Passover is on the 14th day of Nisan on the Biblical calendar. It just so happens that it is also April 14 on our secular calendar this year. Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated many Passovers in His lifetime, but the last one with His disciples was a special one. He gave them special instructions and He told them about the deeper meaning of the Passover; that it spoke of Him and the LORD's redemption plan for man. Here is part 1 of three video presentations on reasons why Christians should celebrate the Passover.
The Book of Esther records that an enemy of the Jewish
people, Haman plotted to have all the Jewish people killed. The king of Assyria
had promoted Haman above all the princes of the kingdom. As second in command
to the king, he wore the signet ring of the king. All the servants of the king
very properly bowed before him and "paid him homage"—all that is
except for Mordecai the Jew. Haman began to hate Mordecai and his entire
Esther 3:5-6 NKJV 5 When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow
or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. 6 But he disdained to lay hands
on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead,
Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of
Ahasuerus-the people of Mordecai.
In fact, there came a day when He nearly achieved his goal.
He actually thought that he had won his battle against the Jewish people. Haman
had convinced the king that the Jewish people were enemies of the state because
they kept laws other than those of the Assyrian empire.
Esther 3:3-4 NKJV 3 Then the king's servants who were within
the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why do you transgress the king's
command?" 4 Now it happened, when they spoke to him daily and he would not
listen to them, that they told it to Haman, to see whether Mordecai's words
would stand; for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.
These laws are, of course, the commandments of God recorded
in the Torah. Even today, the Jewish people are hated because they keep these
laws which separate them from the people of the nations where they live. Yeshua
said that we are to be a people separate from those around us. We are to be in
the world but not of the world.
John 17:14-16 NKJV 14 "I have given them Your word; and
the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of
the world. 15 "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world,
but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 "They are not of the
world, just as I am not of the world.
Haman succeeded in getting the king to sign the decree
authorizing the murder of all the Jewish people. The decree was signed on the
thirteenth day of the first month, the day before the Passover
Esther 3:12 NKJV 12 Then the king's scribes were called on
the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to
all that Haman commanded-to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over
each province, to the officials of all people, to every province according to
its script, and to every people in their language. In the name of King
Ahasuerus it was written, and sealed with the king's signet ring.
So Haman and the king sat down together and celebrated. On
that night, Haman thought he had won! But unknown to both Haman and the king,
Queen Esther was a Jew and ready to intercede on the behalf of her people. On
the fourteenth of Nisan, the day of the Passover, Esther and all the Jewish
people began a three day fast. On the third day of the fast, Esther went in to
the king and invited him and Haman to a banquet that night. Haman was beside
himself with joy! He alone was singled out to be included in the banquet with
the king and the beautiful young queen!
The banquet went well and Haman was invited back to attend a
second banquet the next evening. It just so happened (Many of the events in
Esther "just so happened" reminding us that God is the one in
charge!) that the king couldn't sleep that night and called for the books of
the records of the chronicles. In them, he discovered that the Jew Mordecai had
uncovered a plot against the king and had not been rewarded for his deed. Haman
happened to be hanging out in the court that night, so the king summoned him
and asked him what he would do for a man the king chose to honor. Haman thought
surely that man was him! After all he was the only one invited to join king at
the banquet given by the Queen Esther. So Haman described how he would want to
Esther 6:6-9 NKJV 6 So Haman came in, and the king asked
him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to
honor?" Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight
to honor more than me?" 7 And Haman answered the king, "For the man
whom the king delights to honor, 8 "let a royal robe be brought which the
king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal
crest placed on its head. 9 "Then let this robe and horse be delivered to
the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may array the man
whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city
square, and proclaim before him: 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the
king delights to honor!'"
On that night, Haman though he would be honored above all
others in the kingdom. But this was the night that Haman's world would begin to
fall apart! The man the king chose to honor was Mordecai not Haman. Haman was
charged with the task of parading Mordecai through the streets as he proclaimed
that Mordecai was the man the king delighted to honor! O the morning of the
eighteenth of Nisan, Haman carried out the king's instructions.
Esther 6:10-11 NKJV 10 Then the king said to Haman,
"Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for
Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king's gate! Leave nothing undone of all
that you have spoken." 11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed
Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed
before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to
That evening, Haman attended the banquet consoling himself
with the thought of the gallows that he had already had built to hang Mordecai.
But it was on that night that Esther exposed him as the one who would have her
and all her people killed.
