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News Letter 5847-041
5th day of the 10th month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 10th 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.
December 31, 2011

Shabbat Shalom Brethren,

The New Moon was not sighted this past Sunday and the report can be read below.
Karaite Korner Newsletter #540

New Moon Report
December 2011
Tenth Biblical Month

On Sunday December 25, 2011 observers from Israel looked for the new moon but it was not sighted. It was raining throughout the country. Visibility would have been uncertain even under ideal conditions so unless another report comes in of a sighting, new moon will be Monday night December 26. My thanks to Yoel Halevi, Devorah Gordon, and David Cachicas for braving the Jerusalem rain to carry out the observation this month in the Holy City.

Nehemia Gordon
Reporting from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We received the following email this week;

I was THRILLED to see the news that Joe will be in Ashland KY as I live very nearby. Will you please let me know if I need to make reservations and/or if there is a charge for admittance, also is there a limit to the number of people who will attend? [will I need to camp outside to assure a seat? ; ) ] Anyway, thank you so much for bringing this meeting to my neighborhood. I am going to try to bring as many people as I can to hear Joe give this warning. Thank you, thank you!

And just so you all know, there is no charge, but it is worth thousands to those who come. We do not expect you to have to camp outside the meeting hall in order to get in, but I do hope that this will happen soon as people begin to realise how important this message and teaching is. And yes do bring as many others as you can.

We are just one week away from coming to Abilene Texas where I will share with you what the Sabbatical and Jubilee years show us. I will also share with you what The Prophecies of Abraham, the 70 Shabua and the Prophecy of the Law of Niddah show us. They all show us war is coming to the USA and it is coming very soon.

As I go over this presentation it scares me. It scares me a lot. It scares me because the Brethren do not know and are not prepared for exactly what is about to begin. We have a DVD almost ready. It has to be proofed and again edited before we can send it out.

Pray about this. It is that important. Pray for good weather so I can fly to those places that have me booked this winter. I will be going to many airports changing planes and it all has to work right in order for it all to work and for me to get there on time. So please pray.

This Next Shabbat I will be in Texas. I hope you will join us for this presentation.

January 7, 2012 10 AM to 8 PM
Sleep Inn Abilene TX
3225 South Danville Drive
Abilene TX
Phone for reservations: 325-437-1525

Rooms are @ $89 per night. Tell them you are with our conference group and we can get a room for $80

Please come with a lunch on Shabbat so that we are not going out to eat.

Then in three weeks time on Saturday, January 28, 2012 I will be In Ashland Kentucky.
Time 2:00pm until 6:00pm

The hall is in the Kyova Mall , Fairfield Inn 1/4 mile away 10945 US Rte.60, Ashland, Kentucky

If you’re in Tennessee or West Virginia then come. Again pray for good weather as I expect to drive 10 hours to this event myself. I know of others who are coming from Ohio.

Then this week we just got confirmation that we will be speaking Feb 11, 2012 in Ocala Florida. The hall is booked from 9AM to 9PM. I will not be speaking for all that time but I will answer everyone’s questions who come out and I will stay as late as need to be to do it.

We will be at the
Forest Community Center at Sandhill Park
777 South 314-A, Ocklawaha, FL 32179 [ FCC phone # 1.352.438.2840 ].

If anyone is interested, here is the address and phone # of the Days Inn in Silver Springs, FL:
5751 E. Silver Springs Blvd {SR 40), Silver Springs, FL 34488 Phone: 1.352.236.2575$59 per night per room, sleeps 4.

This event is being hosted by Ken & Jan Gordon 1.352.625.4236

We also have planned, a three week teaching series in Sarnia Ontario for February and then again in June, so stay tuned for more details about this.

If you are in Holland or Belgium or North Western Germany, and would like to hear this teaching on the sabbatical and Jubilee years along with the teachings of the Prophecies of Niddah send an email to contact@setapartpeople.com and let them know where you are and how many of you there are that are interested so we can organise a venue to come and teach this to you.
If you are in North America and would like to have me come and present this to your group then contact Lora Skeahan” and let her know. She has others who have written in and she can maybe put groups together who are in the same area.

Also brethren, this is costing me up to $2500 with airfare car rentals and hotel room and meal per conference. Not to mention books and DVD. Some have already helped with donations to pay for this, but we could still use your help if you can. If you can’t then I hope you will come out and listen to this message. This is the message most of the Messianic leaders will not teach you, and none of the Church leaders will want you to hear. So please make every effort to come out and bring those you love with you. I know this teaching will scare you into action. It scares me.

This week we have a very sensitive and difficult subject to address. I urge you all to read it with care and prayers. As we are going to be talking about those who go from Christians to Messianics and then convert to Judaism and deny Yehshua, I also want you to read some of these testimonies of Rabbis who have gone from Rabbinic Judaism to a Torah obedient follower of Yehshua. I will post the url so you can read these article after. http://www.shalom.org.uk/library/rabbiswhobelieved.html

Once again my friends at Set Apart People have shared some things we all need to be aware of. It is a letter they received from a mutual friend who is living in Israel.

I have received many emails from other people who are waking up from the Christian churches and begin to see they have to keep Torah. They then enthusiastically begin to learn Hebrew and to study with a passion. As they go and search for more information from outside the bible sources they eventually run into the Jewish anti-missionaries.

Then once that happens I begin to receive emails from these people who will no longer read anything written by Paul and condemn me for quoting any of his epistles. And it is not too long after this that they stop reading the New Testament all together. And then they announce that they are going to keep Torah and will no longer follow Yehshua and deny that Yehshua was and is the Messiah.

If this was an isolated occurrence then I would not have said anything. But it is happening more and more and I see it all over the world. I have prayed how to address this. I have prayed about what to do. Then I read this from a friend I have known who is on the ground in Israel.

I wrote and asked to be able to share this, and was given a blessing to share with you. Let me make this very plain. I am not against Jews. I am not against learning many of their ways for they have much to teach us. I am not in favour of proselytising Jews. In fact I would rather proselytise Christians to return back to Torah.

But what I do get upset about are the lies that Christians teach as truths, and I am equally upset at the lies Judah teaches as truth. I also get upset at the lies Messianics teach as commandments.

You cannot understand the New Testament without the Torah. You cannot understand who the Messiah is, that is described in the Old Testament unless you have the New Testament. And you cannot worship Yehovah unless you study and obey both books.

Are you even aware that HILLEL II, Jewish Patriarch gave a deathbed confession of Yehshua was witnessed by his rabbinical student Count Joseph. After his death, Joseph found among his effects Hebrew texts of Matthew, John and the Acts of the Apostles and was himself convinced of the truth of Messiah Yehshua.

Another Rabbi called Rabbi Kuduri tells us the name of the Messiah. You can watch this video of his message. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Lr4QaFXdxc which tells us that after Ariel Sharon dies then the Messiah will come.

Yet in spite of this many former Christians are now converting to Judaism and renouncing Yehshua, the one they had learned from in the first place.

http://www.setapartpeople.com/a-love-of-all-things-jewish?utm_source=Set+Apart+People+List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6105e14e7e-MailChimp_RSS2EMAIL_CAMPAIGN

A Messianic Hebrew Living in Israel Discusses “A love of all things Jewish”

Having lived in the land of Israel now for over a year, I am seeing a notable trend develop. That of, Messianic Hebrews (also known as Ephramites) coming to the land of Israel, and becoming over- exuberant for “all things Jewish,” to the point of conversion to Judaism. This trend somewhat confused me, in the sense that, what was causing these believers who are supposedly strongly rooted in their Hebraic faith and belief in Messiah, to even consider converting to Judaism and thereby effectively denying their Messiah? It was after finding an article that clearly defined the ‘state’ and ‘thinking’ of these believers, that I was then able to put the pieces together and more clearly understand the phenomenon of what is occurring here.

