Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Clean and Unclean Hands

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Yeshua’s actions and the actions of His disciples fell under that constant scrutiny of the religious authorities of His day chief of whom were the Pharisees and the scribes. They saw the influence that Yeshua had over the masses and wanted to determine if Yeshua followed Torah. After Yeshua fed the five thousand, some Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to where Yeshua was ministering to the masses in Galilee.

Mark 7:1-2 NKJV 1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.

The Pharisees and scribes immediately found fault with Yeshua’s disciples, and through them, found fault with Yeshua. What is the criticism of the Pharisees based on? What is the custom of washing or immersing hands as it was practiced in the time of Messiah?

In order to understand the context of this passage, we need to understand more about the Pharisees and their motivations. The Pharisees practiced a strict form of Judaism that frequently separated them from the ordinary Jew of the time. As a result, it was nearly impossible for them to eat in the homes of Jews who were not Pharisees.[1] Some of the Pharisees attempted to live in a constant state of ritual purity or cleanness. Being clean or unclean was determined by whether or not a person came into contact with things or people that rendered them unclean. Some of these things are contact with a dead body, touching a woman during her menstrual cycle, coming into contact with the carcass of an unclean animal. Anything that comes into contact with the carcass of an unclean animal, itself becomes unclean. Anything that a woman sits on during her menstrual cycle becomes unclean and anyone touching such an object becomes unclean.

As you can see, trying to live in a constant state of ritual purity requires constant vigilance. Most state of uncleanness can be remedied by washing and waiting until evening although others require rituals of cleansing lasting seven days.[2]

First Fruits of Zion in the work The Chronicles of the Messiah, report that:

“For example, some Pharisees attempted to eat their meals while in a state of Levitical purity, a standard which assumed those who prepared the meals had done so also in a ritually pure state.”[3]

This involved treating the vessels for food with the same standards as those applied to vessels in the temple, and bathing not only before entering the temple, but whenever they returned to their homes after visiting the public market. Mark remarked on this when he explained the complaints of the Pharisees against Yeshua’s disciples.

Mark 7:3-4 NKJV 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

In other words, the Pharisees went beyond the scope of the Torah in maintaining ritual purity. The Pharisees believed that by eating in a ritually pure state, they were committing acts of devotion and worship that would elevate their souls and protect them from wicked character traits!

In contrast, Yeshua was not concerned with maintaining a ritual state of purity. He didn’t limit Himself to eating with the Pharisees and their overzealous interpretation of Torah. He ate in the homes of Jewish tax collectors whom the Pharisees regarded as less than Jews.

Luke 5:29-30 NKJV 29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

Yeshua was more concerned with the soul of the tax collector and the sinner than He was with applying purity laws of the temple to the common home.

Luke 5:31-32 NKJV 31 Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Yeshua was constantly subjecting Himself to situations where He would become unclean. Anyone who touches a leper becomes unclean and Yeshua reached out and touched the leper to heal him.

Luke 5:13 NKJV 13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.

Being in the house where there is a dead body or where someone died makes a person unclean. Yeshua entered the home of, Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue of Capernaum whose daughter had died. He touched the girl and lifted her to her feet.

Mark 5:38-41 NKJV 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, "Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping." 40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise.

As Yeshua was on the way to Jairus’ house, a woman with an discharge of blood touched Him making Him unclean. However, Yeshua was not concerned over becoming unclean, He was concerned with who He had healed.

Mark 5:30-34 NKJV 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" 31 But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction."

Yeshua didn’t stay in an isolated environment where He could enjoy the benefits of living in a state of ritual purity. He went where the people were and met their needs. The Pharisees and scribes, who should have been the ones instructing the people and meeting their needs, thought they were better than the masses. The Pharisees referred to the people, the crowds as being ignorant of the Torah.

John 7:47-49 NKJV 47 Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived? 48 "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 "But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."

When the Pharisees who came from Jerusalem to question Yeshua’s observance of the Torah criticized some of Yeshua’s disciples for not following their own practices of washing their hands even before eating common food, Yeshua called them on their hypocrisy.

