Monday, March 26, 2012

Isaac: The Laughter of God


Genesis 17:17-19 NKJV 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" 18 And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!" 19 Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.

Abraham laughs in his heart and God tells him to name his son Isaac, laughter. Did Abraham laugh in skepticism or wonder? Then, after Abraham circumcised his entire household in obedience to God’s command, the angels appear bringing the news to Sarah who also laughs, but in doubt or skepticism.

Genesis 18:10-15 NKJV 10 And He said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" 13 And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?' 14 "Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, "I did not laugh," for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh!"

The next year when Isaac, the promised seed, was born, Sarah laughs again. This time with delight!

Genesis 21:6-7 NKJV 6 And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me." 7 She also said, "Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age."

The connotation of the word laughter can be either positive or negative. At the same time that Sarah laughs with delight and invites the whole world to laugh with her, Ishmaels laughs in scorn.

Genesis 21:8-9 8 So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned. 9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.

The word can also mean to play or make sport. Judgment came on the Philistines when they brought their captive Samson before them to make them laugh.

Judges 16:25 KJV 25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport (laugh). And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Little did they know that judgment was upon them! Samson pulled down the pillars on their heads and killed 3,000 people that day.

In naming Isaac, God shows us a shadow of Jesus’ birth and second coming. There was great joy or delight when Jesus was born. Jesus says that the time of His second coming will be like the time of Samson and Noah. People will be laughing and playing and not realizing that judgment is imminent.

Matthew 24:38 NKJV 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

Psalms 2:1-6 NKJV 1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: 6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."

The time of Jesus’ birth was a time of great joy; His second coming will be a joy to those who eagerly wait for Him, but a time of judgment to those who hate Him.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah Volumes 2 Revised Edition Now Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Dan and Brenda Cathcart (Moed Ministries) have just released Volume 2 of the Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah Bible Study.  This revised edition of the previously published volume contains several newly updated lessons and an entirely new lesson on the Sabbath. 

Volume 2 Revised Edition Table of Contents:

·        The Sabbath
·        The Tabernacle and Creation
·        Eternity: In Heaven or on Earth?
·        David’s Early Life and Yeshua’s First Coming
·        David’s Reign and Yeshua’s Second Coming
·        Sealed for the Day of Redemption
·        The Commandment to Read the Torah Before the Assembly
·        The Queen Who Saved Her People (The story of Purim)
·        The Promise: Melchizedek Meets Abram
·        I Am the LORD Who Brought You Out
·        Cycles of Prophetic Fulfillment
·        The End is Declared From the Beginning



Added to each lesson are discussion questions to take you deeper into the material.  Now printed in bound paperback, this revised edition also contains a CD with all the student notes, discussion questions and other handout materials in PDF format for easy copying for your study group.

This volume, along with volume one are now available through our ministry web store at www.moedministries.com, through our home congregation at www.elshaddaiministries.us and through a number of book retailers as well as from www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Hidden Story in the Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet

From time to time I have posted blogs showing the unique nature of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, its ancient pictographic form and the deeper meaning that is added to the scripture when we understand the original language of the Bible.  I have shown how names are important in the context of the Bible and how they relate to the broader context of the immediate story as well as to the entire Biblical narative.  See These Are the Generations: (Toldot) The Story of Our Redemption as an example (http://moedtorah.blogspot.com/2011/11/these-are-generations-toledot-story-of.html)

Each letter of the Hebrew Alephbet contains a meaning and contributes to the meaning of the words that they make.  The meaning of the letters, all 22 of them, taken in order, from the Aleph to the Tav, have a story to tell.  Remember what Yeshua said to the Apostle John in Revelation:

Revelation 1:8 MKJV 8 I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Alpha and Omega are merely the Greek equivalents to the Hebrew Aleph and the Tav.  In both cases they are the first and last letters of each alphabet.  When Yeshua says that He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is using a Hebraic idiom meaning that He encompasses all of creation, all that was, and is, and is to come.  So what do the Hebrew letters tell us?  Is there a message in the Hebrew Alephbet?  Let’s find out!

Here are each Hebrew letter and It’s associated meaning:

The 1st letter is Aleph  א  Ox, bull, strength, leader, first, beginning

The 2nd letter is Beit  ב  Tent, house, household, family, into

The 3rd letter is Gimel  ג  Pride, benefit, animal

The 4th letter is Dalet  ד  Doorway, path, enter

The 5th letter is Hey  ה  Window, to reveal, behold, “the”

The 6th letter is Vav  ו  Nail, to secure, attach, “and”

The 7th letter is Zayin  ז  Weapon, to cut off, cut

The 8th letter is Het  ח  Fence, hedge, a chamber, private, separate

The 9th letter is Tet  ט  To twist, a snake, to surround

The 10th letter is Yood  י  Hand, a closed hand, to make, a deed, work

The 11th letter is Kaph  כ  Arm, open hand or palm, to cover, to allow, to open

The 12th letter is Lamed  ל  Cattle goad, staff, to teach, , prod, control, authority

The 13th letter is Mem  מ  Water, massive, chaos, ocean or sea, liquid

The 14th letter is Noon  נ  Fish, activity, life

The 15th letter is Samech  ס  To prop up, support, lift up, turn

The 16th letter is Ayin  ע  Eye, to see, know, experience

The 17th letter is Pey  פ  Mouth, to speak, open, a word

The 18th letter is zadik  צ  Fish hook, to draw, need, desire, harvest

The 19th letter is Koof  ק  Back of the head, behind, the last, the least

The 20th letter is Resh  ר  Head, a person, the highest, the greatest

The 21st letter is Shin  ש  Teeth, to destroy, to consume

And the 22nd letter is Tav  ת  A sign, a cross, to covenant, to mark or seal

So what kind of story do these letters tell?

