Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Repairing the House of God

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart

The video version of this teaching is available at:
https://youtu.be/7oiWusM1tHc

The scripture reading is: 2nd Kings 11:21-12:16
This haftarah portion is about the offerings taken for repairing the temple of God during the reign of King Jehoash. Jehoash became king when he was seven years old and set his heart on repairing the temple.
2 Kings 12:4-5 NKJV 4 And Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the LORD-each man's census money, each man's assessment money-and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the LORD, 5 "let the priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; and let them repair the damages of the temple, wherever any dilapidation is found."
This passage corresponds to the Torah portion Vayak’hel which includes the description of the offering taken to build the Tabernacle in the wilderness. In both situations, the offerings were those given voluntarily to the LORD. The book of Exodus relates that in the wilderness, the offerings were immediately used to build the Tabernacle which was completed within six months. However, in King Jehoash’s time, the offerings were not immediately used for the needed repairs.

Why did it take so long to repair the temple? Why was the temple in need of such major repairs? How does the state of the temple reflect the state of the throne of Judah? What does this tell us about the time that Yeshua takes the throne?

The state of the house of God and the state of the house of David have been linked from the time of their founding. Because David had a heart to build a house for God; God would build a house for David.
2 Samuel 7:25-27 NKJV 25 "Now, O LORD God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever and do as You have said. 26 "So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, 'The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel.' And let the house of Your servant David be established before You. 27 "For You, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed this to Your servant, saying, 'I will build you a house.' Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You.
Now, at the time of Jehoash, God’s house and David’s house were both in disrepair. Jehoash had to take the throne at the young age of seven indicating problems in the house of David. The temple was in sad disrepair through years of idolatry and misuse. What happened that both houses were in such a state?
The new king, Jehoash, was the great grandson of both the famous King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the notorious King Ahab of Israel. At the time of Jehoash’s grandfather, King Jehoram of Judah, the ties between Judah and Israel were close. This sounds good; we would think that a close relationship would foster the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel. Unfortunately, Israel was not drawn to return to the true worship of God, instead Judah was drawn into the sins of Israel! King Jehoram married the daughter of King Ahab and walked according to the ways of the wicked kings of Israel.
2 Kings 8:18 NKJV 18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.
The house of David, under Jehoram, followed in the wickedness of Ahab and the previous kings of Israel. After Jehoshaphat died and Jehoram became king, Jehoram killed all of his brothers and other princes of Israel. Yet, in spite of Jehoram’s wickedness, God was not willing to remove the kingship from the house of David or destroy David’s house.
2 Chronicles 21:7 NKJV 7 Yet the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
God had promised that David and his sons would be a lamp to Israel. David is first referred to as the bearer of the lamp of Israel when David fought against the Philistines who killed King Saul and his son Jonathan.
2 Samuel 21:17 NKJV 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, "You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel."
When Solomon turned away from God in his later years and God determined to tear the kingdom away from the sons of Solomon, God reserved one tribe to Solomon so that the lamp of Israel would not be extinguished.
1 Kings 11:36 NKJV 36 'And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there.
In the time of Jehoram, the house of David faced even greater threats than it did under Solomon. Jehoram had killed all his brothers and many other princes of Israel. These princes would have been people with influence and authority and probably included other descendants of David through his other sons. Jehoram’s evil came to the attention of the prophet Elijah. Elijah’s ministry was centered in the northern kingdom of Israel where he prophesied against King Ahab and his family. However, the word of God came to Elijah regarding Jehoram, and Elijah relayed that word to Jehoram in a letter.
