I will take you to be my people.”
  • There is also an ornate book, the Haggadah, describing the service and containing the prayers. This was compiled in the 13th century A.D., from much earlier fragments.
  • Each chair has a pillow, and guests recline or sit comfortably (to show that they’re not slaves).
  • The host wears a kitel, a long white robe-like outer garment, and symbol of purity. On his head is the miter, a white silk crown-shaped headress. He chants the prayer of sanctification, or Kiddush, “Blessed are thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine.”
  • Everyone drinks from the first wine-goblet, the “cup of sanctification.”

The hostess brings in a small towel and bowl of water used several times in the service for ceremonial hand washing.  (Jesus washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper.)

The leader passes out bits of karpas to each person. They all chant, “Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the earth.”
  • Everyone dips the karpas into salt water and eats it.
  • Now the leader takes the matzoh tash with its unity (the three matzohs). He removes the middle matzoh, breaks it in half, and hides or buries one half by wrapping it in a white napkin and placing it under a pillow, or under the table. The other half is replaced in the matzoh tash. The buried wafer is called the aphikomen. He doesn’t explain why he does this.  (There’s a great deal of significance in this “burial,” and its later “resurrection,” especially for Christians. Its meaning can be understood as “that which is coming”, for example dessert, yet it can be seen as “He who is coming.” According to Jewish tradition, Messiah will come at Passover to bring redemption like the redemption brought through Moses. This is why a place is left at the table for Elijah, the forerunner of Messiah as stated in Malachi 4:5.)

Now it’s time for the traditional questions, chanted by the youngest child. Basically these ask:

  1. Why is this night different from all others?
  2. Why do we eat matzohs?
  3. Why must we have bitter herbs?
  4. Why do we dip greens into salt water?
  5. Why do we recline on pillows?

The leader then recites the history of the Hebrew nation, from Abraham to Moses. He tells about the slavery in Egypt, and God’s deliverance. When he lists the ten plagues, everyone spills a drop of wine into a cup — one for each plague. When the description is over, they all sing and clap a happy song, praising God. They recite Psalms 113 and 114 (the Hallel). Then they drink from the second wine-goblet (the cup of praise). 

There’s more ceremonial washing and eating matzoh, bitter herbs and sweet charoseth. Now the hostess clears the table of the ceremonial items (but leaves the wine-goblets), and brings out the main dinner. When the meal is finished, the hostess clears the dishes. Now it’s time for the search for the aphikomen (the buried half- matzoh). The children, who make it a game, do this. Adults call out clues, “You’re getting close,” and so on (of course, they all saw the host hide it, so the contest is only ritual). The youngest is usually allowed to find it, and receives a gift. The host breaks off olive-size pieces of matzoh from the aphikomen and distributes them to all. They each eat it, in a reverent manner. Sometimes there is a blessing, “In memory of the Passover sacrifice, eaten after one is sated.” 

(This is the point during the Last Supper at which Jesus broke the bread and passed bits to His disciples; however, Jesus added the significant words given in Luke 22:19, 

“This is my body which is given for you.”)

The host now takes the third cup of wine, “the cup of redemption,” or “the cup of blessing,” and offers the main table grace blessing. (In Jewish tradition, the main blessing comes after the meal.) Then they all drink from the third cup. 

At the Last Supper, this is the place referred to in Luke 22:20, 
”Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’.”

There is a fourth wine-goblet at the table, that hasn’t been used until now. This is called “the cup of Elijah.” There is also an empty chair, waiting for Elijah to come. This is done because of the promise contained at the end of the Old Testament:

Malachi 4:5-6

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (KJV)

Messianic expectations run very high among the Jewish people and especially at Passover time. The children of the house then make a ritual of going and looking closely at the cup, to see if Elijah has come and sipped some. One of the children goes to the door, opens it, and looks for Elijah. Everyone says, “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the LORD!”

The host then leads in the recitation of the second part of the Hallel — Psalms 115-118, then the Great Hallel, Psalm 136. Everyone drinks from the fourth cup of wine. After one more prayer of blessing (that contains the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem”) the Passover celebration is finished.

The seven festivals of Israel

The seven festivals are:

Spring Festivals                   Mid Year Festival     Fall Festivals

Passover                                  Pentecost                                Trumpets
Unleavened Bread                                                                   Day of Atonement

First Fruits                                                                              Tabernacle

Three of the seven feasts of Israel occur in the month of Nisan. The first three deal with Christ’s first coming, and Passover became the first of the seven festivals. The feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for seven days, starts on the 14th of Nisan, the end of The Passover:

Exodus 12:15

15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel (KJV).