This unnatural or over enthusiasm for all things Jewish has been described as ‘Ultra-Semitism’ by Bruce Barham from http://torahofmessiah.com/countermiss_art.html in his article by the same name. His definition is:

“Ultra-Semitism is simply the opposite of anti-Semitism.”

This issue is becoming more important as more Hebraic Messianics seek to return to the land of Israel and connect with their brother Judah. This over-enthusiasm for all things Jewish, a desire to stay in the land at any cost, and the placing of Judah and Judaism above the word of YHVH and belief in Messiah, can manifest into very complex issues and have very grave outcomes. This thinking ultimately threatens the faith of the believer and also the impression our brother Judah is having of us.

In our native countries, we seem very able to separate from the pagan Church and we seem able to begin to address the religious traditions of our culture and move towards a closer relationship with YHVH and His Torah. Unfortunately, once we arrive in the land of Israel, we are subjected to a whole new set of ‘pressures’ that we have not been accustomed to and have not been prepared for. The pressure from Jewishness now pervades every aspect of daily life and the overwhelming feeling is to ‘stand with our brother’ and ‘come alongside our brother’. There is also the great conviction and desire to be able to stay in this land at whatever the cost! This, however, does not mean that we should ‘join our brother Judah in his sin of denying Yahshua, Messiah’. Amazingly enough, this is exactly what a number of Hebraic Messianics are doing. They have such a great connection and love for their brother and this land that they are converting to Judaism and denying Messiah as the Son of YHVH!

The Messianic Hebrew has, among other things, two important cornerstones of their faith that should be non-negotiable: 1.) Yahshua Messiah and 2.) The Brit Chadashah (The New Testament).

Both are also non-negotiable to Judaism as they are NOT part of Judaism…here in lies a major dilemma to the ‘ultra-Semite.’

There is yet another group prowling around this land waiting to pounce on the ultra-Semite, and this is the “anti-missionary” or “counter missionary” also defined and discussed by Bruce Braham in his articles. His definition is:
“Anti-Missionaries are individuals and groups devoted to “countering” the good news of Yahshua the Messiah.”

The main group active in Israel as anti-missionaries are, of course, Rabbinical Judaism and also the ultra-Semite, many of whom are well connected with Judaism and maybe even have completed conversion to Judaism or are attending ‘Geore’ (conversion classes). These persons could even be defined as the “Wolves in Sheep’s clothing.”

One of the key Judaic groups today proclaiming to recognize and promote the return of the ten lost tribes is also openly identifying themselves as anti-missionary on their website. Kol Ha Tor defines “12 Israel Kingdom” as being pro-Rabbinic, pro-Oral Torah and willing to convert to Judaism in order to bring about restoration and an ability to return to the land.

In order for the anti-missionary to succeed, he must first complete what should essentially be an impossible task! He must discredit the Brit Chadashah and, therefore, render it completely unreliable or untrustworthy AND reduce the deity of Yahshua Messiah to that of a mere man or Prophet. Is this not ridiculous to suggest that this could even happen?!! Yet, from firsthand experience, it is happening to a large number within the Messianic movement. How could this be?

The anti-missionary needs to render the Brit Chadashah unreliable and untrustworthy so they can essentially remove any proof or reliable evidence that Yahshua of Nazareth was the son of YHVH.

There is clearly within Judaism, specifically from within the Talmud, an acknowledgment that Yahshua was a ’real’ man and that he did live in Israel around 30 AD. There is, however, no acknowledgment of His Deity. Herein lies the problem for Judaism. ‘How can you acknowledge that Yahshua existed as a man but was not the saviour prophesied about in the Tanakh when you do not have the writings of the Brit Chadashah’?

The Tanakh on its own does NOT identify or confirm that Yahshua of Nazareth, who walked the earth around 30 AD, was the son of YHVH. Although it contains many hundreds of prophesies for the first and second coming, it does not on its own identify the man, Yahshua of Nazareth, as the Son of YHVH. The only way from Scripture to identify who He was is through the Brit Chadashah, which details His life and the miracles He performed, alongside the historical information of the times, and it also details His fulfilment of prophesies given in the Tanakh. This information is also often recorded several times in the other Gospels to give even more authenticity.

The anti-missionary cannot discredit the Tanakh or Talmud so, in order to ‘make anonymous’ the person Yahshua, the Brit Chadashah must be rendered unreliable. Thereby, the only reliable source left to be the Tanakh, which is still pointing to the ‘coming Messiah.’

The second major issue for Judaism is that, if you appear to have more than one Elohim or have a theology to abide another deity in addition to YHVH, then you are classed as a pagan and are part of a pagan religion. Many within Ephraim struggle to fully explain how Yahshua, Son of YHVH, is not Elohim but is deity. Because of our lack of understanding the wolf seems able to deceive the sheep, while we know that sometimes we will not have full understanding of all things but, through faith, we accept that it is possible to have a Father and Son relationship and yet have one Elohim. Without going into too much discussion of the relationship between the Father and the Son, since each has a different interpretation of this special cornerstone relationship, it is enough to say that, in the eyes of Judaism, when you have YHVH and the Son, Yahshua, who is also deity, there is a big problem…and you are in a pagan religion.

Much of this pagan theology or understanding has its roots from Judah’s understanding from observing Christendom (Trinity Theology), and they have not adjusted this view to how the Messianic Hebrew now sees their Elohim. Worthy to note is that ‘Echad’ gives room for aspects of a unified Elohim.

The anti-missionary must also now reduce or adjust the deity of Yahshua to that of a mere man or prophet in order to satisfy the Judaic requirements from the Torah to only have ONE Elohim.

Current law in Israel today also plays right into the hand of the anti-missionary. In Israel, it is illegal for any foreigner to proselytise an Israeli citizen. Even simply stating any religious view point can be construed as proselytising, and the perpetrator, if heard or reported by an Israeli citizen, can be deported from the country. However, a Jewish person has absolutely no restrictions and can proselytise anyone he wants. When a Messianic Hebrew gets alongside Judah, they will not, and do not, have any ability to defend or discuss their position.

Herein lies another dilemma: If you constantly expose yourself (by your own choice) to a constant barrage (overtly and subtly) by very eloquent and learned men who are very skilled at constantly undermining and discrediting the Brit Chadashah and blatantly bashing Yahshua and diminishing his deity… it seems to eventually soak in, and is believed by the ultra- Semitic. After all, is this not where we all essentially started…in the Christian Church subtly being convinced to take on pagan ways and to acknowledge that the Torah had been done away with?!

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The ultra-Semitic, having now completely come alongside Judah and, having become ready to convert to Judaism, now becomes the greatest enemy to fellow believers in Yahshua and seems to have this overwhelming urge to afflict others with the same condition… Beware!

It is important particularly for those coming to the land to recognize in themselves any tendency to place Judah and things Jewish in an unnatural place of esteem that leads to contradiction of Scripture and the mixing with Talmudic traditions. Also, there is the need to beware of the tendency to be willing to do anything to remain in this land.

Judah believes that they have the Scepter and the Law even though, effectively, it is a compromised version of the Law since they have mixed it with their Talmudic traditions! Some within Judah accept that Ephraim is beginning to return, but they also believe that in order to return, we must come under Judah or under Judaism. The connection in the mind of the ultra-Semite is that they also feel obliged to help YHVH and are connecting and joining Judaism…If we all become Judah, how will the two sticks become one in His hand (Ezekiel 37) since there will be no Ephraim?!

