News Letter 5847-005
17th day of the 1st month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 5th day of Unleavened Bread
The 1st Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.
April 23, 2011
Shabbat Shalom Family,
It is at this time of year when our family reunions in the faith take place. The other time is at Sukkot. I find it very challenging as at this time is my wives birthday and at Sukkot is our anniversary, so we often are not together at these times.
But the Brethren are.
I cannot help myself and have this news letter to give to you during these days of Unleavend bread. I want to share with you the new brethren about the wave offering as I know many of you did not go to Passover Services with any group and this News letter is one of your sources of information.
But before I do this let me share what others are saying and drive home a point with you all.
Washington Times | April 11
The Coming Geopolitical Upheaval
In Cairo, the latest conventional wisdom sees a groundswell of Islamist fundamentalism cloaked in moderate colors moving adroitly center stage. Following elections in the fall, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to deliver about 40 percent of the vote, possibly even a majority. Either way, it will change the geopolitical calculus for the world’s major players.
In Cairo, the street has spoken. Prudently, a majority of Egypt’s small class of billionaires are abroad. Some of the elder brothers of the Brotherhood are closer to Iran’s theocrats than they are to America’s democrats. …
Behind Cairo’s political stage, says one ranking Egyptian on a private visit to Washington, Iran’s mullahs and Egypt’s Brothers are unobtrusively sidling up.
Four weeks ago, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a former Islamist, flew to Cairo for a … two-hour huddle with Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie. …
In one of his weekly sermons last year, Mr. Badie displayed his baddie colors: “Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims’ real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded.”
“Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States,” Mr. Badie said. And those who do “are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for his sake with [their] money and [their] lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme over all non- Muslims.”
Mr. Badie’s title for this sermon: “The U.S. Is Now Experiencing the Beginning of Its End.” On other occasions, Mr. Badiehas reminded his combative flock that “waging jihad is mandatory.” … Asked how he compared the Egyptian and the Libyan crises, an Egyptian veteran of the past 30 years replied, “Libya is now Somalia on the Med. What’s happening in Egypt is a major game-changer for the United States.”
Remember we told you about Daniel 7 and the three horns that would be put down. Here is one fella now speaking out. But also keep in mind we are in the time period when Satan must make it look like all things are coming in the last 7 years. He has deceived the whole world and in order to continue to the deception it must look like the end times, but they are not the end of days. Again see pages 160-175 in The Prophecies of Abraham which shows you how this is done even if possible to the very elect.
In Israel, we find ourselves in foreboding circumstances today, in Spring 2011. The State of Israel seems to have lost a major measure of its support in the non-Jewish world and is being stampeded into abandoning large parts of the Land of Israel to the tender mercies of sworn enemies who have no peaceful intentions at all – the Palestinians.
These are Arabs who constitute a “national entity” invented recently of whole cloth and which never existed in world history. Their wish is to destroy the State of Israel and kill as many Jews as possible in the process. Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pushed into formulating a plan of further concessions, beyond those already granted, lest the “World” (i.e. the Quartet - the USA, Russia, the UN, and the EU) force on Israel a “peace agreement” which would involve the abandonment of the homes of over 600,000 Israelis – including large parts of Jerusalem.
The Palestinian enemy fully expects this scenario to materialize and so, steadfastly refuses to negotiate. Since the “World”, lead by US President Barack Hussein Obama whose father was a practicing Moslem, does not punish them in any way for not negotiating, they feel vindicated in this assessment.
A Possible Scenario:
After extensive preparation of the apparatus of statehood and widespread recognition by a growing list of countries of an “independent state of Palestine with borders defined by the 1967 cease-fire lines”, the Palestinians turn in September 2011 [see Note 1- 1. August-September, 2011 Security Council approval of a Palestinian State in the 1967 lines:
This is the proclaimed intention of the Palestinian leadership, as declared repeatedly by their Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over the last 1 1/2 years. It is also the date by which the “Quartet” has determined that a final settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict be completed.] to the UN Security Council to be recognized as an independent State within the pre-1967 armistice lines– meaning that the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Jerusalem, as well as many others, will be part of Security-Council-recognized Palestine.
The USA does not veto this resolution (the recent US veto of the anti-settlement Security Council resolution was a feint, and not a precedent) and it passes [see Note 2- 2. American non-use of the Veto at the Security Council : For the first time in history, America has a President – Barack Obama – with a sympathetic orientation to Moslem countries. He visited Cairo early in his presidency but has not yet visited Israel, and actions speak louder than words. The Palestinians’ moves would logically be made such that the entire planned process of forcing Israel militarily to do their bidding is completed before November 2012 when Obama stands for re-election.]; alternatively, if there is a veto, the Palestinians turn to the UN General Assembly, using the 1950’s “Uniting for Peace” tactic which enabled the USA to engage in the Korean War although a Russian-Chinese veto had paralyzed the Security Council on this issue and receive their approval.
The Palestinians then turn to the State of Israel and request immediate evacuation of its nearly 650,000 citizens from “their state”. Israel offers to discuss the matter, the Palestinians refuse any discussion [see Note 3- 3. The Palestinians demand evacuation of their country by the Jewish non-citizens and refuse to negotiate: This is simply a logical conclusion based on their behavior and statements to date – force Israel to vacate all territory beyond the post-1967 lines without resorting to negotiation and without conceding anything at all. They have announced clearly that their state must be judenrein.] and refer the issue back to the Security Council, requesting that they act to remove these interlopers post haste from “their state”. After a short time, the Security Council and/or Quartet decide that the festering wound of the Israel-Palestine conflict has persisted long enough and decide to settle the matter once and for all by sending an expeditionary force to Israel to carry out the evacuation forcibly [see Note 4- 4. The “Quartet” decides to force Israeli evacuation militarily: The entire tenor of the anti-Israeli international political atmosphere for the last two years leads directly to this outcome. It is this prospect that has Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak running scared and feeling pressured to make proposals to “advance the peace process,” even though the current logjam in negotiations is entirely the fault of the Palestinians. Note the Arab League’s announced plan to ask to make Gaza a no-fly zone and Obama advisor Samantha Power’s suggestion to send UN forces to protect the Palestinians from the IDF.].
The deadline for Israel acting is by January 15, 2012 [see Note 5- 5. The Jan.15, 2012 date: The first Gulf War in 1991 was fixed to begin on this date. Events in the solar calendar have particular significance for the non-Jewish world and those in the lunar calendar are significant for the Jewish world. (see BT Tractate Succa 29a – a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the non-Jews and a lunar eclipse is a bad omen for the Jews).
In 2012, the interval between Jan. 15 and Oct. 07, Hoshanna Rabbah – the seventh day of Sukkot, is exactly 266 days – 38 weeks, i.e. the nine months of a human pregnancy. According to BT Yoma 10a, “Ben-David (the Messiah) will only arrive after the evil kingdom of Rome dominates the entire world for a period of nine months as it says in Micah 5:2 “therefore give them the time it takes for her to give birth.” The events at the closing stages of the Redemption process will last the nine months of human gestation.
Since it is understood that the finale of G-d’s victory over the nations at the close of the Gog and Magog War takes place on the seventh day of Sukkot – Hoshanna Rabbah, it is logical to seek the year when this interval is 266 days. 2012 is such a year.
In Zechariah 14, it states that in response to the nations’ invasion of Eretz Yisrael, - “And Hashem will go forth and do battle with those nations as on the day of His fighting on the day of Battle.” The Targum Yonatan renders this: - “As on the day that he fought the battle at the Red Sea”, referring to the night of the seventh day of Passover, when the Egyptian pursuers were drowned in the Red Sea.
Since G-d’s victory over the Egyptians in the Exodus culminated in the crossing of the Red Sea and the final destruction of the Egyptian enemy on the seventh day of Passover, so in the Final Redemption on the Seventh Day of Sukkot all the nations who were/are enemies of the Jews will be destroyed. As it states in Michah 7:15 – “I will show you miraculous events (at the Final Redemption) as in the days of the Exodus.”
The connection with the Sukkot holiday is clearly indicated in Zechariah 14 and is the reason the chapters related to the War of Gog and Magog were chosen to be read as Haphtorot on Sukkot.
This connection is Torah-mandated. The 70 bulls sacrificed on Sukkot in the Holy Temple on behalf of the welfare of the 70-nations of the world are sacrificed not 10 per day for 7 days, but in a curious countdown from 13 on the first day to 7 on the last day. The total is 70, but the declining numbers are an ominous message to the nations that in the ultimate events to take place on Sukkot, they will not fare well (unless there is massive Teshuva – repentance - on their part; see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).]. On or about that date, if Israel does not begin to seriously evacuate its citizens (and it won’t), an expeditionary force consisting of contingents from both Christian and Moslem countries [see Note 6] lands on the shores of Israel. The force consists of at least 185,000 combat soldiers [see Note 7], and is well-armed enough to counter the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in whatever conflict configuration that might develop.
The above two writers are saying and I do not agree with all they say, but they are saying what we have been saying to you on the DVD about the Chronological Order of Prophecies in the Jubilee and in the book The Prophecies of Abraham. The difference is that they are going from what they know and currently see, and I am basing my teachings on the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles. You are being told what is coming and what to expect.
Last Shabbat I got this video of the tsunami in Japan. You all need to watch this and listen to the people even though you do not know what they are saying you will recognize their tones.
At first they are excited to be watching in the distant a tsunami and you can hear the excited voices. As it gets closer you can then hear the sorrow in the voices and then as it is right in front of them the panic sets in. Also at the last moment you then see them yelling at those who have not listened to the warnings and are only now trying to escape. You will see people in vehicles going about their business only moments later to be swept away.
Brethren, this is us, this is you and me.
