Paschal Lamb or Easter Ham?

Sound Doctrine Ministries

The Paschal Lamb is the sacrifice that the Torah mandates to be brought on the eve of Passover, and eaten on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzoh. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb…

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Ezekiel and the Mormon Conspiracy

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
(Ezekiel 37:15-28 ESV)

Boyd K. Packer said, “The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament—and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands. Ezekiel’s prophecy now stands fulfilled.”

Mormon theology generally accepts that the stick, or scriptures written for Judah, are the Jewish record we know as the bible. As Latter-Day Saints they believe the stick written for Joseph, is the Book of Mormon, a record that tells of Joseph’s descendants leaving Jerusalem and travelling to what we now know as the Americas.

Almost all Scriptures can be twisted and thereby perverted to meet the needs of a certain group or organization. Ezekiel 37:15-28 is one perfect example.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible says,”This emblem was to show the people, that the Lord would unite Judah and Israel. Christ is the true David, Israel’s King of old; and those whom he makes willing in the day of his power, he makes to walk in his judgments, and to keep his statutes. Events yet to come will further explain this prophecy. Nothing has more hindered the success of the gospel than divisions. Let us study to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; let us seek for Divine grace to keep us from detestable things; and let us pray that all nations may be obedient and happy subjects of the Son of David, that the Lord may be our God, and we may be his people for evermore.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints always leaved out one very important fact when distorting this prophecy. It is written, “When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
(Ezekiel 37:20-28 ESV)

Although Mormons do not claim to be part of Judaism, Mormon theology claims to situate Mormonism within the context of Judaism to an extent that goes beyond what most other Christian denominations claim. The faith incorporates many Old Testament ideas into its theology, and the beliefs of Mormons sometimes parallel those of Judaism and certain elements of Jewish culture. In the earliest days of Mormonism, Joseph Smith taught that the Indigenous peoples of the Americas were members of some of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Later, he taught that Mormons were Israelites (Replacment Theology), and that they may learn of their tribal affiliation within the twelve Israelite tribes. Members of the LDS Church receive Patriarchal blessings which declare the recipient’s lineage within one of the tribes of Israel. The lineage is either through true blood-line or adoption. The LDS Church teaches that if one is not a direct descendant of one of the twelve tribes, upon baptism he or she is adopted into one of the tribes. Patriarchal blessings also include personal information which is revealed through a patriarch by the power of the priesthood.

The Mormon affinity for Judaism is expressed by the many references to Judaism in the Mormon liturgy. For example, Smith named the largest Mormon settlement he founded Nauvoo, which means “to be beautiful” in Hebrew. Brigham Young named a tributary of the Great Salt Lake the “Jordan River“. The LDS Church created a writing scheme called the Deseret Alphabet, which was based, in part, on Hebrew. Currently, the LDS Church has a Jerusalem Center in Israel, where students focus their study on Near Eastern history, culture, language, and the Bible.

Much of the Mormon belief system is oriented geographically around the North and South American continents. Mormons believe the people of the Book of Mormon lived in the western hemisphere, that Christ appeared in the western hemisphere after his death and resurrection, that the true faith was restored in upstate New York by Joseph Smith, that the Garden of Eden was located in North America, and that the New Jerusalem would be built in Missouri. For this and other reasons, including a belief by many Mormons in American exceptionalismMolly Worthen speculates that this may be why Leo Tolstoya described Mormonism as the “quintessential ‘American religion.”

Joseph Smith and Muhimmad were both warned of in the Book of Galations when Payl the Apostle wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
(Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

Jospeh Smith and Muhammed, were both heretics, especially when the alleged transgression was of befit to eiher of them, Both men claimed to have their sacred Scriptures delivered to them by an angel.

In The Beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
(Psalms 74:16-17 ESV)

Henry Morris, Ph.D., wrote “One of the traditional “discrepancies” attributed by the skeptics to the Genesis account of creation is the fact that there was “light” (Hebrew or) on the first day of creation week, whereas God did not create the “lights” (Hebrew ma-or) to rule the day and the night until the fourth day.

However, it is interesting that modern evolutionary cosmologists find no problem in having light before the sun. According to their speculative reconstruction of cosmic history, light energy was produced in the imaginary “Big Bang” 15 billion years ago, whereas the sun “evolved” only five billion years ago. Thus, even in their attempts to destroy the divine revelation of Genesis, they inadvertently find it necessary to return to its concepts. Light energy somehow had to be “prepared” before the sun and other stars could ever be set up to serve as future generators of light energy. The fact that light is an entity independent of the sun and other heavenly bodies is one of the remarkable scientific insights of the Bible. As the basic form of energy (even intrinsic in the very nature of matter, as expressed in the famous Einstein equation), it is significant that the first recorded word spoken by the Creator was: “Let there be light.”.

  • And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
    (Genesis 1:3 ESV)

In this chapter, the psalmist is entreating the Lord of light, the Creator of all things, to deliver His people from those who are seeking to destroy all genuine faith in the true God of heaven.

  • “The tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually.”
    (Psalms 74:12)
  • Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!
    (Psalms 74:23 ESV)

Nevertheless, “God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Probably the most ridiculed passage of Scriptures by atheists, agnostics, evolutionists and secular scientists (among others) is the history of Creation of the Earth and the universe.

  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
    (Genesis 1:1-19 ESV)

The ridicule begins when one reads the text that states “Let there be Light” in Genesis 1:3, however the Sun and the Moon  were created and may possibly even been relocated to their present position in our Solar System.

James Clerk Maxwell  (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematical physicist. His most prominent achievement was formulating classical electromagnetic theory. This unites all previously unrelated observations, experiments, and equations of electricitymagnetism, and optics into a consistent theory. Maxwell’s equations demonstrate that electricity, magnetism and light are all manifestations of the same phenomenon, namely the electromagnetic field. Subsequently, all other classic laws or equations of these disciplines became simplified cases of Maxwell’s equations. Maxwell’s achievements concerning electromagnetism have been called the “second great unification in physics”, after the first one realized by Isaac Newton.

Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space in the form of waves and at the constant speed of light. In 1865, Maxwell published A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field. It was with this that he first proposed that light was in fact undulations in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. His work in producing a unified model of electromagnetism is one of the greatest advances in physics.

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (22 February 1857 – 1 January 1894) was a German physicist who clarified and expanded James Clerk Maxwell‘s electromagnetic theory of light, which was first demonstrated by David Edward Hughes using non-rigorous trial and error procedures. Hertz is distinguished from Maxwell and Hughes because he was the first to conclusively prove the existence of electromagnetic waves by engineering instruments to transmit and receive radio pulses using experimental procedures that ruled out all other known wireless phenomena. The scientific unit of frequency — cycles per second — was named the “hertz” in his honor.

The most dramatic prediction of Maxwell‘s theory of electromagnetism, published in 1865, was the existence of electromagnetic waves moving at the speed of light, and the conclusion that light itself was just such a wave. This challenged experimentalists to generate and detect electromagnetic radiation using some form of electrical apparatus.

When considering “invisible” forms of  light, it becomes quite clear that the phase ‘Let there be light’ in the text of Genesis 1:3 would indicate that light was created as the Holy Bible tells us in this passage of Scripture.

Gamma rays, beta waves, ultraviolet waves, protonsneurons, and elctrons can all create nuclear fission and/or nuclear fussion. Science doesn’t need to change their “Big Bang Theory,” science needs to change the their theories of how the “Big Bang” came about – through a Creator, not statistically impossibilities.

In addition, the Holy Bible tells us that God is light.Light does not automatically require the sun. The Book of Revelation says, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:25)

The Torah tells us that we are not to ask questions concerning what occurred before the creation of man, our finite minds could not comprehend the truth. King Solomon repeats this warning in the Book of Ecclesiastics, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 ESV)

Against The Gods of Egypt

The Exodus s the story of the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt following the death of Joseph, their departure under the leadership of Moses, the revelations at Sinai, and their wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of Canaan. Significant portions of the story told in the books of Exodus,LeviticusNumbers and Deuteronomy are not and were never intended to be historiographic, but the overall intent was historical according to the understanding of the ancient writers: to demonstrate God’s actions in history, to recall Israel’s bondage and salvation, and to demonstrate the fulfillment of Israel’s covenant.

The Book of Exodus tells how Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where God reveals himself and offers them a Covenant: they are to keep his torah (i.e. law, instruction), and in return he will be their god and give them the land of Canaan. The Book of Leviticus records the laws of God. The Book of Numbers tells how the Israelites, led now by their God, journey onwards from Sinai towards Canaan, but when their spies report that the land is filled with giants they refuse to go on. God then condemns them to remain in the desert until the generation that left Egypt passes away. After thirty-eight years at the oasis of Kadesh Barnea the next generation travel on to the borders of Canaan. The Book of Deuteronomy tells how, within sight of the Promised Land, Moses recalls their journeys and gives them new laws. His death (the last reported event of the Torah) concludes the 40 years of the exodus from Egypt.