Mark 7:5-7 NKJV 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" 6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

Yeshua tells them their acts of devotion that they thought brought them nearer to God were empty practices! They honor God with their lips but in their hearts they were really honoring themselves! Yeshua explains that their hypervigilance about trying to prepare and eat even common foods as if they were holy did not replace obeying the Torah in other more important matters.

Mark 7:8-9 NKJV 8 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men--the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." 9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Yeshua is telling them that keeping this tradition does not allow them to reject the Torah in other areas. Yeshua goes on to give examples where they used a legal argument to circumvent the commandment to honor their parents.

Mark 7:10-13 NKJV 10 "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 11 "But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban"-' (that is, a gift to God), 12 "then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

Yeshua quoted Moses’ instruction to take care of one’s mother and father. There is another commandment that says that anything devoted to God cannot be used for any other purpose.

Leviticus 27:28 NKJV 28 'Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the LORD of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the LORD.

Some Pharisees were devoting property and resources to God and, then, stating that they could not take care of their aging parents because their resources were devoted to God. They were neglecting the commandment to honor their parents in favor of an optional gift to God. Yeshua is telling them that honoring their parents is a higher commandment than the optional giving a gift to God. Like the practice of artificially maintaining a state of ritual purity or treating all foods as if they were holy, giving a gift to God does not automatically make one more holy or protect them from wicked character traits. Conversely, eating food that is common does not cause one to exhibit wicked character traits. Yeshua addresses this directly.

Mark 7:14-15 NKJV 14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

Yeshua’s disciples did not understand this short statement and asked Him about it privately. He explains that food we take into our bodies does not affect our hearts; that is they don’t affect the character. Food is taken in by the stomach and passes out through waste.

Mark 7:17-20 JP Green Interlinear   And when He entered into a house from the crowd, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you also so undiscerning? Do you not perceive that all that enters from the outside into the man is not able to defile him? This is because it does not enter his heart, but his belly, and goes out into the wastebowl, purging all the food.

Physical food does not stay in the body; it passes through. It does not cause a permanent change to the heart or the character of a person! As for the food that is either clean or unclean to begin with, one it passes through the body and is eliminated; it is regarded as ritually pure and unable to pass on ritual impurity. First Fruits of Zion in their work The Chronicles of Messiah explains:

Legally speaking, excrement cannot be ritually unclean or transmit ritual impurity… According to the Talmud, when an animal or a person eats something ritually unclean, that object ceases to be ritually unclean when it becomes excrement.[4]

Whether the food that is eaten is clean or unclean, it will pass out of the body without affecting the heart of the person. The body purges the food by making it pass out of the body, and, in the process of digesting the food, making once was unclean, clean. Yeshua did not say that all food is clean when it enters the body! He said that it did not have a permanent consequence on the person’s moral character. The things that do have a permanent effect on a person are those thoughts and actions that come from the heart.

Mark 7:20-23 MKJV 20 And He said, That which comes out of the man is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things pass out from inside and defile the man.

After this confrontation with the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes, Yeshua retreated from the crowds traveling outside of Israel proper to the region of Tyre and Sidon on the northern coast. Mark 7:24

Mark 7:24 MKJV 24 And He arose from there and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered into a house and desired no one to know it. But He could not be hidden.

While there, Yeshua has an encounter with a woman that Matthew identifies as a Canaanite.

Matthew 15:22-23 MKJV 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan coming out of these borders cried to Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is grievously vexed with a demon. 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, Send her away, for she cries after us.

The woman asks for deliverance for her daughter, but she is not a Jew. Yeshua doesn’t immediately answer her; He keeps silent. Perhaps to see what His disciples will do or say. They were insulted that such a woman would speak to Yeshua. This is very similar to their reaction when Yeshua spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. Like the Samaritan woman, she acknowledges her understanding of the coming of the Messiah. With the Samaritan woman, Yeshua gladly spent two days with the people of Samaria teaching them about who He was. In this case, Yeshua draws the woman out encouraging her to state her case before the disciples.