The warning is out there. In the distance we can see these things far off and we are excited about them. But as they draw closer sorrow and then panic will set in and those who did not heed will be swept away and killed. And like some in the video who only ran when the waters were at their heels, and some of them did not make it, many of you will not run until the last moment and then it will be too late. Are you listening to what Yehovah is saying? Are you acting and preparing to get going or are you resting on your laurels taking a wait and see attitude? Will you run at the last minute with your family and your children? Watch the part where the people are trying to help the slower ones climb the hill and a house crashes into them. You can only go as fast as your slowest member. Is that your wife, your daughter, or young son or baby or maybe an older parent? Have you thought about this or are you all just being excited at watching prophecy come true and it is still far enough away from you that you think you are safe.
The warnings are there for you but they are of no use if you do not act. What is coming will kill you. Remember Lots family. They did not leave and they all died. Remember Rahab’s family they all listened and were saved even though they were gentiles. What are you going to do?
If you’re in North America you now know that war is coming and will be here in full tsunami mood by 2020 when the USA and UK and Canada and Australia and New Zealand will be defeated and destroyed and the Muslim hoards will then be enforcing Sharia law and beheading those who will not submit; if you know this and do nothing what is the matter with you.
Do you wait until the last minute and leave in 2018? Do some reverse engineering here. The war did not start all of a sudden; it has built up to this stage over a number of years and this build up has begun with the uprisings in the Middle East of the Arabs which began in 2011. It has already begun.
Do you believe the US dollar is going to recover and then you can do those things you want to do? Think again!
Have you watched the DVD? If not then order it at www.sightedmoon.com Have you read The Prophecies of Abraham? If not then order it at http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=286642
Do you think the farm Project for Israel is a good idea, then support it. Or do you expect it to be there for you while you let others support it. If you see all these events shaping up and do nothing then what does that say about you? You are not providing for your families safety and future.
Here is some of the News Headline this week.
Here is this week’s Drought map for the USA and as you look at it know that all the tornadoes and wild fires are caused by the ignoring of Yehovah’s Sabbatical cycles.
http://www.tbd.com/blogs/weather/2011/04/u-s-tornado-strikes-since-1950-we-have-a-twister-problem-map–10061.html The U.S.A., so dominant in many arenas, is by far the world’s No. 1 producer of tornadoes. Our average of 1,000 funnel clouds each year crushes the second-place contender, Canada, which averages 100 per year, as this map of tornado strikes from Jan. 1950 to Dec. 2010 shows.
Wildfires sweeping across hundreds of thousands of acres in parched Texas killed a firefighter, forced hundreds of evacuations — including an entire town — and destroyed dozens of homes on Friday, officials said.
Telegraph | April 14
Food Prices Have Entered the ‘Danger Zone’
Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, said food prices are at “a tipping point,” having risen 36 percent in the last year to levels close to their 2008 peak. The rising cost of food has been much more dramatic in low-income countries, pushing 44 million people into poverty since June last year.
Another 10 percent rise in food prices would push 10 million into extreme poverty, defined as an effective income of less than $1.25 a day.
Already, the world’s poor number 1.2 billion. Mr. Zoellick said he saw no short term reversal in the damaging effect of food inflation, which is felt much more in the developing world as packaging and distribution accounts for a far larger proportion of the cost in the advanced economies.
Asked if he thought prices would remain high for a year, Mr. Zoellick said: “The general trend lines are ones where we are in a danger zone … because prices have already gone up and stocks
are relatively low.” … The problem has been exacerbated by “weather problems in Russia,
Ukraine, North America, China.” Making matters worse has been rising fuel prices, which go into fertilizers and energy. …
CNBC | April 12
Inflation Actually Near 10 Percent
Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter. Since 1980, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed the way it calculates the cpi in order to account for the substitution of products, improvements in quality (i.e. iPad 2 costing the same as original iPad) and other things. Backing out more methods implemented in 1990 by the bls still puts inflation at a 5.5 percent rate and getting worse, according to the calculations by the newsletter’s web site, Shadowstats.com.
“Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate,” said John Williams, creator of the site, in a new note out Tuesday.
“Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem. …”
“Given ongoing inflation problems with food and the spreading impact of higher oil-related costs in the broad economy, reporting risk is to the upside of consensus expectation,” said Williams, citing a 10 percent jump in gasoline prices in March, in the note. “While the federal government would have us believe the numbers are rather tame, our own personal gauge leads us to believe inflation is running between 5 percent to 6 percent annually,” wrote Alan Newman in his latest Crosscurrents newsletter that refers to Williams’ statistics. …
A group of Christians has petitioned the Knesset to come and live in the Land of Israel. They just started to keep the Sabbath. Yet very few of you have said the same thing. Even fewer still are acting and doing something. And worst of all none of us are acting with one accord. Everyone wants to do their own thing.
Sunday April 24, 2011 is יוֹם הֲנָפַת הָעֹמֶר Yom Hanafat Ha’omer (Day of the Waving of the Sheaf). When the Temple stood this day marked the official commencement of the grain harvest (Dt 16:7) and sheaves of barley were cut and brought to the Temple as a wave-offering (Lev 23:9-14). This day also marks the beginning of the 50-day count to חַג הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת Shavuot (Pentecost; Feast of Weeks). Yom Hanafat Ha’omer is counted as Day 1 and Shavuot as Day 50.
Deu 16:5 “You are not allowed to slaughter the Passover within any of your gates which יהוה your Elohim gives you, 6 but at the place where יהוה your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell, there you slaughter the Passover in the evening, at the going down of the sun, at the appointed time you came out of Mitsrayim. 7 “And you shall roast and eat it in the place which יהוה your Elohim chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8 “Six days you eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there is a closing festival to יהוה your Elohim – you do no work. 9 “Count seven weeks for yourself. Begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 “And you shall perform the Festival of Weeks to יהוה your Elohim, according to the voluntary offering from your hand, which you give as יהוה your Elohim blesses you. 11 “And you shall rejoice before יהוה your Elohim, you and your son and your daughter, and your male servant and your female servant, and the Lĕwite who is within your gates, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are in your midst, at the place where יהוה your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell. 12 “And you shall remember that you were a slave in Mitsrayim, and you shall guard and do these laws.
Lev 23:9 And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 ‘And he shall wave the sheaf before יהוה, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest waves it.12 ‘And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering to יהוה, 13 and its grain offering: two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to יהוה, a sweet fragrance, and its drink offering: one-fourth of a hin of wine. 14 ‘And you do not eat bread or roasted grain or fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 15 ‘And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths. 16 ‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה.
It is for this reason as described in Lev 23 that we must have Barley that is ripe so we can make the wave offering on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath which is Sunday.
This year I am going to use a Bible Study lesson from http://www.icogsfg.org/bs-wavsh.html so that each of you can look up the scriptures in your own bible and learn the importance of this wave offering ceremony.
Scripture Reading: Leviticus 23:10-16.
Golden Text: 1 Cor 15:20-23
Yehovah’s annual holy day festivals are arranged around the harvest seasons and the first barley to become ripe was at Passover time. During the Passover season, which included the Days of Unleavened Bread, there was a special Wave Sheaf Ceremony that took place which had great significance. The Wave Sheaf Ceremony is described in Leviticus 23:10-14.
The meaning of this ceremony is important; even though it is no longer performed since the Old Testament priesthood is no longer needed.
1. What is this sheaf called? (Leviticus 23:10).
Note: The sheaf is called the “sheaf of the firstfruits” or the “wave sheaf”.
2. Before they could reap of the harvest, were they to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits to the priest? (Leviticus 23:10).
Note: Most modern Bible translations use the word “sheaf”, however, the priests did not wave a sheaf. The word “sheaf” is translated from the Hebrew word “omer”, which means a measurement of about two quarts or two liters. The Jews traditionally cut a sheaf, beat out the grain, then ground the first of the firstfruits into flour and offered an omer of that flour. (See Jewish Encyclopedia, article “Omer”.)
Note: Quoting from the book: “The Temple - Its Ministry and Services” by Alfred Edersheim, page 204-205: “When the time for the cutting the sheaf had arrived,…. just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work. But in order clearly to bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked the bystanders three times each of these questions: ‘Has the sun gone down?’ ‘With this sickle?’ ‘Into this basket?’ ‘On this Sabbath (or first Passover-day)?’ - and lastly, ‘Shall I reap?’ Having each time been answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure. … Though one ephah, or ten omers, of barley was cut down, only one omer of flour, … was offered in the Temple.”
3. Was the first part of the spring grain harvest to be waved before Yehovah to be accepted by Him? (Leviticus 23:11-12).
Note: The word “wave” should be translated as “lift up or elevate”. The Tanakh (The Jewish Bible) translation translates verses 11-12 as: “He (the priest) shall elevate the sheaf before the Lord for acceptance in your behalf; the priest shall elevate it on the day after the Sabbath. (12) On the day that you elevate the sheaf, you shall offer as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb of the first year without blemish”
4. Was anyone permitted to eat of this early harvest before the wave sheaf was offered? (Leviticus 23:14).
Note: Now let’s notice the way in which Yehshua, the first of Yehovah’s spiritual harvest, became the fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf Offering.
5. Who was the first to be resurrected from the dead? (Acts 26:23). Was He the first of the firstfruits of Yehovah’s spiritual harvest? (1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Col. 1:13-15, 18).
6. How did the Apostle Paul in the New Testament see this concept of “firstfruits?” (1 Cor 15:20-23).
Note: This scripture says: “Yehshua is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” So, Yehshua was the very first to be “harvested” or “resurrected” from the dead.
7. David was a man after Yehovah’s own heart (Acts 13:22) and will be in the Kingdom (Heb 11:32, 39). Had David already been resurrected and living in heaven before Yehshua had been resurrected? Acts 2:29-34. Note: David was still in his grave. Has any man ascended to heaven? (John 3:13).
Note: No man could precede Yehshua into the presence of Yehovah the Father. No man could be “harvested” before Yehshua was presented as the “firstfruits” from the dead.
8. Early in the morning after Yehshua had been resurrected, had Yehshua already ascended to the Father? (John 20:16-17). Notice that He told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to Yehovah the Father.