Esther 7:9-10 NKJV 9 Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said
to the king, "Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for
Mordecai, who spoke good on the king's behalf, is standing at the house of
Haman." Then the king said, "Hang him on it!" 10 So they hanged
Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king's wrath
Mordecai was hung on the gallows he had erected to kill
Five hundred years later, Yeshua was crucified on Passover
and put in the grave where he would remain for three days, the same three days
as Esther's fast. Like Haman, Satan believed he had won when Yeshua died and
was laid in the grave. Unbeknownst to Satan, Yeshua would not stay in the
grave! Yeshua rose from the grave on the day Esther went in to the king to
invite him to the banquet. Yeshua appeared before His disciples that evening,
the same evening as Esther's first banquet!
John 20:19 NKJV 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the
first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were
assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to
them, "Peace be with you."
We can imagine that next day in heaven as Yeshua is honored
as one in whom the King delights. Clothed with the royal robe riding the horse
with the royal crest with the hosts of heaven proclaiming this is the one the
king delights to honor! One day He will return to earth in the clouds of heaven
and all will see the one the King chooses to honor.
Matthew 25:31-32 NKJV 31 "When the Son of Man comes in
His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of
His glory. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will
separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
But when will Yeshua come and sit on His throne? Let's go
back to the Book of Esther. The signet ring that was given to Haman was now
given to Mordecai.
Esther 8:1 NKJV 1 On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen
Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the
king, for Esther had told how he was related to her.
The king clothed Mordecai in royal apparel and awarded a
Esther 8:15 NKJV 15 So Mordecai went out from the presence
of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and
a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was
But the decree exacted by Haman still stood, all the Jewish
people were to be killed at the end of the year on Adar 13. So the king issued
a new decree sealed by the signet ring worn by Mordecai that the Jewish people
could gather and protect their lives.
Esther 8:11-12 NKJV 11 By these letters the king permitted
the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives-to
destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that
would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their
possessions, 12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the
thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.
At the end of the year, when the enemies of the Jews
attacked, the victory belonged to the Jews. Great fear came on all the enemies
of the Jews and they were overwhelmingly defeated!
Esther 9:2-5 NKJV 2 The Jews gathered together in their cities
throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought
their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all
people. 3 And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors,
and all those doing the king's work, helped the Jews, because the fear of
Mordecai fell upon them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king's palace, and his
fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became
increasingly prominent. 5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the
stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased
with those who hated them.
All their sorrow turned to joy!
Esther 9:22 NKJV 22 as the days on which the Jews had rest
from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them,
and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and
joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
Mordecai ruled second only King Ahasuerus. While he ruled,
tribute from the nations flowed into Assyria and Mordecai's people prospered
and knew peace.
Esther 10:1-3 NKJV 1 And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on
the land and on the islands of the sea. 2 Now all the acts of his power and his
might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced
him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media
and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great
among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the
good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.
When Adam sinned, dominion over the earth was given to Satan.
With Yeshua's death and resurrection, dominion is returned to Yeshua. He wears
the signet ring of God. God has turned over to Him authority to judge all the
peoples of the earth! When the appointed day comes when all the nations gather
together at Jerusalem to destroy the Jews, great fear will come on those
nations; fear of God's people and fear of Yeshua.
Zechariah 14:3-4 NKJV 3 Then the LORD will go forth And
fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. 4 And in that
day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the
east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making
a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half
of it toward the south.
Zechariah 14:13-14 NKJV 13 It shall come to pass in that day
That a great panic from the LORD will be among them. Everyone will seize the
hand of his neighbor, And raise his hand against his neighbor's hand; 14 Judah
also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations
Shall be gathered together: Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance.
Revelation 19:19-21 NKJV
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered
together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20
Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in
his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and
those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire
burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which
proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were
filled with their flesh.
All the sorrows of their former defeats will turn to joy!
Zechariah 8:18-19 NKJV 18 Then the word of the LORD of hosts
came to me, saying, 19 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'The fast of the
fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of
the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of
Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'
Isaiah 25:8 NKJV 8 He will swallow up death forever, And the
Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will
take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.
Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV 3 And I heard a loud voice from
heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will
dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them
and be their God. 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more
pain, for the former things have passed away."
On that night when Satan thought he won, his final defeat
was certain! We await that day when the nations will think to defeat Israel and
all those grafted into Israel through Yeshua. When they will come against Jerusalem,
but their defeat will be certain!
All the nations will bring tribute to Jerusalem as Yeshua
rules second only to His Father.
Zechariah 14:16-17 NKJV 16 And it shall come to pass that
everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go
up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the
Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the
earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on
them there will be no rain.
