Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Wind and the Spirits

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

Video version of this teaching available at

Yeshua again returned to His primary headquarters of Peter’s home in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  There He engaged in teaching His followers and disciples about the kingdom of God with many parables.  His reputation was now such that huge crowds gathered around Him wherever He went.  Privacy was nearly impossible, even while in Peter’s house there were multitudes of people gathered outside waiting and calling for the Master to come meet with them.  One day, when evening came, Yeshua had a plan.  

Mark 4:35-36 NKJV 35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." 36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.

Slipping out of Peter’s house after dark, Yeshua along with Peter, James, and John, got into the boat that, earlier in the day Yeshua had used as a speaking platform, and set out to the other side of the Galilee to the Gentile territory of Gadriyim. It would not be an easy crossing.

The Sea of Galilee is located about 400 feet below sea level in a region surrounded by high hills.  High winds and stormy conditions are a common occurrence on the sea and often spring up suddenly, without warning and with great ferocity.  These sudden storms frequently rise up in the late afternoons and even at night in what otherwise appears to be calm conditions.

The common fishing boats used on the Galilee were small, about 20 to 25 feet in length, and sat low in the water to facilitate the handling of the trammel nets.

While the three disciples handled the navigation of the boat, Yeshua slept in the stern when a sudden and particularly violent storm arose on the sea.  

Mark 4:37-39 NKJV 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Mark’s description of the storm is rather like the storm described in the story of Jonah. 

Jonah 1:4-5 NKJV 4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

There are some striking parallels between these accounts.  Both have the principle character asleep when a raging storm arises.  Both stories have the sailors terrified and fearful of their boat sinking.  In both stories, the sailors awaken the sleeping individual who in both cases, has the solution to the problem and the storm is immediately halted.  This sudden and miraculous calming of the sea, terrifies both the sailors on Jonah’s boat as well as Yeshua’s disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

The Master Yeshua arose and immediately rebuked the wind and it became still.  It is interesting that the Hebrew word for wind is Ruach, number 7307 in the Strong’s Dictionary and means wind, as in breath.  But it is also the same Hebrew that means spirit.

Yeshua uses the same words in rebuke and calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee that night as He uses to rebuke evil spirits.  He commands the wind to, “Peace, be still!”  In our modern way of thinking, rebuking a weather phenomenon in this manner makes no logical sense.  But in the Jewish culture of the day, a storm of this nature was not merely a storm.  The belief was that the spiritual world manifested itself in the physical world.  In other words, the storm on the Sea that night was a direct, physical manifestation of a spiritual battle, it had demonic origins.

First Fruits of Zion in their work, The Chronicles of Messiah quote the work of Rabbi Samuel Lachs who wrote a rabbinic commentary of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.[1]

(There are) several Talmudic references to a spirit or demon of the sea, a concept that reaches back into Israelite ideas about Yam and Rahab and the forces of Chaos that ruled the waters, and their correlations in Canaanite mythology.

Yeshua spoke His rebuke, and the wind and the waters fled.  The very sound of His voice was enough to calm both the wind and the sea. The Psalmist speaks of the Power of the LORD to calm the sea.  

Psalms 107:23-30 NKJV 23 Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, 24 They see the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea. 26 They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits' end. 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.

As Yeshua speaks and calms the wind and waves, he asks a question of his Disciples in a kind of mocking rebuke of them.  

Mark 4:40-41 NKJV 40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

Had Peter, James and John, Yeshua’s most trusted and beloved disciples, having witnessed the multitude of miracles performed by Yeshua over the previous months, really lost faith?  Again, their reaction to the calming of the sea was strikingly similar to the sailors aboard the ship with Jonah. 

Jonah 1:16 NKJV 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

Unlike the fate of Jonah, whom the sailors threw into the sea, Yeshua’s disciples did not throw Him overboard.  After the wind and waves were calmed, they continued their journey across the Sea of Galilee to the area of Gerasenes, or in Hebrew Gadriyim, to one of the cities of the Decapolis. They were about to meet another kind of storm.  

Mark 5:1-5 NKJV 1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

No sooner had Yeshua and the disciples left their boat, then a shadowy figure raced toward them from the tombs cut into the hillside near the shoreline.  The scriptures describe the man as unclean, living in an unclean place, a grave yard, and possessed by unclean spirits.  Luke’s gospel describes him as being naked.  

Luke 8:27 NKJV 27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.

His body would always have open wounds because of his constant gashing of himself against the rocks of the caves. He is often heard through the night screaming and shrieking in and around the tombs on the hillside.  The gospel of Matthew has some additional description citing there were two such men. 

Matthew 8:28 NKJV 28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.

This man, or perhaps two men, came screaming down the hillside from the burial caves when he spotted Yeshua and the disciples landing on the shore. 

Mark 5:6-7 NKJV 6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me."

The demonic spirit immediately recognizes Yeshua, not only calling Him by name, but recognizing Him as the “Son of the Most High God!”  He immediately recognizes Yeshua’s spiritual identity.  This is the same reaction as the demonic spirit in the man found in the Synagogue in Capernaum.  

Mark 1:23-24 NKJV 23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!"

In the typical exorcism, the evil spirits are cast out in the name of, or authority of, a higher power. Namely in the authority of Yeshua as the Son of the Most High God.  Later, the disciples cast out demons in the name of, or authority of, Yeshua.  In this case we see a bit of a reversal.  The demon requests that the exorcist, namely Yeshua, not torment him, as we see in Mark 5 verse 7.  What torture was feared by this demon?  Did he know something of his ultimate end?  Again, the gospel of Matthew may shed some additional light on this.  

Matthew 8:29 NKJV 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

It seems that this demon, or more accurately, this legion of demons, know what is coming to them and by who’s hand it is coming!