In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 leaven is shown to be in Bible typology an example of sin.

The First Fruits represents The Resurrection and it is the day following the Sabbath of the Passover. Jesus died on Passover, Unleavened Bread starts on Saturday and First Fruits (Resurrection) is on the first day of the week or the day after the Sabbath.

The middle one, Pentecost, is fifty (50) days after First Fruits and represents the Church age since the Church was born on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

The three main fall festivals are: Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles. They represent Christ’s second coming.

Here is a chart connecting the festivals and the events of Christ’s death and resurrection:

 

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Moses Maimonides on the Providence of God

From Israeli Bank Note

From Israeli Bank Note

Introduction

 

Moses Maimonides (Cir. 1135-1204 C.E.) affectionally referred to as the Rambam wrote a profound philosophical work in approximately 1190 C.E. called The Guide of The Perplexed. Within this book he provided a very enlightening exposition regarding his view of the concept of divine providence. Recognizing the complexity of this subject and seeing many philosophy and Bible students avoiding it one comes to appreciate Maimonides and his efforts to tackle the concept of providence. Because Maimonides wrote in medieval times he cannot be understood using modern presuppositions.[1] In fact Colette Sirat’s excellent introductory work on this subject in her own words affirms this. “This book was written…. In an attempt to elucidate their (Middle Age philosophers) meaning and to situate them in their historical context.” [2] Therefore in order to begin to understand what he explained it is important to examine at least the term providence.

Since terms have meaning and we are reading an English version of The Guide of The Perplexed translated in 1963 C.E., it is helpful to identify the words used designating providence. In English the word is of late Middle English origin, which comes through Old French from the Latin providential meaning to attend to or to provide.[3] Of course Maimonides may have been acquainted with Middle English, which is recognized as beginning with the Norman invasion of 1066 C.E., but he wrote the Guide in Arabic. Then in 1204 C.E. though a contemporary of his, Samuel ben Judah ibn Tibbon, [4] it was translated into Hebrew.

Ibn Tibbon coined the Hebrew term hashgahah as a translation of the Arabic word ana yah to “provide.” Both of these words are language descriptors of providence. These terms seem to be used most often in efforts to describe universal or even individual measures of governance with which God carries out His controlling criterion of the universe and particularly this earth and its inhabitants. In a sense then God plans, foresees, and governs the universe as well as the world as an object of His care.

The subject of providence carries with it several sub categories. Chief among these are creation, origin of evil, and conservation or administration. While not the primary object of this paper some consideration of Maimonides’ views on evil is helpful to understand his exposition of providence.

Samyaza The Fallen Angel by Hawkwood

Samyaza The Fallen Angel by Hawkwood

Evil

 

Maimonides begins his discussion answering the question, “Does God create evil?” He quotes the Islamic school of Mutakallemim, who were adherents of Kalam; an Islamic theological-philosophical school during the Middle Ages [5] by saying their position was in error. Within their thoughts regarding evil they said for example that physical maladies such as blindness and deafness were positive properties actually created by God. They did not view these as privations but creations. Through several examples Maimonides refutes the Kalamist position. For example he says that evils are only evils in relation to something else. His position is that they are not positive events. He says that it is evil that a man is ill, poor or ignorant. In these instances, the evil is where man has not achieved health, financial success, or he never became wise. The evil in all these cases is the deprivation of some real, positive object. Therefore, these evils were not created, because evils are not really in existence. They are terms denoting the lack of real positive entities as health, wealth, and wisdom. He states that God cannot be the creator of evil because mankind’s own ignorance, which is a privation of knowledge, is the perpetrator. So therefore he says that all evils or privations are based in our matter. That is, the material component of our existence not the spiritual is the source of wickedness, base desires, and fundamental ignorance. In doing so he provides three separate but interlinked categories of evil all emanating from our physical nature. First, evil can and will happen to us simply by being in the world, which is composed of material substances and bound to the world’s elements. So just being in the world we are subject to death, disease, and injuries. Second, human beings cause evil through various actions to fall upon each other. Some of these are rooted in envy, deceit and tyrannical domination. Third, individuals bring evil upon themselves. Maimonides provides several examples of this last segment. He uses intemperate eating, drinking and excessive copulation as some overdone activities, which can lead to self-induced evil. It is also a principle of the Mosaic Law that God is not unjust in rendering evil to humans. He uses this as a punishment for what they deserve just as He provides rewards (pleasure) for those acts seeming to be in compliance with God’s Law. Further, Maimonides makes it quite clear that mankind is ignorant of the various systems God uses to accomplish His retributive justice for man’s acts. So in conclusion Maimonides says quoting Isaiah 11:9, these calamities (evils) will be abolished when men come to the knowledge of the true reality of the deity.[6] He seems to be saying that the absence of God is the origin and perpetuation of evil. Where God is (known and followed) evil will either disappear or at least diminish for the person who embraces God and His ways.