2 Chronicles 21:12-15 NKJV 12 And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus says the LORD God of your father David: Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father's household, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the LORD will strike your people with a serious affliction-your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15 and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.
Two years later, Jehoram died in severe pain due to this illness of his intestines. He had reigned in Judah for eight years. Most of Jehoram’s sons had died in an attack by Arabians leaving only the youngest son. At Jehoram’s death, his youngest son Ahaziah became king over Judah. The ranks of the house of David continued to be thinned!
Ahaziah and his cousin King Joram of Israel were close friends and allies, both continuing in the wickedness of King Ahab. However, God, determined on the end of the house of Ahab, sent Jehu to bring His judgment. King Azariah, along with his nephews, came to the support of King Joram. Jehu killed all of them in the resulting battles. The house of Ahab was destroyed and Jehu became king of Israel. However, the death of Ahaziah and his nephews left a power vacuum in Judah.
At the death of her son and her brothers, Ahaziah’s mother Athaliah, determined to wipe out the remaining members of the house of David and seize the throne of Judah for herself.
2 Chronicles 22:10 NKJV 10 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah.
Things were looking really bleak for the house of David! However, Yehoshab’ath, Ahaziah’s sister and the wife of the high priest, rescued Ahaziah’s infant son and hid him in the house of God.
2 Chronicles 22:11-12 NKJV 11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered, and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she did not kill him. 12 And he was hidden with them in the house of God for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
It is fitting that the only remaining heir of the house of David would find refuge in the house of God! Jehoash was raised by his aunt and uncle, staying in the house of God for six years. In the seventh year, his uncle the high priest Jehoiada, acted to restore the house of David to the throne of Judah. And this was all accomplished in the house of God!
Jehoiada gathered the military leaders, the Levites, and the chief leaders of Judah to make a covenant with Jehoash to make him king.
2 Chronicles 23:1a,2-3 NKJV 1 In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds… 2 And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. 3 Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, "Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David.
When the appointed day arrived to proclaim Jehoash as king, the temple guard escorted Jehoash into the temple where he stood by a pillar. They gave him the testimony and proclaimed him king!
2 Kings 11:10-12 NKJV 10 And the priest gave the captains of hundreds the spears and shields which had belonged to King David, that were in the temple of the LORD. 11 Then the escorts stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, all around the king, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, by the altar and the house. 12 And he brought out the king's son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, "Long live the king!"
The house of David had been repaired! The rightful king, who was hidden away for six years, was revealed in the seventh year and was now on the throne! The usurper, Athaliah, devout worshiper of Baal, was executed in the king’s house.
2 Kings 11:15-16 NKJV 15 And Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the army, and said to them, "Take her outside under guard, and slay with the sword whoever follows her." For the priest had said, "Do not let her be killed in the house of the LORD." 16 So they seized her; and she went by way of the horses' entrance into the king's house, and there she was killed.
With the restoration of the house of David, it was now time to repair the relationship between the people and God!
2 Kings 11:17 NKJV 17 Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people, and also between the king and the people.
The bonds of the covenant and the bonds of trust that had been broken needed to be repaired. The kingdom of Judah, which had been led into idolatry and Baal worship by King Jehoram, King Ahazaiah and Athaliah needed to return to God and renew their covenant with Him. They needed to bind themselves in covenant agreement that Jehoash was their king.
Their first act as new covenant partners was to destroy the temple of Baal.
2 Kings 11:18 NKJV 18 And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They thoroughly broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.
Jehoash was taken and installed on the throne of the kings of Judah and the people rejoiced!
2 Kings 11:20 NKJV 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king's house.