As a Messianic Hebrew living in the land, I believe an important aspect for myself and my family being here is to fulfill the calling He placed upon us through His word. This will enable us to more effectively keep His Torah and stand for our faith in Yahshua in the land where He has placed His name. We believe that YHVH will direct our path, and if that means only being here for a season, then so be it. We must learn to stand for what we know to be true and right. This is part of “Passing under the Rod.” Just as YHVH caused the Nation of Israel to pass under the rod in order to enter the land, the first time, those returning to the land are also effectively causing themselves to ‘pass under the rod’ and therefore need to be well grounded in their foundational beliefs otherwise you may NOT pass. Just as Israel failed the first time, so can we! They were NOT faithful!

If a person converts to Judaism, he needs to be careful that he is not committing the ‘ultimate Sin,’one which the book of Hebrews says you can NOT come back from…

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of YHVH and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of YHVH and are holding him up to contempt. – Hebrews 6:4-6

This issue is also reiterated in three of the Gospels: Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34, the analogy is drawn to that of Salt…

You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men. – Matthew 5:13

…However, if you have already been convinced of the inaccuracy of the Brit Chadashah and that Yahshua was only a man, then these verses, along with everything else in the Brit Chadashah, carry no blessings or sting!!!

The issue really is not so much with the ultra-Semite and anti missionary, but rather with each of us coming into the land unprepared or unaware of these issues. The key non-negotiable fundamentals of our faith should be well in place prior to our return because otherwise we may fall into deception and ultimately be misled. Yes, get alongside our brother, get to know our brother and live in this land, BUT do not take this to the point of joining our brother in the areas of his life that are in contradiction with the word of YHVH and His Son.

Peter Bennet
Israel, 2011

Having read this far I then went to the articles mentioned above.

I am going to share one of them with you. It is a hard or difficult article to comprehend, especially if you are doing some of those things mentioned. So I urge you to read it with care.

http://torahofmessiah.com/pagantares.html

Don’t let the tares of Satan run you out of the wheat field

It is a little known fact that the ranks of EX-christians are growing. Of course, this is a significant source of embarrassment to Christianity; therefore, it is not often discussed. Increasingly, truly studious Christians are realizing traditional Christianity is filled with unscriptural, pagan concepts that differ dramatically with the practices of the first century believers and with Scripture.

Traditional Christianity and counterfeit Messianism are also growing; however, the growth is much like it was in the first few centuries as openly pagan, sinful individuals from numerous pagan cults joined the “cheap grace, license to sin” church that was being formed at that time and that is now preaching new levels of “salvation” ease. Since the forming church presented doctrines and practices pagans were familiar with, they chose to jump on Constantine’s bandwagon. Today, since traditional Christianity presents an “obedience optional” and “Torah (God’s Law) is dead and gone” salvation message, pagans and others looking for an easy ticket to heaven are seeing Christianity as a very attractive religion perfect for the modern sinner.

Christianity, without doubt, is THE easiest, least demanding religion in the entire world, a fact that is often openly admitted and used in their marketing campaigns! It is attracting millions of people that want to “do what is right in their own eyes”, live as they choose, and not have to worry about having to obey anything but their own hearts. Christianity truly is the religion for the worldly. It is also largely becoming a religion of Scripturally ignorant individuals that choose whatever denominational flavor is served up as long as it suits their fancy, without ever questioning its adherence to Scripture, or ever even reading Scripture. This is precisely what Paul prophesied about in his letter to Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:3; 4 (NRSV)
3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.

Christianity is “going home to pagan mama” through its increasingly sinful, unholy, worldly teachings that all but reject entirely the moral demands the True God imposes upon those wishing to enter into His coming Kingdom. Christianity also, in general, outright rejects and/or declares abolished God’s eternal Torah (instructions), a practice that lies at the very core of the true meaning of the mark of the Beast.

A significant reality TRUE truth seekers that actually study on their own are discovering is the pagan foundations of traditional Christianity. As more and more truly sincere believers become dismayed at the growing paganism of the “church” and venture out to independently seek truth, they are realizing Christianity does NOT possess that truth. Often, after making a little progress in their studies, they stop over or permanently take root in what I call counterfeit Messianic Judaism. More often than not the more “Hebraic” facade of counterfeit Messianic Judaism lulls them to sleep and intoxicates them to the point they stop seeking further truth. They seem oblivious to the fact they are partaking of almost the same box of poisonous treats served within Christianity that are simply repackaged with a “Judaic” look. The spiritual “feeling” they get from the liturgical flavor of their Messianic Judaism groups blinds them to the fact the foundational beliefs of counterfeit Messianic Judaism are little changed from what they were in pagan traditional Christianity. They leave a rocky mine field only to end up in a grassy one where the mines are harder to spot but just as deadly.

Unfortunately, as the search for truth continues and the false nature of counterfeit Messianic Judaism is also recognized to be what it actually is - repackaged Christianity - many then overreact to the point that they totally abandon anything connected with the Scriptural faith of/in Messiah Yeshua and convert to Rabbinic Judaism. In frightening numbers many also choose to become agnostic, atheist, or venture into the realm of other false religions with which mankind is cursed.

I hope with this article to limit the wholesale exodus from the TRUE Messianic faith (vs. counterfeit Messianism) by addressing the issue most seekers of truth eventually discover about traditional Christian and counterfeit Messianic faiths. That issue is the clear pagan foundations of both faith systems. As one becomes aware of the paganism that especially infests traditional Christianity, he/she must be cautious against taking the paganism argument too far by considering EVERY pagan appearing practice to be unscriptural. Pagan-phobia - an overly sensitive reaction to all things “pagan” - is a tactic Satan uses to destroy us.

Consider this, Satan is VERY smart! He has ALL his bases covered. He can both destroy and entrap. By promoting a hybrid mix of paganism and truth he can destroy the faith of those with pagan-phobia by presenting exact PAGAN copies of certain aspects of the TRUE truth. Thus, he causes some to reject what is actually truth because they assume it is pagan. He also guarantees eternal death for others that are attracted to the easy way to salvation by entrapping them in lawlessness (anti-torah). He destroys some by making them think the truth should be completely void of ALL “pagan” elements, while he entraps others that desire the “freedom” to do as they wish yet still claim to be “faithful”.

To the pagan-phobia crowd I ask the following: Would it be wise of Satan to promote a religious system (or systems) that is TOTALLY unscriptural? Of course not. In fact, virtually ALL religions have fragments of truth; however, this in no way makes them acceptable to YHWH ELohim (God). Satan’s primary tactic is to sprinkle lies (tares/darnel) within the truth (wheat). By doing this he can destroy those that discover the paganism of Christianity by driving them entirely from the wheat field of truth and entrap those that flourish in such pagan, lawless faith systems. I feel that is one of the clear teachings within the parable of the tares.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB95)
24 Yeshua presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man [Messiah] who sowed good seed [truth] in his field.
25 “But while his men were sleeping [Messiah’s true followers did not guard truth], his enemy [Satan] came and sowed tares [false doctrine and teachers] among the wheat, and went away.
26 “But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain [followers of the spirit of truth], then the tares became evident also [followers of the spirit of delusion - spirit of anti-messiah].
27 “The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
28 “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
29 “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares [followers of the spirit of delusion - spirit of anti-messiah], you may uproot the wheat with them [followers of the spirit of truth].
30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares [followers of the spirit of delusion - spirit of anti-messiah] and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat [followers of the spirit of truth] into my barn [coming Kingdom].”

