Saturday, June 29, 2019

Shabbat Service 6-29-2019

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 and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rahab, A Woman of Courage and Faith

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version is available at:
The scripture reading is Joshua 2:1-24
In our recent Erev Shabbat Bible studies, we have been taking a detailed look at the book of Ruth and the role that Ruth plays in the broader scheme of the Biblical narrative. In this Haftarah, we are introduced to another woman, Rahab who lived in Jericho at the time when the Children of Israel conquered the city in a dramatic event.
Joshua 2:1 NKJV 1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.
Rahab is one of the more interesting women mentioned in the Bible.  Not only did these spies find lodging at Rababs home, she also hid them, protecting them from the king of Jericho.  She is about to play an important role in the conquest of the land of Canaan. As the story of Rahab plays out, we see that she rejects her own heritage, culture, and religion to be joined with the Israelites and their God. What is her purpose in doing so? What did she hope to gain? As we dig deeper into the story of Rahab, we will see that she plays a vitally important role in not only the conquest of Jericho, but in the salvation of her family and the future salvation of all of Israel.
In reading the Torah Portion Shelach, Numbers 13:1-15:41 we read about the twelve spies sent by Moses into the Promised Land to bring back important information of what they were to expect when they entered this land. You know the story. Joshua was one of only two spies who returned with a good report. As a result of the overall negative report from the spies, the Children of Israel were delayed in the wilderness for the next forty years.
When the Children of Israel were once again positioned to enter the Promised Land, Joshua seemed to have no issue with the idea and methodology of sending in spies to gain necessary reconnaissance of Jericho. Although the purpose of the spies was similar, the results were vastly different. While the story in the Haftarah is again about sending in spies, the main character is Rahab. One of Rahab’s main characteristics that we can glean from this passage, is that she was a woman of courage. She hid the Israelite spies from the king’s men.
Joshua 2:2-5 NKJV 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, "Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country." 3 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country." 4 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 "And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them."
There is some question among scholars that Rahab may not have been a prostitute or harlot. The historian Josephus refers to her as an innkeeper.  The Hebrew word translated as harlot is “zanah” number 2181 in the Strong’s Concordance meaning to commit adultery, to commit idolatry or fornication. But there is some question that the word zanah may have as its root “zon”, which refers to food. In support of Josephus’ rendering the word zonah as innkeeper, the Targam Jonathan, the second temple era Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew scripture also translates the word zonah as innkeeper. If Rahab were indeed an innkeeper, it would better fit the context of the Biblical narrative.
Whichever kind of house it was that Rahab operated, it was a good place for the Israelite spies to lodge and gather information. As we just read in verses two through five, word quickly got to the king that these men were there. There was cause for concern by the king because the reputation of the Israelites as fearsome warriors was widespread. Rahab took great care in hiding the spies from the king and assisting in their escape.
Joshua 2:6-9 NKJV 6 (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) 7 Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate. 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.
Helping the two showed a great deal of courage on the part of Rahab. Had she revealed that the spies were indeed in her establishment, they would certainly been killed by the king and/or his men. And by hiding them, she put herself in the position of facing a death penalty for her traitorous actions. There is a specific reference to this in the ancient legal code of Hammurbi.
“If outlaws have congregated in the establishment of a woman wine seller and she has not arrested those outlaws and did not take them to the palace, the wine seller shall be put to death.”[i]
Rahab made the conscious choice to aid the Israelite spies and put her own life and resources on the line. But why would she do that for these total strangers? By making this choice, she had to lie to the king’s men not once, but three times. First, she lied about knowing the origin of the Israelite spies in verse four. Second, she lied about their whereabouts. She hid them away in verse five. And third, she lied about her knowledge of the closure of the city gates in verses five through seven.
Is it moral to tell these types of lies to protect another life, putting one’s own life at risk? In the Torah we are told not to bear false witness. But at the same time, as we have previously studied about the threshold covenant, under such a covenant, one is obligated to protect the life of a guest even at the sacrifice of one’s own life or the life of other members of your household.
We have the example in recent history where people have lied in order to protect innocent lives. In Europe, during World War Two, many gentiles lied to Nazi officials in order to protect the lives of innocent Jews.  Are these actions; lying to the authorities in this context, the moral and ethical thing to do? Many people who hid or protected Jews during the reign of Nazi Germany were later honored by the state of Israel and declared “righteous Gentiles.” The actions of Rahab should be viewed in the same light.
What would prompt Rahab to take these actions? The reputation of the Israelites certainly preceded them. Rahab spoke to the Israelite spies about what the inhabitants of Jericho knew about them.
Joshua 2:10-11 NKJV 10 "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 "And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Rahab had demonstrated that she had aligned herself with the Israelites and their God. She had, along with the other residents of Jericho, herd about the Exodus and about the God of Israel. Unlike the gods of all the other nations, she knew that the God of Israel cared about and loved the people of Israel. He had performed mighty miracles for them and now she understood that this God was the only God in heaven and on the earth!