Now was time to repair the house of God! The house had suffered greatly under Athaliah and her sons which she probably had from a previous marriage.
2 Chronicles 24:7 NKJV 7 For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had also presented all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD to the Baals.
Jehoash began by designating all voluntary offerings that were brought into the house of God to be used for needed repairs.
2 Kings 12:4 NKJV 4 And Jehoash said to the priests, "All the money of the dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the LORD-each man's census money, each man's assessment money-and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
Dedicated gifts, census money, and voluntary offerings were to be used for these repairs. These were all offerings given above and beyond tithes and other offerings. The dedicated gifts were those described by Moses in Leviticus 27 which included a monetary gift equal to their own value, gifts of animals, houses, and land. The census money was the half-shekel token that was counted instead of the people.
Exodus 30:13 NKJV 13 "This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.
The funds gathered in the census were used for the service of the tabernacle. Finally, any gifts that a man chose to give for the house of the LORD were to be used for that purpose. When the tabernacle was built in the wilderness, it was built from the free will offerings of the people.
Exodus 35:4-5 NKJV 4 And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: 5 'Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze;
King Jehoash commanded that these offerings be placed in the hands of the priests to make repairs as they had the funds available to do so. However, twenty-three years later, the repairs had still not been done.
2 Kings 12:6-7 NKJV 6 Now it was so, by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, that the priests had not repaired the damages of the temple. 7 So King Jehoash called Jehoiada the priest and the other priests, and said to them, "Why have you not repaired the damages of the temple? Now therefore, do not take more money from your constituency, but deliver it for repairing the damages of the temple."
Whether there was corruption or simply inefficiency, is unknown; however, Jehoash was not pleased and removed the priests from the equation. Jehoash put the high priest Jehoiada in charge of collecting and distributing the funds.
2 Kings 12:9 NKJV 9 Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the house of the LORD; and the priests who kept the door put there all the money brought into the house of the LORD.
The funds were counted and given to the workmen who oversaw and accomplished the repairs to the temple. They focused on the physical structure first, then, turned to making new articles for use in the house of God.
2 Chronicles 24:14 NKJV 14 When they had finished, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada; they made from it articles for the house of the LORD, articles for serving and offering, spoons and vessels of gold and silver. And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.
The house of David and the house of God had both been repaired! King and priest worked together to restore the true worship of God.
Damage to both the house of God and the house of David came through the introduction of idolatry into the kingdom. It didn’t seem to start as much, merely bringing a wife into the house. King Jehoshaphat, Jehoram’s father, authorized and perhaps even orchestrated Jehoram’s marriage to Ahab’s daughter. Jehoram’s weak character and desire to do evil did the rest. As a result of the sin of the house of David, the temple was allowed to deteriorate and be used for idolatry. It could not be repaired until the house of David was first repaired!
When Yeshua returns, He must first repair the authority of the throne of David removing any usurpers to His throne! Only when Yeshua has taken His rightful place on the throne, will He repair or rebuild the temple of God!
We, also, became a temple to the LORD when we accepted Yeshua, the scion of the house of David, as our Lord and King! He builds us into a temple of God!
Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
When we turn away from Yeshua, the embodiment of the house of David, our temple is in danger of being corrupted. Paul writes that there is no compromise between God and idols.
2 Corinthians 6:16 NKJV 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."
Paul goes on to tell us to cleanse ourselves from the sins of the flesh and the spirit so that we will be a holy dwelling place for God. Then, with willing hearts, we are to bring our offerings to our high priest and king to be used to build up the temple of God in our lives as we anticipate the return of Yeshua and the establishment of His throne.
Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Vayak’hel, Exodus 35:1-38:20:11-34:35.