In the Beginning, He who is the source of all creation, built a House for our Benefit.  He opened the Door and made the Way for us to enter His kingdom that we may Behold His glory in the house by Attaching ourselves to His Torah.  No Weapon formed against us shall prosper for He is our Hedge of protection Surrounding us with his presence.  His Hands have made us, He even now is holding us in the Palms of His hands.  By keeping His covenant and Teachings we have Authority to rule over the Sea of nations and all Life therein.  When He is Lifted up for all who pierced Him to See, every Mouth will be stopped as He Draws humanity unto himself, from the Least to the Greatest.  For as a Consuming fire He will destroy the wicked and deliver those whom He has Marked with His Sign!

Hallelujah!  Our God reigns!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Feasts of the LORD Bible Study Video Sessions are Available On-line

Brenda and I have been hosting a weekly, in-depth study of the Feasts of the LORD in our home here in Washington State.  The sessions have been video recorded and posted on the internet and available through our web site.  These sessions are in preparation for publishing this study sometime later this year.  If you want to join in this study, you can get the pre-publication version (read that- it has typos and other errors in it) of the Student Workbook from our web site.  You can follow along at your own pace with the video sessions.  They will remain available until the study materials are published and we go through it again with another group.  Your feedback, questions and other input is important to us so we have created a discussion group on Facebook for that purpose.  It is a "secret" group so you will have to request to join.  Brenda and I are on Facebook under our own names. 

Session 19 of the study is now posted and available on the Moed Ministries web site. This session is part 3 of the Feast of Tabernacles and covers from page 118 through page 125 in the Student Workbook. You may view this video for free at www.vimeo.com/38709760 but you will get the most out of it with the workbook. You can purchase the Student Workbook on our web site at www.moedministries.com and click on "Feast Study" in the menu. Thank you for joining us.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Are Some Extra-Scriptural Writings Mistakenly Not Included in the Bible?

Because a particular extra-scriptural writing is mentioned, quoted or referenced in scripture, but not included in scripture as a whole, does that mean that it is inspired of God?  This is a question that was brought up in a discussion thread on Facebook the other day.  There are two extra scriptural books mentioned specifically in scripture, one is Jasher and the other is Enoch.  (Look at Joshua 10:13, 2nd Samuel 1:18 and Jude 1:14)  Neither of these books were accepted into the canon of scripture by either the Jews with the Tanakh or by the early Christian church with what became the New Testament.  What about the mention of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia in the Book of Esther?  I could go on with many more references as well as quotes.

The Apostle Paul quoted extensively the classical Greek philosophers and poets in his attempt to persuade the Greeks in Athens.  Most of these quotes are recorded in the book of Acts.  To understand Paul’s reasoning to quote from pagan philosophers, it is extremely important to understand clearly who Paul is in relation to his cultural and educational background as well as to whom he was speaking.  The Apostle Paul, or rather Rabbi Shaul was highly educated, and as we all know, from the city of Tarsus in Cilicia.

Acts 21:37-39a KJV 37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? 38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? 39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city:

Tarsus was an immensely important city and the location of the most famous school of philosophy in the ancient world.  Strabo, 64 BC to 24 AD was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.  His writings tell us of the enthusiasm of the inhabitants of Tarsus for learning, especially for philosophy.  Strabo stated that “Tarsus surpasses Athens and Alexandria and every other university town.”  It was characterized by the fact that the student body was composed almost entirely of native residents, who, after finishing their course, usually went abroad to complete their education and in most cases did not return home.

It was, as it is today, an expensive proposition to travel abroad to complete one’s education, yet it is recorded that Paul studied “at the feet of Gamaliel” recorded in Acts 22.

Acts 22:3 KJV 3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel and president of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.  Paul came from a wealthy family able to afford the type of education that he received.  A passage in the Mishnah outlines the method and path of a formal education in these ancient times.  According to Pirkey Avot 5:21 Formal education began at age 5 at the Beit Sefer (House of the Book) learning the alephbet and how to read.  At age 10 one would graduate to the Beit Talmud (House of Learning).  At 12 or 13 formal education was completed, but if it was desired, a student would be sent to the Beit Midrash (House of Study) to sit at the feet of the Teachers of the Law (Torah). 

Paul’s extensive education would have given him a thorough understanding of Greek philosophy from an early age.  Having studied “at the feet” of Gamaliel, in his late teens to early twenties, his further education would have been in the most orthodox of Jewish traditions of his day.  Paul describes himself as a Pharisee among Pharisees and having dedicated his life to the study and living of the Torah (Law)!