  1. First Plague: Water Turns to Blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness. But so far, you have not obeyed.” Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.”‘” And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’” Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said. Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile. Seven full days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile.
  2. Second Plague: Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)
    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD,
    “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”‘” And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land 7stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
  3. Third Plague: Lice (Exodus 8:16-19 )
    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to raise his stick and hit the dust on the ground, and everywhere in Egypt dust will become lice.” They did this. Aaron raised the stick in his hand and hit the dust on the ground, and everywhere in Egypt the dust became lice. The lice got on the animals and the people. The magicians used their magic and tried to do the same thing. But the magicians could not make lice come from the dust. The lice remained on the animals and the people. So the magicians told Pharaoh that the power of God did this. But Pharaoh refused to listen to them. This happened just as the LORD had said.
  4. Fourth Plague: Swarms (Exodus 20-32)
    The LORD said to Moses, “Get up in the morning and go to Pharaoh. He will go out to the river. Tell him that the LORD says, ‘Let my people go and worship me! If you don’t let my people go, then flies will come into your houses. The flies will be on you and your officials. The houses of Egypt will be full of flies. They will be all over the ground too! But I will not treat the Israelites the same as the Egyptians. There will not be any flies in Goshen, where my people live. In this way you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. So tomorrow I will treat my people differently from your people. This will be my proof.’” So the LORD did just what he said. Millions of flies came into Egypt. The flies were in Pharaoh’s house, and they were in all his officials’ houses. They were all over Egypt. The flies were ruining the country. So Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and told them, “Offer sacrifices to your God here in this country.” But Moses said, “It would not be right to do that. The Egyptians think it is terrible to kill animals as sacrifices for the LORD our God. If we do this here, the Egyptians will see us and throw stones at us and kill us. Let us go three days into the desert and offer sacrifices to the LORD our God. This is what he told us to do.” So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go and offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the desert, but you must not go very far. Now, go and pray for me.” Moses said, “Look, I will leave and ask the LORD to remove the flies from you, your people, and your officials tomorrow. But you must not stop the people from offering sacrifices to the LORD.” So Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD did what Moses asked. He removed the flies from Pharaoh, his officials, and his people. None of the flies remained. But Pharaoh again became stubborn and did not let the people go.
  5. Fifth Plague: Livestock Diseased (Exodus 9:1-7)
    Then the LORD told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him: “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘Let my people go to worship me!’ If you continue to hold them and refuse to let them go, then the LORD will use his power against your animals in the fields. He will cause all of your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep to get sick with a terrible disease. But the LORD will treat Israel’s animals differently from the animals of Egypt. None of the animals that belong to the Israelites will die. The LORD has set the time for this to happen. He said, ‘Tomorrow the LORD will make this happen in this country.’” The next morning the LORD did what he said. All the farm animals of the Egyptians died, but none of the animals that belonged to the Israelites died. Pharaoh sent people to see if any of the animals of Israel died. Not one of them died. But Pharaoh remained stubborn and did not let the people go.
  6. Sixth Plague: Boils (Exodus 9:8-12)
    The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Fill your hands with the ashes from a furnace. Moses, you throw the ashes into the air in front of Pharaoh. This will become dust that will go throughout the land of Egypt. Whenever the dust touches a person or an animal in Egypt, sores will break out on the skin.” So Moses and Aaron took ashes from a furnace and went and stood before Pharaoh. Moses threw the ashes into the air, and sores began breaking out on people and animals. The magicians could not stop Moses from doing this, because even the magicians had the sores. This happened everywhere in Egypt. But the LORD made Pharaoh stubborn, so he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.
  7. Seventh Plague: Hail (Exodus 9:13-15)
    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up in the morning and go to Pharaoh. Tell him that the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘Let my people go to worship me! This time, I will use my full power against you, your officials, and your people. Then you will know that there is no god in the world like me. I could use my power and cause a disease that would wipe you and your people off the earth.
  8. Eighth Plague: Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)
    The LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh. I have made him and his officials stubborn. I did this so that I could show them my powerful miracles. I also did this so that you could tell your children and your grandchildren about the miracles and other wonderful things that I have done in Egypt. Then all of you will know that I am the LORD.” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh. They told him, “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘How long will you refuse to obey me? Let my people go to worship me! If you refuse to let my people go, then tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. The locusts will cover the land. There will be so many locusts that you will not be able to see the ground. Anything that was left from the hailstorm will be eaten by the locusts. The locusts will eat all the leaves from every tree in the field. They will fill all your houses, and all your officials’ houses, and all the houses in Egypt. There will be more locusts than your fathers or your grandfathers have ever seen. There will be more locusts than there have ever been since people began living in Egypt.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh. Then the officials asked Pharaoh, “How long will we be trapped by these people? Let the men go to worship the LORD their God. If you don’t let them go, before you know it, Egypt will be destroyed!” So Pharaoh told his officials to bring Moses and Aaron back to him. Pharaoh said to them, “Go and worship the LORD your God. But tell me, just who is going?” Moses answered, “All of our people, young and old, will go. And we will take our sons and daughters, and our sheep and cattle with us. We will all go because the LORD’S festival is for all of us.” Pharaoh said to them, “The LORD really will have to be with you before I let you and all of your children leave Egypt. Look, you are planning something evil. The men can go worship the LORD. That is what you asked for in the beginning. But all of your people cannot go.” Then Pharaoh sent Moses and Aaron away. The LORD told Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt and the locusts will come! They will spread all over the land of Egypt and will eat all the plants that the hail did not destroy.” So Moses raised his walking stick over the land of Egypt, and the LORD caused a strong wind to blow from the east. The wind blew all that day and night. When morning came, the wind had brought the locusts to the land of Egypt. The locusts flew into the country of Egypt and landed on the ground. There were more locusts than there had ever been in Egypt. And there will never again be that many locusts there. They covered the ground, and the whole country became dark. The locusts ate every plant on the ground and all the fruit in the trees that the hail had not destroyed. There were no leaves left on any of the trees or plants anywhere in Egypt. Pharaoh quickly called for Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now, forgive me for my sins this time. Ask the LORD to remove this ‘death’ from me.” Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. So the LORD changed the wind. He made a very strong wind blow from the west, and it blew the locusts out of Egypt and into the Red Sea. Not one locust was left in Egypt! But the LORD caused Pharaoh to be stubborn again, and Pharaoh did not let the Israelites go.
  9. Ninth Plague: Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)
    Then the LORD told Moses, “Raise your hand into the air and darkness will cover Egypt. It will be so dark you can feel it!” So Moses raised his hand into the air and a cloud of darkness covered Egypt. The darkness stayed in Egypt for three days. None of the people could see each other, and no one got up to go any place for three days. But there was light in all the places where the Israelites lived. Again Pharaoh called for Moses. He said, “Go and worship the LORD! You can take your children with you. But you must leave your sheep and cattle here.” Moses said, “No, we will take them all. In fact, you will give us offerings and sacrifices for us to use in worshiping the LORD our God. Yes, we will take our animals with us to worship the LORD our God. Not one hoof will be left behind. We don’t know yet exactly what we will need to worship the LORD. We will learn that only when we get there.” The LORD made Pharaoh stubborn again, so he refused to let them go. Then Pharaoh told Moses, “Get out of here. I don’t want you to come here again. The next time you come to see me, you will die!” Then Moses told Pharaoh, “You are right about one thing. I will not come to see you again.”
  10. Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 11:1-12:30)
    Then the LORD told Moses, “I have one more disaster to bring against Pharaoh and Egypt. After this, he will ask you to leave Egypt. In fact, he will force you to leave this country. You must give this message to the Israelites: ‘Men and women, you must ask your neighbors to give you things made of silver and gold.’” The LORD caused the Egyptians to be kind to the Israelites. The Egyptians, even Pharaoh’s own officials, already considered Moses to be a great man. Moses said to the king, “The LORD says, ‘At midnight tonight, I will go through Egypt, and every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, to the firstborn son of the slave girl grinding grain. Even the firstborn animals will die. The crying in Egypt will be worse than at any time in the past or any time in the future. But none of the Israelites or their animals will be hurt–not even a dog will bark at them.’ Then you will know that the LORD has treated Israel differently from Egypt. All these officials of yours will come down and bow to me. They will say, ‘Leave and take all your people with you.’ Only then will I leave!” Then in anger, Moses left the meeting with Pharaoh. Then the LORD told Moses, “The reason Pharaoh did not listen to you is so that I could show my great power in Egypt.” That is why Moses and Aaron did all these great miracles in front of Pharaoh. And that is why the LORD made Pharaoh so stubborn that he would not let the Israelites leave his country. While Moses and Aaron were still in Egypt, the LORD spoke to them. He said, “This month will be the first month of the year for you. This command is for the whole community of Israel: On the tenth day of this month each man must get one lamb for the people in his house. If there are not enough people in his house to eat a whole lamb, then he should invite some of his neighbors to share the meal. There must be enough lamb for everyone to eat. The lamb must be a one-year-old male, and it must be completely healthy. This animal can be either a young sheep or a young goat. You should watch over the animal until the 14th day of the month. On that day all the people of the community of Israel must kill these animals just before dark. You must collect the blood from these animals and put it on the top and sides of the doorframe of every house where the people eat this meal. “On this night you must roast the lamb and eat all the meat. You must also eat bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. You must not eat the lamb raw or boiled in water. You must roast the whole lamb over a fire. The lamb must still have its head, legs, and inner parts. You must eat all the meat that night. If any of the meat is left until morning, you must burn it in the fire. “When you eat the meal, you must be fully dressed and ready to travel. You must have your sandals on your feet and your walking stick in your hand. You must eat in a hurry, because this is the LORD’S Passover. “Tonight I will go through Egypt and kill every firstborn man and animal in Egypt. In this way I will judge all the gods of Egypt and show that I am the LORD. But the blood on your houses will be a special sign. When I see the blood, I will pass over your house. I will cause bad things to happen to the people of Egypt. But none of these bad diseases will hurt you. “You will always remember tonight–it will be a special festival for you. Your descendants will honor the LORD with this festival forever. For this festival you will eat bread made without yeast for seven days. On the first day, you will remove all the yeast from your houses. No one should eat any yeast for the full seven days of this festival. Anyone who eats yeast must be separated from the rest of Israel. There will be holy assemblies on the first day and the last day of the festival. You must not do any work on these days. The only work you can do is preparing the food for your meals. You must remember the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because on this day I took all of your people out of Egypt in groups. All of your descendants must remember this day. This is a law that will last forever. So on the evening of the 14th day of the first month, you will begin eating bread without yeast. You will eat this bread until the evening of the 21st day of the same month. For seven days, there must not be any yeast in your houses. Anyone, either a citizen of Israel or a foreigner living among you, who eats yeast at this time must be separated from the rest of Israel. During this festival you must not eat any yeast. You must eat bread without yeast wherever you live.” So Moses called all the elders together and told them, “Get the lambs for your families. Kill the lambs for the Passover. Take bunches of hyssop and dip them in the bowls filled with blood. Paint the blood on the sides and top of each doorframe. No one must leave their house until morning. At the time the LORD goes through Egypt to kill the firstborn, he will see the blood on the sides and top of each doorframe. Then he will protect that house and not let the Destroyer come into any of your houses and hurt you. You must remember this command. This law is for you and your descendants forever. You must remember to do this even when you go to the land the LORD is giving you. When your children ask you, ‘Why are we doing this ceremony?’ you will say, ‘This Passover is to honor the LORD, because when we were in Egypt, he passed over the houses of Israel. He killed the Egyptians, but he saved the people in our houses.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped the Lord. The LORD had given this command to Moses and Aaron, so the Israelites did what the Lord commanded. At midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh (who ruled Egypt) to the firstborn son of the prisoner sitting in jail. Also all the firstborn animals died. That night someone died in every house in Egypt. Pharaoh, his officials, and all the people of Egypt began to cry loudly.