The Hebrew word used in verse 10 translated as “utterly destroyed” is charam, number 2763 meaning to seclude, to devote to religious use, to consecrate.  When the Israelites were victorious in battle, they didn’t just plunder a village and kill the people, desecrating them in the process. Their victories were marked by devoting all the wealth gained to God. This was not the normal way of doing business in the world of that day!
In exchange for her loyalty and protection of the spies, Rahab makes the request to, in turn, be protected when the Israelites take down the city of Jericho.
Joshua 2:12-14 NKJV 12 "Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token, 13 "and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death." 14 So the men answered her, "Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you."
This seems to be a fair request. She was risking everything to protect these men! The spies agreed to help Rahab and her extended family.
Joshua 2:15-16 NKJV 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. 16 And she said to them, "Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way."
Rahab’s request and the promise given to her by the spies is based on a mutual kindness. The actual Hebrew word used in verses twelve and fourteen about showing kindness is chesed, number 2617 meaning kindness, mercy, favor or good deed.  It is most often used in context of covenant devotion. Rahab entered into a covenant relationship with the spies and by extension, with the God of Israel. She and her entire family were attaching themselves to the Israelite nation. The Israelite spies told Rahab what she must do to be protected during the coming battle.
Joshua 2:17-19 NKJV 17 So the men said to her: "We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, 18 "unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father's household to your own home. 19 "So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.
The spies laid out three conditions that Rahab would have to meet for the covenant to be completed. First, she was to let down a scarlet cord from the very same window where she allowed them to escape the city and avoid capture by the king’s men. This scarlet cord is reminiscent of the threshold covenant where blood is placed on the doorposts and lintels of one’s home. The returning Israelites would see the scarlet cord hanging from the window and pass by Rahab’s home during the siege.
Second, Rahab was to bring her entire extended family into her house, and they were to all stay put during the battle. Anyone who left would be subject to being killed in the battle.
The last condition placed on Rahab by the spies was that their agreement was to remain secret. Rahab put up a good story when the king’s men came looking for them, now secrecy was even more important for her safety and that of her family.
Rahab had demonstrated a great deal of courage in protecting these men and in the rejection of her allegiance to her community, government and god. She risked being discovered which would have resulted in her own death and perhaps the death of the rest of her family as well. These things are not easy choices. Could we make such choices in our lives?
The last few verses of chapter two put the finishing touches on the covenant that Rahab entered into with the Israelite spies.
Joshua 2:20-24 NKJV 20 "And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear." 21 Then she said, "According to your words, so be it." And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window. 22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24 And they said to Joshua, "Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us."
What is the result of the bravery of Rahab? First, the spies were able to escape with the needed information and report back to Joshua. Second, because of Rahab’s faithfulness the lives of her entire family ware spared.
Third, the entire camp of Israel was greatly encouraged by the good report returned by the spies. This was far different than the report of the spies sent by Moses into the land some forty years earlier.
Fourth, Rahab became a living example of faith and is mentioned several times in the New Testament writings.
Hebrews 11:31 NKJV 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
Next, Rahab is mentioned in the book of James.
James 2:25 NKJV 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
The Hebrews passage shows Rahab as a person who trusted God.  In the James passage she is shown as someone with the right kind of faith; faith in action! Faith is an action word! True faith is manifest in works.  The works don’t provide the salvation, but works are the result of faith in action.
Finally, one of the most interesting and profound implications and result of the faith of Rahab is that she is quite possibly an ancestor of Messiah Yeshua!  Take a closer look at the genealogy listed in Matthew’s gospel.
Matthew 1:2-6a NKJV 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king…
Wow! Because of her profound faithfulness did God grant Rahab a special place in the linage of Messiah? We don’t know for certain that the Rahab listed in Matthew’s gospel genealogy is the same Rahab of Joshua chapter two. Jewish tradition says that Rahab later married Joshua. However, many evangelical scholars agree that the Rahab of Joshua chapter two is, in fact, the same Rahab of Matthew chapter one because the time period in the genealogy would be correct.
We, also, see in Matthew’s genealogy two women specifically mentioned in back to back generations.  Both Gentiles. Both from a cursed people, yet both professing great faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Rahab who was a Canaanite, was among the people whom God ordered to be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 20:17 NKJV 17 "but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you,
The second is Ruth, a Moabite.
Deuteronomy 23:3 NKJV 3 "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever,
It is interesting, that because of their faithfulness, these two women are granted special status and are prime examples how a generational curse can be broken. God spoke to Abraham, telling him that through him, all nations would be blessed!
Finally, in the story of Rahab, we see no partiality on the part of God.  He cares for all peoples of the earth.  God is more than willing to bring salvation to all, male or female, free or salve, Jew or Gentile. Like Rahab, we may someday be called upon to make the hard choice between remaining in our comfortable home, community and country, or turning our faith into action and standing up for God and His chosen people! Could we make the choice as many did during the firestorm that was Nazi Germany and protect innocent lives at the risk of our own? Rahab witnessed the total destruction of the entire world in which she lived, yet she chose to be counted among God’s people.  I would hope that I can do the same should the choice be before me.
Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Shelach, Numbers 13:1-15:41.