Acts 23:6 KJV 6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Philippians 3:5 KJV 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

With Paul’s education, he was intimately familiar with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Strabo, Aratus and Cicero and the philosophies of the Epicureans and the Stoics among many others.  He was fluent in several languages as demonstrated in Acts 21 where it is recorded that he spoke Greek to a government official and Hebrew to the gathered crowd of Jews.

Acts 21:39b-40 (NKJV) …I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. 40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue…

Paul could speak Greek and Hebrew, probably Latin and Aramaic as well.  He began his education in his home town of Tarsus, home of the greatest learning center of the ancient world at the time.  He studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem as a disciple.  This level and scope of education prepared him for the mission of “the Apostle to the gentiles”.  In his various journies, when he found his way to the Greek cities of Asia minor, he most often spoke in the synagogues, reasoning with the Jew and Gentile worshipers.  He would also take the Gospel message to the public market places and in Athens, this got him into a little trouble.  Athens was the center of idolatry in the world at that time, with temples, statues, and other monuments and shrines dedicated to nearly every pagan god imaginable.

Acts 17:15-19 NKJV 15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. 16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods," because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?

So afraid, were the people of Athens that they may forget to honor an obscure god, that they erected a shrine to “the unknown god!”  To us that seems absurd, but to them, they are hedging their bets.

Acts 17:22-28 NKJV 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 "Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 "for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'

This is amazing, Paul, in this passage from acts, in attempting to persuade the people of Athens as to the identity of this “unknown god” to whom they have erected a shrine.  Paul quotes from their own philosophers and poets to prove his point.  Where does the phrase “for we are also his offspring” come from?  It is taken from a didactic poem titled Phaenomena, written by Aratus from Cilicia in 300 BC!  Paul, being from Cilicia and educated in Tarsus, its greatest city, would have known this poet from an early age.

From Phaenomena 1-5:

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken.  For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus.  Even the sea and the harbor are full of this deity.  Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zues.  For we are indeed his offspring…

In Titus 1:12 Paul quotes another Greek philosopher, Epimenides of Knossos (Crete).

Titus 1:12 NKJV 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."

Epimenides was a semi-legendary Greek seer and philosopher-poet, who is said to have fallen asleep for 57 years in a Cretian cave sacred to Zeus, he reportedly awoke with the gift of prophesy.  Epimenides considered Zeus to be immortal.

The poem, Minos addresses Zeus thus:

They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one, The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou are not dead: thou livest and abidest forever, for in thee we live and move and have our being.

Remember Acts 17:28 “…for we live and move and have our being…”?

Here is yet another one.  Meander (342-291 BC) A Greek dramatist, the author of over a hundred comedies wrote, “Evil communication corrupts good manners” in a play titled “Thais.”  Paul uses this line from Thais in 1 Cor. 15:33

1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV 33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

Paul was largely unsuccessful in Athens, for there was never a "Church" established in Athens.  Paul, thereafter limited his mission to the Jews and the Greeks in the synagogues.

Acts 18:1-5 NKJV 1 After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. 3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.

Paul learned from his mistake and makes the adjustment to his approach in his mission field.  Forgetting philosophy and returning to teaching Torah!

1 Corinthians 1:17-23 NKJV 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words (ie: philosophy), lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,

Where does one draw the line as to what is inspired of God and what is not?  Are writings that originate outside of scripture, but are then mentioned in scripture, to be, by such association, considered inspired or in some such way an equal to scripture, included in scripture?  If that is the case, then we must accept much of the ancient Greek philosophers that the Apostle Paul quoted as being inspired of God and include their writings as scripture as well.  What kind of mess would that result in?  So the answer to the title question is clearly no! It would be “mere folly” to do so.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Visit our website at www.moedministries.com

Will the Real Passover Please Stand Up!

As we are approaching Passover this year, again there is much discussion about Yeshua’s last Passover meal with His disciples, I thought I would repost this blog from last year detailing the timing of this important chain of events surrounding Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection.  I originally wrote this piece as a response to a Jewish apologist (Anti-missionary) who called into question the accuracy of the Gospel accounts of these events.

Yeshua’s last Passover is one of those accounts in the Bible where it seems no matter what, there remains an unsolved mystery.  What is the actual timing of the Passover celebrated by Yeshua, the Crucifixion, and His resurrection?  There is an abundance of diverse opinions on not only the timing of the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrations in general, but whether Yeshua and His disciples actually even ate a Passover meal.  The New Testament scriptures themselves, on the surface, seem to conflict with each other, the most prominent being the differences between the accounts in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and that of the Gospel of John.  As I examine the Gospel account, I will be looking at the specific language of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew as well as looking back through Jewish traditions to see if we can get a clearer picture of the timing and teachings of the Master Yeshua.

To keep this blog at a reasonable length, please read the following scripture passages on your own before continuing:

Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:1-38.  Take your time, I can wait…

OK, now that the heavy reading is out of the way, let’s take a closer look at a couple of key points. 
 
(1) When is the meal identified as the Passover being prepared? 
(2) And when do the disciples gather to eat it? 