The tares (false teachings and teachers) were sown among the wheat (truth and true prophets). The tares are darnel. Darnel is a grassy weed that is virtually indistinguishable from wheat until the grain is formed just prior to harvest. Yeshua could not have used a more perfect example to represent how many false teachings have the appearance of truth (darnel has the appearance of wheat) to those that are not constantly on guard for error. Also many true teachings are copied by Satan. Had there been guards watching the field closely, the enemy would not have been able to sow the tares. Likewise, one must carefully test the spirits and scrutinize what they are taught by comparing it to the Scriptures (Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 3:16,17). The “Scriptures” being referred to for use in the testing of truth is the Tanakh (Older Testament). Sadly, since few Christians EVER test what they are taught by studying the Tanakh, they allow the fields of their minds to become infested with the tares of the Devil. Similarly, most common Christians of today allow their feelings, which they mistakenly and lazily consider to be promptings of the “Holy Spirit”, to largely determine their beliefs. They are among today’s tare-heads, not realizing or taking to heart that we MUST test the “spirits” using the Tanakh and Hebraic study of the New Covenant writings. Instead many profanely consider their personally desired beliefs to be “spirit” based when, in fact, they are based on Scriptural ignorance.

The tares and wheat - false doctrines and truth - will both grow together until the end when the the grain appears at the time of harvest and angels will come to gather the tares FIRST (this alone destroys “rapture” theory) from among the wheat. At that time the “fruit” produced will allow the tares to be easily distinguished from the wheat. The resulting lifestyle (obedience or lawlessness) as well as other fruits of ones particular faith system, will classify them as either tares or wheat. This is, in part, to what Yeshua refers elsewhere when he says one is known by the fruits they bear. The wicked, false teachers, and those loving the spirit of error will be gathered out of the Kingdom; then, the scrutinizing believers that never end their search for truth will be left for gathering into the granaries of G-d’s Kingdom.

If one rejects doctrine or concepts because of apparent pagan equivalents (pagan appearances), then we may as well burn the entire Scripture including Torah. Virtually EVERY truth has a false equivalent in paganism. Paganism has its own “instructions” (torah). Paganism has temples. Paganism has sacrifices and blood atonement. Paganism has prophets of “god”. Paganism has a Creator(s) god. Paganism has eternal reward and punishment. Paganism has demons. Paganism has a god that is prayed to. Paganism has a savior(s), etc. etc. Remember, often tares and wheat are completely identical in appearance. It’s the root (origins, definition of God, etc.) of the tares and wheat that primarily differ, as well as the final fruit (obedience to and worship of the TRUE God and Messiah or disobedience and worship of the anti-messiah and false god).

As mentioned earlier, those realizing the truly pagan origins of traditional Christianity, which I will emphasize later, sometimes jump from Christianity to Judaism. As they learn about many of the false teachings regarding Christianity’s unscriptural false Messiah, “Jesus Christ”, they grossly overreact and reject the Messiah entirely without investing much time discovering the true aspects of the Scriptural Messiah. Those that do this often justify their change by pointing to Christianity’s pagan nature. By doing this they become one of those discussed earlier whose faith is destroyed, though they usually feel they have actually finally found the “true” faith. They also fail to realize that, as discussed earlier, one can find parallels to paganism within Judaism also. Even the TRUE Hebraic faith can have pagan parallels; thus, paganism alone, is NOT a good characteristic to look for when determining the truth or error present in a set of doctrinal beliefs.

Another VERY disturbing trend I see is the habit many slide into of abandoning reading of the New Covenant Scriptures. I found myself near this abyss at one time; therefore, I am very familiar with the progression of thoughts in one’s mind as they find themselves in somewhat of a spiritual crisis. This presents a unique problem and generally progresses as follows:
1. They discover the true fact that Christianity is largely a false religion and that the New Covenant writings are somewhat corrupt.
2. This causes them to doubt ALL the New Covenant writings.
3. They then assume corruption where none exist.
4. They fail to understand that the New Covenant writings ARE reliable, despite the fact they do have some scribal corruption and error in various areas; however, this corruption effects only a tiny fraction of the overall volume of the New Testament and can be easily seen as error by simply comparing it to the Tanakh. (Note: I discuss this and other issues regarding what is TRUE Holy Scripture in an article on that subject.)
5. They WRONGLY feel they can find ALL truth in the Tanakh and fail to realize if such was the case there would have been no need for clarification on issues such as Messiah, Torah observance, etc. Rabbinic Judaism proves itself to also promote the fact that clarification of what is written in the Tanakh is necessary since it (Rabbinic Judaism) LARGELY relies upon the “Oral” Torah - the traditions of the sages - for its interpretation of the Tanakh. Those leaving the TRUE Messianic faith (or never truly taking the time to learn about the TRUE faith) seem to somehow forget there ARE things within the Tanakh that are impossible to fully comprehend and that the New Covenant writings are one of the ONLY ways to comprehend them! Instead, they subconsciously begin to interpret much of their Tanakh studies in an anti-messiah way. THEY BECOME BIASED TO THE OTHER EXTREME - BIASED AGAINST MESSIAH AND THE TRUE MESSIANIC FAITH.
6. They reject the New Covenant writings yet willingly embrace Rabbinic traditions that are often Scripturally unsubstantiated. Their rejection of the New Covenant writings is often due to their failure to properly interpret them from the Hebraic world view in which they were written. They mistakenly make the same mistake most Christians make by reading the Hebraic writings of the New Covenant from a Westernized, Constantinian mindset; thus, they fail to see the purely Hebraic, pro-torah foundations of the New Testament. They then ASSUME the Rabbinic traditions to be more “Scriptural”, when in fact, those traditions often stray further from pure Scripture than the New Testament.
7. Often, due to the truly admirable devotion of sincere practitioners of Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the individual becomes somewhat seduced by Judaism to the point that they accept these unsubstantiated Oral Traditions of Judaism. There are a lot of admirable qualities within Judaism that traditional Christianity simply does NOT have. The level of devotion to God within Orthodox Judaism is something ALL Christians could learn from. Frankly, I have NEVER come across a single Christian that demonstrates the devotion to God that is common within Orthodox Judaism! Most Christians haven’t the foggiest idea of the TOTAL devotion to God - in ALL facets of life - that is practiced within Judaism. Likewise, most Christians GROSSLY misrepresent and misunderstand the teachings of Judaism. It is a simple fact that if one is looking for a faith of true devotion to God, they will find it in Judaism; however, devotion is not proof of truth. There are other religions whose followers exhibit deep devotion. Of course, traditional Christianity is comprised of some of the LEAST devoted religious individuals. When one sees this devotion within Rabbinic Judaism, the beauty and inspiring aspects of it cause some to become enamored by it and to sometimes loose the objectivity in determining if the Rabbinic traditions are truly Scriptural.
8. Their anti-paganism grows to anti-Christian and ultimately to anti-messiah Yeshua. The term “Christian” becomes a repulsive word because of the HUGE amount of error, hypocrisy, open rebellion against God’s eternal teachings, and paganism found within the Christian faith.
9. Since the “New Testament” is considered the Christian Bible, their anti-Christian mindset becomes an anti-New Testament mindset. They fail to fully realize it is that very New Testament that condemns the MANY false teachings of Christianity!! The false teachings that Messiah is God and that Torah is abolished can be proven FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT without even having to reference the Tanakh! The best proof that the New Covenant writings are reliable is the fact that almost ALL the false pagan teachings within traditional Christianity and counterfeit Messianism can be proven wrong from those very New Covenant writings!
10. By rarely reading the New Covenant writings, they loose perspective and slide down an ever steepening slippery slope. They develop an aversion to reading the New Testament, mistakenly condemning the writings for the errors practiced by ignorant, hypocritical individuals that claim to follow those writings.
11. Ultimately, they misapply the Scriptural admonition to always verify what is taught in the New Covenant by checking the Tanakh. Instead, they VERY WRONGLY interpret this to mean ALL they need reference for a clear understanding of Truth is the Tanakh; thus, Satan succeeds in keeping them away from the Messianic writings of the New Covenant through which they could obtain more clarity regarding YHWH’s eternal plan.
12. Basically, they GROSSLY overreact and end up rejecting the New Covenant as a totally false set of writings or at least lessening it so much that their faith becomes weak and largely void of the advantages to be had from the TRUE faith of and in Messiah.