 

Maimonides Provides Options of Providence to Consider

 

Before Maimonides begins to explain his belief in providence he begins by relating the opinions of others, which he says, are ancient and heard at the time of the Hebrew prophets. They are provided here.

 

  1. Pure chance, which is the Epicurean view. This view says that there is no providence and that everything happens as a result of the random variations or sorting of matter. This, for Maimonides citing Aristotle, says is inadmissible. Those who espouse this position including unbelieving Jews say that there is no one who orders, governs or is concerned with anything. Maimonides counters this position by stating that there is someone who orders and govern things.[7]
  2. Some chance, some providence. This is the opinion of Aristotle. Aristotle’s view is that divine governance extends only to the everlasting and immutable elements of nature. God provides the celestial spheres and their contents, as well as the species of things, with what is necessary for their preservation. Individual existents in this sublunar realm, however, are watched over by providence only to the extent that they are provided with certain essential attributes by the species to which they belong. So then a human being is endowed with reason and a variety of instincts, all of which aid his/her preservation, by virtue of his/her participation in the species “human being.” Everything else that happens to a human being that does not flow from the species, however—everything, that is, that does not belong to a person essentially and by virtue of being a human being—is due to chance. While Maimonides for the most part rejects the Aristotelian view, he believes that there is indeed an element of truth to it, one that he will use in his own account.
  3. All strict governance by God. This is the Islamic position, which he also rejects. He says the Islamic sect of Ashariyya’s theory of providence believes that nothing in the universe is due to chance. Rather, everything is brought about through the purposeful will of God. Providence thus extends to every aspect of every event in nature, from the punishment of a sinner to the falling of a leaf from a tree. Maimonides insists that this account is unacceptable because it renders divine law useless as no human being has any freedom to do or refrain from doing what the law commands or proscribes. It renders divine justice to be of no effect. Since the Mosaic Law does not bind the Islamists one can form an understanding of their position, because it would naturally not reflect the Torah’s teaching.
  4. Man has ability to act. The fourth opinion also states that divine providence watches over all things, but adds that human beings are free in their actions. The Mu’tazilites hold this position. In this scheme of things God is responsible for distributing rewards and punishments to all beings not by sheer acts of will (as the Ashariyya’s view implies) but through wisdom and justice. Maimonides objects to this view on the ground that it is inappropriate to extend divine justice beyond the sphere of human agency. Just as the purveyors of this view say that when a blameless person suffers, divine justice will provide him/her with a greater reward in the world-to-come, so they must say that when a particular animal is killed it was better for it to be so and it will receive a recompense in the hereafter. They say in the same way that if another animal devours any particular animal, which has not sinned it, too, will receive restitution in the hereafter. Maimonides calls this a disgraceful viewpoint by citing their position, which is; “it is better for the animal because it will receive compensation in the other world for what has happened to ”[8]
  5. Divine providence coexists with man’s ability to act. This fifth view is the one that Maimonides holds. He says that man has an absolute ability to act because he has choice due to his nature and will. He may do everything within his divinely ordained capacity to act. He seems to say that man’s capacity to act has always been the same. Divine providence has various characteristics seen as God controls His universe. It is to this fifth view, that of Maimonides, the remainder of this paper will be focused.