Matthew (26:17) and Mark (14:12) both state that the preparation for the Passover was done on the “first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.”  Luke (22:7) is a little more ambiguous with “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed.”  Even with the ambiguity of Luke, they all seem to be indicating that the Passover meal in question was eaten on the evening at the end of the first Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  As each Gospel account continues, Yeshua then goes out to pray, is betrayed and arrested, taken to the “kangaroo court” before the High Priest and in the morning ends up being crucified at the “third hour” (aprox. 9:00 am) the next day.  According to the terminology used in these three Gospel records, that would place the crucifixion of Yeshua on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, right?  That’s a definite maybe!

But the Gospel of John seems to have a different timing on these events:

John 18:1-3, 28 NKJV 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. (now skipping to verse 28) 28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.

Wait a minute!  Wasn’t Yeshua crucified on Passover, but He and the disciples actually had their Passover meal on the “first day of Unleavened Bread” according to the other Gospel accounts right?  Wasn’t Yeshua buried at the end of the day BEFORE the High Sabbath began, not the day AFTER?  According to scripture, the first day of Unleavened Bread is a High Sabbath (Lev 23:7).  Wasn’t He resurrected on the first day of the week, that is, the day after the Sabbath?  Was that the High Sabbath or the regular weekly Sabbath?  How can all four of these Gospel accounts be true?  And what “Sabbaths” are they talking about?  There is the “High” or special Sabbath as well as the regular weekly Sabbath.  I’m confused!  How about you?  Let’s see if we can straighten this all out.

The short answer is that all these accounts are all in agreement.  But we must understand the history, culture and religious practices of the Jewish people of this time in order to make the correct interpretation of the Gospel accounts.  After all Yeshua and all the disciples were Jews from the land of Israel.  In order to get a baseline understanding of the timing of the Feasts we need to consult the Bible itself, specifically the Torah and find out when these events are supposed to take place.  The first place to look is in Exodus where the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is first spoken of.

Exodus 12:17-18 NKJV 17 'So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.

Paying particular attention to verse 18 above, let’s take a look at the 23rd chapter of Leviticus where the Feasts of the LORD are spelled out and what this chapter has to say about Passover and Unleavened Bread specifically:

Leviticus 23:4-7 NKJV 4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. 6 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.

I think this pretty much clarifies the Biblical timing of the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread.  So what is the confusion in the Gospel accounts all about?  This is where it gets tricky.  It involves the ages old problem of a combination of cultural and religious traditions getting in the way of Torah along with a little bit of a translation issue.  So let’s start with a little word study and put the pieces together.

The first thing to look at is in Exodus 12:18 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.”  This passage is very specific as to the month, day and time of day, but this verse does not give the name of the occasion which is on the fourteenth day of the first month at evening.  It only states that “you shall eat unleavened bread” on this day at evening.  Later, in Lev. 23:5 we find that the 14th of Nissan is defined as Passover.

Now what does it mean “at evening”?  In our modern way of thinking, it is as the sun is setting on the day.  I tend to think of summer time when lounging around outside after dinner but before it gets dark as being the evening.  The Bible however, defines it differently.  The Hebrew word translated as “evening” in Exodus 12:18 and as “twilight” in Leviticus 23:5 above as well as elsewhere in the scriptures, is the word “ereb”.  It is defined in the Strong’s Dictionary number 6153:

#6153 ereb, eh'-reb;  dusk:--+ day, even(-ing, tide), night.  And according to the Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew Dictionary, “ereb” is defined as “evening, sunset”. (also see #6150)

Assuming that these definitions are correct and in light of the Hebrew reckoning of when a day begins, that is at sunset (See the Genesis account of creation where each of the days consists of “evening and morning”), then ereb: evening, sunset, dusk etc., can only be at one time during a complete 24 hour day as understood in the scriptures, and that is at the “beginning” of a day, which is at sunset; evening!

Before we go on, let’s take a look at another word, this time in the Greek manuscripts of the Synoptic Gospels.  Matthew and Mark both use the Greek word “protos” where the English translation is the word “first”, but according to the Strong’s Dictionary it is defined as follows:

#4413  protos,  pro'-tos.  Contracted superlative of #4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance):--before, beginning, best, chief(-est), first (of all), former.

#4253  pro,  pro.  A primary preposition; "fore", i.e. in front of, prior (figuratively, superior) to:--above, ago, before, or ever. In the comparative, it retains the same significations.

Only in the vaguest sort of way does “protos” mean “first” in the way it is implied in the English translations of the Gospels.  This is a mistranslation.  The better English word would be “before” not “first”.  Before better fits the timing of these important Spring Feasts as clearly spelled out in the Torah.

In some circles this “discrepancy” is answered by positing that the meal that Yeshua and the disciples ate was not a Passover meal, perhaps it was what is known as a Chagigah, which also involves the sacrifice of a lamb.  This is not backed up by any textual evidence of any kind; historical, or scriptural, in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic or anything else.  The scriptures clearly say in all manuscripts, that this is a Passover.  So I think that settles the issue and we will have to search elsewhere for the answer.

Now here is where the problem with tradition and culture come into play as well as the nature of Semitic languages to have many, and sometimes opposite meanings to a single word.  This makes translating Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures rather difficult unless the translator is intimately familiar with the cultural context in which the scripture is written.  And we all know that cultural elements are dynamic and can change rapidly over time.