There are several accounts of judgment coming upon the demonic spirits in apocryphal writings as well as the canonized books of Jude, 2nd Peter and Revelation.  The Master Yeshua Himself spoke of the ultimate fate of the demonic spirits, the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.  

Matthew 25:41 NKJV 41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

In the apocryphal Book of Enoch, we find an interesting account where the “Son of Man” will judge the fallen angels. 

“You mighty kings who dwell on the earth, you shall behold My Chosen One, how He sits on the throne of glory and judges Azazel, and all his associates, and all his hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits.”

Are these evil spirits on this hillside anticipating an appointed time of torment?  Are they surprised to see the Son of the Most High God, the very agent of their torment and judgment, so long in advance of the appointed time?  This legion of demons possessing this man, or perhaps two men, immediately recognized Yeshua as the Son of God and the one to be their judge.  All demons know that, one day, Messiah Yeshua will send them into the Lake of fire.  The Talmud records an interesting take on this judgment.

Satan said before the Holy one, blessed be He: “Master of the World!  The light which is hidden under your Throne of Glory, for whom is it destined?”  He said to him; “For him who will turn you back and disgrace you and shame your face.”  He said to him; “Master of the World! Show him to me!”  He said to him; “Come and see him!”  When Satan saw the Messiah, he trembled and fell upon his face and said; “Surely this is the Messiah who in the future will cast me and all the princes of the nations of the world in Gehenna.”[2]

The encounter with this demon possessed man was a kind of spiritual, demonic storm, not unlike the fierce wind storm Yeshua and the disciples faced earlier in the night on the Sea of Galilee.  In previous encounters with demons, Yeshua had succeeded in exorcising them with little to no resistance.  This time it was a bit more difficult.  This time Yeshua demanded to know the name of this demon. 

Mark 5:9 NKJV 9 Then He asked him, "What is your name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many."

How many demons were they dealing with here?  A typical Roman legion consisted of 4000 to 6000 men.  Obviously Yeshua was not dealing with one or just a handful of demonic spirits in this case.  He had come across the Sea of Galilee, into Gentile territory and was met by an army of demons!  These demons implored Yeshua not to send them away into exile. 

Luke 8:31 NKJV 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

There was a nearby herd of pigs, approximately 2000 of them, which the demons begged Yeshua to send them into these swine instead. 

Mark 5:11-13 NKJV 11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." 13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea and drowned in the sea.

Once the demons entered the swine, the pigs then immediately charged down the slope and into the water to be drowned.  This legion of demonic spirits now had no place to go and departed from the area.  This must certainly have left a lasting impression on Peter James and John.  Did they see the bigger picture that was just presented to them?  Here was an unclean man, a Gentile, who dwelt in an unclean place, tombs or a graveyard, possessed by unclean spirits who were, in turn, exiled into unclean animals!

Perhaps the legion which occupied this man symbolically represented the Roman occupation of the land.  Roman Legions carried the symbol of a wild boar on their unit standards.  To the disciples and to those following Yeshua, perhaps the exorcism of the demons and the destruction of the herd of swine was seen as a sign of the toppling of Rome and the liberation of their land!  The Jewish people of the day were actively seeking a conquering King Messiah to over throw Rome.

The disciples, and perhaps Yeshua himself felt that this was enough adventure for one night, got back in their boat and returned across the lake.

In closing, let’s take a closer look at Mark’s account of this encounter with this man possessed by a legion of demons.  Looking at Mark 5:2-6 again.

Mark 5:2-6 NKJV 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.

A: And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
B: who had his dwelling among the tombs;
C: and no one could bind him, not even with chains,
D: because he had often been bound with shackles and
D: And the chains had been pulled apart by him,
   and the shackles broken in pieces;
C: neither could anyone tame him.
B: And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the      
   tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
A: When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.

As we examine this passage a little closer we will see a pattern emerge.  We can begin to discern a common Hebraic poetic structure known as a chaisim.  The chaisim is structured in four steps walking inward to a central theme. Step A, we find in verses 2 and 6 with “immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit” and “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.”  Moving inward to step B in verses 3 and 5: “who had his dwelling among the tombs” and “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs”.  Step C in verses 3b and 4b: “and no one could bind him, not even with chains” and “neither could anyone tame him.” And the central theme, Step D is: “because he had often been bound with shackles and chains,” and “And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces.”

The central theme of this chaisim teaches us that our own power will never be sufficient to tame the demons or evil spirits that populate this world.  If we try to bind them in our own strength and authority, we will fail every time.

In this account of Yeshua and the disciple,s journey crossing the Sea of Galilee, they encounter two exceedingly fierce storms; one physical with the wind, the ruach; and one spiritual with the legion of spirits or again, ruach.  In both cases, we see that only the power of God through the authority of Yeshua is sufficient to quell the wind and the spirits.  Yeshua is sufficient to deal with the little things like healing the small child, causing the blind to see, casting out a demon or two.  But when the big storm hits in the middle of the night, were the disciples going to trust Him?  Are we going to put our full faith and trust In Yeshua to not only take care of our little needs, but when the major, unexpected storms arise out of nowhere, will we still trust in Yeshua’s power and authority?

Study Questions:

2. What are additional similarities and differences between this account and the story of Jonah?

3. How does Yeshua’s authority over the physical and the spiritual storms demonstrate that He is Messiah?

4. What is the significance of the four unclean things: The unclean man, the unclean place, the unclean spirits, and the unclean animals?

5. What are the deeper meanings revealed in the chiasm in Mark 5:2-6?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International

[1] The Chronicles of the Messiah, D. Thomas Lancaster, FFOZ, Vol.2 p.637
[2] Pesikta Rabbiat 35-36

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