Matthew 15:24-28 MKJV 24 But He answered and said, I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, help me! 26 But He answered and said, It is not good to take the children's bread and to throw it to dogs. 27 And she said, True, O Lord; but even the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' tables. 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, O woman, great is your faith! So be it to you even as you wish. And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

On the surface, we may think that Yeshua is confirming that only Jews can receive salvation. Mark states that Yeshua said that the message must go first to the Jews but doesn’t state that He won’t go to the Gentiles.

Both the Samaritans and the Canaanites were considered unclean and no Jew would voluntarily have anything to do with them. However, the woman demonstrates her understanding that salvation comes from the Son of David. The woman’s daughter is delivered by her statement of faith in Yeshua.

In contrast to the Pharisees who wouldn’t even associate with their fellow Jews, Yeshua is willing to interact with and even bring deliverance to the most hated of the Gentiles. Matthew will later record Yeshua’s instructions to take the good news of the kingdom of heaven to all nations and embrace them as their disciples!

David describes the one who truly has clean hands; He is the one with a pure heart and true worship.

Psalms 24:3-4 MKJV 3 Who shall go up into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.

Yeshua corrected the vanity of the Pharisees who thought that separating themselves even from the common things of this world was the way to true worship. Yeshua pointed out that it was the things that come out of the heart that defile or do not defile a person.

Discussion Questions:

1. What new insight did you gain by this teaching? How do you respond to this new insight? How will you realign your life based on this new understanding?

2. Yeshua too the Pharisees and scribes to task about their over-zealous application of traditions.  However, traditions are that part of our lives which bring joy, stability, purpose, and a sense of community.  How do we avoid the pitfalls of traditions from overtaking our obligations to our families and fellow believers?

3. Why is the woman’s identity as a Canaanite important in how the disciples react to her?

4. Why is the interpretation that Yeshua declared all food clean an incorrect interpretation of this passage?

5. Describe Yeshua’s ongoing criticism of the practices of the Pharisees.

© Copyright 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved

[1] The Chronicles of the Messiah, Volume 2. Lancaster, D.T. ©2014. Page 376-377.
[2] Leviticus11-12, 15
[3] The Chronicles of the Messiah, Volume 2. Lancaster, D. T. ©2014. Page 653.
[4] The Chronicles of the Messiah, Volume 3. Lancaster, D. T. ©2014. Page 764.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Shabbat Service 3-17-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our mid-week video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions and be ready to join in on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

This is a Hard Saying, Who Can Understand It?

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Yeshua had sent out twelve apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to proclaim the kingdom of God, heal the sick, and cast out demons. After their return, the crowds of people that followed Yeshua wherever He went increased dramatically. Some followed Him to for healing or deliverance; others followed Him to see signs and wonders. Some followed Him because they wanted to be His disciples. They wanted to study and learn from this new Rabbi who taught with such authority and did miraculous signs. However, being a disciple wasn’t for the faint of heart; not only was the journey that Yeshua described for His disciples difficult, the teaching would stretch their thinking and understanding of the God and the Messiah. Until, one day when Yeshua was teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum, some of His disciples couldn’t accept what Yeshua was teaching.

John 6:60 NKJV 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"

What was it that Yeshua was teaching that was so hard to understand? What was it that they couldn’t accept and caused many to turn back? How important is this same concept for those of us who would follow Yeshua today?

The concept that many of Yeshua’s disciples had trouble accepting was that He came down from heaven.

John 6:61-62 NKJV 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?

In order to understand the magnitude of this revelation, let’s follow Yeshua’s actions as He transforms His disciples’ world. Yeshua had just performed the miraculous act of feeding five thousand men in addition to any women and children who were also present with five loaves of barley and two fish.

John 6:8-10 NKJV 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" 10 Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

The time was the early spring nearing the time of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of the Firstfruits of the barley harvest. This was one of two major holiday seasons in the year. These feast in the spring celebrated their deliverance from Egypt and leaving their old lives behind to enter into a new life of service to God. The children of Israel would have had thoughts of these events upper most in their minds as they began preparations to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate these feasts!

Yeshua feeding the five thousand would have brought those thoughts to their minds. The time of year was the catalyst; it was the time of deliverance and Yeshua delivered many from the oppression of demons and healed the sick of their diseases. The barley loaves would have reminded them of the Feast of Firstfruits and that deliverance was in the month of the barley harvest. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt they were hungry and God miraculously provided food for them. Yeshua miraculously provided food for the five thousand when they were hungry! Like with the manna, they all ate until they were satisfied! To top it off there were twelve baskets of barley loaves left over after feeding all the people.

John 6:12-13 NKJV 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

The twelve baskets would remind them of the twelve tribes of Egypt that God brought out of captivity and the twelve loaves of the showbread that were always kept in the presence of God.

Leviticus 24:5-9 NKJV 5 "And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. 6 "You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. 7 "And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. 8 "Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9 "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute."

The reaction of the people demonstrated that they understood these connections. They determined to immediately make Yeshua their king!

John 6:14-15 NKJV 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

The people may have made the connection that Yeshua wanted them to make with the Passover, but they didn’t quite understand the full message. They didn’t know exactly who it was they wanted to make king. They thought that Yeshua was a man like Moses sent by God to bring deliverance.

Exodus 3:7-8a NKJV 7 And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey,

Skipping down to verse 10:

Exodus 3:10 NKJV 10 "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."

They thought Yeshua was a man sent by God to deliver them from the hand of Rome. However, Yeshua was now ready to begin to reveal His full identity and purpose. Before He did that for the masses, He first had one more sign to show His twelve closest disciples.

Yeshua had gone away by Himself when the people tried to take Him and make Him king. When evening came and Yeshua didn’t return, the disciples got in a boat to head back to their home base at Capernaum.

John 6:18-21 NKJV 18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. 19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Yeshua calmed the waves, walked on water, and miraculously transported them to their destination. Wow! These are actions that the Psalmist attributes directly to God.

Psalms 107:28-30 NKJV 28 Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.

Yeshua established a strong connection between His abilities and the attributes of God. Through feeding the five thousand, He established His connection with the Passover.

Yeshua had hinted at His identity in the past making statements without explanation. For example, in an earlier trip to Jerusalem, Yeshua claimed a closer relationship to God than other people had.

John 5:17-18 NKJV 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Yeshua is now ready to explain His connection to God more clearly. The next day, the people sought out Yeshua in Capernaum. He begins to shape their thinking to get them to see that He was not only sent by God, but that He came down from heaven, and that this was the only way to receive eternal life. Yeshua began by making a deliberate connection between His providing the food for the five thousand, the manna that God provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness, and eternal life.

John 6:26-27 NKJV 26 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

Yeshua’s listeners understood that He was referring to labors or works of God as opposed to physical labor that provided food for the table. They ask Him what works of God they should do. Yeshua’s answer continues to lead them towards His divine nature.

John 6:29 NKJV 29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

This part is not new; Yeshua has already said that the Father had sent Him, but the people are ready to question Him as to what He was sent to do. They are still thinking about Moses and deliverance from Egypt.

John 6:30-31 NKJV 30 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

This is the opening Yeshua was waiting for! They are connecting Yeshua with Moses, but He wants them to connect Him with God the Father.

John 6:32-33 NKJV 32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

This is where His teaching gets difficult, but they don’t quite get it. They still think Yeshua is talking about physical bread. They ask Yeshua to provide it always as if they need to physically eat it every day. This is very similar to how the Samaritan woman acted when Yeshua promised her Living Water.

John 4:13-15 NKJV 13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

But Yeshua went on to explain to the Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah they were waiting for.

John 4:25-26 NKJV 25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

He explains to those gathered at Capernaum just before the Passover that He was not only sent by the Father, but that He was sent by the Father from heaven, and like the manna, His purpose is to bring life!

John 6:38-40 NKJV 38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

The people focus in on the fact that Yeshua states that He came from heaven, not on the statement that He is the bread of life!

John 6:41-42 NKJV 41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." 42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

This is not the first time that the people have questioned Yeshua’s identity. When Yeshua was teaching in His hometown of Nazareth, the people marveled at the wisdom of His teachings and the miraculous signs that He had done. They couldn’t get over the fact that Yeshua was a man born in their town.

Mark 6:1-3 NKJV 1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him.

These followers at Capernaum had trouble accepting Yeshua’s statement that He came down from heaven when they knew that He was born in Nazareth. They grumbled at His teaching just like the children of Israel grumbled in the wilderness and demanded food to eat! Yeshua responds by repeating that He came down from heaven and continues to explain.

John 6:47-51 NKJV 47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 "I am the bread of life. 49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

We think that this is the difficult teaching that the disciples rejected, but this metaphor of drinking His blood is similar to the metaphor of the “blood of grapes.” The idea of eating the flesh of the Messiah is contained in the Talmud. First Fruits of Zion in their work The Chronicles of the Messiah explain:

Even the Talmud speaks of eating the Messiah, and by this it means enjoying the blessings of the Messianic King.[1]

A few people question what Yeshua means by eating His flesh.

John 6:52 NKJV 52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

In view of the writings of the Torah that eating the Messiah is to receive the blessings of the King, we can understand this as grumbling, but Yeshua answers this emphasizing that accepting Him is necessary for receiving eternal life.

John 6:53 NKJV 53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

He concludes by repeating once again that He came down from heaven.

John 6:58 NKJV 58 "This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

This is the hard teaching! That He came down from heaven. Who is the one who comes down from heaven? Yeshua told Nicodemus that only the Son has come down from heaven.

John 3:13 NKJV 13 "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

The writings in the book of Proverbs explain who is the one who comes down from heaven.

Proverbs 30:4 NKJV 4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is  His name, and what is His Son's name, If you know?

Moses was sent by God to bring deliverance to the children of Israel, but he was only a servant of God. Yeshua was sent by God to bring deliverance to all mankind as the Son of God. Yeshua explained that it takes more than flesh to bring eternal life; it takes the Spirit.

John 6:63 NKJV 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Yeshua turns and questions His twelve closest disciples about what they will do.

John 6:67-69 NKJV 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

This is a hard teaching. Yeshua, although born of Mary, came down from heaven to give His flesh for the life of the world. Yeshua is the Son of man and only the death and resurrection of the Son of God will bring life. Will you accept that Yeshua came down from heaven to bring life to man? Will you accept that He is more than Moses, that He is the Son of God, and that no other can accomplish what He has accomplished—eternal life for all who see the Son and believe in Him?

Discussion Questions:

1.      What new insight did you gain from this teaching? How do you respond to this new insight? How will you realign your life based on this new understanding?

2.      John 6:14-15 tells us that the people wanted to make Yeshua king. What has Yeshua done to convince the people that He is the rightful King of Israel?

3.      How were Yeshua’s words in John 6:62 about seeing Him ascend into heaven fulfilled in Acts 1:9?

4.      Yeshua draw a comparison between Himself and Moses. How does Hebrews 3:1-6 describe this comparison?

5.      Yeshua states that it is the “Spirit who gives life, the flash profits nothing.” In John 6:63. What is the connection between Yeshua’s flesh in John 6:53-58 and the Spirit?

© Copyright 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved

[1] The Chronicles of the Messiah, Volume 3. D.Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014. Page 725

Shabbat Service 3-10-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our mid-week video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions and be ready to join in on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Tale of Two Kings

By Dan and Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:
From His headquarters in the northern Galilean town of Capernaum, the Master Yeshua and His twelve disciples continued to minister in and around the towns of the Galilee.  Here they brought the message of the kingdom of God to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Luke 9:1-2,6 NKJV 1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick… 6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

On the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, sat another city, the city of Tiberias that Christian tradition tells us the disciples did not visit.  Tiberias was built by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and named after the emperor of Rome, Tiberias Caesar.

The two cities were less than 12 miles apart from each other.  Herod Antipas held the official title of Tetrarch and, although not connected in any way to Jewish blood, desired deeply to be named King of the Jews like his father before him.  Yeshua, on the other hand, was a direct descendent of the line of David and the rightful heir to the office and title of King of the Jews.

Herod Antipas was driven by passion, greed for money and power, and political intrigue. Yeshua had the Holy Spirit and the power of God behind him. In between, were two key players, Herodias, the wife of Herod Antipas, who would stop at nothing to see to it that Herod would be made king and herself become queen, and John the Baptist, the prophet like Elijah who was to come, sent to prepare the way of the true King of the Jews.  Yeshua and Herod Antipas were now on a collision course. But before we get to this part of this story, a little background will help put it all into perspective. 

Some thirty years prior to this time, a teenage Herod Antipas had married a Nabataean Princess through arrangement by his father Herod the Great.  Herod the Great himself had Nabataean origins. He was an Edomite.  The Nabataean kingdom at this time covered a large area that included much of the Negev, ancient Moab and Edom as well as a large portion of what is today Saudi Arabia.  They controlled some critical ancient trade routes and their capital was Petra, in what is today Jordan.

Even though the marriage of Herod Antipas to the Nabataean princess was originally for political purposes, Herod Antipas remained married to the princess for over thirty years.  Herod’s ambitions to be King of the Jews like his father got the best of him when he fell for the wife of his half-brother Philip.

Philip’s wife, Herodias was also Antipas’ niece since she was the daughter of a then dead older brother.  Having fallen in love with Herodias, Antipas asked her to divorce her husband and return to Tiberias to become his queen once he convinced the Roman Emperor to grant him that sought-after title.  She agreed and along with her teenage daughter Solome, traveled to Tiberias shortly after Antipas sent his current wife packing.

This is where John the Baptist enters the picture.  Herod Antipas was at first an arms-length admirer of John the Baptist. Perhaps even traveling to the banks of the Jordan river to hear John for himself.  John was viewed by the people as a great prophet of God. Some believed that he was the resurrected prophet Elijah.  Antipas let John alone as long has he didn’t stir the pot toward rebellion.  The situation soon became dangerous for the paranoid Herod Antipas.  The historian Josephus writes:

“The crowds grew around John, and his words greatly inspired the people.  Herod began to fear that John’s great influence over the people might enable him (by some innovation) to raise some form of rebellion.”[1]

Once Antipas divorced his Nabataean wife for the sole reason of marring Herodias, John spoke out publicly condemning the marriage as being unlawful under the Torah.  At one point even telling Herod so in person!  This proved to be a source of irritation to Antipas and an out right embarrassment to Herodias because John was in-fact publicly calling her and adulteress. The historian Josephus writes:

“Herodias took it upon herself to violate the laws of our country.  She divorced herself from her husband while he was still alive, and she marries Herod Antipas, her husband’s brother by the father’s side”[2]

Antipas found the situation intolerable and had John arrested and imprisoned at the desert fortress of Machaerus on the eastern side of the Dead Sea.

Mark 6:17-19 NKJV 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. 18 For John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not;

Herodias had insisted that Antipas have John executed, but Herod Antipas, fearing the reaction of the people and not wanting to create a martyr, kept John alive but in chains and as far away from Herodias as possible, in the fortress of Machaerus.  But the fate of John the Baptist would soon be sealed by a cunning play by Herodias and her young daughter Solome.

Not long after the marriage of Antipas and Herodias and with John in prison, a large celebration was staged for the birthday of Herod Antipas.  All the high officials from Tiberias and the surrounding area were invited to the celebration, and Solome provided the entertainment.

Mark 6:21-23 NKJV 21 Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22 And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you." 23 He also swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."

Making such a promise to Solome in the public hearing, was a dangerous thing to do.  Solome might have done very well for herself.  Herod Antipas had just offered her virtually anything she wanted. Herod was not a king, but a tetrarch.  Anything that he could give away in this manner would require the approval of Rome.  Solome may have realized that Herod had just “slipped up” so she consulted her mother what to ask for.  Mark 6:24-25

Mark 6:24-25 NKJV 24 So she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!" 25 Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

Oops!  Now Herod was stuck.  He made a public oath to Solome, but the execution of John the Baptist was the last thing he wanted because he feared the public reaction.  Never the less, he granted her wish.

Mark 6:26-28 NKJV 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.

In Roman society, such celebrations as Herod’s birthday party would have lasted from several days even as much as a week.  This would be plenty of time for the message requiring John’s execution to reach the fortress of Machaerus, the executioner to perform his duty, and return the head of John the Baptist as promised.

Upon hearing the news of the execution of John the Baptist, the disciple broke the news to Yeshua.

Matthew 14:12-13 NKJV 12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it and went and told Jesus. 13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself…

John the Baptist had finished the job as the forerunner of Yeshua.  He prepared the way in both life and in death.  John proclaimed the kingdom of God and identified Yeshua as the coming one.  Yeshua knew that he would follow a similar path.  It wasn’t long after the death of John that Yeshua told His disciples of His own fate.

Matthew 17:10-13 NKJV 10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 11 Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

When the disciples that Yeshua had sent out to the cities, returned to report to the Master all that they had seen and done in the cities of the Galilee.  It was time for them to rest a while.

Mark 6:30-32 NKJV 30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

Their rest was to be short lived.  The multitudes followed them wherever Yeshua went.  They ran along the shore of the Galilee, trying to get ahead of where Yeshua was headed.

Mark 6:33-34 NKJV 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

The multitude almost certainly would have included followers of John as well as many of those who heard the message recently presented by Yeshua’s disciples on their journey throughout the Galilee region.  Mark records that they were like sheep without a shepherd perhaps supporting Yeshua’s own instruction to the disciples as they went out about going to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

It appears that Herod Antipas’ worst nightmare has now come to pass.  With the death of John the Baptist, Herod feared that the people would rise up in protest or rebellion.  Word had now reached Herod of the signs and wonders performed by Yeshua and the vast multitudes which followed him.  Herod began to wonder if perhaps John the Baptist or some other prophet of old had risen from the dead.

Luke 9:7-9 NKJV 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. 9 Herod said, "John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?" So he sought to see Him.

With the larger and ever-growing crowds following Yeshua and the disciples wherever He went, Herod became more and more fearful.  Herod most likely sent spies to keep an eye on the activities of this man whom the people wanted to proclaim king, the very position that he himself was determined to attain.

To add to his troubles, Herod now faced the wrath of his ex-father-in-law over the divorce of first wife.  The Nabataean King was determined to avenge the honor of his daughter.  Border disputes and cross border raids broke out as both sides began preparations for war.

Yeshua continued to preach the message of the kingdom of God and perform miracles and healing the sick wherever He went.  The people flocked to him by the hundreds and by the thousands, bringing their sick and lame for healing.  Yeshua often tries to find a secluded place to rest and pray only to find the crowds had gathered there as well.  The crowds continued to grow as did the signs that Yeshua demonstrated.  It became increasingly difficult to remain out of sight of the Roman authorities and Herod Antipas.  One day they were in the countryside outside the city of Bethsaida and there was no food or provisions for the multitudes of people.  Yeshua gave instruction to His disciples.

Mark 6:35-44 NKJV 38 But He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they found out they said, "Five, and two fish." 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

When the crowds of followers grew too large and threatened to attract too much attention of the authorities, Yeshua would quietly slip away.  Yeshua was also attracting the attention of the Pharisees who were allied with Herod to get rid of Yeshua.

Mark 3:6 NKJV 6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Not all the Pharisees were plotting against Yeshua.  Many would warn him of the growing danger from Herod.

Luke 13:31-32 NKJV 31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, "Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You." 32 And He said to them, "Go, tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.'

Yeshua’s answer to them was to call Herod “that fox.”  In English, to call someone a “fox” would be to describe them as a clever schemer.  First Fruits of Zion in their work, the Chronicles of Messiah point to a Hebrew cultural idiom of Yeshua’s day, referring to a rabbinic maxim that says “When the fox is in his hour, bow down to it”[3] referring to the transitory nature of Herod’s rule and authority.

The antipathy between Herod Antipas, the wan-a-be king of the Jews and Yeshua, the rightful heir to the crown and title, continued to grow as Yeshua’s ministry and message of the kingdom of God grew and spread throughout the land.

Herod did not have a good relationship with the Roman government under the Procurator, Pontias Pilate probably because of the troublesome border disputes and brewing war with their mutual neighbor, king Aretas.

Herod would finally have an opportunity to meet Yeshua personally on the day of Yeshua’s crucifixion.  When Pilot realized that Yeshua was from the Galilee, He perhaps saw an opportunity to gain some favor with Herod and secure a more favorable political relationship.

Luke 23:6-7 NKJV 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod had traveled to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover.  Yeshua had been arrested and was in the custody of the Roman authorities.  Herod was ecstatic to finally get a chance to meet Yeshua!

Luke 23:8-12 NKJV 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

Yeshua did not dignify Herod, the would-be king of the Jews, with performing any miracles or even speaking a single word to him.  Antipas and his soldiers performed a mock coronation ceremony, dressing Yeshua in a royal robe.

Antipas strove all his life to gain the title “King of the Jews.” But when standing face to face with the real king, he engaged in a foolish mockery of the level of royalty that he could not even begin to understand.

Yeshua was returned to Pilot and ultimately endured death by crucifixion later that day.  Herod continued as tetrarch of the Galilee region for only a short time.  Herodias continued to push Antipas to pursue the title of king to no avail.  Herodias’ brother Agrippa returned to Judea from Rome, having been named King of Judea by Gaius Caligula who had become emperor.

Agrippa and Herodias traveled to Rome to try once again to attain the title of king and queen of the Jews, only to find that Agrippa had already accused them of treason against Rome.  Emperor Caligula had them exiled to Spain, in the farthest reaches of the empire.  As far away from the Galilee as possible where they both died in abject poverty only a few years later.

Josephus commented on the reversal of fortune that Herod and his depraved second wife Herodias faced.

“Thus did God punish Herodias… and he punished Herod also for giving ear to the vain discourses of a woman.”[4]

Herod Antipas would have been much better off sticking with his first wife, the Nabataean princess. He never did achieve the crown he sought, nor did he recognize the rightful owner and heir to that crown when he at last met him face to face.

Herod will obviously never return to power, but we wait for our king, the true king of Israel to return and reign from the house of the LORD at Jerusalem forever!

Discussion Questions:

1.      What new insight did you gain by watching this video? How do you respond to this new insight? How will you realign your life based on this new understanding?

2.      In the story of the death of John the Baptist, there is some striking connections to the story of Purim and Queen Esther.  What are some of these connections?  How are these stories similar?  How are they different?

3.      Considering Herod’s obsession with being named King of the Jews, how would he view Yeshua’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem?

4.      Both John the Baptist and the prophet Elijah faced the ire of a vengeful woman.  How are the situations similar and how are they different?

5.      How did the marriage of Herod to Herodias violate the Torah as John the Baptist said?  Under the Torah, when is it lawful to marry a brother’s wife?

© Copyright 2018 Moed Ministries International.  All rights reserved

[1] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:118/v.2.
[2] Joseph, Antiquities of the Jews 18:136/v.4.
[3] The Chronicles of the Messiah, D. Thomas Lancaster, FFOZ V2 p693
[4] Joseph, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:255/vii.2.