In antiquity, especially the late second Temple era, the distinction between Passover and Unleavened Bread became blurred.  To this day, most in the Jewish community refer to the entire eight days of Passover and Unleavened Bread as the “Passover Week” and ignore almost completely the Feast of First Fruits which falls inside the seven days of Unleavened Bread.  In Yeshua’s day, the “Passover” was the meal that launched the week long Feast of Unleavened Bread. The traditional observance and the exact timing of the Passover meal varied from community to community and from one Jewish sect to another.  Residents of Judea and the Galilee ate the Passover nearly a full day earlier than the Priests in the Temple as well as most permanent residents of Jerusalem.

How is it possible that the timing of the Passover meal was varied when the scripture clearly states that it was at the evening or “ereb” as previously pointed out?  Well, maybe the Biblical definition of “ereb” is not so clear after all.  In other interpretations (read translations), the term “ereb” is used in a broader sense, as in “between the evenings” or “afternoon”, as in when the sun is going down as found in Exodus 12:6 in the Hebrew Tanach:  (The Stone Edition from Artscroll)

Exodus 12:6 It (the lamb) shall be yours for examination until the fourteenth day of the month; the entire congregation of the assembly of Israel shall slaughter it in the afternoon.

This translation reflects a long standing tradition and interpretation of the meaning of the word “ereb”.  Here it is translated as “afternoon” which is, as had been for centuries, interpreted in Jewish circles as meaning anytime after the sun starts its downward path to sunset.  This is reflected in subsequent translation of the scriptures describing the Day of Atonements, Yom Kippur:

Leviticus 23:26-27, 32 NKJV 26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD… 32 "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."

Here is where this slightly different but all too important definition of the Hebrew word “ereb” comes from.  Verse 27 in this passage establishes the timing of Yom Kippur on the 10th day of the 7th month.  But later in verse 32 states that it is on the 9th day of the 7th month that is the Sabbath of solemn rest “at evening, from evening to evening”.  To resolve this contradiction, the word “ereb” had come to also means “afternoon”.  That is, a period of time when the sun is on its downward path and to include sunset to total darkness.  This has been the understanding of ereb for millennia, from well before the time of Yeshua to the present day.

Now here is where tradition and the differences between the interpretations of the primary sects of Judaism make their appearance.  The residents of the Galilee and Judea, both areas heavily influenced by the two major schools of the Pharisees, partook of the Passover meal at the very beginning of the 14th day of the 1st month at the evening, “ereb”, defined as twilight.  Just after sunset and before total darkness.  Similar to the way the weekly Sabbath begins, with the evening meal.  The priests of the Temple however were largely of the sect of the Sadducees and eat their Passover meal at the end of the 14th day of the 1st month “at even” or “ereb” as the sun was on its downward path before actual sunset; Two distinctly different interpretations of the word “ereb”, or evening.

Both of these timings can be shown to be scripturally correct depending on how one defines the word "ereb”.   But remember the mission and teachings of our Master Yeshua were to “fulfill” the law, meaning to “rightly interpret” the Torah and show us how it is done.  (See “How Yeshua Fulfilled the Law (Torah)” in this blog site.)  I believe that Yeshua and His disciples partook of their Passover meal at the proper time, in the evening of the 14th day of the 1st month at “twilight” the period of sunset to complete darkness at the very beginning of the “day” of Passover, mistranslations not with standing.

It is an interesting note, that in all the Gospel accounts of Yeshua rebuking the Jewish leadership for misinterpretations of the Torah, it is never recorded that He rebuked them for having the Passover meal at the “wrong time”, at the end of the 14th of Nisan and not at the beginning.  He certainly had plenty of opportunity to do so, having celebrated at least two other Passover feasts with his disciples during His ministry.  I think this fact illustrates in a powerful way how Yeshua both partook of the Passover and was also the Passover sacrifice.  Our Passover lamb without spot, wrinkle or blemish.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed in this up coming Passover/Unleavend Bread/Feast of First Fruits season.
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Visit our website at www.moedministries.com


Research for this post was derived from but not limited to the following sources:

The Temple: Its Ministry and Services and Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Time of Christ”.  Both by Alfred Edershiem
The Sign of the Cross by Andrew Gabriel Roth
The Aramaic English New Testament commentary sections
The Complete works of Flavius Josepus a 1st century Jewish/Roman historian

The following is a comment and my response from the original posting last year:

Based on the following quote of your writing, Yeshua is disqualified as Messiah, the lamb was sacrificed between the two evenings of the 14th and then eaten on the 15th. How did Yeshua die on the cross on the 14th and also eat the passover on the 15th. ? "Both of these timings can be shown to be scripturally correct depending on how one defines the word "ereb”.   But remember the mission and teachings of our Master Yeshua were to “fulfill” the law, meaning to “rightly interpret” the Torah and show us how it is done.  (See “How Yeshua Fulfilled the Law (Torah)” in this blog site.)  I believe that Yeshua and His disciples partook of their Passover meal at the proper time, in the evening of the 14th day of the 1st month at “twilight” the period of sunset to complete darkness at the very beginning of the “day” of Passover."
Shalom,

It appears that you may have misunderstood what I wrote. Yeshua both partook of the Passover and was crucified on the Passover, Nisan 14. The Hebrew calendar date changes at sunset, so it was just after sunset as the 14th of Nisan began that Yeshua and the disciples ate their Passover meal. It was the late afternoon of the 14th of Nisan (the 9th hour) that Yeshua died. In this timeline, both interpretations of the meaning of the word "ereb" work. Yeshua both partook of the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, and was crucified, died and buried before sunset at the end of the 14th of Nisan when the calendar date would change to the 15th, which is the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and a High Sabbath.