I MUST clarify an extremely important point. One should NOT judge the New Testament using the teachings of Christianity! That may sound contradictory; however, it isn’t. You see, the primary teachings of traditional Christianity are NOT what is taught in the New Testament. Christianity GROSSLY misapplied the New Covenant writings; therefore, one commits a serious error when they condemn the New Testament just because fools claiming to follow it teach and practice the grotesquely unscriptural faith system known as traditional Christianity. In fact, I sincerely feel one of the primary strategies of Satan is to drive people from the New Testament using the Beast system he created and that, itself, does NOT follow the instructions presented in the pages of the New Covenant writings.

I feel one judges with an unequal measure when they reject beliefs (Christianity) ONLY because they have similarities to paganism while adopting Judaism as their new religion, since Judaism ALSO has similarities to paganism. Rabbinic Judaism is FILLED with pure traditions of men that cannot be substantiated from the WRITTEN Word! Even PURE TRUTH has similarities to paganism. Remember, Satan is not stupid and knows he cannot promote a faith system that is totally false. Instead, he mixes his lies with truth; otherwise he could not deceive.

One of the Torah Commentaries I study (JPS Torah Set) shows excellent similarities in paganism to many of the various aspects of Torah. So, if one condemns Christianity ONLY because of pagan similarities, then they must also condemn Rabbinic Judaism and even the true Scriptural faith. This practice is a PRIMARY objection I have to counter-missionaries. They are blatantly deceptive and judge unequally when they accuse Christianity of having pagan origins yet neglect to mention virtually every ritual/practice in Judaism can also be shown to mirror pagan ritual/practice. I am firmly and irrevocably convinced that Rabbinic Judaism is NOT Hebraic, Biblical Judaism. I consider this just as obvious as the unscriptural teachings of Christianity and am appalled at how many Christians convert over to Judaism. I DO feel Judaism has very little - on none - unscriptural paganism compared to Christianity and that there IS more pure truth to be found in Judaism, especially regarding Torah; however, Judaism has it’s own set of serious problems, not the least of which are sage-worship and an exalting of the Oral Torah and traditions ABOVE the written Torah. As I’ve said in other articles, Christianity and Judaism have EXACTLY the same core problem - the worship of tradition! In traditional Christianity, however, the traditions are far less Scriptural and promote rebellion against God.

It seems everyone wants someone to lead them. Most want a king just as ancient Israel, and just like ancient Israel, what they are actually doing is rejecting YHWH (1 Samuel 8:4-8). Only a few, like ourselves, have the courage and conviction to not follow the herd. Most very much do have a herd mentality. There are few that possess the heart of a lion that have the courage to wander alone if need be or to accept being part of the very small, persecuted remnant.

When one seeks to determine what pagan aspects are acceptable, the ONLY source to be used is the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanakh, along with a correct interpretation of the New Covenant writings (New Testament). So, what do I feel is the importance of making the “pagan connection” to show a religion false? Well, a few of the things I consider are shown below. The items I list below are what contributed to my realization that traditional Christianity is steeped in paganism and a VERY unscriptural, false religion - the BEAST (note my article on the mark of the Beast for my reasons).

1. False religions have a pagan godhead. The true faith is consistently and uncompromisingly monotheistic. Almost all pagan religions have some sort of “godhead” or a pantheon of gods. Few pagan religions are truly monotheistic. It is for this reason the paganism of Christianity and counterfeit Messianism is more legitimately considered a significant issue, since they most certainly are NOT monotheistic faiths, despite the deceptive gyrations their leaders use to try and prove otherwise. The only 3 purely monotheistic religions I know of are Scripturally Hebraic Messianics (us), Rabbinic Judaism, and Islam. I have gotten to the point that I have little patience with ignorant Trinitarians or bitarians that insist they are monotheistic. Their “monotheism” is a blasphemous joke and clearly seen as false monotheism to all except those intoxicated on the wine of the great harlot.
2. False religions have pagan morals. The true faith follows a strict code of morality. Again, the “once saved always saved” license to sin mentality of many Christians makes the pagan parallels to Christianity more definite. The “do what is right in your own eyes” attitude that seems to dominate Christian thought, despite the arguments by theologians that it doesn’t, is purely pagan and clear proof Christianity does NOT follow the moral instructions of the ONE that inspired Scripture.
3. Paganism rejects the Torah. Again, Christianity’s paganism shines here since it also rejects - or declares abolished - the eternal Torah. Also, counterfeit Messianism promotes falsehood by claiming to promote Torah while, at the same time, teaching Torah observance is optional! Teaching something to be optional is functionally no different than teaching it is abolished!
4. Paganism promotes holy days that are not found in Scripture and/or rejects those that are. Christianity, through its shameless exalting of celebrations of purely and undeniably pagan origins (Christmas, Easter, SUNDAY, etc.) and rejection of the God given festivals (SABBATH, Passover, Shavuot/Feast of Weeks, Feast of Tabernacles, Day of Atonement, etc.) shows itself to be totally foreign to the Scriptural example. It also shows itself to be dedicated to open rebellion against God through its brazen rejection of festivals He declared to be everlasting.
5. Most pagan religions promote godly procreation. Of course, Christianity and counterfeit Messianism, through their teachings of the virgin birth, are very definitely promoting godly procreation. The godly procreation aspect is purely pagan and has absolutely ZERO Scriptural (Tanakh) support. The true Biblical faith does NOT present a God that comes down to earth to cohabit with woman. In fact, the hint that this occurred in Genesis 6 is clearly presented as bad. Read or listen to the article regarding the virgin birth for more insight into this.

In summary, my plea is to those that are sincere in searching and may find themselves questioning the TRUE Messianic, Hebraic faith. Before considering wholesale abandonment of the TRUE Messianic faith, make sure you are using an equal scale of judgement. Read the New Covenant writings with the Hebraic mindset in which they were written. Don’t develop Pagan-phobia. Don’t let Satan drive you out of the wheat field of truth!!

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at http://www.sightedmoon.com/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf

31/12/2011 Lev 9 Jer 37-39 Prov 21 Acts 18

Leviticus 9

Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 9-10)
In chapter 9 Moses instructs Aaron to proceed and offer the first offerings as God’s high priest. In verse 15, the offering for the people is a goat. While the animal specified as a sin offering for the congregation in Leviticus 4:14 was a bull, a goat was used for this purpose on some occasions (16:9, 5; Numbers 28-29; 15:22-26; 2 Chronicles 29:20-24; Ezra 6:17; 8:35).