2. How does the story of Rahab show the sign of Jonah?  (Sign of Jonah – the number 3, a certain death situation, and a miraculous salvation.)

3. Discuss how Rahab entered into a Threshold Covenant with the spies.  What are the parallels with the Passover?

4. What would convince Rahab to turn from her own people and culture and be drawn to align herself with the people of Israel?

5. Discuss the similarities and differences between Rahab and what she did with the life and actions of Ruth.

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

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

[i] James B. Pritchard, ed. The Ancient Near East, Vol. 1 – “An anthology of texts and pictures,” Code of Hammurabi #109, pp. 149-150

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Shabbat Service 6-22-2019

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 and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Naomi and Ruth: Jew & Gentile - Part 3

This is the 3rd and final part of our study from our book, "Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah, Vol 4" available from

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The LORD Will Again Choose Jerusalem

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is at:
The reading for this teaching is: Zechariah 2:10–4:7
We usually think of Zechariah’s prophecies in connection with Yeshua’s first and second comings. Zechariah does speak a lot about the coming Messiah, however, his message or messages would have been first understood in the context of rebuilding the temple seventy years after its destruction by the Babylonians. At the time of Zechariah, Babylon had been defeated by the Medes and Persians. King Cyrus was the ruler over the entire empire and had proclaimed that the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild the temple.
However, from the very beginning, there was opposition to building the temple resulting in a complete cessation of the work under Artaxerxes. In addition to the opposition from the other occupants of the land, many of the Jews had intermarried and were worshiping the gods of their foreign wives. The returnees were dispirited, discouraged and feeling defeated. They were in desperate need of comfort and encouragement. Was it truly God’s will for the people to return and rebuild the temple? Would He act on behalf of His people?
In the second year of Darius, the Jews received permission to resume building the temple, but the people were slow to continue work on the temple. In response to the discouragement of the people, God sent two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah.
Ezra 5:1-2 NKJV 1 Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. 2 So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.
Haggai and Zechariah relayed God’s messages of hope to His people with special encouragement for the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Jeshua or Joshua.
In Zechariah’s first vision, Zechariah witnessed a conversation between the spirits who walk throughout the earth and the Angel of the LORD. The spirits report that the whole earth is at rest. The Angel of the LORD is not satisfied with this report because Jerusalem remained unbuilt and the temple lay in ruins. The Angel of the LORD turns and addresses the LORD of Hosts.
Zechariah 1:12-13 NAS95 12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?" 13 The LORD answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words.
The Angel of the LORD received words of comfort from the LORD of Hosts regarding Jerusalem and Judah. God was returning to Jerusalem with mercy and His house would be rebuilt!
Zechariah 1:16 NKJV 16 'Therefore thus says the LORD: "I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it," says the LORD of hosts, "And a surveyor's line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem."'
The message is in terms of the craftsman or builder who begins his task be measuring the size of the project and calculating the materials needed to complete the task. Zechariah saw a young man sent out to measure the size of Jerusalem because a wall would be built around it. This wall would not be a wall built by man, but a wall of divine protection built by God!
Zechariah 2:3-5 NKJV 3 And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, 4 who said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. 5 'For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"
This wall of fire is reminiscent of the wall of fire that protected the camp of Israel in the wilderness. As the children of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army almost upon them, the Shekinah glory of God moved between Israel and the attacking army. To Pharaoh’s army, it was a cloud of darkness, but to Israel it was a pillar of fire to light their way.
Exodus 14:19-20 NKJV 19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
Just like God protected the children of Israel from the wrath of Pharaoh, He would protect the city of Jerusalem from the nations that would seek to destroy and her again. The God of Judah and Israel who had been angry with His people was coming back to Jerusalem! But first, He would take vengeance on those who had harmed His people. In his role of LORD of Hosts, he would go out against the nations.
Zechariah 2:8-9 NKJV 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. 9 "For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.
There would be no doubt that it was God Himself who acted on behalf of His people. Their enemies would be defeated and God would be their protector from within the city. His coming would be a time of singing and rejoicing!
Zechariah 2:10 NKJV 10 "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD.