There really is not 2 evenings, as in "between the evenings" on Nisan 14 or any other day on the Hebrew calendar. The term "between the evenings" is a cultural idiom and as such not literally accurate. Such idioms are very common to the Jewish culture of the 1st century and are interwoven through the scriptures. They are sometimes very difficult to interpret correctly because we have no similar cultural frame of reference today, some 2000 years removed from the time in question. I hope this explains it a little better.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan Cathcart

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Prophesies Then and Now: More Hidden Treasures in the Book of Esther

In our Western way of thinking, we tend to think of history, and therefore prophesy, as happening or being fulfilled once and then it is finished, never to be repeated.  But this is not the case.  History repeats itself and prophesies are fulfilled in multiple times and in multiple ways.  This is the Biblical pattern throughout scripture and in the Book of Esther as we will see.

Remember in the last blog, I quoted the account in Exodus where the Israelites first encounter Amalek:

Exodus 17:7-8 NKJV 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" 8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

And the promise that they would face Amelek in every generation:

Exodus 17:13-16 NKJV 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."

We have already established in the last post that the evil Hamen was an Amalekite; a descendant of Amalek.  But did you know that besides Queen Esther, the other Hero of the Book of Esther, Mordechai, has an important family linage as well?

In 1st Samuel we read about the selection of Saul as king:

1 Samuel 10:21 NKJV 21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found.

So Saul is identified as a son of Kish.  Mordechai is also a son of Kish and therefore a direct descendant of Saul. 

Esther 2:5 NKJV 5 In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.

Saul was given instruction to totally destroy Amalek, but he didn’t.

1 Samuel 15:1-3 NKJV 1 Samuel also said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD. 2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 'Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"

1 Samuel 15:9 NKJV 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

This disobedience by Saul will surely come back to bite them in the future.  Fast forward 500 years to the Book of Esther and we see Hamen, a direct descendent of Agag, and Mordechai, a direct descendant of Saul, again engaged in battle!  It never would have happened if Saul had been obedient and wiped out the Amalekites as he was instructed to.  History repeats itself, in a different way and a different place.

Why do we keep Purim?  Why do we keep Hanukkah?  Why do we keep all of the Biblical feast days?  Aren’t those just the Jewish Holidays?  We keep them because we are to be watchful.  We are to be awake and ready for Messiah’s return!  We tend to focus a great deal of our attention on end time prophesies, but if the end is truly declared from the beginning, then we must clearly understand the beginning in order to properly understand the end.  If we want to understand the prophesies in the end of the Bible, then we have to understand the prophesies in the beginning of the Bible!

Genesis 1:14 NKJV 14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

This verse is not talking about seasons such as summer, fall, winter and spring, as implied in most of our English translations.  The Hebrew word translated as “seasons” is the word “moed” and is most often translated as “feast” throughout the Bible.  Moed literally means “appointed time”.  God has created and given us appointed times; the Biblical feast days to point us to His glory and to His purpose for our lives.  If we are on His calendar we will know what to watch for as we anticipate Messiah’s return.  We will clearly see and recognize Bible prophesy when it happens because we are prepared and watching in the right place at the right time.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 NKJV 9 That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Now in Revelation, a book of prophesy that is rightly associated with the end times, the millennial reign of Messiah and the new Heaven and the new Earth we find this verse.

Revelation 13:1 NKJV 1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

In the Book of Esther we read about Hamen’s ten sons who were henchmen charged with carrying out Hamen’s evil plot to kill all the Jews.  In chapter 9 verses 6-9 the names of the ten sons of Hamen are specifically listed.  Why is that?  What is the significance of listing the names of the ten sons of Hamen when there were many others slain at the same time as well? 

Esther 9:6-9 NKJV 6 And in Shushan the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 Also Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha-

We should know that there are no superfluous words in the Bible.  Every word is important and every name is important, and no less so with these.  What we see with these names is only found in the original Hebrew text.  There are significant jots and tittles to be found in these names that have a connection to recent history.  Let’s look at the way they are written in the Hebrew manuscripts.


You will notice that there is an anomaly within this list of names.  There are three letters that are written smaller and one letter that is larger than the rest.  They are in the 1st, 7th and 10th names.  The letters that are written smaller are the tav in the first name, the sheen in the 7th name, and the zayin in the 10th name, and vav, also in the 10th name, is written larger.  What is the significance of these particular letters?  Together they don’t spell any particular Hebrew word, but Hebrew letters also represent numbers.  As representative of numbers they indirectly add up to 5707.  What do I mean by indirectly?

The small letters directly add up to 707: tav=400, sheen=300 and zayin=7.  So something must be significant about the enlarged vav.  We also know that with the LORD a thousand years are as a day.

Psalms 90:4 NKJV 4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.