2. Where is the phrase “the lamp of Israel” used and what does it mean?

3. King Jehoram’s wife Athaliah was the daughter of King Ahab. In 2 Kings 8:26, she is referred to as the granddaughter of Omir. What is the significance of referring to her in relation to King Omri? Athaliah reigned for six years and was killed in the seventh. How can she be compared to the woman on a scarlet beast in Revelation 17?

4. Amos 9:11 refers to a tabernacle of David. How can we apply this teaching to the message of Amos 9:11

5. What does Paul say about believers being the temple of God? How do his words relate to this teaching?

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

Extra Credit: 2 Kings 12:2 says that King Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days in which Jehoiada instructed him. What happened to Jehoash after Jehoiada died? How many kings of Judah followed in his path?

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Who is the Troubler of the Israel?


By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at: https://youtu.be/ZkICXxbM-2I
The scripture reading is 1st Kings 18:1-39
The time period of this week’s Haftarah reading is a rough one for the prophets of the God of Israel.  Ahab was king and we are hard pressed to determine whether he or his wife Jezebel are the worst of the pair.  Undoubtedly king Ahab was one of the most powerful and successful kings of the northern kingdom.  He expanded the political and commercial interests of the kingdom during his twenty-two year reign. However, Ahab also earned the reputation of being the most sinful and evil king to rule the nation of Israel.
Ahab brought idolatry in the Northern kingdom to an entirely new level by greatly expanding the worship of Baal.  He ordered the death of many hundreds of the prophets of the God of Israel.  But when such an evil king, and in such times as these rise up, the LORD God of Israel raises to the challenge and brings forth greater prophets to counter the evil.
This Haftarah reading contains one of the most well-known of the many miraculous stories involving the prophet Elijah.  It is the story of the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah.  But we will see that they were no match for the one prophet Elijah and the God of Israel.
At the opening of our Haftarah reading we find the land is experiencing an extended famine because of a drought.  This drought was brought about through the prophet Elijah.
1 Kings 17:1 NKJV 1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."
The worship of Baal in the kingdom of Israel was most likely introduced by Ahab’s Father Omri.  When Ahab became king, he married Jezebel the daughter of a Canaanite king.
1 Kings 16:31 NKJV 31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.
After pronouncing the famine and drought before king Ahab, Elijah received word from the LORD to go into hiding.
1 Kings 17:2-4 NKJV 2 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."
So we have set before us in this Haftarah a contrast between two central figures, not unlike a previous teaching we had done titled “The Tale of Two Kings”; the story of the on-going rivalry between Herod Antipas and Yeshua.  In this teaching we have, on the one hand Elijah, a prophet and a man of God who had appeared before Ahab some three and a half years earlier and announced the famine. And on the other hand, we have Ahab, politicly successful king of Israel but an exceedingly evil man in the sight of the LORD.
The LORD once again calls on Elijah to present himself to Ahab to announce the end of the drought.
1 Kings 18:1-2 NKJV 1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth." 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.
Rather than looking to God to deliver Israel from the famine and drought, Ahab looked to his own solutions.  He sent his servant Obadiah out to secure food and water for the king’s livestock.
1 Kings 18:3-6 NKJV 3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. 4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock. 6 So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
Like Elijah, Obadiah feared the LORD God of Israel and was himself a prophet.  We had previously done a study on Obadiah which you can find in our video archives. Obadiah was on the mission that Ahab had sent him on when he met up with Elijah. Elijah told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he wants a meeting, but Obadiah is fearful because Ahab has been searching for Elijah to have him killed.
1 Kings 18:7-10 NKJV 7 Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is that you, my lord Elijah?" 8 And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.'" 9 So he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 "As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, 'He is not here,' he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you.
Obadiah is very doubtful and complains about it to Elijah!
1 Kings 18:11-14 NKJV 11 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here"'! 12 "And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 "Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD'S prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here."' He will kill me!"
Elijah assures Obadiah that it is safe for him to tell Ahab that Elijah wants to meet.
1 Kings 18:15-16 NKJV 15 Then Elijah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today." 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
It is apparent that not only king Ahab, but many of the people blamed Elijah for the famine and drought when it was clearly a judgment from God.  It’s the classic case of “kill the messenger.” We see it over and over again throughout the scriptures with respect to the prophets of the God of Israel. Ahab expresses this sentiment toward Elijah, and Elijah answers with a direct challenge to Ahab and his devotion to Baal.
1 Kings 18:17-19 NKJV 17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?" 18 And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. 19 "Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
This was quite the reprimand and challenge to Ahab.  Was Elijah the real troublemaker?  No, it was not Elijah, but God who brought the famine on the land as a result of the idolatry of Ahab and the rulers of the kingdom! If Elijah troubled anybody, he troubled king Ahab and his wife Jezebel through his relentless and never-ending outcry against their wickedness.  Not only their personal wickedness, but the greater sin of causing all of Israel to sin! King Ahab and his wife were the ones who forsook the commandments of God! Jezebel was a Canaanite, and Ahab’s marriage to her was a clear violation of specific commands of the Torah.