9. Are the disciples allowed to touch Yehshua later on the same day? (Matthew 28:9). This makes it plain and clear that Yehshua had gone to the Father in heaven and presented Himself to the Father in the period of time from early in the morning when He wouldn’t allow Mary to touch Him till this period of time that He was with His disciples.
10. When was the wave sheaf offered? (Leviticus 23:11).
Note: The wave sheaf was to be offered on the day after the Sabbath. At the same time that the priests lifted up the wave sheaf offering in the Temple, Yehshua had been lifted up to heaven (ascended), and was presented and accepted by Yehovah the Father. Like the wave sheaf offering, He was offered on our behalf.
11. Are Those who obey Yehovah also called firstfruits? (James 1:18, Revelation 14:4.)
In Conclusion: The purpose of the Wave Sheaf Ceremony pertains as to when you start counting the fifty days in order to know when to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, which means “fiftieth”, is always to be observed on a Sunday, which is the fiftieth day after the cutting of the wave sheaf during the Feast of the Days of Unleavened Bread. The cutting of the wave sheaf pictures when Yehshua was cut out of the earth (tomb) and was resurrected. The waving, lifting up or elevating of the wave sheaf “omer” pictures Yehshua’ ascension to Yehovah the Father to be accepted by Him on our behalf. Yehshua is the first of the firstfruits.
We now return to our 3 1/2 year Torah studies which you can follow at http://www.sightedmoon.com/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf
We are now in our 58th week, since we began this first year of this 3rd Sabbatical cycle of the 119th Jubilee cycles since Adam and we began at Aviv 1 which was March 20, 2010 on the Gregorian calendar. We are now into our second year of this 3 ½ year study. I do hope you are reading each of these chapters as we come to them and not just my own comments on them. Read it yourself and let Yehovah inspire you. If you go to http://www.sightedmoonnl.com/?page_id=619 you can find each of the studies we have done so far since 1st of Aviv/March 20 of this past year 5846. To read each of the studies in this second year 5847 you can go to http://www.sightedmoonnl.com/?page_id=719
The Special readings for The Days of Unleavend Bread can be found at http://www.sightedmoon.com/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv2.pdf
Yom HaBikkurim Day of Firstfruits
Lev 23:9-16 We have already quoted this above and explained it also above.
Jos 5:1 And it came to be, when all the sovereigns of the Amorites who were beyond the Yardĕn westward, and all the sovereigns of the Kenaʽanites who were by the sea, heard that יהוה had dried up the waters of the Yardĕn from before the children of Yisra’ĕl until we had passed over, that their heart melted. And there was no spirit in them any longer, because of the children of Yisra’ĕl. 2 At that time יהוה said to Yehoshua, “Make knives of flint for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Yisra’ĕl again the second time.” 3 So Yehoshua made knives of flint for himself, and circumcised the sons of Yisra’ĕl at the Hill of Foreskins. 4 And this is why Yehoshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Mitsrayim who were males, all the men of battle, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Mitsrayim. 5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness on the way as they came out of Mitsrayim had not been circumcised. 6 For the children of Yisra’ĕl walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation – the men of battle who came out of Mitsrayim – were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of יהוה, to whom יהוה swore not to show them the land which יהוה had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” 7 And Yehoshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 And it came to be, when they had completed circumcising all the nation, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. 9 And יהוה said to Yehoshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Mitsrayim from you.” So the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. 10 And the children of Yisra’ĕl camped in Gilgal, and performed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening on the desert plains of Yeriḥo. 11 And they ate of the stored grain of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain on this same day. 12 And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the stored grain of the land. And the children of Yisra’ĕl no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Kenaʽan that year.
I want to point out here that this is the passage of scriptures Judah uses to justify the keeping of Shavuot on Sivan 6 which can be any day of the week. They say that the day they begin to count out the 50 days is from the day after Passover.
But they do not realize that Passover can fall on any day of the week and in the year that Joshua did this, Passover was on the weekly Sabbath there by making the only day for the wave offering to take place would be on the first day of Unleavened bread or the High day which in that year was a Sunday.
The other thing I would like to say is that this year when Joshua entered the Promised Land was a Jubilee year. It was the 2500 year after the creation of Adam.
1 Corin 15:1-26
1Co 15:1 But brothers, I make known to you the Good News, which I brought as Good News to you, which you also did receive, and in which you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold fast that word I brought as Good News to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you at the first that which I also received: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Kĕpha, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brothers at one time, of whom the greater part remain till now, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by Yaʽaqoḇ, then by all the emissaries. 8 And last of all He was seen by me also, as if to one born prematurely. 9 For I am the least of the emissaries, who am not worthy to be called an emissary, because I persecuted the assembly of Elohim. 10 But by the favour of Elohim I am what I am, and His favour toward me was not in vain, but I laboured much more than they all, yet not I, but the favour of Elohim with me. 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, so we proclaimed and so you believed. 12 And if Messiah is proclaimed that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Messiah has not been raised. 14 And if Messiah has not been raised, then our proclaiming is empty, and your belief also empty, 15 and we are also found false witnesses of Elohim, because we have witnessed of Elohim that He raised up Messiah, whom He did not raise up, if then the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then neither Messiah has been raised. 17 And if Messiah has not been raised, your belief is to no purpose, you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished. 19 If in this life only we have expectation in Messiah, we are of all men the most wretched. 20 But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, and has become the first-fruit of those having fallen asleep. 21 For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a Man. 22 For as all die in Aḏam, so also all shall be made alive in Messiah . 23 And each in his own order: Messiah the first-fruits, then those who are of Messiah at His coming, 24 then the end, when He delivers up the reign to Elohim the Father, when He has brought to naught all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He has to reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be brought to naught is death.
We shall have more to say as we study Pentecost about the importance of this wave offering during this week of Unleavened Bread. But also know that if this wave offering takes place on Sunday Morning and if Yehshua was raised from the dead Saturday Afternoon just before the Sabbath was over, that Yehshua was in the grave for three days and three nights, then you will be able to figure out that He was killed on a Wednesday and buried just before the High Holy Day of the 1st day of Unleavened Bread on Thursday.
Again we have shared with you in the past how to count to three which for those who still have trouble doing so can be read at http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=19
Also I have an interesting study about the Exodus Facts. For those interested it can be read at http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=107
23/04/2011 Ex 10-11 1 Kings 19 Ps 119:1-74 Luke 23:50 - 24:53
We now read of the plague of Locust and of Darkness in Chapter 10. I cannot help but to think of the locust in Revelation chapter 9 and of the darkness in Chapter 16 and draw connections between the two events we are now reading and what is to come in the very near future.
In chapter 11 I want to point out something that many just read right over.
Exo 11:2 “Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbour and every woman from her neighbour, objects of silver and objects of gold.” 3 And יהוה gave the people favour in the eyes of the Mitsrites. And the man Mosheh was very great in the land of Mitsrayim, in the eyes of Pharaoh’s servants and in the eyes of the people.
When does this event take place? It is before the angel passes over. Many try to say that after the first born die then they go about and collect all of this material, but right here you can read it yourself that the Israelites collected the booty before the Passover began.
Now concerning Pharoah’s Hard Heart I have an article about this subject for you Call Wooden Shoes Wooden Heads, Wooden Listen which you can read at http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=437
1 Kings 19
Elijah Flees From Jezebel (1 Kings 18:41-19:21)
With the storm to end the three-and-a-half-year drought approaching, Elijah, by the power of God, runs the 13 miles to Jezreel faster than Ahab’s horse-drawn chariot.
In spite of the miraculous victory over Baal at Carmel, and the miracles that immediately followed, Jezebel’s threat on Elijah’s life is too much for him. Greatly distraught, he flees to the south, attempting to run away from the danger—his recently strengthened faith apparently evaporated. All of God’s people are subject to such moments. As the apostle James wrote, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). Indeed, it is when we think we stand that we must take warning lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). It should be noted that some mental depression that comes after a big crisis or challenge is usually partly physical in origin. The burst of physical and mental energy that comes with the high level of adrenaline released is often followed by a letdown when the adrenaline wears off.
In his rash flight, Elijah does not even stop in Judah, now ruled by righteous King Jehoshaphat. Instead, he flees far to the south, seeking refuge at Mount Sinai (Horeb), where God meets with him. God does not scold Elijah for his fear and self-pity. Instead, He comforts him. God lets Elijah know that he is not alone—that even if he is not aware of them, or has forgotten about them, there are others who have not followed Baal.
And to further help combat the depression, God gives Elijah three tasks to perform. (Staying busy in a productive manner often helps in such situations.) God tells him to appoint successors in various responsibilities. One such successor (Jehu) will wipe out all of Ahab’s family, which by then will extend even into the kingdom of Judah. Another will change the leadership of Syria, Israel’s chief enemy of that time. The third is to be Elijah’s own successor, and the man who actually ends up performing the other two tasks.
Elisha’s response is immediate and enthusiastic. “He arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant” (1 Kings 19:21)—working under Elijah like an apprentice.
“Make Me Walk in the Path of Your Commandments” (Psalm 119:1-40)
Psalm 119, a massive alphabetic acrostic poem, is the last of the apparent collection of psalms starting with two other acrostic psalms, 111 and 112-thus framing the Egyptian Hallel (113-118). Yet in a number of ways Psalm 119 is in a class unto itself. It is by far the longest of the psalms as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. More than a wisdom psalm providing instruction in how to live, it is an extensive love song to God about His law as well as a plea for deliverance from oppressors. The author, who is now unknown, repeatedly declares his passionate devotion to God’s law as a wise and reliable guide for life-and speaks of finding delight and spiritual strength in it in the midst of distress. In general, the “law” or torah the psalmist extols refers to more than the first five books of the Bible classified as the Torah or Law. Rather, this word more broadly means “teaching” and includes all of God’s revealed instruction in Old Testament Scripture-and we today can even more broadly apply the term to the whole of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, the entire written Word of God.