This was an incredible message of encouragement to the Jews returning to the land of Israel. Their exile because of their failure to keep God’s commandments, especially that of the Sabbaths, had come to an end and He would once again look at them with favor! However, Zechariah’s next words would be difficult to believe. He prophesies that the very nations that had defeated them and taken them into exile would join themselves to their God!
Zechariah 2:11 NKJV 11 "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
The certainty of this event was as certain as the defeat of the nations around them. God ends both of these prophecies in verses nine and eleven with the phrase, “Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.” Zechariah uses this phrase four times in his prophecies. These events are sure to happen and are confirmation that the words spoken to Zechariah are true.
This would be a great comfort to those laboring under hostile conditions facing numerous setbacks! However, the literal fulfillment of these prophecies has not yet been fully realized. The temple of the LORD was indeed finished in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. But the nations did not and have not joined themselves to the LORD. Even after the completion of the temple, the Jewish people had not fully recommitted themselves to following God’s commandments. When Ezra traveled to Jerusalem after the temple was rebuilt, he found that his people had intermarried with the pagans who also lived in the land. Even the priests had married foreign wives and many of their children didn’t even speak Hebrew! These prophecies by Zechariah had not yet been completely fulfilled, but we know of the certainty of their fulfillment. These prophecies must, then be fulfilled in the time of Messiah. The one that the people would know that the “LORD of hosts has sent” could be referring to the coming of Messiah. Seventeenth century theologian Matthew Henry comments in his Exposition of the Old and New Testaments:
“He that here promises to dwell among them is that Lord whom the Lord of hosts has sent, and therefore must be the Lord Jesus, who came and dwelt in the midst of the Jewish nation, the eternal Word, that was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”[i]
After seeing the presence of the LORD dwelling in Jerusalem, Zechariah’s vision turns to Joshua, the current high priest. As we examine this vision, keep in mind that Joshua was an actual person who heard these words of prophecy about himself! He and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah had come to Jerusalem right after Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the temple. They had been in the land for about fifteen years and had accomplished very little towards rebuilding the temple. In Zechariah’s vision, Zechariah sees Joshua standing before the Angel of the LORD with Satan, the accuser at his right hand.
Zechariah 3:1-2 NKJV 1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"
The word “Satan” is actually a Hebrew word, number 7854 in Strong’s Concordance, meaning an opponent or adversary. It comes from the root word, “satan,” number 7853 meaning to attack or accuse. The word “Satan” is prefaced by the definite article “the” reading “haSatan,” or the accuser. This accuser or opponent is standing at Joshua’s right hand to attack and accuse him. Joshua had certainly experienced numerous attacks as he attempted to lead in the building of the temple! The LORD’s response to haSatan can be understood as being as a defense of Joshua, Jerusalem or both. God had already pronounced judgment on Jerusalem stating that Babylon would destroy it by fire but, all those who fled Jerusalem would live.
Jeremiah 21:9-10 NKJV 9 "He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. 10 "For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good," says the LORD. "It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire."'
Joshua was of the Jewish population of Babylon that had gone into captivity, plucked out of the land before it was destroyed by fire! He had his life returned to him. However, we can, also, understand the LORD’s response that Jerusalem was snatched out of the fire of her burning. God’s wrath against Jerusalem had been completed and His choice of Jerusalem as His city remained unchanged.
Zechariah 1:17 NKJV 17 "Again proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: "My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; The LORD will again comfort Zion, And will again choose Jerusalem."'"
Imagine what Joshua would have felt and reacted when he heard these prophetic words from Zechariah. HaSatan is there to accuse Joshua of iniquity and, through his office as high priest, all of Jerusalem of iniquity, but God defended him against the accuser!
Zechariah 3:4-5 KJV 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.
Joshua heard that he was wearing filthy garments. The word “filthy” is “tsow,” number 6674 in Strong’s Concordance meaning soiled with excrement! Wearing proper clothing was essential to the role of the high priest; to wear clothing soiled with excrement would be the ultimate degradation of Joshua and his office as high priest. Joshua’s filthy clothes were equated with his iniquity. How would Joshua receive the word that He was clothed in iniquity? Would he think that he had failed the LORD because he had been unable to rebuild the temple? Would he equate the iniquity with the earlier sins of Judah that resulted in her exile, and that they had now been lifted and the way was clear to build the temple? The LORD’s response to Joshua’s iniquity was to remove it and instruct that Joshua be clothed in clean garments befitting his role as high priest. Joshua would receive a new beginning to serve as priest before the LORD and Jerusalem would once more be the LORD’s dwelling place.