Ahab’s troubles were a direct result of his unfaithfulness to the covenant. The consequences of such actions are clearly defined in Deuteronomy chapters twenty-seven through twenty-nine.
This brings us to the central story in our Haftarah this week. Elijah challenged Ahab to a kind of final showdown.  Who was the most powerful?  The LORD God of Israel or Baal? Elijah details the challenge.
1 Kings 18:20-24 NKJV 20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 "Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 "Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God." So all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken."
The situation in Israel had come to a head and Elijah, through the guidance of the LORD, decided it was time to act. He told Ahab that he would challenge the best of the prophets and worshipers of Baal to a kind of duel.
They all gathered at Mount Carmel; the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal as well as a multitude of the people.  The Hebrew in the text indicates there were at least some representatives from every tribe of the kingdom.
The place of this showdown, Mount Carmel is the northern most peak of a mountain range stretching some thirty miles from what is today, Haifa to Megiddo.  Mount Carmel rises from the valley floor to a height of about five hundred feet. The name Carmel, number 3760 in the Strong’s lexicon, means fruitful field, plentiful, garden. To this day, Mount Carmel is rich in olive groves and vineyards.
At the time of our Haftarah, Mount Carmel was also a key center of Baal worship. Even the Egyptians regarded Mount Carmel as a sacred promontory. Because of their belief system, and the practices of Baal worship, they regarded much of human life as expendable. Murder and other heinous crimes were tolerated if not out-right condoned if it was felt expedient. People were lured by the temple prostitutes and sexual acts performed in the temples of Baal as acts of worship. Farmers were often driven to sacrifice their own children in their effort to bring rain for their crops.
Elijah spelled out the challenge and let the priests and prophets of Baal have the first go.
1 Kings 18:25-26 NKJV 25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it." 26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, "O Baal, hear us!" But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.
The show must have gone on for hours without the fire igniting. Elijah mocked their strange rituals and their god.
1 Kings 18:27-29 NKJV 27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened." 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
If it wasn’t so sad and pathetic, it would be funny. Their antics were worthy of mocking and their practices were downright vulgar. Verse twenty-eight mentions the priests and prophets cutting themselves and bleeding. Perhaps some of their other common practices were performed here as well but are not specifically mentioned. Eventually they worked themselves into a frenzy in attempting to get their god to light the sacrificial fire. But it was to no avail.
It is perhaps ironic that Baal is known, in addition to being a fertility god, was also known as a god of fire and lightning. There was no fire or lightning coming from Baal! As the time of the evening sacrifice approached, it was now Elijah’s turn and he called the attention of the people.
1 Kings 18:30-35 NKJV 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name." 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, "Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood." 34 Then he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time; and he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.
Elijah enlisted the people to help him with rebuilding the altar of God located on Mount Carmel and to prepare the sacrifice.  Elijah had them totally drenched the sacrifice, all the wood for the burning, the altar and even filling up the trench around the altar with large amounts of water.  How was the fire to consume the sacrifice when it was so thoroughly soaked with water?  This must have confused the people.
Many of the things Elijah did in preparation are quite interesting and perhaps have some serious implications and symbolic meaning for the wayward kingdom of Israel and king Ahab.  As part of the repair of the altar, Elijah placed twelve stones on the altar representing the twelve tribes.  Although this event took place in the northern kingdom which consisted of just ten tribes, this act indicates that Elijah and God considered Israel as a single and complete kingdom of twelve tribes. But above all, the total soaking of the altar and the sacrifice with water would remove all doubt that only God could light this fire! And the miracle happened just as Elijah said it would!
1 Kings 18:36-39 NKJV 36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!"
This was a tremendous victory for Elijah and the God of Israel.  We are not told how many of the people ultimately turned back to God because of this miracle. Even though Elijah was among the few or even the one prophet of God declaring His word to the backslidden people of the kingdom of Israel, God promised him there would always be a remnant of faithful in Israel.
1 Kings 19:18 NKJV 18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
The apostle Paul cites this incident and the encouragement that the LORD gave to Elijah when he teaches that Israel’s rejection of the LORD is not total or final.
Romans 11:1-4 NKJV 1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
For Elijah and all of Israel, by the time the day was finished, God had proved that He alone was the supreme and only sovereign God of the universe!
The lesson we can take away from this Haftarah this week is that against unimaginable odds; when we find ourselves greatly outnumbered and smack in the middle of enemy territory, we can be assured that there is indeed a remnant of believers among the Jews and among the nations. There is power in standing faithful to the LORD even when it seems we are the only ones doing it. By allowing Messiah Yeshua to live in us; allowing the Holy Spirit to indwell us with power as taught and demonstrated to us through the prophets like Elijah and the apostle Paul and others, we will see many opportunities to proclaim the name of Messiah and the Holy One of Israel. The strongholds of the idols of this world cannot, and will not stand up to the God of Israel.
Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35.