As we celebrate Purim on March 16 this year, know that
victory is assured. Yeshua will return leading the attack against those who
hate Israel, Yeshua, and God. He will establish His reign, and during His 1000
year reign, His people will prosper and experience peace.
Brenda and I are engaged in teaching a series for El Shaddai Ministries called “Foundation of Our Hebrew Roots.” During one of the recent sessions, the question was asked about the origins, or more precisely the original language of the New Testament scriptures. I have previously written a blog on this subject you can find at this link: http://moedtorah.blogspot.com/2010/09/hebrew-origins-of-new-testament.html
So what is the original language of the Bible? I think we all can agree that it wasn’t written in English, with the possible exception of the poor souls who are convinced that if the KJV was good enough for Peter and Paul, it should be good enough for us.
We could spend an entire book discussing the subject of textual origins and original language, but let’s take a look at one example from scripture that hints at an original language other than what you would naturally expect. The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work. There are more than 5900 manuscripts and fragments in Greek, over 10,000 in Latin and over 9,000 in various other ancient languages. The dates of these manuscripts range from the early to mid 2nd century, to the time of the introduction of printing press in Germany in the 15th century. But the vast majority of these manuscripts date after the 10th century, more than a thousand years after the time in which they were originally thought to have been penned. The Masoretic text of the Old Testament, which is what the vast majority of our modern day translations are derived, is from the 10th century. It was the oldest known manuscript of the Old Testament writings until the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in the early 20th century. No New Testament writings are among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The earliest fragment of a New Testament scripture we have today is known as the Rylands Library Papyrus p52. It is thought to date from sometime in the mid 2nd century. It is from a codex (which is a book like format) since it is written on both sides and not a scroll which is written on only one side. It contains a portion of the Gospel of John 18:31-33 on the front side and John 18:37-38 on the reverse. The oldest, nearly complete manuscript of the New Testament is the Codex Siaiticus, thought to date from the 4th century but discovered only in the later half of the 18th century. Both of these are in Greek. But is Greek really the “original” language?
I suppose the operative word in both of these cases is “thought to date from.” The science of “dating” a manuscript and fragment is far from exact. Traditional scientific methods such as carbon 14 dating is relatively useless because it destroys the sample. Manuscript dating is done by studying the materials used to produce it such as the parchment or papyrus, how it was manufactured and its quality, the ink composition, the style of the writing itself, etc. The process involves a lot of educated guesswork.
So what is the original language of the New Testament? Is it Greek with 5,900 samples or is it Latin with far more examples? What about the other ancient languages and the examples in them which combined, outnumber the Greek? Bible scholars and linguists have debated this for centuries and we are not going to solve it here.
I have written in the past about the need to understand the cultural and, along with it, the linguistic context of the scriptures. It is a great dilemma and effort on the part of a translator to determine the intent of the author. Most languages, including those of the ancient near East, reflect the culture in which they are developed and used. A classic example today would be the native peoples of northern Canada and Alaska who have 35 plus words in their language to describe snow. By contrast the Polynesian people of the south Pacific islands have none. So how does one go about describing snow to a Polynesian in their own language?
We know that Hebrew, in its ancient form, is a language without vowels. Therefore there are many words, although spelled alike, can and often do have vastly different meanings depending on the vowel sounds which are implied by contextual factors not necessarily included in the immediate text itself. We know that there are other related languages which share a common alphabet, word origins, word forms and spellings but can mean something completely different in their respective language and culture. In Biblical times, this was true of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, both of which, along with Greek, were common spoken and written languages of the Near East.
How does this get us in trouble with our understanding and translating of the Biblical texts? There is a puzzeling passage of scripture recorded in both Matthew and in Mark. Let’s take a look.
Matthew 19:24 NKJV 24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (3a)
Mark 10:25 NKJV 25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Does this statement make any sense? A camel going through the eye of a needle? How is this possible? A needle is so small and a camel is so large. I’m sure that we have all heard that this is a metaphorical reference to a certain type of city gate. But did you know that it was not until the middle ages that a city gate was named “The eye of a needle?” There is no historic or literary record of the use of this phrase as a proper name in reference to a city gate in any ancient source. So there is no real corroborating evidence that this phrase would a cultural metaphorical reference in ancient times. So if there is no evidence that “the eye of a needle” is a proper place name in Yeshua’s day, then that leaves only the literal interpretation which leads us to conclude that Yeshua was telling not only the young inquisitive rich man, but also His disciple that a rich man cannot be saved! But in light of the full body of scripture on the subject of salvation, how can that be true? Here is where the importance of the concept of consistency in scripture comes into play, what about the wealthy persons listed in Luke 8:1-3 or Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus? The only consistent conclusion that we can draw here is that we have misinterpreted the cultural metaphor and therefore mistranslated the scripture passage in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.