It should be obvious that the creation of this lengthy acrostic psalm was a major intellectual undertaking. While God specially inspired the authors of the psalms, as He did all the biblical writers, it is clear from the various styles within the psalms that He made use of their individual talents. And the author of Psalm 119 was no doubt a brilliant thinker. For each of the 22 consonants in the Hebrew language, the psalmist has composed an eight-verse paragraph (called a strophe or stanza in poetic structure). Each of the eight verses in a stanza begins with the same letter. Verses 1-8 begin with aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 9-16 begin with beth, the second letter in the alphabet, and so on through the remainder of the alphabet. Given this construction, it is likely the poet intended his work to be memorized. Can you imagine memorizing all 176 verses of this psalm? The acrostic device appears in other psalms (25; 34; 37; 111; 112; 145), where it also serves as a memory aid.
Psalm 119 uses eight different words to designate God’s revealed instruction to humankind:
torah “law” (also more broadly meaning instruction)
‘edot “testimonies” (reiterations of God’s standards)-rendered “statutes” in the IV
piqqudim “precepts” (injunctions or imposed rules)
huqqim “statutes” (inscribed, enacted laws) -”decrees” (NIV)
mitzvot “commandments” or “commands” (constitutional orders)
mishpatim “judgments” (judicial rulings for living)-”laws” and “ordinances” in the NIV
dabar “word” (sometimes here in the sense of law, sometimes of promise)
‘imrah “word” (saying, sometimes here in the sense of law, but more often of promise)
These various terms the psalmist “distributes throughout the 22 stanzas (using all eight in He, Waw, Heth, Yodh, Kaph, Pe-never using less than six), employing a different order in each stanza” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 119). As another commentary points out regarding this psalm: “Students disagree on this, but it appears that every verse contains a direct mention of God’s Word except seven: verses 3, 37, 84, 90, 121, 122, and 132. If you count ‘ways’ [from Hebrew derek] as a synonym for God’s Word, then you can eliminate verses 3 and 37…. The writer may have been meditating on Psalm 19 where David listed six names for the Scriptures, five of which are found in 119-law, testimony, precept, commandment, and judgment. Some of the vocabulary of 19 is also found in 119, including perfect or blameless…pure…righteous and righteousness…and meditate or meditation…. Both compare the Word of God to gold ([19:]10/119:72; 127) and honey ([19:]10/119:103), and in both there is an emphasis on keeping or obeying God’s Word” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Exultant: Psalms 90-150, introductory notes on Psalm 119).
This huge composition no doubt took a great deal of time, effort and care to create. The Zondervan NIV Study Bible puts it well: “The alphabetic acrostic form, especially one as elaborate as this, may appear arbitrary and artificial to a modern reader (as if the author merely selected a traditional form from the poet’s workshop and then labored to fill it with pious sentences), but a sympathetic and reflective reading of this devotional will compel a more favorable judgment. The author had a theme that filled his soul, a theme as big as life, that ranged the length and breadth and height and depth of a person’s walk with God. Nothing less than the use of the full power of language would suffice, and of that the alphabet was a most apt symbol” (note on Psalm 119).
Commentator Wiersbe remarks on this unknown psalmist: “Whoever the author was, he is a good example for us to follow, for he had an intense hunger for holiness and a passionate desire to understand God’s Word in a deeper way. In all but fourteen verses, he addresses his words to the Lord personally, so this psalm is basically a combination of worship, prayer, praise, and admonition. The writer must have been a high profile person because he mentioned the opposition of rulers (vv. 23, 161; ‘princes’ in KJV and NASB), a word that can refer to Gentile rulers or local Jewish tribal leaders (Neh. 3), and he also spoke to kings (v. 46). In the psalm, there are no references to a sanctuary, to sacrifices, or to a priestly ministry [perhaps indicating a time of apostasy or the period between the temple’s destruction and reconstruction]. The cast of characters includes the Lord God, a remnant of godly people in the nation (vv. 63, 74, 79, 120, etc.), the psalmist, and the ungodly people who despised him (v. 141), persecuted him (vv. 84-85, 98, 107, 109, 115, 121-122, etc.), and wanted to destroy him (v. 95). The psalmist referred to them as ‘the proud’ or ‘the arrogant’ (vv. 21, 51, 69, 78, 85, 122). They were people who were born into the covenant but did not value the spiritual riches of that relationship. They disdained the law and openly disobeyed it. The writer was reproached by them (vv. 22-23, 39, 42) and suffered greatly from their false accusations (vv. 50-51, 61, 67, 69-71, 75, 78)” (introductory notes on Psalm 119). The same commentator goes on to explain his reasons for thinking the author may have been the prophet Jeremiah on the basis of the above criteria. Others have made the same identification, though David is more typically seen as the author.
Whoever wrote it, Psalm 119 remains a powerful witness to us today. As Wiersbe comments: “The basic theme of Psalm 119 is the practical use of the Word of God in the life of the believer. When you consider that the writer probably did not have a complete Old Testament, let alone a complete Bible [and probably not a personal copy of every scriptural scroll], this emphasis is both remarkable and important. Christian believers today [personally] own complete Bibles, yet how many of them say that they love God’s Word and get up at night or early in the morning to read it and meditate on it (vv. 55, 62, 147-148)? How many Christian believers ignore the Old Testament Scriptures or read the Old Testament in a careless and cursory manner? Yet here was a man who rejoiced in the Old Testament Scripture-which was the only Word of God he had-and considered God’s Word his food (v. 103) and his greatest wealth! (vv. 14, 72, 127, 162). His love for the Word of God puts today’s believers to shame. If the psalmist with his limited knowledge and resources could live a godly and victorious life feeding on the Old Testament, how much more ought Christians today live for the Lord. After all, we have the entire Bible before us and two millennia of church history behind us!” (same notes).
So true. And those professing Christians who argue that God’s laws are obsolete, arbitrary and unnecessary would have a hard time convincing the writer of this psalm of their position-much less the great God who ultimately inspired this psalm to be written!
As to the psalm’s setting of persecution by enemy oppressors, we should all be able to identify with this element. For even if we have no obvious adversaries on a human level, all of God’s people are at constant war with the unseen demonic spirit rulers of this world (see Ephesians 6:12).
Concerning the arrangement of Psalm 119, “apart from the obvious formal structure dictated by the chosen acrostic form, little need (or can) be said. It must be noted, however, that the first three and the last three verses were designed as introduction and conclusion to the whole. The former sets the tone of instruction in godly wisdom; the latter succinctly restates and summarizes the main themes. It may also be observed that the middle of the psalm has been marked by a similar three-verse introduction to the second half…. For the rest, the thought meanders, turns back upon itself and repeats (with various nuances)” (Zondervan, note on Psalm 119).
As mentioned, the Aleph strophe or stanza (verses 1-8) begins with an introduction to the rest of the psalm that explains that the way for a person to be blessed, to experience true happiness in life, is to be “undefiled” or “blameless” (NIV) in the way he lives. To be blameless does not mean that one never sins. Rather, it means that one is beyond reproach. Nothing can be held against him. This comes from always repenting when one sins, never failing to return to God and His ways.
As is clear from the rest of the stanza (verses 4-8), the poet himself is by no means perfect. After stating his knowledge of God’s requirements of us (verse 4), he expresses the wish that his own ways were naturally directed to meet them (verse 5), implying that they were not. If his natural inclination were to obey God, then he wouldn’t be ashamed when he looked into God’s Word (verse 6). Because the human heart is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7) and deceptively wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), the psalmist finds that God’s law, like a mirror, reflects his inadequacies (James 1:24; Romans 3:20).
As he learns to better follow God’s righteous way, he will be able to praise God from an upright heart (verse 7). The author understands that in keeping God’s law, his heart will move away from its selfish orientation toward the righteousness of God: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NIV).
The stanza closes with the psalmist’s intention to strive to obey God, praying for God’s forgiveness-that he will not be forsaken (Psalm 119:8), possibly hinting at his present suffering, as mentioned later. Indeed, repentance always includes a resolve to follow God’s laws.
In the Beth strophe (verses 9-16), the writer asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” (verse 8, NIV). Or in a general sense: how can we honor the promise we made to keep God’s law?
Some have thought “young man” to be a characterization of the author. This is possible, but others maintain that “more likely it indicates instruction addressed to the young after the manner of the wisdom teachers (see 34:11; Pr 1:4; Ecc 11:9; 12:1…)” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 119:9). While specific younger disciples could have been the intended audience, it may simply be that the psalm was designed for memorization by all the young people of the nation as part of their education.
Of course, the psalmist was also preaching to himself. In his prayer to God, He was committing himself to God’s way. In this stanza he declares a number of things he will do to keep his life clean, giving us principles to apply in our own lives.
The author states that a person determined to live a pure, obedient life will take heed (verse 9) and be mindful and aware of the context of life. God is the Author of life, and His Word is an instruction book for how life works (as well as how it doesn’t). A wise individual will be conscious of and utilizing such a priceless resource so readily available.
Such a person will also seek God with enthusiasm-wholeheartedly (verse 10)-spending time in study, prayer, meditation. He will delight in God’s Word and let it capture his thoughts (verses 11, 15-16). Verse 11 shows that God’s Word must be more to us than something that we read. It must be written on our hearts and minds (see Jeremiah 31:33) -hidden, protected, within us as valuable treasure (see Psalm 119:14).
Furthermore a committed person will willingly learn from God by approaching his studies with a teachable attitude. And he will discuss with others what he has learned from the law (verse 13).
Yet the psalmist does not fail to acknowledge that his success ultimately depends not on his own efforts, but on what God will do. In addition to the things an individual must do in living a righteous life, the writer states here two things that God must do.
First, God must motivate and empower him to keep him on track. “Do not let me stray from your commands” (verse 10, NIV). God will not take away an individual’s free will and responsibility to choose to obey, but He will undertake loving surveillance and shepherding, helping his servant to perceive and aspire to the right way and follow it: “You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways…. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me…. Where shall I go from your Spirit…. Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:2-10).