2. Compare the rivalry between Elijah and Ahab to that of Yeshua and Herod Antipas.  What are the similarities?  How are they different?  Compare the outcomes and final disposition Ahab and Herod Antipas.  (Reference our teaching “The Tale of Two Kings” from 3-7-2018 available in our YouTube and Facebook archives.)

3. Although we did not cover Obadiah’s involvement in this Haftarah reading, why was he brought into this story? What purpose did he serve to this event? What was his relationship to Ahab and Elijah?

4. Why do you think Mount Carmel was chosen by Elijah for this challenge? What is the significance of this site?

5. Other than demonstrating the unquenchable nature of the fire sent by God, what is the significance of soaking the sacrifice and entire altar with water?

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Shabbat Service 2-16-2019

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching (available from our website at MoedMinistries.com) and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, Livestream.com and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Grace and Truth in the Torah - Part 4

Part 4 and the final part of our study from our book "Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah, Vol. 4."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Proclaim the House of the LORD


The video version of this teaching is available at: https://youtu.be/e61vrRzISmk
The reading for this teaching is: Ezekiel 43:10-27
Ezekiel was a priest and prophet who lived in Babylon at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God. Although Ezekiel wasn’t in Jerusalem to physically see this destruction, he saw it in a vision. Ezekiel also saw a vision of a new temple or house of God. In this portion of the scriptures, Ezekiel 43:10-27, God commands Ezekiel to describe this temple to the house of Israel.
Ezekiel 43:10 NKJV 10 "Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.
A description of the altar follows this interchange, not a description of the temple. Further, why would describing the temple to the house of Israel make them recognize and be ashamed of their iniquities? And what patterns were they to measure?
The word “describe” in this verse we just read is “nagad,” number 5046 in Strong’s Concordance, meaning to front. That is, to stand boldly out opposite and announce, proclaim, expose, explain, or praise. The word “temple” in this verse is “beit,” number 1004 in Strong’s Concordance, meaning house. Ezekiel was to proclaim, expose, explain and praise the house of God! Although a description of this house is included, Ezekiel was to do more than just describe the house! The house of Israel was to be shown the house of God and they were to measure the patterns that they saw.
Let’s go back a few chapters so we can understand the context of this instruction God gave to Ezekiel. These instructions were part of a vision that Ezekiel had on the tenth of the month of Nisan.
Ezekiel 40:1 NKJV 1 In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me; and He took me there.
The tenth of Nisan is an important day for the children of Israel. This is the day that they selected the Passover lamb while they were still in Egypt. They kept and protected the Passover lamb for the four days leading up to the Passover examining it for blemishes.
Exodus 12:3 NKJV 3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
For Ezekiel the priest, this day would be a day that he would deeply experience the loss of the temple in Jerusalem. Without a temple, the Passover as practiced for hundreds of years could no longer be observed. God commanded that the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins at the conclusion of the Passover, be observed at the place where He caused His name to reside. For hundreds of years, that place was at the temple in Jerusalem presided over by the priests. But, nineteen years before this vision, Ezekiel had another vision, recorded in chapters eight through eleven, in which he saw the Glory of the LORD depart from the temple and the city. The Glory of the LORD first crosses over the threshold of the temple.
Ezekiel 10:18 NKJV 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.
Then the Glory departs from the city to pause on the Mt. of Olives.
Ezekiel 11:23 NKJV 23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.
God’s presence was no longer in the house that David and Solomon built for Him! Seven years later, on the ninth of Av, the temple was destroyed. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were still practiced but not at Jerusalem and not at a central temple of worship. Ezekiel, the head of his household, would have selected the lamb for his household on this day that he received the vision of a new house for God! What an incredible joy that vision would have been!
Ezekiel 40:4 NKJV 4 And the man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see."
Once more, we see the instruction that Ezekiel was to “declare” everything he saw. This word, translated “declare” is “nagad” the same word translated “describe” in Ezekiel 43:10.
This opportunity to tour God’s house would be like being invited to tour every nook and cranny of Bill Gates’ brand new house. You are even allowed to measure the size of the rooms and examine the furnishings and share everything you saw! You would certainly take pictures and videos of everything and post them on Facebook! Our son recently returned from a trip to India where he was able to take a tour of the Taj Mahal. He came back with lots of pictures and short videos which he shared with us but he was not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the Taj Mahal.
As Ezekiel completed the tour of the future house of God, he was taken to the eastern gate and witnessed the Glory of God coming to take up residence in His house.
Ezekiel 43:1-2 NKJV 1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.
Imagine that once you have finished your tour of Bill Gates’ house, he drives up the driveway to move in and invites you back into the house for a private conversation. This is kind of what happened for Ezekiel except Ezekiel got to witness the arrival of the glory of God!
Ezekiel 43:4-5 MKJV 4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose view is eastward. 5 And the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner chamber. And behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