Fortunately there is a linguistic answer to this dilemma. And that answer lies in the translation of a single word, the word translated as “camel.” In this case, both Hebrew and Aramaic share not only a common alphabet but they share a common word at least in its spelling. That word is גמל it is pronounced “gamla” in Hebrew and means camel. However, there is another word, which is spelled exactly the same but in Aramaic is pronounced“gamala,” and this word means “heavy rope.” Now with that in mind, take another look at the passage in Matthew and Mark, and its metaphorical context,along with the broader context of the passage. Does it now make much more sense? So how does a rich person enter the Kingdom of God? A camel certainly cannot literally go through the eye of a tiny needle, but a heavy rope can, once it is unraveled: once it is disassembled it can pass through the eye of a needle one strand at a time!
Now we can perhaps understand the linguistic and cultural context of this passage and glean from it the real message that the Master Yeshua intended for us to hear. But what about the question of original language of the New Testament scriptures, does this mean that the NT was originally Aramaic? Not necessarily. This is only one example of a possible Aramaic origin; or perhaps a mixture of languages or borrowed words from Aramaic to Hebrew or Greek. We must keep in mind that languages are very dynamic and change rapidly over time. New words are added and older words go out of favor. Also, in a multilingual culture,words and syntax tend to be mixed quite often. There are many examples that would lead us in the direction of Hebrew being the original, and still others in the direction of a Greek original. This is one of those debates that will go on for a long time and one has to weigh the preponderance of the evidence and arrive at your own conclusions through your own research.
For some fun on your own, try studying Matthew 26:6-7 and see where it leads. Begin by referencing the standard by which a “leper” is to be dealt with in Leviticus 13:45-46. Keep in mind that in the Matthew passage, this is a very orthodox, Torah observant society that is most likely multilingual. Use a good cross reference study Bible or on-line cross reference tools. Again look at the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic sources. Let me know what you come up with.
Recently I had a friend ask me
about the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism. The concern was that this
symbol had been taken from or used as a symbol in pagan worship. If that was
the case, what action if any should we take in regard to the Star of David?
Does having a Star of David mean we are inadvertently endorsing a pagan
religion, or even worse, participating in the worship of an idol? Those of us
who have embraced our Hebrew Roots and seek to live sanctified lives are
examining every aspect of our lives. We search the scriptures allowing the Word
to wash us so we may be presented to Him as holy and without blemish. We read
over and over again in the Scriptures that Israel turned from the worship of
God to worship the idols and gods of other nations. We know that we are not to
make carved images to bow down to them, nor even to make an image of God and
worship it as if it were God. This was the sin of the Israelites in making and
worshiping the golden calf. We seek to avoid this pitfall, but what exactly is
the worship of idols and what constitutes endorsing or participating in worship
of another god?
God actually gave detailed
instructions as the children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land. He
describes the worship of the pagans and tells us not to worship that way.
Deuteronomy 12:30-31 NKJV 30
"take heed to yourself …that you do not inquire after their gods, saying,
'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' 31 "You
shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to
their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to
What are the abominations that
the Canaanites did to their gods that the LORD hates? One is the sacrifice of
their sons and daughters. Other abominations are described in Leviticus 18;
these include various sexual sins. After listing these sexual taboos, Moses
concludes with these words from God:
Leviticus 18:24-25 NKJV 24 'Do
not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations
are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 'For the land is defiled;
therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits
out its inhabitants.
We read another description of the
abominations of their “worship” when the women of Moab enticed the Israelites
Numbers 25:1-3 NKJV 1 Now Israel
remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the
women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and
the people ate and bowed down to their
gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was
aroused against Israel.
The worship included sexual
immorality as well as joining in the sacrifices to their gods, eating and
bowing down to their gods. During the days of Paul, the believers in Corinth
lived in a city saturated with temples to various gods, chief of which was
Aphrodite whose worship incorporated temple prostitution. The phrase “to live
like a Corinthian” was synonymous with sexual immorality. Paul addresses this
issue bluntly; he instructs them not to have fellowship with those brothers who
engage in sexual immorality. He includes a few other activities as well.
1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV 11 But
now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an
idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with
such a person.
But the Corinthians believers had
another problem, what could they eat or not eat to avoid participating in
worship of other gods. We saw in Numbers 15 that the worship of Baal of Peor
included eating. Paul basically says it is all in how the believer views the
meat or food. If he views it as a thing offered to an idol and, thus, in his
mind he participates in the worship to the idol, then He is defiled.