 Summary of Maimonides on Providence

 

Maimonides begins his explanation relating what the Mosaic Law says on this subject, within which is also his position.[9] He does not have a view, which is contrary to the Law but nestled within it. The only difference between the two as explained by Strauss is: the outward teaching of the Law says moral virtue and external happiness are coordinated to one another. The internal teaching, Maimonides position, finds true happiness associated with the knowledge of God. Which as Strauss says the esoteric doctrine of providence coincides with the understanding of the essence of happiness as well as with the fundamental and logically consistent distinction between true and merely supposed happiness.[10] The initial theorem Maimonides presents is man has an absolute ability to act. God has willed this in eternity past (parte ante) before the creation. The human being is able to choose, exercise his will, and make intelligent decisions based upon the limits or capacity the Creator has provided to man. By capacity Maimonides means the limits the Creator has placed on His creatures. For example man may will to defy gravity by leaping off of a building expecting that he will not suffer a painful landing. However, since God has not given him the capacity to exercise that desire a painful landing is inevitable.

The animals and plant life also have a plan that has been preordained within the capacity that they have been given. With plants it is only clear that they experience God’s providence in reproduction and growth. The animals somewhat similarly endowed are different than men because they are endowed with a capacity that seems to limit their decisions to act only for various aspects of preservation. Whereas mankind is able to exercise intellectual decisions, plant and animal life’s decisions are limited to God’s preordained, preplanned margins of their capacity.

Divine providence is connected to intellectual reasoning. Intellect and its perfection are achieved through ethics. One can accept the linkage from the Creator who must possess supreme intelligence, to the human through our intellect. At the same time it is also possible to see Maimonides as something of an elitist. He seems to say that those who are closest to God are the most learned of a society. Consider what he states as fact. “Man and society cannot be perfected except through the intellectual beliefs in God.” He goes on to say that this cannot come about without studying first natural science and then divine science.[11] So being close to God is measured by how much knowledge one acquires. It follows then that anyone who does not have the advantage of being blessed with the means to receive advanced natural scientific knowledge cannot know God or even love God. This being Maimonides’ view is exclusionary to only the few with superior intellect and education. Kreisel observed that Maimonides treats ethics as a necessary means through which the ultimate end of intellectual perfection is achieved. Kreisel also saw a contradiction in the “Guide” wherein Maimonides seemed to also say the ultimate end is the practice of justice, righteousness and living-kindness. [12]     Divine Providence watches over people belonging to the human species and based upon their circumstances and behavior, which can be either good, or evil, they will receive what they have been ordained to receive. This Maimonides calls this their deserts.

Providential care of God is exercised over things both animate and inanimate but intellectually connected to humans who are yielded to His will. God has put into place a system for individual human beings to take advantage of or not, as they choose. It appears that He does not compel the human’s will. And it is the virtuous who pursue intellectual virtue, and not merely the morally virtuous, who God prospers, while all others are left without God’s focused providential protection. Therefore divine providence is differentiated from mere preservation.

In terms of animals and plants Maimonides’ view is like Aristotle’s in that he believes that God does not exert His divine decrees upon the minutest action of the world such as a falling leaf. He calls this pure chance, as does Aristotle. This is ordained through the natural order, which God created. There are other components of the natural order, to which providence applies and generally exerted upon all beings within the creation. Those, which are necessary to sustain life, belong to this category. The earth’s position relative to its sun, the composition of the gaseous layer surrounding the earth, and its ambient pressure for example, all belong to the natural order.

Divine Providence is consequent of divine overflow (emanation) poured out upon the species, which are united with the overflow, which is then poured out to the human intellect. From this comes the fruit or out flow so that the providential endowment is intellect. This again is a conduit through which God discloses His will. Interestingly Kreisel affirms this connection calling it “practical intellect.” He says that it is the faculty most directly responsible for translating metaphysical knowledge into a system of perfect governance. [13]As long as one is actively enjoying the intellectual connection to the divine emanation, one is in fact protected. That is, providence is watching over, or, better, engaged in such a person so that he is guarded from the vagaries of chance. On the other hand, when one is not attending to God (either because one has never made the effort or because, having achieved the connection, one has temporarily become distracted to the point of disassociation, perhaps by the pleasures of the senses), one is abandoned to chance and left to one’s own devices in the face of the vagaries of happenstance. This would also seem to be the lot of the person of low intellect and learning in Maimonides teaching. The person who is not experiencing the overflow is not enjoying its benefits. He is at the mercy of nature’s elements and his well-being is subject to whatever may or may not come his way. Providence is no longer watching over him, not because God is actively punishing him, but because through his own actions he has taken himself outside of the care that providence (the overflow) offers and is now exposed to what chance brings. From these circumstances we are compelled to praise God when He actively rewards and believe that He is not responsible when evil is manifested toward those whom he seems to be actively punishing. Maimonides states:

CIMG0048

“With regard to providence watching over excellent men and neglecting the ignorant, it is said: He will keep the feet of his holy ones, but the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness; for not by strength shall man prevail. It says thereby that the fact that some individuals are preserved from calamities, whereas those befall others, is due not to their bodily forces and their natural dispositions … but to their perfection and deficiency, I mean their nearness to or remoteness from God. For this reason, those who are near to Him are exceedingly well protected… whereas those who are far from Him are given over to whatever may happen to befall them. For there is nothing to protect them against whatever may occur; for they are like one walking in darkness, whose destruction is assured…For this reason, those who are near to Him are exceedingly well protected … whereas those who are far from Him are given over to whatever may happen to befall them. For there is nothing to protect them against whatever may occur; for they are like one walking in darkness, whose destruction is assured.” [14]

Those who do not strive for intellectual perfection have no more providential protection than non-human animals. They enjoy only general providence and whatever tools for survival the species confers upon them (as well as everyone else). For such people, there is a great deal of moral luck, in so far as their happiness and well-being, is subject to chance, and therefore given over to circumstances beyond their control. As an affirmation of God’s providence and the repudiation of chance Twersky referencing Maimonides says, “Crying out in prayer and sounding an alarm in a time of crisis and emergency – may it be famine, pestilence, war, or sickness – has a philosophical doctrinal rationale: it underscores the providential design in the world and uncompromisingly repudiates any theory of chance (Epicureanism).”[15] Twersky again quoting Maimonides follows by adding, “Fasting and praying in time of crisis and adversity is a means of impressing upon the individual and the providential design in all events and reminding him of his absolute dependence on God.”[16]

Now we come to the final question regarding the issue of the reconciliation of divine providence with the human’s independent will. Some refer to this as a tension. [17] Because this issue is directly associated with the nature of God, one might consider this issue as being dominated by one side or the other. So for example some might simply say God is in total complete control of all events on the earth, as the Islamic position (number 3) holds. Or some might simply take the reverse which is mankind has independent control (The Mu’tazilites position number 4) of his fate. Maimonides does say that we will never fully understand God’s ways but he nevertheless attempts a reconciliation of the “tension” of a seemingly unsolvable antinomy. I say antimony because the providence of God and the free will of mankind seem to be both true but irreconcilable even incongruous with our logic and reason in time and space. Metaphysically it certainly does have reconciliation. However for now in the physical we must accept both as true. How does Maimonides reconcile God’s providence and control with the will he has given to mankind?

Maimonides takes it for granted that God plays a direct and active role in the affairs of intelligent, learned, ethical, human beings. He also presupposes that men have a will to make choices regarding their intended actions. Men have limits, which restrain some behaviors, which might be conceived. God on the other hand has no limits. Quoting Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah, Rabbi, Marc Angel says:

“Free will is bestowed on every human being. If a person desires to turn toward the good way and be righteous, he has the power to do so. If a person wishes to turn toward the evil way and be wicked, he is a liberty to do so… Man, of himself and by the exercise of his own intelligence and reason, knows what is good and what is evil…”[18]

Maimonides responds to the doctrine of predestination, which presupposes that man’s choices are already determined so that he really does not have any valid choices. He calls the people of the world who hold this position fools because we do have choices to make. We can be as wicked or as righteous as we want. Maimonides does not give us any proof of this except to say that God’s wisdom is vastly superior to ours so that it is beyond our comprehension. The Godly inspired Scripture inform us of our will to make choices. Therefore we have independent choice. Our inability to understand this tension is because we can’t understand God’s knowledge and His ways.[19] The intellect of a person seeking God will be guided out of harms way in most instances. He will also accept those harms/evils that he does encounter as God’s will even though God’s providential protection has been watching over him. The person who is in God’s will by coupling himself to the “overflow” through the intellect will experience advantages throughout his time in this world.[20]

Maimonides near the end of the Guide provides a simile of a king in his palace and his subjects who are at different distances relative to him. Some of his subjects turn their backs to the king. Others have a strong desire to go to the palace. Several of those actually get to the palace, but only a few get in the same room with the king. There is another final effort required before they can actually stand before the king near or far, hear him, or speak to him.

 

The Palace at Vierailles from Thanakrit.dome.

The Palace at Vierailles from Thanakrit.dome.