After leaving Egypt during the Exodus  The Ten Commandments were witten on stone tablets  by the very hand of  God Himself.

Check Missler wrote, “There have been few dramas that can equal the cosmic warfare that took place against the gods of Egypt when God used Moses to free Israel from their bondage.We all are familiar with the death of the firstborn that finally caused Pharaoh to release them. Yet few of us, probably, are aware of the significance lying behind the other nine plagues: a cosmic war against the demons of darkness.

Free Will

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long been debated in philosophy. Historically, the constraint of dominant concern has been the metaphysical constraint of determinism, which stated most simply is the notion that the present dictates the future entirely, that every occurrence results from prior events. The two main positions within that debate are metaphysical libertarianism, the claim that determinism is false, so free will exists is at least possible—and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true, so free will does not exist.

Both of these positions, which agree that causal determination is the relevant factor in the question of free will, are classed as incompatibilist. Positions that deny that determinism is relevant are classified as compatibilist, and offer various alternative explanations of what constraints are relevant, such as physical constraints (e.g. chains or imprisonment), social constraints (e.g. threat of punishment or censure), or psychological constraints (e.g. compulsions or phobias). Such compatibilists thus consider the debate between libertarianism and hard determinism a false dilemma.

Some compatibilists assert that determinism is not just compatible with free will, but actually necessary for it; that the randomness of indeterminism is a greater obstacle to free will. Similarly, hard incompatibilism, while still holding that determinism is an obstacle to free will, agrees with the aforementioned compatibilists that indeterminism is likewise an obstacle to free will, and concludes that free will is thus impossible in either case.

The principle of free will has religiousethical, and scientific implications. For example, in the religious realm, free will implies that individual will and choices can coexist with an omnipotentdivinity. In ethics, it may hold implications for whether individuals can be held morally accountable for their actions. In science, neuroscientific findings regarding free will may suggest different ways of predicting human behavior.

If humans are responsible for their actions, they must have free will, the ability to choose right from wrong. But ideas about God‘s providence and scientific notions of biological and psychological determinism create problems for the presumption of free will. This paradox has fascinated Jewish thinkers since the Talmud.

According to Josephus, the Sadducees believed that:

  • There is no fate
  • God does not commit evil
  • man has free will; “man has the free choice of good or evil”
  • the soul is not immortal; there is no afterlife, and
  • there are no rewards or penalties after death

The Sadducees rejected the belief in resurrection of the dead, which was a central tenet believed by Pharisees and by Early Christians. This often provoked hostilities. Furthermore, the Sadducees rejected the Oral Law as proposed by the Pharisees. Rather, they saw the Torah as the sole source of divine authority. The written law, in its depiction of the priesthood, corroborated the power and enforced the hegemony of the Sadducees in Judean society.

The Pharisees (Latin pharisæus, –i; from Hebrew פְּרוּשִׁים pĕrûshîm, pl. of פָּרוּשׁpārûsh, meaning “set apart”, Qal passive participle of the verb פָּרָשׁ pārāsh,[1][2]through Greek φαρισαῖος, -ου pharisaios[3]) were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of theMaccabean Revolt.

Conflicts between the Pharisees and the Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews dating back to the Babylonian captivity and exacerbated by the Roman conquest. One conflict was class, between the wealthy and the poor, as the Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families. Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored Hellenization and those who resisted it. A third was juridico-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Second Temple with its cultic rites and services, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic laws and prophetic values. A fourth point of conflict, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Torah and how to apply it to current Jewish life, with the Sadducees recognizing only the Written Torah and rejecting doctrines such as the Oral Torah and the Resurrection of the Dead.

Free will in theology is an important part of the debate on free will in general. This article discusses the doctrine of free will as it has been, and is, interpreted within the various branches of ChristianityJudaismIslamHinduism and Zoroastrianism. Religions vary greatly in their response to the Standard argument against free will, and thus might appeal to any number of responses to “the paradox of free will” – the claim that omniscience and free will are incompatible.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The question of free will, moral liberty, or the liberum arbitrium of the Schoolmen, ranks amongst the three or four most important philosophical problems of all time. It ramifies into ethics, theologymetaphysics, andpsychology. The view adopted in response to it will determine a man’s position in regard to the most momentous issues that present themselves to the human mind. On the one hand, does man possess genuinemoral freedom, power of real choice, true ability to determine the course of his thoughts and volitions, to decide which motives shall prevail within his mind, to modify and mould his own character? Or, on the other, are man’s thoughts and volitions, his character and external actions, all merely the inevitable outcome of his circumstances? Are they all inexorably predetermined in every detail along rigid lines by events of the past, over which he himself has had no sort of control? This is the real import of the free-will problem.

The Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (late September to late October). It is one of the three biblical mandated festivals Shalosh Regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. It follows the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.

The holiday lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora). The first day (and second in the diaspora) is a sabbath-like yom tov when work is forbidden, followed by the intermediate Chol Hamoed and Shemini Atzeret. The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, “booth or tabernacle“, which is a walled structure covered with skhakh (plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves).

The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the Lulav and Etrog (Four Species).

According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there.

  • Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other. Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps. Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
    (Zechariah 14:1-21 ESV)
  • And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.
    (Leviticus 23:33-44 ESV)
  • “You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.
    (Deuteronomy 16:13-15 ESV)

Shalom Aleikhem and Happy Sukkot!

Water into Wine

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first Miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

In the biblical account, Jesus and his disciples are invited to a wedding and when the wine runs out. Jesus turns water into wine by performing a miracle.

Jesus the Polygamyst: Marriage at Cana

Contrary to current mainstream Mormon belief, Mormon leader Orson Hyde taught that the Marriage at Cana was Jesus’ own wedding, that Jesus was a polygamist and that the sisters Mary Magdalene and Martha were among his wives. This teaching has never been accepted as part of official Mormon doctrine by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is not held to be true by the overwhelming majority of Mormons today. Anti-Mormon critic Floyd McElveen argues against this hypothesis based on John 2:8-10 which states that the master of the ceremony at the feast (unaware of the miracle) congratulated “the bridegroom” for the wine, not Jesus and that John 2:2 states that: “Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding”, and one does not get invited to his own wedding.