1 Corinthians 8:4 NKJV 4
Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an
idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one… 7
However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness
of the idol, until now eat it as a thing
offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
Paul readdresses this problem in
chapter 10. He begins by once again exhorting them to flee from idolatry but
then goes on to tell them that eating meat sacrificed to an idol is not
1 Corinthians 10:25-26 NKJV 25
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience'
sake; 26 for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness."
He does make an exception to
this. When a non-believer invites a believer to eat with him and states that
the meat has been sacrificed to idols, the believer should reject that food.
But, the reason to reject it is not because of the believer but for the good of
the non-believer! He reiterates that all things belong to the LORD.
1 Corinthians 10:27-28 NKJV 27 If
any of those who do not believe
invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience'
sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do
not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for
"the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness."
We have traveled far afield from
our original question. Is the Star of David, or indeed any other symbol,
inherently an instrument of idol worship? If we take the example of food
sacrificed to idols, we can see that it was not merely the act of eating but
the act of bowing down to the gods, of eating it as a thing offered to an idol.
By doing so, one participates in the idolatry. So, whether or not the shape of
the six-pointed star was ever used in a pagan ritual is not important. What is
important is whether, when you observe it, you see it as an object of paganism.
Paul concludes his discussion on eating food sacrificed to idols with these
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NKJV 31
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of
God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church
of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own
profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
But what about these symbols? Lots
of groups try to take over symbols for their own purposes. One of the most
prominent symbols that have been taken over in today’s world is the rainbow,
the sign of God’s covenant with man. The gay and lesbian community has adopted
it as their symbol. The symbol we now associate with the Nazis used to be the
sign of the thunderbird in Native American history. It is also prominent in
ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Even the idea of the trinity was
“stolen” by the ancient Babylonians with the mother Ishtar, the son Marduk (who
marries the mother) and has an offspring, Tammuz. Some give the names as Nimrod
and his mother Semiramus giving birth to Tammuz. Satan would love for us to
reject the Father, Son and Spirit on the basis of this forgery. Satan has set
it up so that the similarities would cause us to reject the trinity. But, similarity
does not mean relationship. Satan is always trying to steal what belongs to
God. He is a thief, a liar, and a murderer from the beginning. Everything he
says and does has an element of truth in it; just twisted to make it all false.
Just examine what he says to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Everything he says is
The fish, long a symbol used for
one Christian to recognize another in the dangerous world of Roman persecution,
has been stolen by the Darwinists by adding feet to symbolize evolution over
creation; atheism over Christianity; chance over God’s design. Should we then
reject the fish because Darwinists have decided to take it over? Should we
reject the rainbow since the gays and lesbians have taken it over? Satan has
also stolen the signs in the heavens and re-packaged them as astrology. God has
written His word in the skies. One of the most prominent of which is the star
over Bethlehem that marked Yeshua’s birth. But man has chosen to disregard God’s signs
and allow Satan to replace them with personal horoscopes.
God is the creator of the
universe including Geometry and geometric symbols. In fact, that is the message
of Psalm 24 that Paul quotes when he said that, “the earth is the LORD’s and
all its fullness.” Psalm 24 concludes with the words:
Psalms 24:10 NKJV 10 Who is this
King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah
A word search for the LORD of
hosts reveals that this name reveals the total authority of God over all of
creation. He is the LORD of might and absolute authority. The signs in the
heavens belong to Him; mathematics, physics and all the sciences belong to Him.
So what does the symbol of the Star
of David represent? The Star of David is
two complete triangles, the simplest closed figure which represents the number
three. Three is the number of spiritual completion. Two entwined triangles is
an emphasis of the number 3. We have a double portion of divine completion in
the Star of David. Our King Messiah is the Son of David. Zechariah actually
calls the Messiah David when he writes about the time when David will sit on
the throne forever. Is there anything inherently “good” or “bad” about the Star
of David? It has no power or virtue in itself so there is no “good” inherent in
having a Star of David. Unless one begins to attribute the power of God to the
star itself, there is nothing “bad” about the star either. Some say that the
Star of David is a mark of shame because of its use by the Nazis to identify
and humiliate the Jewish people. It became a mark of shame because it was
treated as a mark of shame, just like the Nazi symbol is now a mark of shame to
the German people. But, the Dutch rejected the Star of David as a mark of
shame, proudly wearing it with the Jews. The Jewish people today reject it as a
mark of shame; instead it is a mark of triumph over evil and those who would
So the Star of David is nothing
in itself. If you wear it, do so to the glory of God.This is true of any other symbols associated
with our faith when they are used to remind us of God, our relationship with
Him, and as a public statement of our faith.