Second, God must teach him (verse 12). The author affirms the importance of God opening his understanding. He wanted to learn by studying God’s Word and putting it into practice. This does not preclude learning from other teachers, but God would be his primary Instructor. Because God thoroughly knows each individual, He tailors the timing, the presentation, the “aha” experiences for all of His children-the pattern He established for parents in every age (see Deuteronomy 6:6-7). And realize again that rather than giving us minute direction in every action of our life, God gives us widely applicable principles through which we learn the how and why of living His way. By analogy, a wise teacher leads his students to understanding the lesson, not to merely reciting what they hear. Such understanding helps us to think and reason more clearly about our choices.
We must always remember that we cannot succeed in living God’s way on our own. We desperately need His intervening spiritual power and continuing instruction.
In the Gimel strophe (verses 17-24) the psalmist continues the thought of God teaching him and first explicitly mentions his present trial. He needs God to open his mind to revelation from God’s Word (verse 18). He needs God’s help to live and to live by that Word (verse 17). Commentator George Knight remarks on verse 17 that the key word in Psalm 119 “is the word live…. For the Torah, God is the Living God. This Living God offers his children his life, and that is not mere biological life. It is life in the Spirit, to which physical death has nothing to say. The five books of the Pentateuch culminate at Deut. 30:15, 19 with God’s ‘Word’: ‘See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.’ The passage then goes on to declare that ‘life’ is bound up with love and with obedience to God’s revealed commandments, statutes, and ordinances” (The Daily Study Bible Series: Psalms, Vol. 2, note on Psalm 119:17-24).
The poet declares that he is a “stranger on earth” (verse 19, NIV; compare verse 54). The Israelites were considered to be strangers and sojourners-following laws and customs not of this world and looking forward to God’s messianic Kingdom (see Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 19:15). Sadly the Israelites often conformed to the idolatrous world around them, leaving only a faithful remnant who continued as God’s special people-foreign to this world and its ways. In the New Testament, Christians are referred to as strangers and pilgrims who look for a better country-that of God’s coming Kingdom (see Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). The writer faced the dilemma of dual citizenship-living under wayward human dominion while yearning for God’s righteous administration (verse 20). Jesus foresaw the difficulties His disciples would confront as they lived in the world while not of it. He prayed that God would protect them from evil and set them apart by His word of truth (John 17:14-17). Similarly, the psalmist asks God to make His commandments (His truth) clearly evident (Psalm 119:19).
In the final verses of this stanza, the psalmist desires relief from those who are arrogant, scornful and contemptuous (verses 21-22). They stray from God’s commands and earn for themselves an inevitable outcome. As already mentioned, the author was evidently an individual of some importance, possibly in the government-perhaps an advisor or prophet-because he was slandered by rulers (verse 23). If the writer was a prophet and brought a corrective message from God, it follows that evil rulers might conspire to kill him (compare verses 85, 95, 110). Whether or not the prophet Jeremiah was the author of the psalm, he provides a perfect example of this, for his life was repeatedly threatened because he faithfully brought warning messages to the kingdom of Judah and its leadership. As he said, “They have dug a pit to take me, and hidden snares for my feet. Yet, LORD, You know all their counsel which is against me, to slay me” (Jeremiah 18:22-23).
The psalmist turns his present crisis over to God and takes comfort in serving Him. Rather than taking vengeance or being unduly distressed by slanderers, he takes comfort in God’s laws as his “counselors” (Psalm 119:24). This may be a hint that the religious hierarchy in the land was corrupt and unreliable-so that the author in this environment had to look to God’s words alone as his teachers and spiritual advisers. Of course, even when there are faithful teachers to learn from, their teachings must be confirmed through the direct counsel of Scripture (see Acts 17:11; 20:27).
In the Daleth stanza (verses 25-32) the poet laments over his circumstances, being “weary with sorrow” (verse 28, NIV). He “clings to the dust” (verse 25a)-being oppressively crushed down (compare 44:24-25). He asks God to revive him (119:25b)-conveying the sense of saving from death. The Hebrew word means to restore or renew-to breathe new life into something. Thus, the psalmist turns to God for renewal at a time of terrible despondency.
The writer has opened up to God, declaring His ways (verse 26)-that is, His circumstances and how he has been responding to them-and knows that God has answered him, helping him to remain properly focused. He asks that God would further teach him (same verse) and increase his understanding (verse 27) of how to apply God’s laws at this time. We may generally understand God’s laws but often will need more direct instruction and encouragement in difficult circumstances.
The plea “Remove from me the way of lying” (verse 29) or “Keep me from deceitful ways” (NIV) could refer either to being personally kept away from this wrong way or to be protected from others who are slandering. The psalmist himself is committed to remaining truthful and faithful-and to looking to God’s judgments to govern his life (verse 30).
The end of verse 29, “Grant me Your law graciously,” runs counter to those who claim that law and grace do not go together. As commentator Wiersbe remarks: “‘Law and grace are in opposition!’ many declare, but the psalmist testified that law and grace worked together in his life (vv. 29 and 58). God used Moses to liberate the people from Egypt, but then God gave Moses the law to give to Israel at Sinai. The German philosopher Goethe wrote, ‘Whatever liberates our spirit without giving us self-control is disastrous.’ Law and grace are not enemies, for law sets the standard and grace enables us to meet it (Rom. 8:1-3)”
(introductory notes on Psalm 119).
Having been forced to, as we saw, cling to the dust (verse 25), the poet resolves that inwardly he will cling to God’s laws as he prays that God will not let him fall into shame and dishonor (verse 31).
He concludes this stanza with the metaphor of running the course of God’s commandments with an enlarged heart (verse 32). Some see the enlarged heart as signifying increased joy or understanding-and it may, as an increased heart or mind could signify greater depth of understanding (compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). But in connection with running a course, the imagery more likely seems to concern spiritual power. In a physical sense, we can perhaps imagine a person running so hard that his heart gives out. Yet here God gives a new heart-a bigger, stronger, more powerful heart (a spiritual heart empowered by God’s Holy Spirit)-to enable the runner to run the course of God’s way of life and not faint (compare Ezekiel 18:31; Isaiah 40:31).
In the He strophe (verses 33-40) the psalmist states his position in relationship to God. He is, he tells God, “Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You” (verse 38). His responsibility as the Lord’s servant is to properly revere God and wholeheartedly observe and keep God’s law until the end of his life (verses 33-34). Yet, as in other verses, he understands his need for divine help to do God’s will.
Jesus Christ explained to His disciples that they would need to abide in Him and let His words abide in them if they were to bear much fruit: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
The writer knows that while he must personally strive to do what God says, he must depend on God’s help to succeed or his labor will be in vain (compare Psalm 127:1-2). Therefore he makes several requests of God. Two are knowledge-based: “teach me…the way” (verse 33) and “give me understanding” (verse 34). The author can read the law, but he needs God to teach him the way-to guide him in how to live the law every day, how to apply it, how to think and make decisions the way God thinks. He asks for understanding so that the law will be more than a legalistic code. He wants to live a principle-centered life based on knowing the spiritual intent of God’s law.
Three of his requests are more in the realm of empowerment and motivation. He needs God’s power to do what is right: “make me walk” (verse 35), “incline my heart” (verse 36), “turn my eyes away” (verse 37). Not that God would force upon the psalmist a course of action, but that He would motivate and strengthen the writer’s will in the sense that the apostle Paul describes: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
The psalmist is particularly attuned to the danger of covetousness-of letting wrong attraction to worldly things of no ultimate spiritual value detract him from God’s way (verses 36-37)-and so must we be. Covetousness is forbidden in the last of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). Interestingly, this command regulates thoughts in the mind-showing the spiritual nature of God’s law even in Old Testament times. Jesus also warns us, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). We must instead focus on what we really need-God’s spiritual blessings.
The poet sums up with his longing for God’s laws and a prayer that God will enable him to live by them-revitalizing him to walk in the right way (verse 40).
“The Cords of the Wicked Have Bound Me; But I Have Not Forgotten Your Law” (Psalm 119:41-88)
In the Waw strophe (verses 41-48) the psalmist prays for God’s promised deliverance (verse 41; compare verse 49) so that he will be able to continue to live by God’s law (verse 44) and to proclaim God’s words to others-to his detractors (verse 42) and to kings (verse 46). This could imply that the writer was himself a prophet such as Jeremiah, yet others take it merely to mean that the writer, or anyone, should be able to unabashedly discuss their Bible-based beliefs when asked to defend them, even in the presence of kings (compare Matthew 10:18-20; Luke 21:12-15; 1 Peter 3:15-16).
The words of Psalm 119:43, “Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,” are paraphrased in The Living Bible as: “May I never forget your words.” Yet they may more specifically be asking that God not allow the psalmist’s proclamation of God’s truth to others to cease by being silenced in prison or death.
Through God’s intervention the author will be able to live by God’s law “forever and ever” (verse 44)-clearly demonstrating his belief in eternal life as the reward of the righteous. This is part of the liberating aspect of God’s law, as described in the next verse.
The Hebrew word in verse 45 translated “liberty” or “freedom” (NIV) literally means “a wide space”-metaphorically meaning unconfined by suffering or oppression. The apostle James referred to God’s law as “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). John said that God’s commandments “are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). “The psalmist celebrates the freedom that is found in obeying God’s instruction. Although many think of laws, instructions, and commandments (v. 47) as limiting and restricting, the Law of God paradoxically frees us. It frees us from sin (v. 133) and gives us the peace that comes from following the Lord’s instructions (v. 165)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Psalm 119:44-45). Moreover, it leads to the ultimate freedom, found in Christ, of reigning in God’s Kingdom forever-liberated for eternity from death and all the burdens and sorrows of this present life.
The poet closes the stanza with two expressions of love for God’s commandments and a commitment to meditate on His statutes.
In the Zayin strophe (verses 49-56) the psalmist asks God to “remember” the word that caused him to have hope. The psalmist doesn’t remind God of which promise comprises the word, but it likely involves the promise of salvation or deliverance (compare verse 41). Of course, God knows what is meant. “When applied to the Lord, the word ‘remember’ means ‘to pay attention to, to work on behalf of.’…Remembering is not recalling, for God never forgets; it is relating to His people in a special way” (Wiersbe, Be Exultant, note on verses 49-56). This hope-that God would work out a specific promise-comforted the psalmist in his affliction and enlivened him (verse 50).