  • On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
    (John 2:1-11)

This story highlights to my Baptist friends that Yeshua (Jesus Christ) did not turn the water into grape juice. The Master of the Feast clearly, said “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Whether one wants to believe the Holy Bible for what it says (unlike most Baptists I know), the fact is that Noah and the Wedding Guests at Cana were drinking alcoholic beverages.

The Apostolic Fathers make very little reference to wine, but the earliest references from the Church Fathers make it clear that the early church used wine in their celebration of the Eucharist, often mixing it with water according to the prevailing custom. The Didache, an early Christian treatise which is generally accepted to be from the late 1st century, instructs Christians to give a portion of their wine in support of a true prophet or, if they have no prophet resident with them, to the poor.

Clement of Alexandria wrote in a chapter about drinking that he admires those who adopt an austere life and abstain from wine, and he suggests the young abstain from wine so as not to inflame their “wild impulses.” But he says taking a little wine as medicine or for pleasure after the day’s work is acceptable for those who are “moored by reason and time” such that they aren’t tempted by drunkenness, and he encourages mixing water in with the wine to inhibit inebriation. He also says wine [not grape juice] is an appropriate symbol of Jesus’ blood.

Cyprian rejects as “contrary to evangelical and apostolical discipline” the practice of some Gnostics, who used water instead of wine in the Eucharist. While still rejecting drunkenness, on the content of the cup he says, “The Holy Spirit also … makes mention of the Lord’s cup, and says, “Thy inebriating cup, how excellent it is!” [quoting a variation of Psalm 23:5 (in the Hebrew numbering)] Now the cup which inebriates is assuredly mingled with wine, for water cannot inebriate anybody.”

  • A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
    (Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

Basil the Great likewise repudiated the views of some dualistic heretics who abhorred marriage, rejected wine, and called God’s creation “polluted” and who substituted water for wine in the Eucharist.

John Chrysostom in a homily on 1 Timothy 5:23 stresses moderation and adds that the biblical passage in question is useful for refuting heretics and immature Christians who say there should be no wine. He emphasizes the goodness of God’s creation and adjures: “Let there be no drunkenness; for wine is the work of God, but drunkenness is the work of the devil. Wine makes not drunkenness; but intemperance produces it. Do not accuse that which is the workmanship of God, but accuse the madness of a fellow mortal.”

The virtue of temperance passed from Greek philosophy into Christian ethics and became one of the four cardinal virtues under St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. Drunkenness, on the other hand, is considered a manifestation of gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins as compiled by Gregory the Great in the 6th century.

This article could be much more lengthy (and tedious) delving into the Middle Ages, Protestant Reformation, English Reformation, Colonial America, Methodism, and the Temporance Movement.

At the Last Supper, Jesus and the disciples shared a Kiddush of wine.

  • And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
    (Mark 14:23-25 ESV)

Likewise, Paul the Apostle counseled Timothy cobverning the use of wine for his stomach ands other ailments.

  • Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
    (I Timothy 5:23)

The kiddish is recited over a full (brimming) large cup of wine. The wine symbolizes joy and the full cup symbolizes overflowing joy and bounty. On Shabbat there should be nothing missing from total physical and spiritual completion. Kiddush may be recited and drunk while  standing, sitting, or standing while reciting and sitting while drinking. There are a number of variations for holding the cup. Of particular note: place the cup in the palm of the right hand with the five fingers curled upward holding it. This symbolizes the five-petaled rose, the symbol of perfection, of longing for God (the petals reach upward), of the people of Israel.

The text of the kiddush can be found in the siddur. The first half is an account of the completion of creation on the seventh day (Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 2:1-3). The introductory phrase va-y’hi erev va-y’hi voker–“and there was evening and there was morning”–is said in a low tone. This allows the emphasis to fall on the first four words of kiddush: “yom ha-shishi. Va-y’khulu ha-shamayim (Friday), “the sixth day. The heaven and the earth were finished”the first letters of which form the Tetragrammaton, the holy four-letter Name of God.

After this we recite the blessing over the wine.

The second half of the kiddush recalls both the Creation and the Exodus from Egypt, the paradigm for all physical and spiritual redemptions and rebirths, and concludes with the blessing on the sanctification of the Shabbat. If wine is not available, the kiddush can be recited over the twin hallot [braided breads]. Simply substitute the blessing over the bread for the one over the wine.

Throughout the Torah, we are reminded of the great spiritual significance of wine in the life of a Jew. In fact, the Talmudic Rabbis saw fit to establish a special law with special regard to wine. Today, the vast majority of wines on the market are unfit for consumption by the kosher consumer. Throughout all the stages of wine production, the strictest Kosher supervision is required until the final stage of the actual bottling. There is, of course, the prohibition concerning wines which relates to the status of boiled wine. Kosher wine that has been cooked before contact with a non-Jew has occurred is exempted from the injunction. This prohibition stems from the historical perspective that boiled wine was considered “improper” to be offered as a libation to an idol (where wines were often offered by these idol worshiping nations). Such wine, (called “Yayin Nesach“), that had been offered to an idol was prohibited for Jewish use of any kind. This was a Torah-based prohibition. In addition, there is also a rabbinic prohibition which forbids drinking the ordinary wine of non-Jews in order to reduce social contact which could lead to assimilation and intermarriage. Such wine is called “Stam Yenam“. Therefore, if a non-Jew happened to come into contact with boiled wine, the wine is still permissible for an observant Jew to drink. Many kosher wines today bear the marking “Mevushal“, that indicates that they have been boiled. Extra caution must be taken with a kosher wine that has not been previously boiled (Mevushal), lest a non-Jew or Jew who is not Shomer Shabbos should come in contact with that bottle of wine (maid etc.). A closed bottle, even non-Mevushal wine, may be handled by a non-Jew. In its most basic state, wine is nothing more than fermented grape juice. The processing, aging and grape type used in each type of wine provide the countless variations of wines available on the market today. As we have stated, the basic initial ingredient in wine is the grape, which consists of water, sugar, acid and tannin. The most popular types of grapes used in kosher wines today are carignam, grenache and semillon. Today, the vineyards in Israel consist of over 40,000 acres and produce over 13 million gallons of wines per year. Currently, kosher wines are being produced in such places as Spain, Italy, New York, California, Israel and Italy. Besides the vital knowledge that the kosher consumer must have when purchasing wine for the enjoyment of the wine itself, it is also imperative for the kosher consumer to realize that often, wine and grape juice are used to flavor and color other food and beverage items (i.e. beer, pink lemonade, lite canned fruits, tropical drinks, cereals, etc.). Therefore, it is imperative for the kosher consumer to rely on competent Hashgachas when purchasing such complex items.

False Prophets

The Torah itself clearly states in many places that its laws are eternal, never to be abolished. And even Christians acknowledge that the Jewish Bible (Tanakh) is the word of God (YHWH). If the Torah is eternal and Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) Himself claims to have no intention of abolishing or changing it, why do most Christians disregard the commandments which are clearly spelled out in the Torah?

  • Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
    (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

Yeshua said that he did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Not to subvert, abrogate, or annul, but to establish the law and the prophets, to unfold them, to embody them in living form, and to enshrine them in the reverence, affection, and character of men. The annulment of the law would have resulted in the removal of the foundation that God had established with mankind.

  • If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ESV)

If the would-be prophet counsels us to break any of the commandments, he must be deemed a false prophet. For example, an alleged prophet who declared that God had sanctioned an adulterous relationship can be immediately identified as a false prophet because He has contradicted Torah. God cannot contradict Himself.

Paul the Apostle said, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV).

Moses said that a false prophet might be allowed to perform signs and wonders in order to test our fidelity to Torah. Yeshua warned us that “false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24).

Sadly, the traditional understanding and presentation of the Christian Jesus is that he was a prophet (and more than a prophet), attested by signs and wonders, but that he also cancelled the Torah. Such a person fits Deuteronomy’s description of a false prophet perfectly. According to Deuteronomy, conversion to faith in such a person would be a violation of God’s own commandments. Thus Judaism rightly rejects the Christian Jesus. Yet the real Yeshua of the Gospels is not at all like this. He is a prophet (and more than a prophet) attested to by signs and miracles, who called Israel to submit their lives to the highest standards of Torah. He kept Torah perfectly and never contradicted Himself nor did He annul any of the law.

This explains why His opponents among the Judean leadership labored so hard to find some way of demonstrating that He was a breaker of Torah. If they could prove that He was teaching against Torah, they could invalidate His claims. They were unable to do so. Nevertheless, Christianity has consistently presented Him as a prophet teaching against the Torah. This needs to stop immediately. A Messiah that breaks Torah and teaches others to do so is no Messiah at all.

Using the tests presented above, anyone can easily identify a false prophet. Some historical false prophets include Joseph Smith, Ellen White, Muhammad, David Pack, Herbert Armstrong, L. Ron Hubbard, Mary Baker Eddy, Todd Bentley, and Benny Hinn.

Many people actually prefer false prophets. The Prophet Isaiah said, “For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern” (Isaiah 30:9-14 ESV).

A true prophet preaches repentance and obedience to God’s Law. Isaiah also said, “And when they shall say to you, Seek to the mediums and to wizards who peep and mutter; should not a people seek to their God, than for the living to the dead? To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because no light is in them (Isaiah 8:19-20 MKJV).