2 Peter 3:8 NKJV 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

In light of these scriptures, I am going to make an assumption that the enlarged vav, which equals the number 6, is in this verse in Esther, referring to the 6th millennium, the span of years from 5001 to 6000.  Given that assumption, the vav in this case represents the number 5000.  Together these letters equal 5707.  The year 5707 on the Biblical calendar is equivalent to 1946 on our modern calendar.  What happened in 1946 that is directly connected to the Book of Esther?

The Feast of Sukkot, which celebrates the harvest at the end of the agricultural year, is a festival which also looks forward to the end of days and the 7th millennium when Messiah will reign from Jerusalem with righteousness and judgment of the nations.  Not only does Revelation speak of this time, but virtually all the prophets of old as well.  Sukkot represents judgment of the nations, so what happened during Sukkot in 1946?

October 16th, 1946, the 7th day of the festival of Sukkot, at the conclusion of the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, 10 of Hitler’s henchmen, who were commissioned by Hitler to exterminate all the Jews, went to the gallows, Just as the 10 sons of Hamen, who were also commissioned to exterminate all the Jews, were hanged on the gallows in the story of Esther!  As he was escorted up the steps of the gallows, Julius Streicher, the last to be hanged, cried out to the crowd of witnesses, “And now I go to God!  Purimfest 1946!” Julius Streicher understood the prophesy of the Book of Esther and was making the connection!   History and prophesy were again repeating in a different way and a different place.

Purim is a festival which celebrates the victory of God’s people over those who would seek to destroy them, in the past, the present, and the future.  We can be assured of ultimate victory, but like Queen Esther, victory is accomplished only by placing our total faith and trust in the God who controls history, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hidden Treasures in the Book of Esther

With Purim approaching, I thought I would point out a little Bible trivia about the book of Esther, the story of which is the basis of the minor festival of Purim.  There was much debate among the Rabbis who were charged to determine the writings that would be included in the Bible, as to whether the Book of Esther belonged in the Tanakh.  The name of God is not mentioned once in the entire Book of Esther.  But is that really true?

I have at times posted many interesting things found only in the original Hebrew text of the Bible.  Hebrew word pictures, the patterns of letters and words, the jots and tittles etc.  The hidden messages imbedded in the Hebrew text.  The more of these that I find, the more I am convinced that this text, the Bible in its original language, was directly inspired and constructed by God for the purpose of reviling His divine nature and provides a powerful witness to His presence and glory in our world today.

The first and perhaps the most revered name of God that appears in scripture, known in Bible scholar circles as the tetragramation, or the four letters, is spelled in the Hebrew יהוה.  The letters read right to left, yood, hey, vav and hey.  In the mainstream Jewish translations of the Tanakh, HaShem, literally “The Name” is substituted for the יהוה.  In most of our standard Christian English translations the word LORD, in all capital letters, is the substitution of choice.  This practice of substitution is a long held tradition but does tend to water down, and in most cases eliminate, the intended messages hidden within the original text.  The name יהוה, is the name that doesn’t appear in the Book of Esther.  But wait, it isn’t quite that simple!

The story of Esther takes place in Persia.  At a time when many of the Jewish people are in exile.  Driven or taken from their land because of turning away from God and following after other gods.  In doing so, God says that he will hide is face from them.

Deuteronomy 31:16-18 NKJV 16 And the LORD said to Moses: "Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 "Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?' 18 "And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.

Just as God had “hidden His face” from the children of Israel, His name is also hidden.  In Esther 5:4 we read the following:

Esther 5:4 NKJV 4 So Esther answered, "If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him."

This highlighted section of the text is 4 words in Hebrew as such:

 
I have enlarged and highlighted the first letter in each of the four words and here is the name of God in the Book of Esther! 

The enemy of the Jewish people in the Book of Esther is the evil Hamen, an Amalekite, or son of Amalek.  Amelek fought with the Israelites at Rephidim, and they continue to face Amalek in every generation to this day!

Exodus 17:7-8 NKJV 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" 8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

Exodus 17:13-16 NKJV 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."

What is the “banquet” that Hamen and the Amalekites are destined to attend?  In the Book of Esther, God mocks Hamen and therefore Amalek.  The ultimate banquet for Amalek is spoken of in Revelation.

Revelation 19:17 NKJV 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God

God will ultimately pass judgment on Amalek and I think Amalek will be the one being eaten rather than the one doing the eating!

The children of Israel are commanded to remember what Amalek did to them along their journey.  The Book of Esther is inspired of God and strategically placed in the Bible to remind us that there is an Amalek in each generation and we are not to forget that he is bent of the destruction of all the Jewish people and by extension and association, all of us who call on the name of the LORD!

The Amalekites are first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14:

Genesis 14:7 NKJV 7 Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

The last time Amalek is mentioned in Genesis is in chapter 36:

Genesis 36:12 NKJV 12 Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau's wife.

In Hebrew Amalek is spelled עמלק.  Another interesting Biblical fact that connects Amalek with the Book of Esther is that from the very first mention of Amalek, from the very first letter of his name in Genesis 14:7, the ע (Ayin), to the last letter of his name in Genesis 36:12, the ק, (Koof), there are 12,110 Hebrew letters in the Torah.  It just so happens that there are exactly 12,110 Hebrew letters in the Book of Esther!  This is just a coincidence right, just a happenstance?  I don’t think so!