His present affliction (same verse) involves proud, wicked men who hold him in contempt (verses 51, 53). Some aspect of God’s law is at issue. The adversaries have forsaken the law and deride the author for his faith. “Yet,” he says, “I do not turn aside from Your law” (verse 51). He is angry: “Indignation grips me because of the wicked” (verse 53, NIV; compare verse 139). But he directs his thoughts toward God’s statutes (verse 54). They become his songs, subjects for composing praises to God-as they indeed form the basis for this very psalm (compare Ephesians 5:19).
The phrase “in the house of my pilgrimage,” literally “in my temporary house” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 119:54), identifies life as a journey. As a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (see verse 19), the psalmist sings praises to God wherever he finds himself.
In declaring to God, “I remember Your name in the night” (verse 55), the writer shows that his religion is not just an outward show during the day. He thinks about God and all He stands for at night (compare verses 62, 148) when he is reflecting on what is important to him-and He resolves to obey Him.
The psalmist ends the strophe by stating that God’s law “has become mine.” In essence, he has internalized it to an extent that it is his way of living-not just God’s way, not just his parents’ way. By keeping the law of God, he has made it his own (verse 56).
In the Heth strophe (verses 57-64) the poet proclaims, “You are my portion, O LORD” (verse 57). As commentator Wiersbe notes: “This is real estate language and refers to the apportioning of the land of Canaan to the tribes of Israel (78:55; Josh. 13-21). The priests and Levites were not given an inheritance in the land because the Lord was their inheritance and their portion (Num. 18:20-24; Deut. 10:8-9; 12:12). Jeremiah, the priest called to be a prophet, called the Lord ‘the portion of Jacob’ [i.e., of all Israel] (Jer. 10:16; 51:19; Lam. 3:24), and David used the same image in Psalm 16:5-6″ (note on 119:57-64). Christians today should consider God as our portion, through whom all our needs and wants are supplied for eternity.
Because he knew that the Lord was his portion, the psalmist requests God’s favor and mercy (verse 58). He “made haste” and “did not delay” to bring his life into harmony with God’s ways, obeying His commandments (verses 59-60). These words are instructive. We should always be quick to follow God’s commands. And whenever our lives fall out of harmony with God’s ways, we must not put off repentance-imagining we will eventually get around to it, letting ourselves drift farther and farther away from God-for we thereby jeopardize our future (see Hebrews 2:1-3). If your life is going that way, ask God to help you turn around. Do it today. Don’t wait for a tomorrow that may never come.
The psalmist’s enemies had no regard for God’s law, and they bound him in cords (Psalm 119:61). This could be figurative of some type of ensnarement, or it may refer more literally to bondage and imprisonment-such as what Jeremiah experienced. Yet despite his predicament, the writer holds fast to God’s law and gives thanks to God for it in the middle of the night (verses 61-62; compare verse 55).
The author is at great odds with his lawless oppressors but sees as companions all those who fear and obey God (verse 63). He realizes he is not alone in his struggle (compare verses 74, 79)-and that was no doubt a source of encouragement, as it should be to all of us today. He further recognizes that in spite his present troubles, the earth is still full of God’s hesed, his lovingkindness and mercy (verse 64).
In the Teth strophe (verses 65-72) the psalmist focuses on God dealing “well” (Hebrew tob, “good”) with him (verse 65), admitting that he went astray in some manner before his present affliction and that this led to his repentance (verse 67)-which he sees as tob, good (verse 71).
The Hebrew word tob is used six times in this stanza. The psalmist declares that God is good and does good (verse 68). In verse 72, he states that God’s law is better (from tob-i.e., “more good”) than treasure (compare verses 14, 127, 162).
The poet calls his enemies “proud.” He states that they have “forged a lie against me” and later that they “almost made an end of me on earth” (verse 87). He says their hearts are “fat as grease” (verse 70)-or “fat, without feeling” (Green’s Literal Translation). The imagery is that of being covered in thick fat and difficult to penetrate. The NIV substitutes “callous” for “fat.” Yet, in spite of being persecuted, the psalmist will keep God’s precepts and delight in His law (verses 69-70).
He learned from his earlier mistake and from the correction that resulted. Undoubtedly it was not pleasant to live through the situation. The writer can look back, however, and say that it was “good”-that it was more than worth it (verses 71-72; compare verse 75). He recognized it as the opportunity for spiritual growth that it was.
As the book of Hebrews tells us, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (12:11; see verses 5-11).
In the Yod strophe (verses 73-80) the psalmist recognizes that God as man’s Maker is the One who best understands how man,
His creation, is supposed to properly function-so he seeks God’s direction in how to live (verse 73).
The writer desires to encourage others who revere God by maintaining hope in God’s Word through his affliction and continuing in obedience (see verses 74, 79; compare verse 63). He knows that God has allowed his present affliction and that His judgments have been right (verse 75). Yet he now prays for relief and comfort, as God has promised (verse 76). This will be a powerful witness to God’s people-and so will the final outcome of all this.
The poet reiterates that his enemies are proud and continues the pattern of contrasting their wrongdoing with His faithfulness: “They treated me wrongfully…but I will meditate on Your precepts” (verse 78). “They have forged a lie against me, but I will keep your precepts” (verse 69). They “have bound me…but I have not forgotten Your law” (verse 61). They “have me in derision…yet I do not turn aside from Your law” (verse 51).
He chooses to let God deal with his enemies while he finds comfort in the law, striving to be blameless, praying that they will be put to shame rather than him (verses 78, 80)-again as part of an important witness to all of God’s people.
The Kaph stanza (verses 81-88), the last strophe of the first half of the psalm, is-like the ending stanza (verses 196-176)-dominated by prayer for God’s intervention. Wearying under his trial, the psalmist searches God’s Word and wonders, in the manner of a lament, “When will you comfort me?” (verses 81-82).
He feels “like a wineskin in smoke” (verse 83). “As a wineskin hanging in the smoke and heat above a fire becomes smudged and shriveled, so the psalmist bears the marks of his affliction” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on verse 83).
The first question of verse 84, “How many are the days of Your servant?,” may mean, as the NIV renders it, “How long must your servant wait?” But it may also refer to how many days of life he has remaining in him under these circumstances. He would then be asking, “How long can I survive like this?”
“When,” he further pleads, “will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?” (same verse). Essentially, he is asking God, “When will You deal with these people? When will You put a stop to what they’re doing to me?”
Their digging of pits for him (verse 85) is probably figurative of setting situational traps for him-evidently to the point of plotting his death (compare verse 87). He cries out for help to avert this dire threat (verse 86), once more contrasting the behavior of his persecutors with his own: “They almost made an end of me on earth, but I did not forsake Your precepts” (verse 87). Through all this he hasn’t turned his back on God’s law, but he asks renewed strength to continue keeping it (verse 88). Again, we see that continuance in obedience to the law of God requires His caring attention and help. In this we also see that doing right doesn’t come automatically, even to those who love God. We cannot succeed on our own strength; we need to reach out to God and His Word continually.
Luke 23:50 - 24:53
We have so much in this segment this week and just like Exodus that we have been reading this section of Luke comes along at this time of year during Passover.
We are told of Joseph of Arimathea at the beginning of this study and you can read so much more about him and what he did after this scene at the crucifixion at http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=192 I know for fact this will shock and surprise many of you.
In chapter 23:54 we are told that they had to get the body in the grave quickly as the preparation day was ending and the Sabbath drew nigh. This Sabbath was high day as John tells us. It was the first day of Unleavened Bread and not the weekly Sabbath. It was a Wednesday. In verse 56 we read of the women preparing the spices and then resting on the Sabbath.
When Yehshua was killed they placed Him in the grave just before the High Sabbath cam about. They did not have time to buy the ingredients to embalm Him properly. They had not idea He was going to be killed so quickly.
He was killed Wednesday and then the High Sabbath comes on Thursday. The Preparation day for the Weekly Sabbath was Friday and this is when they prepared the spices and oils and then they rested on the weekly Sabbath and then we read of what happened after this.
On the First day of the week, Sunday they went to see the grave in the dark.
In verse 12 we read how Peter saw the linen clothes. I have been in this very tomb. It is on the Mount of Olives and is not easy to go and see. It is not the so called Garden Tomb north of the city. The mount of Olives is East. In the Tomb there is a little area like a shelve where this cloth could have been left. Also in the tomb are 7 sepulchres with two water gathering cisterns outside flanking the entrance. There is also a channel to control the stone that would have been about 6 feet tall.
In the article Under the Shadow of His Wings you will learn just what these clothes were that Peter and John saw that convinced them that He had risen. http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=129
The Tallit is a Prayer shawl and it is what every Jewish man is wrapped in when they die. It represents the Shekinah glory or the Cloud that covers them in the wilderness. When you put this tallit away everyone takes the time to fold it very nicely and place it in a secure place. This is what the apostles saw; the nicely folded tallit.
As we continue to read the events that all take place on this Sunday keep in mind what we have already shared above about the wave offering and just how perfectly this whole teaching is coming together.
I also want to point out to you verse 45 That the apostles did not and could not grasp all of the scriptures written by Moses and the Prophets until He Yehshua opened their minds to understand them.
• We read in John 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
No matter how hard you try to convince someone they will not understand unless the Father opens their minds to these truths. So stop arguing with them. And get on your knees and ask Yehovah to open your mind to those truths of His you do not grasp nor understand. It is Yehovah who reveals and it is He that you need to talk to and ask for knowledge and understanding and wisdom. You cannot gain it on your own.
You will by now understand that in verse 49 when Yehshua speaks of the promise to come that this was said on the Sunday of the wave offering which He had just completed and now the count to the 50th day had begun which is the second half of this wave offering. You can read more about it in The Hidden Meaning of Pentecost at http://www.sightedmoon.com/?page_id=21
And lastly they followed Him as far as Bethany which is a good walk away from Jerusalem going straight east and it was here that Yehshua ascended to heaven.