Zechariah 3:6-7 NKJV 6 Then the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here.
This new beginning for Joshua and his fellow priests was a wondrous sign of the coming of God’s Servant called the Branch.
Zechariah 3:8 NKJV 8 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
Joshua would have heard this prophecy as a fulfilment of Isiah’s prophecy from two hundred years earlier that a branch would be raised up from the line of David the son of Jesse.
Isaiah 11:1 NKJV 1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Joshua would have understood this to refer to Zerubbabel, his co-leader in the task of building the temple and heir to the throne of David! This understanding is still the accepted interpretation by the Jewish people today! The rest of the vision is, then, easily understood that the LORD will lay the foundation stone of the temple!
Zechariah 3:9-10 NKJV 9 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'Everyone will invite his neighbor Under his vine and under his fig tree.'"
The usual understanding is that the LORD would inscribe seven eyes on the stone. However, the Hebrew can be read that the LORD inscribes the stone and that there are seven eyes looking upon the stone. This would easily be seen as a reference back to God’s promise to Solomon that His eyes would always be on His temple.
1 Kings 9:3 NKJV 3 And the LORD said to him: "I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
This would be an incredible encouragement to Joshua to continue to build the temple in the face of any opposition. As the LORD removed the iniquity of Joshua, so also, would the LORD remove the iniquity of the entire nation, and then the nation would be at rest. This part of the prophecy has never been fully realized.
Zechariah’s vision now turns to the furnishings of the temple, in particular the menorah which is the light of the temple.
Zechariah 4:2-3 NKJV 2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. 3 "Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."
The Angel of the LORD tells Zechariah that this vision is a word of the LORD to Zerubbabel.
Zechariah 4:6-7 NKJV 6 So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts. 7 'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'"
Zerubbabel was the grandson of King Jehoiachin of whom God said that none of his offspring would sit on David’s throne.
Jeremiah 22:30 NKJV 30 Thus says the LORD: 'Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.'"
Zerubbabel would have known about these words from Jeremiah. He would have known that his grandfather’s line had been cut off. After all the frustrations of trying to rebuild the temple, Zerubbabel may have questioned whether he had the right to be the one to build the temple. But Zechariah’s words equating the light of the menorah with a message to Zerubbabel are clear. In fact, the light of the menorah was used a message once before. When the high priest Eli’s sons did evil in the sight of the LORD, the light of the menorah continued to go out. God gave the explanation to Samuel that the iniquity of the house of Eli would never be atoned for!
1 Samuel 3:14 NKJV 14 "And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."
Eli’s line was forever cut off, but Zerubbabel’s line was restored. Haggai tells us that God restored to Zerubbabel the signet ring He had removed from Jehoiachin.
Haggai 2:23 NKJV 23 'In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the LORD, 'and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,' says the LORD of hosts."
Zechariah’s message to Zerubbabel was that his line had been atoned for. Joshua and his companions were a sign that God had restored the line of Zerubbabel. This restoration, like the removal of Joshua’s iniquity and the wall of fire around the city was strictly by the Spirit of the LORD! Further, no obstacle would stop Zerubbabel from accomplishing his task. In context, this task was the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel would place the capstone of the temple! The temple would be rebuilt! The certainty of the event is testified to in the next word Zechariah received.
Zechariah 4:9 NKJV 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
We end where we began, with the measurement of Jerusalem. The seven eyes of the LORD rejoicing to see Zerubbabel in charge of building the temple!
Zechariah 4:10 NKJV 10 For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."
The spirits of the LORD that had witnessed the whole earth at rest and were troubled by the desolation of Jerusalem now rejoice in Jerusalem’s restoration and the restoration of David’s line.
Zechariah’s message of hope conveys God’s will that the temple be rebuilt by the high priest Joshua and the governor Zerubbabel heir of the throne of David. God did and will act for His people. However, the complete fulfillment of Zechariah’s words was not accomplished in the days of Joshua and Zerubbabel. Jerusalem and the temple were once again destroyed by fire. Even today, as the people return to the Land of Israel, opposition blocks them at every turn. We cry out with the Angel of the LORD, when will the LORD have mercy on Jerusalem? When will the LORD remove the iniquity of the nation in one day? When will the LORD restore the priesthood? When will Yeshua, the king who was cutoff, be restored to His throne? We can know with certainty that it will be done. The LORD will again choose Jerusalem!
Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Beha’alotcha, Numbers 8:1-12:16.