At this inauguration of sacrifices, Aaron pronounces a blessing on Israel (verse 22). The specific wording of the priestly blessing that God commanded to be bestowed upon Israel is given in Numbers 6:23-26. This may be the blessing to which Leviticus 9:22 refers.

In verses 23-24 we see a spectacular event. “The sacrifices were consumed, not by fire ignited by Aaron, but by fire from before the Lord. This is the first of only five times that the Old Testament records fire from God as a sign that a sacrifice was accepted (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kin. 18:38; 1 Chr. 21:26; 2 Chr. 7:1). Since the fire on this altar was never to go out [see Leviticus 6:9, 12-13], all Israel’s sacrifices from this time forward would be consumed by fire that originated from God” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 9:24). However, while certainly plausible, it is not absolutely clear that this was the case.

After Aaron’s sons are later killed for bringing profane fire before the Lord, Moses explains to Aaron why God has done this and then instructs Aaron’s cousins to remove the dead men from the sanctuary. God then commands Aaron and his sons to not drink alcohol before going into the tabernacle of meeting. But the account had only spoken of Nadab and Abihu bringing profane fire and incense before God—so why is this particular instruction regarding intoxicating drink given to Aaron in the midst of what had just happened? Although it is possible that God was simply relating another way that one could show disregard for him during these rituals, the text here may be indicating that the inappropriate use of alcohol had played a role in the two brothers’ poor judgment and behavior.
The punishment God inflicted on the two was very severe. We know there are certainly many times where people have “worshiped” God in a way that He does not recognize or appreciate, yet for which He does not strike them down immediately. However, at the time of this account, God was playing a very visible role in the nation of Israel and was actually teaching the people the magnitude of reverence they needed to have for Him: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3)—it was critical for them to understand.

What Aaron’s sons did was not in ignorance, for God had already given clear instructions through Moses on how He was to be regarded. In this situation, Nadab and Abihu’s disregard and carelessness could not go uncorrected—it was not only offensive to God, but would have fostered a careless attitude about God’s instructions among the people. When God says to regard Him as holy, He means it. The instructive nature of this event was so important that Aaron and his remaining sons were not allowed to show any outward sign of grievance—they were required to maintain their composure and to continue their priestly duties to illustrate the justice and righteousness of God’s wrath.

The NIV Study Bible notes regarding the death of Nadab and Abihu: “They are regularly remembered as having died before the Lord and as having had no sons. Their death was tragic and at first seems harsh, but no more so than that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In both cases a new era was being inaugurated…. The new community had to be made aware that it existed for God, not vice versa.”

Jeremiah 37

Another Delegation When Egypt Intervenes (Jeremiah 37:1-10; 34:8-22)
In chapter 37, Zedekiah sends another delegation to Jeremiah, asking him to pray for Judah and its leaders (verse 3). Spiritually blind people commonly think that the prayerful intervention of a known righteous person will cause God to turn a threatening situation around. They fail to realize that they need to change their behavior and that no other human being can do that for them (Acts 8:22-24).

This time, Zephaniah the priest is again sent, along with an official named Jehucal, an associate of the Passhur sent in the previous delegation (see Jeremiah 38:1, where the official’s name is spelled Jucal).

(Jeremiah 37:4 mentions the fact that Jeremiah will later be put in prison, an episode we will soon read about in 37:11-38:28.)

The current inquiry is evidently occasioned by a major change in events—the Egyptians now entering the conflict (compare verse 7). “In the late spring or early summer 588 B.C., Pharaoh Hophra led the Egyptian army into southern Palestine. The Babylonian forces withdrew their siege of Judah and Jerusalem to confront the Egyptians. Zedekiah hoped the Babylonians would be defeated” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 6-8). The “then” of verse 5 is not to denote a new time frame after the inquiry. Rather, verses 4-5 should be understood as parenthetical—giving the background to the inquiry.

The king probably wondered if Jeremiah’s message had now changed in light of the Egyptian advance: “The approach of the Egyptian forces (vv. 5, 9) seemed to contradict the message of 34:2-7; moreover, with the withdrawal of the Babylonian army, Zedekiah may have thought that Jeremiah’s predictions of doom were wrong after all… Also, Zedekiah may have been encouraged by his alliance with Pharaoh Hophra… He may indeed have doubted his own prophets, and so he wanted to get a message from Jeremiah that would please him. Thus he asked the prophet to pray for him (v. 3)—i.e., to support his actions… In other words, what Zedekiah wanted was for the Lord to make the temporary withdrawal of the Babylonians permanent. He may somehow have felt that the presence of Jeremiah, though he predicted doom, would insure God’s protection against Jerusalem’s capture. As for his regard for Jeremiah, it was tinged with superstition” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verses 2-3).

It may be that Zedekiah was thinking that God had relented because of his recent emancipation proclamation, mentioned in the latter part of chapter 34. And indeed, God may have granted the lifting of the siege for this reason—or at least as a test of the people’s resolve. Sadly, they had no resolve to continue in their commitment to God and His righteousness. (Human beings in general often try to make God into what they want Him to be—and have Him act as they want Him to. When they need help, they cry out to Him—but not to intervene when and how He deems appropriate, but in the time and manner that they think He should. And when the objective seems met, they want God to retire once again.)

Zedekiah and the rest of the nation’s hopes that Egypt would save them were in vain, as God makes clear through Jeremiah. This was a passing circumstance. Even if Egypt’s forces managed to weaken the Babylonian army, it would still return to finish its devastating work (37:6-10).

Emancipation Revocation (Jeremiah 37:1-10; 34:8-22)
After God gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, having freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the first judgment He gave them was the maximum time of seven years that fellow Israelites could be kept in servitude (Exodus 21:1-6), whether or not these Israelites “had sold themselves into servitude for the payment of their debts, or though they were sold by the judges for the punishment of their crimes. This difference was put between their brethren and strangers, that those of other nations taken in war, or bought with money, might be held in perpetual slavery, they and theirs; but their brethren must serve but for seven years at the longest” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, note on Jeremiah 34:8-22). In Jeremiah’s time, however, the people of Judah had been ignoring this law.

When Nebuchadnezzar with his armies and allies attacked the cities of Judah, and Jerusalem was under siege, King Zedekiah made a covenant proclamation to the citizens of Jerusalem that gave an appearance of repentance (34:8-9). Perhaps this was even in response to God’s warning given through Jeremiah at the beginning of the siege: “Deliver him who is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire” (21:12).

The citizens appeared repentant also since they readily responded and emancipated their Jewish slaves (verse 10). However, it soon became obvious that Zedekiah and the Jews were not truly repentant and had no real commitment to that decision. The people soon “changed their minds” (34:11)—they repented of their repentance! Zedekiah either changed his mind or at least weakly failed to enforce his proclamation. (Indeed, we will later find him obviously weak and vacillating.)

Two occurrences led to the Jews reenslaving their servants. First was the lifting of the Jerusalem siege when the Chaldeans left to confront the oncoming Egyptian forces (37:5). Even though God knew the hypocrisy and superficiality of Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem, He, out of His great mercy, probably orchestrated this timely reprieve for the Jews. The second factor was the people realizing more than ever how advantageous it was to have slave labor. As soon as they got what they really wanted, deliverance from the Chaldeans, they felt they no longer needed God. Big mistake! God is not to be mocked or manipulated.

Their sin was especially egregious because they were reneging on a covenant they had made with God in His temple to right the wrong (34:15). They had even ratified the covenant with a ritual first mentioned in Scripture in Genesis 15:9-17 (Jeremiah 34:18). They “passed through the parts of the animal cut in two, implying that they prayed so to be cut in sunder (Matthew 24:51; Greek, ‘cut in two’) if they should break the covenant” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown’s Commentary, note on Jeremiah 34:18). And indeed, the punishment would be severe.