A true prophet will always preach the Gospel message of Yeshua HaMashiach, not one of ‘another Jesus.’ For example, Mormons believe that Jesus is the brother of Satan and that God was once a man. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was Michael the Archangel.

  • Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits to see if they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the antichrist you heard is coming, and even now is already in the world.
    (1 John 4:1-3 MKJV)
  • Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
    (1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV)

The Blessed Hope

  • And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
    (Mark 13:3-37 ESV)
  • For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
    (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) spoke in many parables and idioms. A is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. Though the meaning of a parable is often not explicitly stated, the meaning is not usually intended be hidden or secret but on the contrary quite straightforward and obvious. An Idiom is a word combinations that has at least two meanings: a literal meaning and a figurative meaning.

When Yeshua told His disciples, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come,” He was speaking a well known Jewish idiom.

The phrase “no one knows the day or hour” is a Hebrew idiom for the Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Festival), which ushers in the Feast of  Trumpets and the fall feasts of  God (YHWH). Many times God has the new moon tarry over Jerusalem for one, two or more days, before coming into its young crescent sighting for the announcing of the New Moon Festival (John 14:3). Therefore we wait and watch for the “day and hour” of His return. When that Last Trump blows, the Bride trims her lamp and goes out to meet her Bridegroom for the start of their wedding. (Matthew 25:1-13).

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will likely occur at the Feast of Trumpets. Now if we only knew the day of hour, we’d all be in good shape. Don’t be a foolish virgin, keep your lamp filled with oil and your wick trimmed lest you be caught unawares.

Eternal Security: Perseverance of the Saints

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:27-30 ESV)

Perseverance of the Saints, as well as the corollary—though distinct—doctrine known as “Once Saved, Always Saved”, is a Calvinist teaching that asserts that once persons are truly “born of God”, or “regenerated” nothing in heaven or earth “shall be able to separate (them) from the love of God.”

  •  
  • For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Sometimes this position is held in conjunction with Reformed Christian Confessions of Faith in traditional Calvinist doctrine which argues that all men are “dead in trespasses and sins”, and thus, apart from being ressurrected from spiritual death to spiritual life none choose salvation of their own accord.

Calvinists maintain that God (YHWH) selected certain individuals before the world began and then draws them to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. They believe that when Jesus said, “No man can come unto Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him”, that Jesus was saying that men had to be drawn to Him by God before they would believe. Calvinists have long taught that when the apostle Paul wrote, “God hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), that it the passage is meant be understood that God actually choses believers in Christ before the world was founded. According to Calvinism, God begins a good work in some and then continues it. They attempt to prove this with the text from the book of Phillipians where the apostle Paul writes, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.

  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
    (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)

There also are many non-Calvinists who also maintain that once a person is saved they can never be lost. This Free Grace or non-traditional Calvinist doctrine is found predominantly in “free will” Baptist theology, but chalso other Protestant chures of the evangelical tradition.

The doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints is distinct from the doctrine of Assurance which describes how a person may first be sure that they have obtained salvation and an inheritance in the promises of the Holy Bible including eternal life. The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches on Perseverance of the Saints and on Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

  • “The very gospel comes under attack when the eternal security of the believer is questioned.”
    (Charles Stanley)

Paul the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Galatians, wrote, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
(Ephesians 4:30 ESV)

In his Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul the Apostle wrote, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
(Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

Certainly, this passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews seems to indicate that a believer can lose his salvation.

Todd Steandberg wrote, I think the most flagrant problem with the doctrine of eternal security is the notion that people can confess to be a Christians, and yet live a life so depraved that the devil himself would refuse to associate with them. Those who promote eternal security never mention the fact that people openly abuse the sin option. I remember one prime example.One day I was talking with a gentleman about prophecy, and from the start I was aware of the fact he was smoking, which usually doesn’t bother me. However, when he begin using profanity, that did bother me. I thought it would be a good idea to ask him whether he believed that Christians could miss out on the rapture. He, of course, didn’t think it was possible for believers to fall away, causing them to miss the rapture. As the conversation progressed, or better said digressed, he continued to chain smoke, curse repeatedly, and refer to certain racial groups by using inappropriate terms. He had little knowledge of the Bible, but he did know all the once-saved-always-saved Scriptures by heart. I quoted several responsibility Scriptures to him, but he refused to ponder one them. It was like talking to a member of some mind-control cult. Somehow, we got to talking about his smoking habit, and he gave me an explanation that I just could not believe. This guy, with a straight face. explained to me that because he’s a child of God, whatever he did was God’s will being done.He pointed to the cigarette he was smoking and said, “I’m smoking this because God wants me to, and when He wants me to stop, He’ll tell me.” I should have asked him, “How could it be the Lord’s will that Christians should cheat on their spouses or abuse their children?” I’ve heard this demonic theory before, but I never thought I’d meet anyone who believed it. Well, after several hours of listening to his “it God’s will” reasoning and after realizing I was getting nowhere, I decided I had enough. I bluntly told him, “That cigarette you have in your hand is your god, and until you make Jesus Christ number one in your life, you will never see the Kingdom of God.” His reaction amazed me. He cursed God’s name, saying, “There is no [expletive] way He is going to leave one of His own behind.” It really wasn’t the cursing that amazed me; what amazed me was that fact he had no idea that the Bible and his beliefs were so contradictory to the Bible.

Most theologians that hp;d to the doctrine of eternal security  are leading many believers astray. In effect they are granting believers a “license to sin” through the under the grace of the atonement of  Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach).

Paul the Apostle wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain” (Philippians 2:12-16 ESV).

Personally, there is too much at stake to play roulette with my eternal soul, I have my own salvation to work out with much fear and trembling. Paul the Apostle said, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 ESV).

It is my conclusion that “once saved, always saved:” is another false doctrine and tradition. A Christian can certainly become a serial killer. The only question remaining is, was he a Christian to begin with, or did he turn his back on and reject his faith?

The Queen of Heaven

The Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy, to whom the title is a (disputed) consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos“, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English as “Mother of God“.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.

The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary was assumed into heaven and is with Jesus Christ, her divine Son and is represented in Book of Revelation 12 as the woman clothed with the sun who gives birth to Christ. Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood of Jesus Christ, her only Son, but also because God the Father has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of the eternal salvation of humanity. The papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, argues that as Christ, because he redeemed humankind, is its Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen, on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in the redemption of humanity by giving of her own substance, by freely offering him by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, human salvation.

Ad Caeli Reginam states, “The main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature. Mary was chosen as Mother of Christ in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race.”

Jeremiah the Prophet wrote, “Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:17-18 ESV).

Likewise, Jeremiah the Prophet also wrote, “Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them? Did it not come into his mind? The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.” Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows!” (Jeremiah 44:15-25 ESV).

Clearly, the Queen of Heaven existed log before the Virgin Mary or the birth of the Messiah. This title referred to Ishtar (pronounced Easter), an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess also called Ashtoreth and Astarte by various other groups. She was thought to be the wife of the Baal, also known as Molech. The motivation of women to worship Ashtoreth stemmed from her reputation as a fertility goddess, and, as the bearing of children was greatly desired among women of that era, worship of this “Queen of Heaven” was rampant among pagan civilizations. Sadly, it became popular among the Israelites as well. The title Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of other ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular AnatIsisInnana, and Hera. Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

Jesus publicly rebuked a woman who blessed the Virgin Mary, “As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28 ESV).

There is no Queen of Heaven. There has never been a Queen of Heaven. There is most certainly a King of Heaven, the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah. He alone rules in heaven. He does not share His rule or His throne or His authority with anyone. The idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the Queen of Heaven has no scriptural basis whatsoever, stemming instead from proclamations of priests and popes of the Roman Catholic Church. While Mary was certainly a godly young woman greatly blessed in that she was chosen to bear the Savior of the world, she was not in any way divine, nor was she sinless, nor is she to be worshiped, revered, venerated, or prayed to in any way.

Homosexuals, Gay Marriage and the Holy Bible

The Holy Bible refers to homosexuality several times, and has historically been interpreted as condemning the practice. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, however, the extent to which the Bible mentions the subject and whether or not it is condemned, has become the subject of debate among certain political activist groups and homosexuals alike (the homosexual agenda).

The Book of Leviticus has two prohibitions against homosexuality which form an integral part of the Holiness code, contain the following verses: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22 ESV) and “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13 ESV). The two verses have historically been interpreted by Jews and Christians as blanket prohibitions against homosexual acts.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis does not explicitly identify homosexuality as the sin for which Sodom was destroyed, but the passage has historically been interpreted within Judaism and Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality due to the statement that the men of Sodom wished to rape the angels sent to retrieve Lot. In fact, this interpretation became so prevalent that the name Sodom became the basis of the word sodomy, still a legal synonym for homosexual and non-procreative sexual acts, particularly anal sex.

The Prophet Ezekiel specifies the sins that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for which include arrogance, apathy towards the poor, and “detestable things.” Ezekiel said, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
(Ezekiel 16:49-50 ESV)

The account of the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Books of Samuel, has been interpreted by traditional and mainstream Christians as a relationship of platonic love, but has been interpreted by some liberal authors (John Boswell and David M. Halperin) as being of a sexual nature.The story of Ruth and Naomi is also occasionally interpreted in this way (Rachel Havrelock).

Saint Jude said, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
(Jude 1:7 KJV)

The homosexual agenda often claims that lesbians and lesbian acts are not condemned by the Holy Bible. Paul the Apostle clearly stated, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
(Romans 1:26-27 KJV)

In the Book of Deuteronomy it is written, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God (Deuteronomy 22:5 KJV). In his First Epistle to Corinthians, Paul the Apostle stated, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJV)

Effeminacy describes traits in a human male, that are more often associated with traditional feminine nature, behaviour, mannerisms, style or gender roles rather than masculine nature, behaviour, mannerisms, style or roles. The passages of Scripture in Deuteronomy and Corinthians clearly prohibit cross-dressing (transvestism and homosexuality).

The new attack on Christianity and the Holy Bible is that since Jesus never mentions homosexuality nor does He specifically condemn it, homosexuality must be legitimate in Jesus’ eyes.

Did Jesus ever say anything in the four Gospels that would condemn the homosexual lifestyle or homosexual marriage? As it turns out, He did. As a matter of fact, He spoke very clearly and directly about the issue.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
(Matthew 19:3-6 KJV)

Here Jesus upholds creation, male and female sexual relationships (in marriage), male and female marriage, procreation as a part of male and female marriage, and the sanctity of male and female marriage and sexual relationships. His answer is a blanket ignoring (thus condemnation as perversion) of anything outside God’s standard for sexuality and marriage. This truth cannot be legitimately explained away.

For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
(John 5:46-47 KJV)

Jesus gets even more direct concerning the issue of homosexuality. He says that unless one holds to the writings of Moses (the Torah), one cannot fully know or understand truth or Jesus Himself. In the first five books of the Holy Bible we read of the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah and the blanket condemnation of homosexuality as perversion So much for throwing out the Old Testament (Tanakh) to legitimize homosexuality.

The Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth Theory proposes that the planet earth is either entirely hollow or otherwise contains a substantial interior space. The hypothesis has been shown to be wrong by observational evidence. The scientific community has dismissed the notion since at least the late 18th century.

The concept of a hollow earth still recurs in folklore and as the premise for subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction. It is also featured in some present-day pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories. The concept of a subterranean land inside the earth is popular in mythologyfolklore and legends in ancient times.

The earliest known writings about a hollow earth can be traced back to Mesopotamia and the Babylonian and Sumerian Mystery Religions that developed after the flood narrative in the Book of Genesis.

In my experience, much of mythology is based upon distorted facts of real historical events. So with a connection to ancient Babylon and the possibility of a Euhemerism as a basis for these theories, the theory of a hollow earth warrants further examination.

Miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles mining company located in Naica, Mexico discovered a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) below the surface. The Cave of the Crystals contains giant selenite crystals, some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave’s largest crystal found to date is 12 m (39 ft) in length, 4 m (13 ft) in diameter and 55 tons in weight. A group of scientists known as the Naica Project have been heavily involved in researching these caverns.

It is a known fact that we have more detailed maps of our moon and the planet mars than we have of our own oceans. Water covers approximately seventy-one percent of the surface of our planet. At the equator, the earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles. It is slightly smaller between the north and south poles at 24,859 miles. The earth’s diameter at the poles is 7,899 miles while it is 7,926 miles at the equator.

The Sakhalm-I Project, the Al Shaheen Oil Fileld, and the Kola Superdeep Borehole are the sites of the deepest holes ever drilled into the earth. It is more than fair to say we know little more than speculation about the center of our planet.

The Book of Enoch, which predates the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), is a treasure house of knowledge and wisdom concerning many topics that make some people very uncomfortable. It is far from an “inspired” book, however, it is quoted in the Holy Bible and is canonized in Ethiopia. Many of the writings in the Book of Enoch were well known during the Second Temple Period before Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) walked on the earth. In section I of the book, chapters 17 to 36, Enoch is granted the unique privelege of observing and recording the secrets of the inner earth and heaven. He saw that the inner earth contained both heavenly and hellish regions, and that any place can become a heaven or a hell depending on the spirits who inhabit it.

In the Holy Bible, the prophet Amos wrote, “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down” (Amos 9:2 KJV).

There are actually three terms in the Holy Bible that may allude to a hollow earth, at least in part. They are HadesGehennaHellTartarus, and Sheol. Most believers are familiar with the term hell, as it is used throughout the Holy Bible. Most modern translations of the Holy Bible replace all or many of the other four terms with hell. This is unfortunate as many people do not use a good lexicon, dictionary, multiple versions, or original language manuscripts  when studying the Holy Bible. Sometimes hell is the wrong term for various reasons (follow the above links for the all five terms for additional information regarding this).

Yeshua said, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40 ESV).

When writing to the church in Ephesus the Apostle Paul said, “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:9-10 KJV).

The Apostle Peter wrote, “…God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [G5020], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…” (2 Peter 2:4 KJV)

The lexicon results above clearly state that Tartarus is the  the name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to Gehenna of the Jews.

In the Book of Numbers it says, “And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.” And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly” (Numbers 16:28-33 ESV).

In the Gospel of Luke we read, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.””
(Luke 16:14-31 ESV)

Mythology, folklore, paganism, and the Holy Bible all allude to a hollow earth in some capacity. Many (if not all) myths are based on distorted facts of real historical events. It is a known fact that the earth has many underground chambers and caves. It is safe to assume that the underworld is also located in the earth. It is also probably fair to theorize that Hades (hell) is within the earth. These “assumptions” are more than prudent for anyone who believes the Holy Bible literally (word for word).

The Garden of Eden: Paradise Lost

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress [H5647] it and to keep [H8104] it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
(Genesis 2:8-17 KJV)

When the creation of the heavens and the earth were completed, God (YHVH)  gave mankind a few simple rules. Adam and Eve were to work and protect the garden. Then God told them that, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Many people ask why would God create something that was banned and, specifically, why would it be a tree whose fruit offered knowledge of good and evil? Isn’t knowledge good?

Skeptics often complain that God set Adam and Eve up to fail. However, God had to give Adam and Eve a choice. Without free will to choose, Adam and Eve would have been mere puppets. True love always requires choice. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose to love and trust Him. The only way to give this choice would have been to command something that was not allowed. Since God had planted in the garden all the different trees from which we now get fruit, the test was not too difficult. Adam and Eve had plenty to eat and a large variety of fruits from which to choose, and could have chosen to believe God. They were only commanded not to eat from one tree out of the many.

Since everything else God planted in the garden was good, the natural choice of something to choose from would be knowledge of evil. God’s plan for Adam and Eve was to enjoy each other and their fellowship with Him without the influence of evil. God did not want Adam and Eve to experience evil or even know about it. However, Lucifer had tempted Eve to join him in rebellion against God. Eve sinned and tempted Adam to join her and Satan in rebellion against God, which he did also.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
(Genesis 3:1-7 KJV)

Satan used the oldest ploy in his playbook of deceit, God is a cosmic killjoy who is trying to keep something good from you. Satan first asked Eve about the tree from which they were told not to eat. Eve told Satan they were not to eat of the forbidden fruit or they would die. Satan’s reply indicated that God was a liar and that He just wanted to keep something good (the fruit) from them, saying, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). So, Adam and Eve gained knowledge of the difference between good and evil through direct experience, instead of through instruction by God. The text suggests that Adam and Eve had enjoyed daily walks with God through the garden prior to their fall (Genesis 3:8). The knowledge of evil brought fear and shame to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:10). So, the knowledge of good and evil was not a good thing, since it ruined their innocent relationship with God and each other.

There was one tree bearing two kinds of fruit. The name of the tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The name of the tree revealed the nature of its fruits, good and bad fruits of life and death, love and hate, light and darkness, good and evil, peace and war and heaven and hell. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a double-edged sword, the complete fusion of opposites. This tree was put before Adam and Eve, and even if they had in their innocence the liberty to look upon it as a tree of God’s wonders. God’s prohibition did not allow them to place their desire in it and eat of it, but threatened that (if they would do so) they would die from its fruit. For this was a tree of division where good and evil battled with each other, but in a battle there can be no life. Battle brings forth destruction, and destruction brings forth death, life lives in the sweet unity of love. Therefore, when Adam and Eve ate from this tree, a battle started within them, and in this battle they eventually lost his lives.

Satan didn’t tempt Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Life. His motives were not to see mankind live as him, as another immortal. His motive was to tempt them to sin and ultimately bring them death. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV).

I believe that believers will lose our knowledge of evil in heaven. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8 KJV).

God had created Adam and Eve in a perfect moral state with very lofty intellectual capabilities. They understood that his role was to achieve as close a bond as possible to the God Almighty, and sin was the furthest thing from their minds. They understood, however, that their existence in the Garden of Eden was a restricted one, they would only be able to worship God with a limited exercise of their free will since they were largely unaware of other modes of existence. Adam and Eve, however, desired to worship God precisely through the wide ranging exercise of their cognitive powers, by exercising their free will in a broad spectrum of experiences. They hoped that through this route they would ultimately arrive at the lofty level of the angels in their relationship with the Creator.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:8-24 KJV)

As a consequence of their disobedience and rebellion against God, thy were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the ground was cursed to bring forth thorns and women were chastised by greatly multiplying their sorrow by pain in childbirth and became subservient rather than equals with their husbands.

Due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they effectively changed the entire nature of mankind. We were originally created perfect and without any desire to sin. All subsequent offspring were born with a sinful nature and a desire for evil (Psalms 51:5)

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(Psalms 51:5 KJV)

Every human being sins. Sin is a failure to live according to God’s divine instructions (Torah). A sin is an act that violates a known moral rule. The term sin also refers to the state of having committed such a violation. Sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings. Therefore, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating should be considered sinful. We sin because we have a corrupt nature to sin. This corrupt nature is inherited from Adam and Eve. Our corrupt nature to sin separates us from God.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19 KJV)

Christians have two natures at work in their being, one is the old nature of sin, and the other is a new nature controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakodesh). These two natures are constantly at war with each other. The Apostle Paul explained that, despite his best intentions, he was still influenced by his corrupt nature to sin (Romans 7:18-19).

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:18-19 KJV)

While our two natures are constantly in conflict, it is not the corrupt nature that will ultimately control the Christian. Part of the sanctification process involves dying to the old nature. A Christian will sin, but a Christian will not continue in unrestrained sin. Paul wrote, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9 KJV). Sin in a Christian’s life will be followed by remorse and repentance.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
(Galatians 5:16-17 KJV)

After Yeshua’s Second Coming, when a believers body is glorified, our corupt nature will be destroyed once and for all. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58 KJV).

In the meantime, we must resist temptation and sin. There is no excuse for any sin, the devil cannot make anyone do anything. I can honestly say that each and every sin that I have ever committed has been committed willfully and intentionally. Yeshua was tempted with every sin that we are tempted with, and I believe He was pursued by HaSatan (“The Accuser”) with more temptations than anyone else that has walked the earth.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV).

The Dual Fulfillment of Prophecy

The subject of Biblical prophecy is a fascinating aspect of Bible study. Unfortunately, very few people understand the keys to understanding the prophecies of the Bible, and because of this many prophecies are greatly misunderstood.

One of the keys to understanding Biblical prophecy is the fact that many prophecies are dual in nature. Many Biblical prophecies have both a short-term and long-term fulfillment (types and antitypes).  The type is usually a relatively minor event in history. The antitype  symbolizes a major, often eschatological (eschatology is a branch of Christian and Jewish theology concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind) event that will occur later.

One of the best examples of dual fulfillment in prophecy is the Olivet Prophecy recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Events such as the siege of Jerusalem, Antiochus Epiphanes’ sacrifice of a pig on the altar (the Abomination of Desolation) and the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus Flavius are seen as only partial fulfillments of the Olivet Prophecy (which is also predicted in the Book of Daniel).  We can clearly see that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was a type of the Great Tribulation which will occur in the time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus Christ). Yeshua was actually predicting that the Abomination of Desolation which occurred under Antiochus Epiphanes in which he pronounced himself to be God and defiled the Holy Temple (which when corrected by the Maccabean Revolt resulting in the celebration known as Hanukkah) would occur again during the time of the final Antichrist. Yeshua actually prophesied two events in the Olivet Prophecy. Jerusalem’s destruction was the type, and the Great Tribulation is the antitype.

This particular prophecy highlights how vital it is to understand the principles of duality in Biblical prophecy. Many early followers of Yeshua did not understand that the Olivet Prophecy was dual and fully expected that Yeshua’s Second Coming would occur after the destruction of Jerusalem. When Yeshua failed to return at that time, some were very disappointed and disillusioned. Some even lost their faith and stopped believing. This disappointment was a major factor in causing the congregations to fall into apostasy in the closing decades of the first century.

The failure of the Jewish people to understand the duality of prophecy also played a role in their rejection of Yeshua as their Messiah. They thought (and still think) that the Messiah would come as a conquering, human king that would restore Israel to its former wealth and power. This idea was based on the many prophecies in the Old Testament which are actually describing the Second Coming of Yeshua and His millennial kingdom. An understanding of this principle of duality, along with careful study of the many prophecies showing the suffering and death of the Messiah, may have prevented this tragic error.

The type often stops short of fulfilling the entire prophecy. Yeshua pointed out a very clear example of this in Luke 4:16-21. On a Sabbath in Nazareth shortly after Yeshua began His ministry, He publicly read from the scroll of Isaiah in the Synagogue saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Reading this passage from Isaiah 61:1-2, Yeshua stopping abruptly after the first line in verse 2. Yeshua then rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. He told the amazed audience, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This portion of the prophecy was fulfilled, in type, during His earthly ministry. It will be completely fulfilled, as the antitype, throughout the entire world during His millennial kingdom. If Yeshua had read any further, He would have spoken of events belonging exclusively to His second coming, so He did not claim to be fulfilling them. If these devoted Jewish people has accurately assessed Yeshua’s words, they could have easily avoided the error that led them to reject Him and compell the Romans to condemn Him to crucifixion for blasphemy.

Keep in mind that not all prophecies are dual in nature. God’s predictions regarding the fate of ancient city-states such as Tyre, Sidon, Ashkelon and others do not appear to have an antitype. In general, it seems that God has chosen to use the duality principle in those prophecies which deal directly with His chosen people (Israel) or with those who trust and believe in Yeshua (spiritual Israel).

As an example, ancient Babylon is one of the ancient city-states that does have an antitype. Under its greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon conquered Judah and took the Jewish people into captivity between 604-585 BC (II Kings 24-25). In the New Testament, Babylon becomes an antitype of those who persecute believers (Revelation 18:21-24), and its fate will be the same as that of ancient Babylon: a heap of ruins, never to be raised again (Isaiah 13:19-22).

The principle of duality in Biblical prophecy is especially important to believers in this day and age. Many prophecies in the New Testament predicted the great apostasy which took place in the congregations toward the end of the first century (Acts 20:29; II Thessalonians 2:3-12; II Timothy 3:1-8; II Timothy 4:3-4; Jude 3-4). All of these prophecies are dual. The falling away from the revealed truth of  God that occurred in the first century is a type of what is happening today in the worldwide congregations. We are actually witnessing some of these prophecies being fulfilled today.  Duality in Biblical prophecy is being demonstrated in our very lifetimes and before our own eyes.

For these reasons, we must be keenly aware of this important principle of understanding God’s Word. We must be constantly on our guard, watching prophesied world events, as well as those unfolding in the congregations, so that we are not caught unaware.

Yeshua warned all of us who are living in these turbulent times, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:35-37 KJV)

Torah: The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
(John 14:5-6 KJV)

What is that way? Psalms 119:1 says, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law [Torah] of the LORD.”

What is truth? Psalm 119:142  says, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law [Torah] is the truth.

What is life? Proverbs 13:14 says, “The law [Torah] of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
(Proverbs 13:14 KJV)

The Torah also contains an important Messianic prophecy in the Book of Deuteronomy which was revealed by God to Moses.

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
(Deuteronomy 18:15-19 KJV)

Who is this prophet that Moses prophesied about? The answer is found in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. The Apostle Peter is speaking to the people of Israel after a miracle of healing had taken place before many witnesses. Peter noticed that the people were amazed by what had taken place.

And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
(Acts 3:12-26 KJV)

And to Abraham and to his Seed the promises were spoken. It does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, “And to your Seed,” which is Christ.
(Galatians 3:16 MKJV)

The promised seed (descendant) who was promised to Abraham was Yeshua, the promised Messiah.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
(Galatians 3:28-29 ESV)

The Gospel of Yeshua is offered to every person in the entire world, and there is still only one way to obtain redemption and salvation and only one name that will lead to redemption and salvation. Yeshua is that way and that name.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
(Acts 4:10-12 KJV)

The Torah is the visibility of the truth, the visibility of God’s countenance. The Torah gives us the moral guidance for righteous living. Yeshua the Messiah is the Living Torah. In this Torah the abiding essence of what was inscribed on the stone tablets at Sinai is now written in living flesh. The Apostle Paul said, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
(Colossians 1:13-15 ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-14 ESV)

New Year, New Beginnings?

As a new year begins, I am reminded of the fact that we are one year closer to the day of our death, or the day the Lord returns. Either way, on that day we will stand before the Lord in judgment.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
(2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

On that day the Lord will either say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34)” or, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).”

Remember that today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), tomorrow may be too late or may not come at all. Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off untill until tomorrow what you can do today.”