2. How do these prophecies reveal God’s promise of divine protection, cleansing and empowerment?

3. The use of the name or title “haSatan” is found only eighteen times in the Old Testment Bible, fourteen times in Job, once in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and three times here in Zechariah 3:1-2. What do these appearances have in common? How does Yeshua portray Satan in the gospels?

4. How do these visions, God’s protective wall, Joshua’s cleansing, and the light of the menorah, encourage Zechariah’s listeners to remember setting up the Tabernacle in the Wilderness?

5. How is Zerubbabel a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah? You may want to read Haggai’s words of encouragement to Zerubbabel in Haggai 2 to help answer this question.

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

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

[i] Matthew Henry. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. 1708-1710.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Shabbat Service 6-15-2019

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 and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Angel of the LORD Appears

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The scripture reading is Judges 13:2-25
In this week’s Haftarah, we encounter an Angel of the LORD who appears to the wife of a man named Manoah. She is barren, having no children. The angel has a special message for this woman; she is to have a son.  This would not be just any son, but would be a special son, set apart for a special purpose.
Judges 13:2-5 NKJV 2 Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 "Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. 5 "For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
This special son is none other than Samson who’s name is not mentioned until the very end of chapter 13. But there are some interesting things in this Haftarah that are worth exploring.  Why were Manoah and his wife chosen to bring forth this miraculous child?  But most importantly, who is this Angel of the LORD?
Before we explore the identity of this angel, lets look at the context of this story. Verse one of chapter 13 tells us that once again the Children of Israel were doing evil in the sight of the LORD and they were under the control of the Philistines.
Judges 13:1 NKJV 1 Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
In these opening verses we see a pattern of repeated evil in the sight of the LORD. The word evil in this verse is the Hebrew word “Ra” number 7451 in the Strong’s Concordance meaning affliction, bad, calamity, distress or evil. The same word is used in Genesis to describe the time of Noah.
Genesis 6:5 NKJV 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Another connection with Noah is the name of the “certain man” named in verse 2, Manoah. Number 4494 meaning rest.  The letter mem at the beginning of his name adds the meaning “from.” Manoah literally means “from rest”, or “from Noah”. And like Noah, Manoah was a righteous man before God in a time of rebellion and evil.
The actions of the children of Israel and the presence of the name Manoah take us to a time like that of Noah. Noah’s generation was the tenth generation from Adam and completed the pre-flood era, a time of great evil. Noah found grace in God’s eyes in his generation bringing forth new life after the flood. In the time of Manoah, we see again an evil generation that refuses to repent of its actions.  As a result of their evil, the Children of Israel had come under the oppression of the Philistines for forty years. Yeshua, in His time, said that the Scribes and Pharisees are an “evil and adulterous” generation. Also the time of Yeshua’s return will be like the days of Noah.
Matthew 24:37 NKJV 37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
The Philistines always seem to be lurking in the background in the pre-Davidic Israel.  The actual meaning of the name “Philistine” is unclear, but is sometimes translated as “strangers, or foreigners” as found in the Septuagint. In our modern culture, when we describe someone as being a philistine, we are describing them as crude or uncultured.  But the ancient Philistines, although rather war-like and a constant thorn in the side of the people of Israel, are anything but uncultured as recent archeological evidence has revealed.
As we continue, verse 5 of our reading indicates that this special son to be born of the barren wife of Manoah will be a Nazarite. The associated Torah Portion for this week, Numbers 4:21 through 7:89, contains the teaching about the Nazarite vow. From even before birth the woman’s son will be a Nazarite and will be dedicated for a great purpose of God. After the angel appeared to her, bringing her news of this miraculous birth, the woman went to tell her husband about the experience.
Judges 13:6-7 NKJV 6 So the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name. 7 "And He said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'"