As a result of their treachery, freeing slaves only to reenslave them, God remarks with sardonic irony that He would free them—from His protection. “‘Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the LORD—’to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine!’” (34:17). God said He would bring Babylon’s army back to conquer and burn Jerusalem—killing or capturing its people.

Jeremiah Imprisoned; Zedekiah’s Wavering (Jeremiah 37:11-38:28)
The temporary lifting of the Babylonian siege from Jerusalem provides an opportunity for some movement outside the city. Jeremiah sets off for the land of Benjamin—presumably for his hometown of Anathoth, just three miles outside the capital—to, as one commentator translates verse 12, “attend to a division of property among his people there” (qtd. in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, footnote on verse 12). (The King James translation, “to separate himself thence in the midst of the people,” is incorrect.) “The presupposition is that a relative had died in Anathoth; so it was incumbent on Jeremiah to be present in connection with the inheritance” (footnote on verse 12).

But the prophet is arrested on suspicion of defecting to the Chaldeans by a captain of the guard named Irijah. His grandfather’s name is Hananiah (verse 13)—possibly, as some have suggested, the false prophet Hananiah who died at Jeremiah’s decree from God (see Jeremiah 28).

We then come to Jeremiah’s imprisonment. It is not entirely clear if our current reading encompasses two separate imprisonments or two accounts of the same one (compare 37:11-21; 38:1-28). Those who argue for two imprisonments point out that Jeremiah 37:15 mentions the prophet being cast into “prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe,” where he is thrown into a dungeon or cistern (verse 18), while 38:6 says he was “cast into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son” (or Malchiah son of Hammelech). The argument in favor of one imprisonment here is that the two accounts are extremely similar and that, at the end of both, Jeremiah requests of the king that he not be returned to Jonathan’s house to die (compare 37:20; 38:26). Indeed, one imprisonment seems rather likely, which would mean that the dungeon or cistern of Malchiah was in the house of Jonathan—easily explainable if ownership had changed, if Malchiah had built the cistern, or if Malchiah was the official in charge of prisoners.

Pashhur, one of the leaders Jeremiah is arraigned before (who was part of Zedekiah’s delegation to Jeremiah at the beginning of the Babylonian siege in chapter 21), is the “son of Malchiah” (38:1)—perhaps the namesake of the dungeon. With Pashhur is Jucal (same verse), the Jehucal of the delegation Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah when the siege was lifted at the beginning of chapter 37.

The officials are outraged at Jeremiah’s public proclamation of what they consider to be a seditious message, and they call for his execution. Interestingly, Zedekiah declares himself powerless against these leaders (38:5). He is evidently insecure in his position. Though he had reigned for a decade, it should be recalled that many still considered Jeconiah, a prisoner in Babylon, as the real king. Also, Zedekiah later mentions his fear of pro-Babylonian factions (verse 19). Many were likely blaming Zedekiah for having instigated the Babylonian siege. Now that it had been lifted for a time, a coup was not out of the question. Nevertheless, Zedekiah certainly wielded a great deal of power still. He could have protected God’s prophet, but it didn’t seem politically expedient to him.

The leaders order Jeremiah thrown into the prison “dungeon” (verse 6) or “cistern” (NIV)—ostensibly, as they had called for his execution, with the intention of his dying a slow death. “The cistern of Palestine was commonly a pear-shaped reservoir into which water could run from a roof, tunnel, or courtyard. From about the thirteenth century B.C. it was plastered and its opening stopped by a suitable cut stone, large enough for protection, but sometimes quite heavy (cf. Gen 29:8-10)… [In] abandoned reservoirs there is usually a mound of debris underneath the opening, consisting of dirt and rubbish, blown or knocked in, shattered remnants of water containers, and not infrequently skeletons. These may represent the result of accident, suicide, or some such incarceration as that which Jeremiah endured, although he did not experience the usual fatal end of exhaustion and drowning in water and mud” (”Cistern,” The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, 1983, p. 129).

Jeremiah is rescued through the intervention of Ebed-Melech the Cushite, who convinces the king to have the prophet removed from the cistern (Jeremiah 38:7-10). He takes great care in helping Jeremiah out of his confinement (verses 11-13). How ironic that “a foreigner, a once-despised Cushite [and eunuch], cared more for the prophet of God than did the king and princes of Jeremiah’s own people” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 11-13). We later learn that this is because he trusts in the God of Israel—and that God will reward him with deliverance from Jerusalem’s destruction (39:15-18).

Following the rescue is a dialogue between Jeremiah and Zedekiah, wherein we are afforded insight into the king’s thinking. The narrative again demonstrates Zedekiah’s instability—constantly wavering and giving in to the pressure of those around him. His day-to-day life was one of rebellion against God, yet there still seemed to be an ingrained fear of one of God’s servants. Sadly, Zedekiah was like many leaders today—more intent on pleasing people than following the truth (38:19-20).

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus makes this comment about the king: “Now as to Zedekiah himself, while he heard the prophet speak, he believed him, and agreed to everything as true, and supposed it was for his advantage; but then his friends perverted him, and dissuaded him from what the prophet advised, and obliged him to do what they pleased” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, chap. 7, sec. 2).

Nations need leaders who are steadfast and not wavering. God also requires the same of His people. “Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:14-15, New Living Translation).

Instead of standing fast, “Zedekiah will go down in history as having made more U-turns than a learner-driver breaking in wild chariot horses” (Derek Williams, ed., The Biblical Times, 1997, p. 196).

Jeremiah “was stirred to his most direct eloquence. ‘And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire’ ([Jeremiah 28] v. 23). This was Zedekiah’s last chance to save the city, its walls, its warriors, its women and children. All he had to do was trust the prophet, to lift his head high, take up the flag of truce, walk past the princes and out to the Chaldean armies. This simple act of contrition could have saved the city” (Mastering the Old Testament, Vol. 17: Jeremiah, Lamentations by John Guest, 1988, p. 271).

Biblical historian Eugene Merrill writes: “Zedekiah was nearly persuaded. Only his pride of position and need to maintain a face of courage in the midst of certain calamity prevented him from acceding to the word of the man of God. That stubbornness against the truth proved to be the undoing of the king and all his people with him” (Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 1987, p. 465). Zedekiah could not bring himself to surrender. Jerusalem was to fall.

In verses 24-26, Zedekiah commands Jeremiah to not reveal to the other leaders what the two of them had discussed—but to instead say that he had made a request of the king that he not be put back in the cistern to die. Jeremiah complies (verse 27). So did Jeremiah lie? No, for he actually did make this request as part of their discussion in 37:20—which argues in favor of the two accounts covering the same episode.

While Zedekiah consents to Jeremiah’s request that he not be returned to the cistern, the king does not completely free the prophet. Rather he commits him to the “court of the prison” (verse 21; 38:13, 28) or “courtyard of the guard” (NIV)—”a place near the royal palace where limited mobility was possible, such as in the transaction to purchase the field [mentioned in our next reading] (see 32:1-15; Neh. 3:25)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Jeremiah 37:20-21). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “The courtyard of the guard, probably a stockade (cf. Neh 3:25), was the part of the palace area set apart for prisoners. (Friends could visit them there.) The soldiers who guarded the palace were quartered there” (note on Jeremiah 32:1-2). Jeremiah will remain in this place until the Babylonians conquer the city (38:28; 39:11-14).