Ezekiel was brought into the house, into the inner court, to have a conversation with God!
Ezekiel 43:6-7 ASV 6 And I heard one speaking unto me out of the house; and a man stood by me. 7 And he said unto me, Son of man, this is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, and by the dead bodies of their kings in their high places;
God explained that the house of Israel would no longer defile His house, the place of His throne. This implies that the house of Israel had defiled God’s previous house, the house that had been destroyed more than twelve years earlier. They defiled God’s house by their whoredom; they were unfaithful to God by worshiping other gods in God’s house. The “dead bodies” of their kings probably refers to both the bodies of the kings and the lifeless idols the kings worshiped. God uses the same word to describe His judgment on those who do not obey God and keep His commandments.
Leviticus 26:30 ASV 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your sun-images, and cast your dead bodies upon the bodies of your idols; and my soul shall abhor you.
God goes on to condemn the house of Israel for violating the thresholds and doorposts of God’s house.
Ezekiel 43:8 NKJV 8 "When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed; therefore I have consumed them in My anger.
Remember the context of this vision was four days before the Passover. On the Passover in Egypt, they were to kill the lamb selected on the tenth of the month, the day of the vision, at the threshold of their house and put the blood of this lamb on the doorposts and lintels.
Exodus 12:6-7 NKJV 6 'Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 'And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
To understand the significance of God’s words of judgment to the house of Israel, we have to understand that the Passover sacrifice is a threshold covenant sacrifice. The lamb was the covenant sacrifice killed at the threshold of the house.
Exodus 12:22 NKJV 22 "And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.
The word “basin” is the Hebrew word “saf,” number 5592, meaning something that contains, a dish, basin, or threshold. This is the same word that is translated threshold in Ezekiel 43:8. The threshold was a shallow trough across the base of the doorway. The late nineteenth century theologian H. Clay Trumbull explains the significance of the threshold in his book The Threshold Covenant. When an honored guest arrived, the resident of the house would meet the guest at the doorway with the sacrificial animal. The animal would be slain at the doorway with the blood draining into the threshold or basin. The host would take some of the blood and put it around the doorway on the doorposts and the lintels. When the guest entered the home, he passed through the blood entering into a threshold covenant. The covenant agreement was that the guest would not harm any of the family and that the host would protect the life of the guest above even those of his own family.
God’s statement that the house of Israel put a threshold by His threshold and a doorpost by His doorpost is that they had violated the threshold covenant and the Passover sacrifice which established the house of Israel as God’s people! Instead, they had entered into a different threshold covenant with their idols! Further, they practiced the worship of those idols inside God’s house putting a threshold within God’s threshold and a wall between them and God even in God’s house! God showed their actions to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 8:9-12 NKJV 9 And He said to me, "Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there." 10 So I went in and saw, and there-every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'"
In reality, the elders of the house of Israel were the ones who put the barrier between them and God erecting walls and hiding their eyes from seeing and observing God’s commandments. Instead they entered into a different threshold covenant and shed innocent blood.
Ezekiel 9:9 NKJV 9 Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!'
As a result of their iniquities, the house of Israel was in exile and the house of God destroyed! However, Ezekiel was to describe, explain, proclaim and praise the coming house of God so that the house of Israel would be ashamed of their iniquities. How would this make them ashamed? God says that they were to measure the pattern. Our first clue to this pattern is that the glory of God approaches the temple from the east. There are two words in Hebrew that are translated as east or eastward. One is the word “Mizrach,” number 4217 meaning sunrise. The second word is “qedem,” number 6924 meaning the front of time or place, before, east, or eternal. Ezekiel uses this second word which is the word used to describe the location of the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:8 KJV 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
The use of the word qedem draws the mind toward the Garden of Eden and God’s creation. In contrast, the seventy elders who defiled the house of God, bowed toward the east, qedem, to worship the sun.
Ezekiel 8:15-16 NKJV 15 Then He said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these." 16 So He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house; and there, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.
God instructed Ezekiel to describe the entire design of the temple including the exits and entrances.
Ezekiel 43:11 NKJV 11 "And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.
There were three gates to the house of God on the east, north, and south sides. The entrance through which the glory of God entered was that of the east facing the altar. The steps to ascend to the altar came from the east. The description of the altar uses some unusual words that have a dual meaning. The Stone Edition Chumash comments that “Ezekiel uses symbolic names that are not found elsewhere in Scripture.”[i]