In our journey to seek to live a
life pleasing to God, we need to ask ourselves, “What is pleasing to God?”
Micah brings God’s complaints to the children of Israel about their continual idolatry,
and then reminds the people of what the LORD requires.
Micah 6:8 NKJV 8 He has shown
you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do
justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
We are currently
in the period of time on the Biblical calendar known as the “dire straits.” This
three week period from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 is in remembrance of the fall of
Jerusalem. On Tammuz 17, Nebuchadnezzar broke through the walls of Jerusalem
taking the city. On Av 9, he destroyed the temple. Jeremiah laments about the
destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of her enemies.
KJV 1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she
become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the
provinces, how is she become tributary! 2 She weepeth sore in the night, and
her tears are on her cheeks: among all
her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously
with her, they are become her enemies. 3 Judah is gone into captivity because
of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen,
she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.
The lovers that
Jerusalem had taken were the idols she worshipped in the place of God.
Jeremiah 2:20 KJV
20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou
saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green
tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
None of her idols
could deliver her from the Babylonians and God refused to hear their cries.
KJV 11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them,
which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I
will not hearken unto them. 12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants
of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they
shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
They were taken
“between the straits.” The word translated as “straits” is the Hebrew word #4712.
rummay-tsar' meaning something tight, i.e. (figuratively)
trouble:--distress, pain, strait. The enemies of Jerusalem overtook her in a
time of trouble and distress.
But God promises
through Isaiah that Jerusalem’s punishment would come to an end; that He would
comfort His people!
Isaiah 40:1-2 KJV
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all
That Sabbath after
the 9th of Av begins a six week period known as the Sabbaths of
Comfort. On each Sabbath during these six weeks which lead up to the Feast of
Trumpets, readings are chosen from the book of Isaiah emphasizing God’s comfort
of His people. Isaiah 40 is read on the first Sabbath after the 9th
These words of comfort
recorded in Isaiah 40 come through a chorus of three messages, perhaps
delivered by three heavenly messengers. Three is the number of divine
completion. We also know that by two or three witnesses, a matter is decided.
So, the message here is certain.
The first messenger
brings the word in verses 1 and 2 that Jerusalem’s punishment will come to an
end. The second message calls for preparing a highway for God to come to His
Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the
LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall
be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked
shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD
shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the
LORD hath spoken it.
The image is of an
important visitor coming to a land in desperate need. The call is to repair the
roads and to clear away all the obstacles to his coming. Luke records that John
the Baptist’s message of repentance is the way to repair the roads and clear
Luke 3:3-6 KJV 3
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the
words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall
be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked
shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all
flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Notice the slight
difference between Isaiah and Luke in what all flesh would see. Isaiah says
that all flesh would see the glory of the LORD and Luke says that all flesh
will see the salvation of God. On the eve of His crucifixion, Yeshua connects
the concepts of salvation and the glory of God.
John 17:1-5 KJV 1
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father,
the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As
thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to
as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have
glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to
do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory
which I had with thee before the world was.
The third message
in Isaiah 40 guarantees the vision.
Isaiah 40:6-8 KJV
6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and
all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass
withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it:
surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the
word of our God shall stand for ever.
“goodliness” in verse 6 is the Hebrew word doxchesed which implies God’s covenant devotion. In contrast, our chesed is
transitory, but God’s word stands forever.
KJV 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he
flourisheth. 16 For the wind (spirit)
passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more 17
But the mercy(chesed) of the LORD is
from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness
unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that
remember his commandments to do them.
Isaiah goes on to
promise good news; a Messiah is coming!
Isaiah 40:9-11 KJV
9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O
Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it
up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold,
the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him:
behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his
flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them
in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Yeshua’s words to
John in the book of Revelation, tell us that He is that coming Messiah; that He
comes with His reward and that He is one with God who is the first and the
22:12-13 KJV 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give
every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the
beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Isaiah 44:6-7 KJV
6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I
am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 7 And who, as
I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I
appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come,
let them shew unto them.
with words of encouragement to those who are waiting for the Messiah. For all
those who are weary, God gives strength.
KJV 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the
LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There
is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to
them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint
and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon
the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Yeshua also gave
words of encouragement to His followers on the eve of His crucifixion. He
promised a Comforter who would strengthen us and lead us into truth.
John 14:16-17 KJV
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he
may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he
dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 16:12-15 KJV
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all
truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that
shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me:
for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that
the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and
shall shew it unto you.