We now continue to study the 613 laws of Torah which we can read at http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm We are doing 7 laws each week. We shall study laws 402-408 We also have commentary, with editing from me, again from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
In this chapter, as in the last, we are going to see quite a few things required by Yahweh in the Torah that are impossible to do at the present time. They require a Sanctuary, a priesthood, and a functioning Levitical order, none of which exist today. And once again, we are forced to consider the ramifications of what this all means. There are several “possibilities.” (1) God is a cruel sadist who enjoys dangling the hope of our salvation just out of reach, so we can see it but not attain it. (2) He expects us to do the best we can with an absurd situation, like playing soccer without a ball or practicing archery without arrows. If this is the case, we’re deluding ourselves, for there’s no way to know if we’ve “scored,” or even how close we’re getting to the goal. Or (3—the only real possibility) the Torah was never intended to save anybody; there’s some other reason for it, some other purpose, some other function.
It is axiomatic that, since it was handed down by Yahweh Himself, the Torah’s real purpose has not become obsolete (as some Christians would have you believe). It is still worthy of our attention, even if we can’t literally do some of it anymore. For that matter, some of us were never told to do it. Time after time in the Pentateuch, we read the words, “Now Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel….’” There are millions of followers of Yahweh in the world today who are not biological descendents of Israel. As far as I know, I’m one of them. The Torah, the “instructions,” were given to Israel to perform—but not to the rest of us. Did God forget about us? No. We goyim were still part of the equation. We were to watch, learn, and benefit from Israel’s performance of the Torah. If the Law had been intended to be in itself the means to achieve salvation from our sins, then not only were the Jews in big trouble the minute they failed to keep it to perfection—and damned forever when they lost the temple—but worse, the rest of us never had a chance.
But that was never the purpose of the Law. Paul explained it to a group of gentile believers in the province of Galatia: “Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior….” The Greek word for “guarded” (phroueo) works both ways: it can either mean “protected by a military guard to prevent hostile invasion,” or “to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight.” This duality is the essence of holiness: keeping that which is outside—profane, corrupt, and evil—separated from that which is inside—pure, undefiled, and good, either by preventing the bad from entering, or by keeping the good from wandering off and getting lost. The Law did that for Israel (or at least it would have if they’d followed it) until the real means of salvation—Yahshua the Messiah—could fulfill His mission.
“Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” That’s right. The Law is no longer needed as our guardian. But it shouldn’t be a total stranger, either. It is now our friend, companion, and counselor. “So you are all children of God through faith in Yehshua. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him.” That is to say, we, like Him, now have the Spirit of God residing within us—we are immersed in Him. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you.” (Galatians 3:23-29 NLT) Don’t take the ball and run with it here: Paul is speaking rhetorically. Of course there are still men and women, slaves and free men—and Jews and gentiles. But as far as the Torah is concerned (which is still the subject), Yahshua’s fulfillment of its prophetic requirements has made its role as guardian more or less obsolete. There’s not much point in rehearsing your lines after the play has closed.
I’m afraid the New Living Translation has rather overstepped its mandate here when it says, “You are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you.” The New King James, not so influenced by the myth of replacement theology, merely says, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” In the original Greek, there isn’t even a hint of Israel being replaced by the gentile church. In fact, the most oft-repeated prophecy in the Old Covenant scriptures is that of biological Israel’s eventual repentance and restoration. Paul is not denying that at all. He’s just saying that the promise (singular) that blessed Abraham and his heirs also includes the gentile Ekklesia, for we too are his heirs. We would do well to review that particular pledge: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3) That’s the promise the gentile believers share with Israel.
But I digress. Paul was explaining our freedom from the requirements of the Law: “Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set….” The salient question is: what spiritual age have we attained? Paul’s point, as we shall see in a moment, is that positionally, we have already moved from slavery to freedom through Christ’s finished work. True enough, but few if any of us in this life reach the level of spiritual maturity that would allow us to honestly say, “My old guardian, the Torah, is of no further use to me. I am at one with the mind and will of Yahweh.” I submit to you that we would be unwise to throw out this baby with the bath water—to jettison the Torah simply because it has already been fulfilled in Yahshua. Even though its authority as guardian no longer exists, it still has much to teach us, if only we’ll listen. It’s no longer our master. Now it’s our mentor.
“And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.” (Galatians 4:1-7 NLT) Note that Yahshua made Himself “subject to the law.” Since the Torah reveals the mindset of God, only One who was “from” God could live His life in perfect harmony with it. Had Yahshua broken the least statute of the Law, He would have been rendered unworthy to “buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law.” Rather, His death would have been required for His own shortcomings. But because He was Immanuel—God with us—His sinless life and sacrificial death bought freedom for those who choose to be free, and adoption into the family of God for those who wish to belong to it.
There is no shortage of things that would enslave us—and did. “Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. And now that you have found God (or should I say, now that God has found you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual powers of this world?” The gentile Christians, having been freed from pagan practice, were being seduced by certain Jewish believers into a pointless and counterproductive reliance on the Law—something Paul characterizes as spiritually weak and useless—following its rules without understanding their significance. They were, in effect, following the shadow rather than the One casting it. “You are trying to find favor with God by what you do or don’t do on certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. I am afraid that all my hard work for you was worth nothing. Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles were—free from the law.” (Galatians 4:8-12 NLT)
Does a child earn his parents’ love by doing what they say? No. He is loved because of the relationship that exists between them. Of course, parents are pleased when their children obey, but only because obedience brings safety, harmony, and tranquility to the family. Who wants danger, division, and strife? Paul now uses this dichotomy (natural love versus obedience) to explain the difference between living under grace and living under the Law. “Listen to me, you who want to live under the law. Do you know what the law really says?” The Galatian gentiles, having been given off-center instruction by the Judaizers, had some idea of what the Torah said. Paul’s question was meant to be rhetorical: “Yes, we think we do.” Not to be picky, Paul, but the answer these days is no. Christians today don’t have a clue “what the law really says,” neither the literal precepts themselves nor the underlying symbolic truth that you’re about to point out. “The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave-wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave-wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. Now these two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants….” The two “branches” of Abraham’s family, Hagar’s and Sarah’s, represent two competing approaches to God’s promise: law and grace.
But just when we’re starting to get a handle on this, Paul throws in another metaphor or two. Or three. “Hagar, the slave-wife, represents Mount Sinai where people first became enslaved to the law. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery. But Sarah, the free woman, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. And she is our mother. That is what Isaiah meant when he prophesied, ‘Rejoice, O childless woman! Break forth into loud and joyful song, even though you never gave birth to a child. For the woman who could bear no children now has more than all the other women!’ And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. And we who are born of the Holy Spirit are persecuted by those who want us to keep the law, just as Isaac, the child of promise, was persecuted by Ishmael, the son of the slave-wife….” Oy! This is becoming quite a mental juggling act. But basically, Paul is just using several different symbols, like layers in a parfait, to compare freedom under grace with slavery under the Law:
Freedom: coming of age in Christ * Guardianship under the law
New Covenant under grace * Old Covenant under the Torah
Isaac, son of relationship * Ishmael, son of slavery
Promised one * Persecutor
Sarah, free and legal wife * Hagar, slave and illegal mate
God-ordained union * Human-devised scheme
Once barren, now blessed * Usurped blessing becomes a curse
Heaven, heavenly Jerusalem * Mt. Sinai, earthly Jerusalem
Holy Spirit * Spirit of submission
There is a bottom line to all of this, thank goodness: “But what do the Scriptures say about that? ‘Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the family inheritance with the free woman’s son.’” This disinheritance is in direct contrast to what we saw above, that those who are Christ’s do share the inheritance. “So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, obligated to the law. We are children of the free woman, acceptable to God because of our faith. So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (Galatians 4:21-31, 5:1 NLT) The comparisons continue:
Remains in the place of blessing * Sent away into the wilderness
Inheritance secure * Cut off from inheritance
Acceptable to God through faith * Unacceptable and faithless
Constrained by grace * Obligated by Law
Free * Enslaved
At this late date, I find myself fighting a different battle from the one Paul fought. He was concerned about folks buying into the myth that says keeping the Mosaic Law is necessary for salvation—about trading the freedom that had been attained for us through Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the code of conduct that was designed to keep Israel set apart from evil, pure and undefiled, until Yahweh was ready to bring His Messiah into the world through them. (The guys pushing that fable are still around, by the way, nibbling away at the fringes of the “Messianic movement.”) I, on the other hand, am more concerned by the fact that Paul’s admonitions have been hijacked by the vast majority of today’s “Christians” and driven to a place he never intended.
The “church” today seems to think that the Torah has somehow been abrogated by grace and is therefore of no value. They think that the Old Testament is mere “Jewish stuff” that has no relevance in today’s world. I would beg to differ. It is not irrelevant. It is not obsolete. Though its observance is not required for salvation (and never was) the Torah is still of inestimable value, for it reveals the very mind of God.
T’RUMAH, TITHES, AND TAXES
(402)An uncircumcised person shall not not eat of the t’rumah (heave offering) or other holy things. “And Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it.’” (Exodus 12:43-45); “No outsider shall eat the holy offering; one who dwells with the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat the holy thing. But if the priest buys a person with his money, he may eat it; and one who is born in his house may eat his food.” (Leviticus 22:10-11) Judaism 101 notes: “This rule is inferred from the law of the Paschal offering, by similarity of phrase, but it is not explicitly set forth in the Torah.” You see a lot of that sort of thing going on in rabbinical writings: stating as “law” things that Yahweh didn’t “explicitly set forth.” The Exodus passage speaks specifically of the Passover sacrifice (see Mitzvah #112), while in Leviticus, the word “offering” is implied—it literally says, “No stranger shall eat the holiness” (that is, that which is set apart), a phrase that would include the Passover sacrifice, the t’rumah, and a whole lot more.