Ezekiel 43:13-17 MKJV 13 And these are the measures of the altar by the cubit. The cubit is a cubit and a span; even the base shall be a cubit, and the width a cubit, and its border by its edge all around shall be a span. And this is the upper part of the altar. 14 And from the base on the ground even to the lower ledge shall be two cubits, and the width one cubit. And from the smaller ledge even to the greater ledge shall be four cubits, and the width one cubit. 15 And the altar hearth shall be four cubits, and from the altar hearth and upward shall be four horns. 16 And the altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long, twelve wide, square in its four sides. 17 And the ledge shall be fourteen long and fourteen wide in its four sides. And the border around it shall be half a cubit, and its base a cubit around. And its steps shall face eastward.
In verse 13, the word for altar is “mizbach,” number 4196 in Strong’s Concordance literally meaning an altar from a word meaning to slaughter. This is not surprising. As we go on, Ezekiel describes two “ledges” around the base of the altar and around the top of the altar. The word “ledge” is the Hebrew word “azarah,” number 5835 meaning a surrounding, enclosure or courtyard. The only other place this word is used in the Bible is in the description of Solomon’s temple to describe the court of the priests and the courtyard containing the altar and the laver. The ledges or courtyard around the altar are there for the priests to walk around the sides.
In verse 15, the first word for “altar” is “har’el,” number 1025 meaning the mountain of God. The second word for “altar” is “ari’el,” number 739 meaning the Lion of God! Ezekiel is describing a courtyard containing the mountain of God upon which is the Lion of God! The priests approach the mountain of God and the Lion of God from the surrounding ledges or courtyard! The Lion of God is the altar on the Mountain of God!
God’s instructions to Ezekiel continue with how to dedicate the altar. The word used for altar in this passage reverts back to the usual word “mizbach.”
Ezekiel 43:18-20 NKJV 18 And He said to me, "Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: 'These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it, and for sprinkling blood on it. 19 'You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,' says the Lord GOD. 20 'You shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar, on the four corners of the ledge, and on the rim around it; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it.
The dedication begins with a sin offering brought to the Levitical priests of the lineage of Zadok. Zadok was high priest under David and Solomon. The name Zadok, number 6659, means “just, clean or righteous.” The blood sprinkled on the altar makes atonement for it. This process of dedicating the altar continues for seven days following the pattern of dedicating the altar in the wilderness and the altar in Solomon’s temple.
This sin offering is made on the mountain of God on the altar of the Lion of God! The writer of Hebrews explains that Yeshua, the Passover Lamb, is both the sin and the covenant sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:15-19 YLT 15 And because of this, of a new covenant he is mediator, that, death having come, for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those called may receive the promise of the age-during inheritance, 16 for where a covenant is, the death of the covenant-victim to come in is necessary, 17 for a covenant over dead victims is stedfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth, 18 whence not even the first apart from blood hath been initiated, 19 for every command having been spoken, according to law, by Moses, to all the people, having taken the blood of the calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, he both the book itself and all the people did sprinkle,
The pattern of the altar revealed by Ezekiel pointed straight to the Messiah!
On the eighth day, the altar is fully dedicated to the LORD and open to receive the offerings of the people.
Ezekiel 43:27 NKJV 27 'When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,' says the Lord GOD."
The Lord God will accept not just the offerings but He will accept the people! The word for “accept” is raw-tsaw,” number 7521 meaning to be pleased with, to satisfy a debt, pardon or reconcile. There on the altar of the mountain of God in the presence of the Lion of God, God will declare Himself pleased; that the debt has been satisfied.
Ezekiel 20:40 JPGreen For in My holy mountain in the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord Jehovah, all the house of Israel shall serve Me there; all of them in the land. There I will accept them; and there I will seek your heave offerings, and the firstfruits of your offerings, with all your holy things.
Seeing the pattern of the altar and sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah will cause the house of Israel to be ashamed of their iniquities. They could not pay the penalty for their transgressions; neither can we. However, the payment has been made by the sacrifice of Yeshua, the Passover Lamb of God.
Hebrews 9:28 NKJV 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Yeshua is coming again to bring the realization of the gift of salvation! The patterns in the temple and the altar of God reveal the coming of Messiah! The house of Israel will recognize that the LORD does see them and has not forsaken either them or the land. The house of God will be rebuilt in Jerusalem on God’s holy mountain. His glory will come by way of the East from the Mount of Olives to fill His house! And God will accept His people. All Israel and the nations will know that the LORD is God.

Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:11.
2. There were many connections to creation and the Garden of Eden in this haftarah. The first is the word “nagad” for declare or proclaim God’s house. In Genesis 1:18 where God states that He will make a helpmate “suitable” or “comparable” to Adam. The Hebrew word is “neged” #5048, from the root nagad. How is Eve’s role with Adam similar to Ezekiel’s role in this situation? What are some other connections to creation and the Garden of Eden?
3. How does God convey the importance of the threshold covenant? 
4. Ezekiel was to “describe the pattern” of the house of God. The description of the house of God is in Ezekiel 40-43. What patterns in the house reveal Messiah?

5. What will it mean for the Jewish people when the temple and/or the altar is rebuilt and the sacrificial system reinstated?

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.


[i] The Stone Edition Chumash. ArtScroll Series. Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meir Zlotositz General Editors. Mesorah Publications. ©1998, 2000. P1159.