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 NKJV 17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 "how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.

The Hebrew word translated as “he met” in this passage is “qarah”, קרע.  It is defined in the Strong’s Dictionary #7136 to light upon (chiefly by accident); happenstance. 

In the Book of Esther:
It just so happens that a Jew becomes queen.
It just so happens that Mordechai hears of a plot to kill the king in a foreign language.
It just so happens the king can’t sleep.
It just so happens the king wants a book to read.
It just so happens that he reads the very page where Mordechai saves his life.
It just so happens that in the middle of the night Hamen walks in.
It just so happens the king walks in and sees Hamen on the bed.
It just so happens the gallows for Mordechi just got finished.

Happenstance?  Just a coincidence?  I don’t think so!  God is in control of history as it says in Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:10 NKJV 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

And it is recorded in Proverbs:

Proverbs 25:2 NKJV 2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

The face of The LORD, Ha Shem, the יהוה, will not always be hidden from us.  He reveals Himself in His word, both written and living.  It is our privilege to search the scripture for these hidden treasures.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reasons for Christians to Celebrate Purim in 2012

This year the minor Jewish festival of Purim falls on Thursday March 8th which is Adar 14 on the Biblical calendar.  The following is an excerpt from our book titled “Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Biblical Feasts.”  The book is available from Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and our own web store at www.moedministries.com.

Purim is the holiday that is established in the book of Esther. It commemorates the defeat of Haman, the enemy of the Jews.

Esther 9:27-28 MKJV 27 the Jews ordained, and took on them and on their seed, and on all such as joined themselves to them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their time every year 28 and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city and these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

Haman was an Amalekite, a descendant of Jacob’s brother Esau. The Amalekites harbored a hatred for Israel from the time Israel first came up out of Egypt. The first battle the Irsaelites fought was against the Amalekites. God pronounced judgment against Amalek for the way they attacked Israel.

Haman, following in the path of his ancestors plotted to have all the Jews killed.

Esther 3:5-6 MKJV 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow nor worship him, then Haman was full of wrath. 6 And he scorned to lay hands only on Mordecai, for they had revealed to him the people of Mordecai. And Haman sought to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, the people of Mordecai.

The unreasoning hatred of Haman reminds us of the hatred and persecution suffered by the Jewish people through the centuries, many times at the instigation of the church. Christians can celebrate Purim as a means to repent of the actions of our church fathers towards the Jewish people. The prophet Daniel is a model for this repentance. When Daniel knew that the 70 years of exile for Judah were coming to an end, he repented of the acts of his fathers.

Daniel 9:4-6 MKJV 4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and awesome God, keeping the covenant and mercy to those who love Him, and to those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Your commandments and from Your judgments. 6 Neither have we listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our rulers, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Even though Daniel himself was a great man of God, he did not consider himself separate from his fellow Israelites or unaccountable for the acts of his forefathers. As the time of Yeshua’s second coming approaches, we as Christians need to confess the sins of our Christian forefathers and return to our God, the same God who is the God of Israel and all the prophets.

The outcome of Haman’s plotting was not what he expected. Queen Esther, herself a Jew although Haman did not know it, exposed his plot. He and his ten sons were hanged on the very gallows he had erected to kill Mordecai. The Jewish people were then given permission to kill those who would try to kill them on the day Haman decreed should be the day of their execution. On that day, the Jewish people fought back and won a great victory. Once again, the nations will gather against Israel to destroy her. Jesus, a Jew although many Christians don’t seem to know it, will reveal the plot against Israel and bring them to justice.

Joel 3:1-3 MKJV 1 For, behold, in those days and in that time, when I will bring again the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will fight with them there for My people and for My inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided My land. 3 And they have cast lots for My people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, so that they might drink.

Like Haman, the nations plot and cast lots (Purim) for the destruction of God’s people. Even now, our own nation is pressuring Israel to divide God’s land. In Esther’s time as the day of the decree approached, many people began to fear God and joined themselves to the Jewish people.

Esther 8:17 MKJV 17 And in every province, and in every city where the king's command and his order came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell on them.
Christians can celebrate Purim as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people. The outcome of the battle when the nations come against Jerusalem will be the same as it was in the days of Esther.

Joel 3:11-14 MKJV 11 Gather yourselves and come, all you nations, and gather yourselves together all around; cause Your mighty ones to come down there, O LORD. 12 Let the nations be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations all around. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, come down; for the press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision!

In the final verse of the book of Esther, we read that Mordecai ruled second only to King Ahasueurus seeking justice and peace for his people.

Esther 10:3 YLT 3 For Mordecai the Jew is second to king Ahasuerus, and a great man of the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking good for his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

The book of Chronicles records the same about David’s reign.

1 Chronicles 18:14 KJV 14 So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.

When Jesus comes again, he will save Judah just like Mordecai and Esther, and He will rule second only to God with peace and justice.

Jeremiah 33:15-16 MKJV 15 In those days, and at that time, I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up to David. And He shall do judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely. And this is the name with which she shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Isn’t it time for those who call themselves by the name of Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah of Israel, to stand with Israel?
 
שלום ולהיות מבורך
Shalom and be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart