Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What does it mean to have your name “Written in the Earth”?

(This is an update of an older blog post from two years ago.  Several people have asked me about this subject this week, so I thought I would re-post it here for your enjoyment.)

John 8:2-11 tells the story of Jesus being confronted by the Pharisees and teachers of the law with a woman caught in adultery. When questioned about what He would do, Jesus stooped down and wrote in the earth. When they continued to question him, He stood and replied that the one without sin should throw the first stone. He then bent down and resumed writing in the earth. We can figure out what Jesus probably wrote by looking at the context of the incident.

John’s Gospel records that this incident occurred after the last day of the feast. The Feast itself is seven days long with the eighth day a special Sabbath day of rest added on the end.

John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (NKJV)

John 8:2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. (NKJV)

The theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is to rejoice.

Deut. 16:14 "And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. (NKJV)

Jesus’ very name is also significant in the context of this ceremony. The name Jesus is really a transliteration of the Greek Iesous which is a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua. Jesus’ Hebrew name, the name He was born with is Yeshua. The closest English name to Yeshua is Joshua.

Yeshua: #3442 ישוע  yay-shoo'-ah, shortened version of Yehosua (3091); he will save

Joshua: #3091;יהושוע Yehoshua: the LORD saves

Matthew tells us that Yeshua received His name because He would save His people from their sins; He would be their salvation.

Matthew 1:21 NKJV 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS (Yeshua), for He will save His people from their sins."

When we look at the word for salvation in Isaiah 12:3, we see that it is the same Hebrew word but in a different tense.

Salvation: #3444.  ישועה  yesh-oo'-aw something saved, salvation

Yeshua was declaring that He, whose very name means salvation, was the Messiah! The prophet Jeremiah refer to God’s salvation as a fountain living waters.

Jer 2:13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water. (NKJV)

Yeshua’s declaration was not lost on the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. They sought to test Him so they could at the very least discredit Him with the people.  The incident with the woman caught in adultery occurred the very next day called Shemini Atzerat, the assembly of the eighth day observed as the Sabbath conclusion to the Feast of Tabernacles. The rejoicing on the 8th day takes the form of the Torah itself rejoicing in God’s salvation. It was a day for studying the scriptures, teaching one’s disciples, holding discussions among the Rabbis and dancing through the temple with the Torah scroll itself. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law came to Jesus on this day with the intent to trap him.  In doing so, they themselves were violating the Law on at least two points; (1) they only brought the woman for judgment (See Lev. 20:10) and (2) they didn’t bring the witnesses (See Deuteronomy 19:15.)

A third violation is that in Jewish civil law, only the Great Sanhedrin could try a capital case. Since the Sanhedrin was not meeting, no capital cases could be tried. Further, they violated the intent of the rejoicing of the Torah by breaking the Sabbath. On this day on which the Torah itself is said to be rejoicing, they grieved both the written Torah by breaking its commandments and the Living Torah of Yeshua by subverting the Torah to their own ends.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were at that very moment sinning! When Yeshua says, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." (John 8:7) and then stooped down and continued to write on the ground (v. 8), what could Jesus have written in the earth that would cause them to eventually acknowledge that they were sinning?

Jeremiah 17:13 speaks to all of these issues.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. "Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters." (NKJV)

Yeshua had just the previous day declared that He was the Messiah. All the people celebrated the ceremony of water pouring rejoicing in the “fountain of living waters” each day during the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles so this verse in Jeremiah would be well known to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Perhaps Yeshua was writing this very verse, or their names as he bent to write in the earth.

One of the themes for the feasts of Trumpets and Yom Kippur, the two feasts that lead up to the Feast of Tabernacles, was examining one’s life to ensure that one’s name is written in the Book of Life and not the Book of Death for coming year. The rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles is in God’s salvation; that is of being written in the Book of Life.  Being written in the earth was the opposite of being written in the Book of Life.

Once again, Yeshua proved Himself as the Messiah executing righteousness and judgment.
Yeshua Himself said that He came to call the sinners to repentance but when He comes again, it will be for salvation for those who love Him and judgment for those who don’t.

John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (NKJV)

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

A more extensive lesson on this passage of scripture is available in Volume 1 of “Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah” Bible Study series available on our web site at

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