The restrictions, however, seem to be consistent and significant. The offerings spoken of here were all things that had been sacrificed to Yahweh and were subsequently to be shared with, and enjoyed by, either God’s people in general or His priesthood. These offerings were “holy,” set apart for Yahweh’s glory. Therefore, they were not to be eaten by the “foreigner,” the outsider who had no relationship with the God of Israel, even though he may live in close proximity to Israelites and be on good terms with them. For the same reason, the “hired servant,” someone intimate with God’s people but whose only bond with them was financial, was not qualified to partake. But the “slave,” one who had been bought with a price, who had been circumcised according to the Law, was allowed to participate. If you’ll recall from Mitzvah #17, circumcision “signified that the barrier of sin that separated us from Yahweh had been removed, cut off, destroyed—a process that involved blood and pain, but one that made us available for God’s use.” It’s not too much of a stretch to view these “circumcised servants” as gentile believers.
So what is Yahweh trying to tell us here? First, remember that all of the sacrifices spoke, one way or another, of Yahshua the Messiah. (Rabbinical Judaism denies this, of course. Tracey Rich writes: “Were sacrifices a symbol of the savior to come? Not according to Judaism. That is a Christian teaching that has no basis in Jewish thought. Jews don’t believe in a savior, and don’t believe that sacrifice has anything to do with a savior or messiah.” Really? Think about it: if that were the case, the Torah they claim to revere would be pointless and cruel. Worse, it always has been, for nobody was ever able to keep it. If there’s no savior, and if they can’t—and don’t—keep the Law to perfection, the Jews are truly without hope. Why can’t they see that?) The Passover addressed the issue of innocent blood being shed so that we who trusted in its efficacy would live—a transparent metaphor for Yahshua’s crucifixion. Who, then, is able to benefit from these sacrifices? Not the stranger who merely rubs shoulders with God’s chosen. And not the outsider who does business with them, even if that business is mutually beneficial. No, it is only those who have a personal relationship with Yahweh, marked by the “permanent removal of their sin through a process involving blood and pain.”
(403)Do not alter the order of separating the t’rumah and the tithes; the separation must be in the order first—fruits at the beginning, then the t’rumah, then the first tithe, and last the second tithe. “You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep.” (Exodus 22:29-30) This is more rabbinical meddling with scripture. The order of giving and tithing is never specified in the Torah (except as implied for offerings associated with the seven feasts of Yahweh, which are tied to successive calendar dates). Since the rabbis under Akiba usurped the roles of the priests and Levites early in the second century, shifting the nation’s authority to themselves, this is merely a thinly disguised ploy calculated to maximize the “take.” Later in this chapter, we’ll see all kinds of rules concerning the “second tithe.” Sorry, Maimonides, it doesn’t exist. The rabbis aren’t confused, just greedy. I’ll have more to say about this later. But speaking of procrastination, that’s the real point of this mitzvah: don’t. If something is due to Yahweh, don’t delay its offering. Do it now.
(404)Give half a shekel every year (to the Sanctuary for provision of the public sacrifices). “Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying: ‘When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to Yahweh, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs).” This would make the half-shekel tax a little over two dollars—it’s 0.182 troy ounces of silver. “The half-shekel shall be an offering to Yahweh. Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to Yahweh. The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to Yahweh, to make atonement for yourselves. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before Yahweh, to make atonement for yourselves.” (Exodus 30:11-16) The census counted males twenty years old and above, in other words, those old enough for military service. Rabbinic greed notwithstanding, the census was not taken every year, but only periodically—quite rarely, actually. And at the risk of sounding nit-picky, the half-shekel was “an offering to Yahweh,” not to the sanctuary, a fact stated four times in the passage. It is an atonement levy which is to be used for the service of the sanctuary. (The point is that Yahweh has no use for money, or any other sacrificial commodity: it’s our obedience in faith that’s valuable to Him. I suppose that’s why the “dollar value” of the tax was so insignificant.)
It’s worth going through the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out what “atonement” means in this context—after all, it’s mentioned three times—four, if you include the related word “ransom.” Kapar, translated “atonement” here, has the exact same consonant root as koper—ransom. (Remember, the Masoretic vowel pointing wasn’t done until 2,500 years after these words were written.) The root means “pitch,” as in, “to cover over something with pitch.” From there, its linguistic application jumps to “to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, pacify, propitiate, or atone for sin.” (S) And how do we get “ransom” out of that? The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains: “From the meaning of kōper, ‘ransom,’ the meaning of kāpar can be better understood. It means ‘to atone by offering a substitute.’ The great majority of the usages concern the priestly ritual of sprinkling of the sacrificial blood thus ‘making an atonement’ for the worshipper…. It seems clear that this word aptly illustrates the theology of reconciliation in the OT. The life of the sacrificial animal specifically symbolized by its blood was required in exchange for the life of the worshipper. Sacrifice of animals in OT theology was not merely an expression of thanks to the deity by a cattle raising people. It was the symbolic expression of innocent life given for guilty life.”
How does all of this shed light on the atoning-ransoming aspects of a half-shekel census tax? The key is substitution. It’s a lesson we see popping up dozens of ways in the Torah. Levites are substituted for first-born males; the scapegoat lives because he has been substituted by his buddy, the sin-offering goat, etc. In this case, Yahweh is emphasizing that Israel is His nation—all of it. They were purchased out of Egypt with shed blood. They have value in God’s eyes. So for each individual to pay a token “ransom” on the occasion of their numbering for battle is a national acknowledgment of Yahweh’s sovereignty—especially in the matter of doing battle with the world. No man is worth more than another. They are ransomed because they are God’s.
(405)A kohein who is unclean shall not eat of the t’rumah. “Whatever man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper or has a discharge, shall not eat the holy offerings until he is clean.” (Leviticus 22:4) Maimonides is perfectly correct here. Of course, by the time he wrote, there had been no priesthood or t’rumah for a thousand years. (The t’rumah, you’ll recall, was the tithe the Levites paid to the Aaronic priesthood from the tithes they had received from the people of Israel.) Without an understanding of what the Levitical symbols mean, this mitzvah, like so many others, is a pointless waste of paper.
In the light of Yahshua’s finished work, however, God’s timeless truth emerges. A kohein, or Priest, is one who is called to intercede between men and Yahweh. Since the curtain separating the holy of holies from the world was torn in two at Christ’s crucifixion, all people—not just the sons of Aaron—are now potential priests. But in order to enjoy the benefits Yahweh has provided for them—seen here as eating of the t’rumah—these priests must be made clean. The cleansing process in the Torah involved washing in water, and this is precisely what we see in the New Covenant: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)
(406)A person who is not a kohein or the wife or unmarried daughter of a kohein shall not eat of the t’rumah. “No outsider shall eat the holy offering; one who dwells with the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat the holy thing. But if the priest buys a person with his money, he may eat it; and one who is born in his house may eat his food. If the priest’s daughter is married to an outsider, she may not eat of the holy offerings. But if the priest’s daughter is a widow or divorced, and has no child, and has returned to her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat her father’s food; but no outsider shall eat it.” (Leviticus 22:10-13) This mitzvah is a continuation of what we covered in #402. At issue here is who (if anyone), within the priest’s own household, would be prohibited from partaking in the bounty of the t’rumah. We’ve already established that an outsider may not participate. But the priest’s wife is qualified, by virtue of her relationship with her husband. The priest’s daughter may or may not, depending on her relationship. (A priest’s son, in case you missed it, is by definition a priest himself.) It’s fascinating to see the forgiveness of Yahweh here: even if the priest’s daughter has made some poor choices in the past—even if she has been divorced from her husband (as long as there are no children from that union) she is welcomed back into her father’s home as his child, still qualified to partake of the t’rumah with him. In other words, it’s not about behavior. It’s about relationships.
The Ephesians passage quoted in the previous mitzvah actually demonstrates this, though to keep things simple I extricated it from its context (for which I apologize). But the context confirms what we’ve just been talking about. It’s the marriage relationship (as between the kohein and his wife), and how Yahshua’s bride, the ekklesia—the called-out assembly of believers, has been cleansed and presented to Himself as spotless and undefiled. And because she has been cleansed, she may lawfully enjoy the benefits of the relationship. Beyond that, the passage may also shed some light on the disposition of children who die without reaching the level of maturity needed to choose or reject a personal relationship with Yahweh and His Messiah, Yahshua. The determining factor seems to be the attitude of the parents, and especially of the father. How’s that for pressure, guys?
(407)A sojourner with a kohein or his hired servant shall not eat of the t’rumah. “No outsider shall eat the holy offering; one who dwells with the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat the holy thing.” (Leviticus 22:10) Is there an echo in here? I thought we already covered this. Maimonides is making an artificial distinction between an “outsider” and a “sojourner.” The word in Hebrew is zur, a verb meaning “to be a stranger, estranged, or alienated.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes, “The basic thought is of non-acquaintance or non-relatedness.” The word can carry the connotation of deserting or abandoning an association or relationship, or going astray—being in a state of apostasy and rebellion. By application, it is even used to describe a prostitute, a woman who is “strange” to you. The point is that no one who is a stranger to Yahweh will benefit from His bountiful provision.
(408)Do not eat tevel (something from which the t’rumah and tithe have not yet been separated). “They shall not profane the holy offerings of the children of Israel, which they offer to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 22:15) Although Maimonides’ mitzvah is probably wise counsel in general terms, the verse chosen as a proof text doesn’t support his thesis. To “profane” something (Hebrew chalal) is to defile, pollute, treat as common, or dishonor it. Though tithes were clearly a part of the structure of Israelite life (for reasons we’ve already discussed), Yahweh hates the litigious and unmerciful spirit that precipitated this kind of rule—one that would see a man’s family starve for lack of a precise accounting of every wheat stalk, mint leaf and cumin seed.
Yahshua put all of this in perspective. He told the religious leaders of the day, “How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat; then you swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24 NLT) Tithing, He says, is right and good: we should be doing it. But justice, mercy, and faith are far more significant evidences of your “keeping of the law.” If these things are lacking, you have “profaned the holy offerings,” no matter how strictly you tithe.