One of the outstanding Biblical reasons for a visitation of an angel is to announce the birth of someone important.  There are several examples of this. An angel appeared to Hagar, also to Sarah, Rebecca, and Hannah! In addition, the Angel of the LORD also appeared to Zachariah who’s wife Elizabeth was barren. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. The angel also appeared to Miriam, the mother of Yeshua.
Luke 1:26-31 NKJV 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS (Yeshua).
The text of our Haftarah tells us that Manoah’s wife was barren.  There are several such barren women who are granted the gift of bearing a son, such as Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Each of these were godly women, yet barren. The Expositors Bible Commentary points out:
“Since the Israelites considered children as a gift from God they viewed barrenness as a mark of divine disfavor. To die childless was tragic indeed.”[i]
The angel appearing to Manoah’s wife brought two messages to her. First was the future birth of a son. Also, one must note that there is no rebuke for her. She had done nothing wrong to cause her barrenness.
The second thing the angel tells her is that this son will be a Nazarite from birth, and even before birth! This would require that she would become a Nazarite as well.
The word Nazarite comes from the Hebrew word nazir, number 5139 meaning separate or consecrated. One who takes a Nazarite Vow is totally dedicated or consecrated to God for a special task. First Fruits of Zion in their work Torah Club, Volume 3 explains the primary requirements of the Nazarite.
“In order to accomplish this dedication, the Nazarite was required to observe three things: 1)total abstinence from grapes or all grape products, 2)refrain from cutting his hair during the time of the vow, 3)avoid coming near a corpse. Any breach of these stipulations nullified the period of consecration and a new beginning had to take place.”[ii]
There are only a few references in scripture of a person or persons having taken a Nazarite vow. One that stands out the most is recorded in 1st Samuel where Elkanah and his entire household take the vow!
1 Samuel 1:20-21 NKJV 20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the LORD." 21 Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow.
Another prime biblical example of those taking a Nazarite vow is recorded in the book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul.
Acts 21:22-24,26 NKJV 22 "What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 "Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law… 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.
There is no specific provision for a person to be a Nazarite from birth. This child, to be born of Manoa’s wife was to be unique. Verse 5 give us a hint to the special task set aside for this child. He is to “deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." It was an important enough task that Manoah and his wife were told what the task would be even before the child was born.
Manoah listened to his wife’s account of the visit of this angel and prayed seeking additional knowledge about this special child they were to be blessed with.
Judges 13:8 NKJV 8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, "O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born."
In his prayer, Manoah calls this visitor a “Man of God” clearly recognizing him as being in human form. The angel or man again appeared to Manoah’s wife while in the field and she quickly goes to retrieve her husband.
Judges 13:9-11 NKJV 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, "Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!" 11 So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, "Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?" And He said, "I am."
The Angel of the LORD relays to Manoah the same instruction that he had earlier given to Manoah’s wife. In verse 15 Manoah implores the man to stay and eat with them. We see a situation very similar to this with Abraham when he is visited by three strangers in Genesis 18.
Genesis 18:1-5 NKJV 1 Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, 3 and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. 4 "Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 "And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant."…
In Manoah’s case the angel refused to eat with them. In the near Middle-East culture of the day, this would normally be considered an insult. But Manoah begins to realizes that this visitor is no mere man when he is instructed to instead sacrifice a burnt offering to the LORD.
Judges 13:15-16 NKJV 15 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, "Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You." 16 And the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the LORD." (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the LORD.)
The gift of hospitality which Manoah directed to the Angel of the LORD, was instead redirected by instruction of the Angel to God! But there is more to be gleaned from this Haftarah about this Angel of the LORD. Manoah further questions him, asking his name.
Judges 13:17-18 NKJV 17 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, "What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?" 18 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?"
As we have seen on many occasions in our studies, in the Bible the names of people are very important and more often than not reflect some aspect of their life. Did Manoah think that perhaps this angel’s name went hand in hand with his ability to predict this future son? Would such a name be an additional source of assurance to Manoah that the angel’s words would come to pass? The angel answers saying, "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?"
The angel avoids a direct answer very similar to what the angel did in dealing with Jacob in Genesis 32:29.
Genesis 32:29 NKJV 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray." And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?" And He blessed him there.
In Manoah’s case, what was it that was “wonderful?” Was it the work that the angel performed in predicting Manoah’s future son? Or was the name of the angel too “wonderful” for Manoah to know?
The Hebrew word translated as wonderful in verse 18 is “pilee,” number 6383 meaning remarkable, secret, or wonderful. It is from the primitive root word “pawlaw” which means difficult or hidden. It would more likely be an attribute or characteristic of the Angel of the LORD rather than a direct name. The same word is used by Isaiah in reference to the Messiah.
Isaiah 9:6 NKJV 6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
As we read on in our Haftarah, we see that Manoah did indeed make a burnt offering to the LORD and Manoah and his wife witness something extraordinary.
Judges 13:19-21 NKJV 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on- 20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar-the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD.
So, who is this Angel of the LORD?  Was he the same angel who visited Jacob? Was he the angel who visited Abraham in Genesis 18?  Was he the angel who again visited Abraham on Mount Mariah when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac? Was this the same angel who appeared to Moses at the burning bush? But with many of these instances, as well as others, the scriptures say that it was the LORD himself who spoke. Was Manoah actually speaking with the Holy One?  How about Abraham and Moses?
It doesn’t take long before we get the impression that the “Angel of the LORD” is indeed some kind of appearance of the Holy One Himself! Perhaps this Angel of the LORD is the Memra, or word as John puts it in his Gospel.
John 1:1-2 NKJV 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
Both Menoah and his un-named wife were convinced that they had been visited by the Holy One himself. When they witnessed the Angel of the LORD ascend to heaven on the flame of their burnt offering they immediately fell on their faces on the ground and believed without reservation.
In conclusion, there is one other aspect of the word translated as “wonderful” in verse 18 that we should consider. The same root word is used in this week’s Torah Portion in Numbers chapter 6 to introduce the teaching about the Nazarite.
Numbers 6:1-2 KJV 1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD.
The term “shall separate” is also the Hebrew word pawlaw. Perhaps when Manoah heard the Angel of the LORD respond to Manoah’s question about his name, Manoah understood a deeper implication of the word pawlaw!
At the conclusion of the Haftarah we learn that the child of this promise is none other than Samson.  The LORD blessed him and when he became an adult, the spirit of God was with him.
Judges 13:24-25 NKJV 24 So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Manoah and his wife were always faithful to God in a time when the people did great evil in the sight of the LORD. They knew that Samson would be a special son because of the miracle of his birth which was predicted by the Angel of the LORD. They knew that God would carry out the promise that Samson would do a mighty work for the LORD.  Like Messiah to come, described by Isaiah as the wonderful, Samson would deliver his people from those who oppressed them!
Study Questions:
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Naso, Numbers 4:21-7:89.

2. Why would Samson have to be a Nazarite? What is the significance or purpose for a person taking a Nazarite vow?  

3. Discuss the similarities and differences between Samson and the other children born of a barren woman in the Bible such as Samuel and John the John the Baptist?  How about others?

4. How is Samson’s birth and life a shadow of the Messiah? (Hint: You have to read further)

5. Can a person take a Nazarite vow today, following the guidelines found in Leviticus?

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

© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

[i] Herbert Wolf, “Judges” from the Expositors Bible Comentary “”EBC”), vol.3,ed. By Frank E Gaebelein, p.461.
[ii] FFOZ Torah Club, Vol. 3 The Haftarah, p. 539