 

He is of course referring to God as the king and the subjects are people who exert different levels of drawing near to Him. He gives a superb conclusion to this simile and his concept of the workings of providence in the human as being continually as near to God as possible throughout ones life. “The true worship of God is only possible when correct notions of Him have previously been conceived. When you have arrived by way of intellectual research at a knowledge of God and His works, then commence to devote yourselves to Him, try to approach Him and strengthen the intellect, which is the link that joins you to Him. Thus Scripture says, “Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightiest know that the Lord He is God” (Deuteronomy 4:35); “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord He is God” (Deuteronomy 4: 36); “Know ye that the Lord is God” (Psalm 100:3). Thus the Law distinctly states that the highest kind of worship to which we refer in this chapter, is only possible after the acquisition of the knowledge of God. For it is said, “To love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:13), and, as we have shown several times, man’s love of God is identical with His knowledge of Him. The Divine service enjoined in these words must, accordingly, be preceded by the love of God.”[21]

In closing it is apparent that Maimonides sees the intellect, emanating from God as the link joining us to Him. God is providential and strongly connected to us when we exercise our power to strengthen the bond. We must seek the love of God and He will be with us, guiding us providentially until we are brought over to eternity. Therefore our free will is directly tied to God’s moral system and the strength of our desire to be near to Him, the king in His palace provides the strongest connection through which to receive His providential emanation. When the human will is tightly connected to God in obedience then our will is in harmony with His providential care and the antimony is absent. The two seemingly incongruous wills are in synchronization.

 

Referenced Works

 

Angel, Rabbi Marc D. Maimonides, Spinoza and Us Toward and Intellectually Vibrant Judaism. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009.

 

Carson, D.A. Divine Sovereignty & Human Responsibility, Biblical Perspectives in Tension. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002.

 

Kreisel, Howard. Maimonides Political Thought, Studies in Ethics, Law, and the Human Ideal. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1999.

 

Maimonides, Moses. Shlomo Pines translator, Guide of the Perplexed. Chicago, IL: The University Chicago Press, 1963.

 

Sirat, Colette, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

 

Strauss, Leo, Hart Green, Kenneth, Ed. Maimonides The Complete Writings. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

 

Strauss, Leo. Persecution and The Art of Writing. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988. (Originally published in 1952 by The Free Press.)

 

Twersky, Isadore. Maimonides Reader, edited with Introduction and Notes. Springfield, NY: Behrman House Inc. Publishers, 1972.

 

Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah). New Haven CT: Yale Judaica Series, Yale University Press, 1980.

 

 

[1] Strauss, Leo, Persecution and The Art of Writing, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL 1988 Originally published in 1952 by The Free Press pg38

[2] Sirat, Colette, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, The Pitt Building Trumpington Street, Cambridge England, 1985 pg. ix

[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary on line, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/providence, accessed on May 19, 2014

[4] The Jewish virtual library on line, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0016_0_16141.html, accessed on May 19, 2014

[5]Sirat, Colette, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, The Pitt Building Trumpington Street, Cambridge England, 1985, pg. 15.

6 Maimonides, Moses, Shlomo Pines translator, Guide of the Perplexed, The University Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois Volume II pg.19

[7] Ibid, pg. 464

[8] Ibid, pg. 468

[9] Ibid pg.469

[10] Strauss, Leo, Hart Green, Kenneth, Ed. Maimonides The Complete Writings, University of Chicago Press, 2013 pf. 321-322

 

[11] Maimonides, Moses, Shlomo Pines translator, The Guide of the Perplexed, The University Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois Vol I 1963 pgs. 8-9

 

[12] Kreisel, Howard, Maimonides Political Thought, Studies in Ethics, Law, and the Human Ideal, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY 1999 pg.160

 

[13] Ibid pg. 92

[14] Ibid pgs. 475-6

[15] Twersky, Isadore, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah), Yale Judaica Series, Yale University Press, New Haven CT., 1980 pg. 303

 

[16] Ibid pg. 422

[17] Carson, D.A. Divine Sovereignty & Human Responsibility, biblical perspectives in tension, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W, 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, Oregon 97401 2002, pg.201

[18] Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Teshuvah 5:1. From, Angel, Marc D., Maimonides, Spinoza and Us, Toward and Intellectually Vibrant Judaism, Jewish Lights publishing, Woodstock, VT. Pgs. 58-59.

[19] Ibid pg. 59

[20] Maimonides, Moses, Shlomo Pines translator, Guide of the Perplexed, The University Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois Volume II 1963 pg. 475

 

[21] Ibid pg. 620

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