John 14:18 KJV 18
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Yeshua is coming!
The promise is established and sure. As we wait for His coming; we rest in His
strength given to us through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who enables us to
carry out our mission to spread the good news.
Brenda and I are proud to announce our new book titled "The Sign of
Jonah" is to be released soon!
What is the sign of Jonah? The Pharisees
and Sadducees came to Yeshua (Jesus) asking for a sign
that proved He was the Messiah. He chided them that, although they
could read the signs in the sky about upcoming weather, they could not
understand the signs heralding the coming of the Messiah. Disgusted with
them, He told them the sign that they were missing. This sign was the
sign of Jonah.
Matthew 16:4 NKJV 4 "A wicked and adulterous
generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except
the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.
Yeshua’s words indicate that this sign should have been one they were
familiar with. Although earlier in His ministry, Yeshua explained what
this sign is, in this interchange, He references the sign of Jonah
without telling them what He is talking about. In other words, Yeshua is
giving them a big hint if they have the motivation to refer to their
own scriptures, the sign should be obvious. In this book, we take
Yeshua’s hint and search the scriptures for the sign of Jonah, and find
it everywhere! Join us as we unravel the mystery of the sign of Jonah!
The period of time on the Biblical
Calendar known as the Counting of the Omer is the 50 day period from the day
after the regular weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened
Bread to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. In Christian circles this holiday
is known as Pentecost but is little known beyond recognition as the day the
Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and they spoke in tongues. But this
Feast has great significance in the life and ministry of Jesus (Yeshua) and in
the lives of his disciples including those of us who follow Him today.
Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to
go out into the world and preach the Gospel.
The fifty day count up to the Feast
of Weeks is now complete. The forty-ninth day was a Sabbath, a day of rest and
additional offerings and songs in the temple. The day ends at 3:00 p.m. with
the Sabbath offering of two lambs on the altar. The altar is closed although
the fire is kept burning throughout the night. The altar will be ready to
receive new offerings at 9:00 a.m. the next morning when the priests will begin
the Feast day with the daily offering of the lamb and the special offerings of
the Feast. What did this day look like in Yeshua’s time? What events did they
commemorate on this day?
Like all the feasts, the Feast of
Weeks is a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. The Passover is when the
Hebrews killed the lamb and put the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their
houses as a sign of their allegiance to God. The firstborn of all the Egyptians
died on this night. The Feast of Unleavened Bread remembers their flight from
Egypt up through their ultimate deliverance through the Red Sea and the death
of Pharaoh’s army in the sea. The Feast of Firstfruits is their exodus from
Egypt itself taking with them the bones of Joseph leaving behind an empty tomb.
The Feast of Weeks is the day the Israelites received the covenant at Mt.
Sinai. God made His presence both known and obvious as a cloud and fire over
the mountain. He declared the whole mountain holy or set apart to Him. Moses
was the mediator between God the children of Israel. He runs up and down the
mountain relaying words back and forth. God outlined His plan for them.
Exodus 19:5-6 NKJV 5 'Now
therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you
shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are
the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
The children of Israel agreed to do
all that God commanded them to do. Finally, the word comes down from God; He
will appear before all the people.
Exodus 19:10-11 NKJV 10 Then the
LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and
tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 "And let them be ready for
the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in
the sight of all the people.
On the morning of the third day,
God came down on Mt. Sinai.
Exodus 19:16-17 NKJV 16 Then it
came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and
lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was
very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses
brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot
of the mountain.
After making sure that none of the
people would approach too closely to the mountain, God spoke the words we call
the Ten Commandments. The people trembled at the awesome display of God’s
power. The Midrash, which is a commentary on the Torah, gives further details
of the events at Mt. Sinai. The Midrash says that tongues of fire circled and
touched all the people gathered at Mt. Sinai. It says that there were
thunderings and lightnings plural because God’s voice came in all 70 languages
of the nations but only Israel answered and said, “All that the LORD has spoken
we will do.”
Yeshua’s disciples knew all of
this. They remembered Yeshua’s words that His blood is the covenant sacrifice
that brings in the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah.
Luke 22:19-20 NKJV 19 And He took
bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My
body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He
also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in
My blood, which is shed for you.
Yeshua said that the New Covenant
was ratified with His death. Jeremiah writes God’s terms for the new covenant.