Proverb 21

Second Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont’d (Proverbs 21:9-31)
44. Final Outcomes and Judgments (21:9-19)
TYPE: INCLUSIO. “Proverbs about consequences and judgments are collected between the frame of similar proverbs on the ‘quarrelsome wife’” (NIV Application Commentary, note on verses 9-19). Verse 9, repeated in 25:24, mentions dwelling in a corner of a housetop. A roof of that time was flat. The reference is either to sleeping out in the open or in a small makeshift room set up there (see 2 Kings 4:10). Taken together, the frame verses (i.e., Proverbs 21:9, 19) illustrate that it’s better for a man to dwell all alone in discomfort than to live with a contentious wife.

? “Lessons from the Merciless (21:10-13)…. These verses concern merciless behavior, and vv. 11-12 describe how one can learn a lesson by observing the punishment that befalls the evil. These four verses thus form a chiasmus [of a-b-b-a]” (NAC).

? “Reconciliation and Justice (21:14-15).” Verse 14 should not be understood as sanctioning bribery to subvert justice. Some see the verse as merely observing, without moral comment, a practice that works. But what would be the purpose of that here? Others take the verse as counseling the appropriateness of gifts in some cases to appease an offended party (compare Proverbs 17:8). Yet what of the fact that the gift is “in secret”? The idea could perhaps be to allow the offended party to save face and not be embarrassed by the public knowing he is accepting a gift. Some see the meaning as privately settling a litigation issue out of court. It may have been to deter misreading Proverbs 21:14 as condoning bribery undermining the justice system that verse 15 was placed immediately after it?contrasting the end results of justice and lawlessness.

? “Rewards for Doing Wrong (21:16-18)…. These three proverbs all follow the theme of the ultimate fate of those who do wrong” (NAC)?in contrast to the rewards for doing right in the next section (verses 20-22).

Verse 17 does not mean that it is wrong to enjoy pleasure and luxuries. The point is that those who set their hearts on these things to the point of overindulging and expending resources in pursuit of them will store up no wealth. They will end up with less of what they want. Compare verse 20, which shows that the wise have luxuries, evidently as a result of diligence and restraint, in contrast to fools who squander what they have.

Verse 18 says that the wicked will be a ransom for the righteous. This could simply mean that the lives of the wicked will be given up to destruction in exchange for the peaceful and happy existence of the righteous thereafter. Put another way, the ultimate destruction of the wicked will release the righteous from evil’s tyranny over their lives.

45. Rewards for Doing Right (21:20-22)
“TYPE: THEMATIC….These verses closely correspond to vv. 16-18″ (NAC)?contrasting with them.
46. A Mouth in and out of Control (21:23-24)
“TYPE: THEMATIC” (NAC).
47. The Sluggard’s Craving (21:25-26)
“TYPE: CATCHWORD, THEMATIC” (NAC). It’s interesting that many who covet things are too lazy to work for those things.
48. Trying to Fool God (21:27)
“TYPE: INDIVIDUAL PROVERB” (NAC). The first colon here is the same as in 15:8.
49: The False Witness (21:28-29)
“TYPE: THEMATIC …. These two verses should be read together” (NAC). The first colon of verse 28 recalls Proverbs 19, verses 5 and 9. The translation of the second colon of 21:28 is disputed. Some see it as giving credence to the false witness earning punishment (compare NIV, although the Hebrew text is altered in this translation). Others understand a person listening well to a false witness so as to counter with cross-examination. Still others read the verse to say that though a false witness perishes, those who hear his lies will pass them on even long afterward?that is, a liar’s lies persist after he is gone. Yet another way to read the verse is as follows: “A false witness shall perish, / But the man who hears [i.e., heeds] this [i.e., the law or proverb, not him] will speak without end.” Verse 29 seems to parallel this, though a direct parallel is not essential to the thematic relationship between the two verses here. Where the NKJV in verse 29 says the wicked “hardens his face,” the NIV says “puts up a bold front.” This may mark a bald-faced liar giving testimony. He firmly sets his face, but the righteous person who will not give false testimony firmly sets his way ?which, as the previous verse implies, will last forever.

50: Counterwisdom (21:30-31)
“TYPE: THEMATIC.” The book of Proverbs normally uses the term “wisdom” in a positive sense?as based on the fear of the Lord. “Here, however, it speaks of a kind of human ‘wisdom’ that seeks understanding without first submitting to Yahweh and declares that such efforts are futile. Verse 31 gives a concrete example, from a military setting of what v. 30 describes abstractly” (NAC). Human preparation, for war in this case, is important but carries only so far (compare 20:18). We must not place ultimate trust in such preparation. For the outcome of circumstances is in God’s hands. Note elsewhere God’s cautions against trusting in horses, representing military strength (Psalm 20:7; 33:17; Hosea 1:7).

Acts 18

Paul is now leaving Athens and going to Corinth and meets a Jewish couple by the names of Aqulas and Priscilla. They were coming to Corinth from Italy. Something to consider that many read over is the fact that there were Jews living in Italy during that time. They now, were leaving Italy because they were being chased out by Claudius Ceasar. Aquals stayed with Sha’ul because they both were of the same trade – that being tentmakers. Sha’ul was teaching in the congregation every Sabbath there and many, both Jew and Greek came to believe. Silas and Timothy joined Sha’ul there from Macedonia, and Sha’ul continued diligently reasoning and showing the Jewish Pharisees how Yahshua was the Messiah. However, the Pharisees continued in their resistance to this truth and began to blaspheme.

This is where Sha’ul became very angry. He shook his garments off and proclaimed, “Your blood is upon your head, I am clean. From now on I shall go to the gentiles.” Sha’ul left there and stayed with a believer and worshipper of Yehovah named Justus who lived next to the place where the congregation met, and the congregation ruler Crispus also believed causing many Corinthians to believe and be immersed. Yahshua appeared to Sha’ul in a dream while in Corinth and re-assured him that He was with him and he should continue teaching the people there. And so he did, he stayed there in Corinth teaching for a year and a half.

Eventually a man by the name of Gallion became proconsul there at which time the Pharisees rose up with one accord and took hold of Sha’ul and brought him before Gallion’s judgment seat falsely charging that he was the cause of all the uprising due to his teaching and seducing men to worship a God other than that God of the Torah. Gallion basically told them that Sha’ul had done no wickedness, and if it be a “religious” matter only that he would have nothing to do with it and they were going to have to handle these “religious” matters themselves. So he drove them away.

Sha’ul stayed with them just a bit longer and then set sail for Syria with Aqula and Priscilla. We are told that Aqula had shaved his head because he had taken a vow. They arrived in Ephesos and Sha’ul went to the congregation of the Jews and reasoned with them there. There was a good response there and they wanted him to stay with them, but the feast was drawing near and Sha’ul needed to be heading back to Jerusalem. So he sent sail from Ephesos and went to Caesrea and visiting and checked up on the congregations there and proceeded on to Antioch. He continued on each time strengthening the assemblies as he went and he passed through Galatia, Phrygia. He continued uplifting all the taught ones throughout these areas on his way back to Jerusalem.

While in Phrygia, a Jewish man by the name Apollos, who was born in Alexandria and very learned in the Scriptures, came to Ephesos. He was very much instructed by the Way of our Master and was zealous for the teaching. He was a very good teacher and taught rightly in the things of Yahshua and was baptizing in the way of John the Baptist. When he met Aqula and Priscilla, they showed him even more truth and he went boldly before the Jewish Pharisees in the matters of our Messiah. For with power he refuted them publicly, showing from Scripture that Yahshua is the Messiah!

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