The terms are the same; but instead of having the Torah written on tablets of
stones which can be forgotten, they are now written on each heart and in every
mind of those who agree to the covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV 31
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- 32 "not
according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took
them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they
broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the
LORD: I will put My law (Torah) in their minds, and write it on their hearts;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The Feast of Weeks is also the
Feast of Firstfruits of the wheat harvest as well as other early fruits. It is
connected to the Feast of Firstfruits of the barley harvest celebrated during
the Feast of Unleavened Bread by the fifty days of the omer. Omer means a
measure of grain. Each day during the Omer, one omer of new grain is offered on
the altar. At the conclusion of the Omer, on the fiftieth day, pilgrims from
all across Israel brought their firstfruit offerings. As the day dawned, a
priest would walk out of Jerusalem and meet the pilgrims as they arrived
calling out, “Rise and let us go up to Zion, to the house of the Lord our God.”
They would proceed to sound of the flute, singing and dancing to the temple
where, at 9:00 a.m., the service would begin. The high priest offers up two
loaves of bread baked with the new grain waving them in every direction. By
doing this, they acknowledged God’s provision and sovereignty over all the
earth. Each pilgrim would bring his firstfruits offering with the required
words as recorded in Deuteronomy. They were to testify that God redeemed them
from Egypt, brought them into the Promised Land and is the source of all their
blessings (Deut. 26:1-11). The streets of Jerusalem would be thronged
with Pilgrims; according to the historian Josephus, two and half million Jewish
pilgrims from all over the Roman world came up to Jerusalem for the Feasts as
required by the commandment in the Torah (Exodus 34:23). All would be
eager to get to the temple to watch the offerings.
The disciples who had spent every
possible moment over the last ten days in the temple praising God would have
been early arrivers. The anticipation is keen. They are ready to testify that
Yeshua was crucified and rose again. At precisely 9:00, as the pilgrims enter
the temple with their offerings and the high priest lifts the wave offering,
the Holy Spirit falls on the disciples as tongues of fire matching precisely
the description of God coming down on Mt. Sinai and speaking the word of the
Acts 2:1-4 NKJV 1 When the Day of
Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And
suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it
filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them
divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all
filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the
Spirit gave them utterance.
Luke tells us that, like the
Israelites at Mt. Sinai, they were in one accord, in unity of purpose. The
“sound” from heaven is not a mere sound but a roar like the thunderings at Mt.
Sinai. They were in a “house.” The Greek word translated as house is “oykos”,
the same word Yeshua uses when talking about the house of God in Matthew 12:4
and 21:13. Tongues of fire, like the lightnings at Mt. Sinai, fall on each
disciple who is present. Luke goes on to tell us a multitude of devout Jews
from every nation heard the roaring sound and the disciples praising God in
their own language.
Acts 2:5-8 NKJV 5 And there were
dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And
when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused,
because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all
amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who
speak Galileans? 8 "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language
in which we were born?
Where would devout Jews, who have
traveled a long distance to be in Jerusalem for this feast, be when the feast
began? Where would one hundred twenty disciples be so that a multitude of
people could hear them praising God? The word multitude means thousands! There
is only one place where this could have taken place and this is at the temple!
Peter and the other eleven apostles
stand up and address the multitude. The Holy Spirit literally came with fire
upon each and every one of them. With the power and strength from the Holy
Spirit, they testify that Yeshua is the Messiah! All of the Jews there are experiencing
a reenactment of the time at Mt. Sinai! Peter concludes his discourse with the
testimony of Yeshua’s resurrection.
Acts 2:32-36 NKJV 32 "This
Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.
33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received
from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you
now see and hear. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he
says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I
make Your enemies Your footstool."' 36 "Therefore let all the house
of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ(Messiah)."
The people cry out in anguish,
“What shall we do?” Why do they believe so readily? Because they have just
experienced a reenactment of the events at Mt. Sinai when they had promised God
that they would do all He commanded them. They were bringing their first fruits
where they once again swear their allegiance to God acknowledging Him as
sovereign just like they did at Mt. Sinai.
Peter tells them to repent. The
Hebraic concept of repent is to turn back to God. Peter’s answer is to us as
well as them.
Acts 2:38-39 NKJV 38 Then Peter
said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to
all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
Yeshua is still calling and
continues to call until the time of the fall Feasts and His return. He returns
at the end of another count of fifty; the Year of Jubilee. The proclamation of
the Year of Jubilee on Yom Kippur is a proclamation of liberty to the captives
and a proclamation of the day of vengeance of God. Until then, we have a
mission to complete—to go into all nations and make disciples teaching them all
of Yeshua’s words from Genesis to Revelation.
Torah portion commentary and other Hebrew Roots related posts for your enjoyment.
Be sure to visit the Moed Ministries Web site at www.moedministries.com where you will find books and Hebrew Roots bible study materials for self study and small groups.
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