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
(Romans 10:9-11 KJV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
(John 3:16-21 KJV)

In God We Trust?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
(Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)

“In God We Trust” was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. The phrase has appeared on U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957. Strict Separationists have questioned the legality of this motto because they state that it violates The United States Constitution which forbids the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of a religion. However, the United States Supreme Court has rejected the legal basis for this claim. Religious accomodationists, on the other hand, state that this entrenched practice has not historically presented any constitutional difficulty, is not coercive, and does not prefer one narrow sect over another. Outside of constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with placing the motto on coinage as he considered it sacrilegious to put the name of God on money.

As we draw to the end of of another year and into the new year, it is a time for reflection. The media reviews the top news stories and events that occured during the past year. Many people plan New Year’s Resolutions to put into effect on New Year’s Day. A New Year’s Resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s Resolution plan to do so for the whole following year.

At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

Presently, the United States is suffering from financial and economic crises. Unemployment is high and jobs are virtually nonexistent in many places. Crime rates are increasing and religion and morality are under complete persecution both nationally and internationally.The last year brought the “Arab Spring” to the Middle East, many regional wars, several asteroids, comets and solar flares either passing within close proximity to the orbit of the earth or directly impacting the atmosphere or planet.

The great Tōhoku earthquake (it was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since record-keeping began) and a subsequent tsunami which left 15,844 people dead, 5,890 people injured, and 3,451 people missing. The tsunami resulted in the still ongoing level seven meltdowns at the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plants and worldwide fallout of nuclear isotopes. Hundreds of thousand of animals died with no apparent cause around the world. The United States saw severe weather outbreaks that produced record numbers of tornadoes decimating many areas through tornado prone areas. Haboobs on scales not seen before occurred in Arizona and the southwest. Medical professionals have been compelled to provide abortions against their will. Homosexuals are gaining the right to marry and clergy is being compelled to preside over their weddings under threat of criminal prosecution. We have seen many false prophets either proclaiming to be the Messiah or predicting the end of the world. This list could continue for pages, but you get the idea.

Yeshua was sitting on the Mount of Olives and His disciples came to him privately and asked Him, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?” Yeshua answered them saying, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:4-14, 37-44).”

Obviously, many of the warning signs that Yeshua proclaimed would be a warning that the end was near are occurring  Many prophecies from the Tanakh have been fulfilled in the Middle East and the stage has been set for the fulfillment of many more of these prophecies in the very near future.

We undoubtedly have a problem. The question is, can we do anything about it? Can we convince God to delay His judgement or wrath on this wicked earth? It would appear so. Consider the story of Jonah the Prophet and the city Nineveh in the Tanakh.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
(Jonah 3:1-10 ESV)

Jonah named the place and the date of the judgement that was to come upon Nineveh. When the people heard it they repented of their sins. When God saw this he changed His mind and did not destroy Nineveh as He said He would. The key is repentance. What is repentance? Repentance is confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to His laws (Torah). It typically includes an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.

In Biblical Hebrew, the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: “shuv” (to return) and “nicham” (to feel sorrow). In the New Testament, the word translated as “repentance” is the Greek word metanoia, “after/behind one’s mind”, which is a compound word of the preposition “meta” (after, with), and the verb “noeo” (to perceive, to think, the result of perceiving or observing). In this compound word the preposition combines the two meanings of time and change, which may be denoted by “after” and “different”; so that the whole compound means: “to think differently after”. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, “change of mind and heart”, or, “change of consciousness”. A description of repentance in the New Testament can be found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son found in the Gospel of Luke.

Immediately after King Solomon finished construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, he consecrated (made sacred) and dedicated the Holy Temple to God. King Solomon and the Children of Israel sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep to Hashem at this time. God accepted their sacrifice and told them exactly how to stay under His mercy and protection.

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’ “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.'”
(2 Chronicles 7:12-22 ESV)

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
(Hebrews 6:17-18 ESV)

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
(Psalms 56:11 KJV)

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

The Devil’s Advocate

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
(Proverbs 29:11 ESV)

How then are we supposed to correct someone who has wronged us in any way? How do we aproach another believer that has transgressed against us in any fashion? The Apostle Paul addresses that very issue in his second epistle to Timothy.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
(2 Timothy 4:1-5 KJV)

Yeshua taught on the subject of someone being wronged by another believer. In his discourse, he addressed how the matter should be approached and specifically addresses gosssip and slander.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
(Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)

The Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Galatians addresses the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Enmity, strife, rivalries, dissensions and divisions are clearly listed as fruits of the works of the flesh. Paul warns us that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This admonition is for believers, not unbelievers, yet it warns of being rejected from entering the kingdom of heaven.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:19-23 ESV)

The Apostle Paul continues by telling believers how we should interact with each other within our fellowship with each other through Messiah Yeshua in his epistle to the Ephesians.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling with which you are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 MKJV)

James, the brother of Yeshua, wrote at great length in his epistle to the twelve tribes of Israel who were in diaspora at the time about the taming of the tongue.

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
(James 3:5-10 ESV)

This article has made it very clear how serious and potentially dangerous the sin of gossip is to a believer and warns of other sins that may be incurred by a person engaging in gossip or breaking the laws of lashon hara. King David probably left us with the best advice regarding our communication in one of my favorite Psalms, it says, “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me” (Psalms 39:1 KJV). Don’t play the part of the Devil’s Advocate. Yeshua’s followers are under enough persecution from Satan without your assistance.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights and Feast of Rededication

Hanukkah, while not being a feast given by God in Scripture, is mentioned in the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) in the Gospel of John.

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”
(John 10:22-23 KJV)

Hanukkah is historically a time to rededicate oneself to God and His purposes. Many Messianic Jews and Gentiles see this feast time, rather than the modern day of Christmas, as a unique factual Bible time event of miraculous deliverance to be a more fitting time to remember the birth of the Messiah, the Light which came into the world. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:4-5 KJV)

It was in the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, nearly twenty two centuries ago (165 B.C.), that the events took place which we commemorate each year at Hanukkah time. The Jewish people had returned to the land of Israel from the Babylonian Exile, and had rebuilt the Holy Temple. But they remained subject to the domination of imperial powers, first, the Persian Empire, then later, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great. Upon the death of Alexander, his vast kingdom was divided among his generals. After a power struggle which engulfed all the nations of the Middle East, Israel found itself under the sway of the Seleucid Dynasty, Greek kings who reigned from Syria.

Though at first, the rule of the Seleucids was rather mild and uneventful in Israel, there soon arose a new king, Antiochus IV, who was to wage a bloody war upon the Jews, a war which would threaten not just their physical lives, but their very spiritual existence. Over the years of Greek domination, many Jews had begun to accept the Greek culture and it’s self-serving pleasure oriented, pagan/false god way of life. These Jewish Hellenists became willing pawns in Antiochus’ scheme to obliterate every trace of the Jewish religion. The Holy Temple was invaded, desecrated, and robbed of all its treasures. Vast numbers of innocent people were massacred and the survivors were heavily taxed. Antiochus placed an idol of Zeus on the holy altar and forced the Jews to bow before it under penalty of death. And he forbid the Jewish people to observe their most sacred traditions, such as the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision. Antiochus went so far as to proclaim himself a god, taking the name ‘Antiochus Epiphanes’ (the Divine). But even his own followers mocked him as ‘Antiochus Epimanes’ (the madman).

In every city and town, altars were erected with statues of the Greek gods and goddesses. Soldiers rounded up the Jews and forcibly compelled them to make offerings and engage in other immoral acts customary to the Greeks. As Antiochus’ troops tightened their grip on the nation, the Jews seemed incapable of resistance. It was in the small village of Modi’in, a few miles west of Jerusalem, that a single act of heroism turned the tide of Israel’s struggle and altered her destiny for all time. Mattityahu (Matthew), patriarch of the priestly Hasmonean clan, stepped forward to challenge the Greek soldiers and those who complied passively to their demands. Backed by his five sons, he attacked the troops, slew the idolaters, and destroyed the idol. With a cry of ‘All who are with God, follow me!’ he and a courageous circle of partisans retreated to the hills, where they gathered forces to overthrow the oppression of Antiochus and those working with him (even many Jews).

The army of Mattityahu, now under the command of his son Yehuda (Judah) Maccabee, grew daily in numbers and in strength. With the Biblical slogan, Who is like unto You, 0 God, emblazoned on their shields, they would swoop down upon the Syrian troops under cover of darkness and scatter the oppressors, then return to their encampments in the hills. Only six thousand strong, they defeated a heavily armed battalion of forty-seven thousand Syrians. Enraged, Antiochus sent an even larger army against them, and in the miraculous, decisive battle at Bet Tzur, the Jewish forces emerged victorious. From there, they proceeded on to Jerusalem, where they liberated the city and reclaimed the Holy Temple. They cleared the Sanctuary of the idols, rebuilt the altar, and prepared to resume the Divine Service. A central part of the daily service in the Temple was the kindling of the brilliant lights of the Menorah. With the Temple about to be rededicatedm, only one small cruse of the pure, sacred olive oil was found. It was only one day’s supply and they knew it would take more than a week for the special process required to prepare more oil. Undaunted, in joy and with thanksgiving, the Maccabees lit the lamps of the Menorah with the small amount of oil, and dedicated the Holy Temple anew. And miraculously, as if in confirmation of the power of their faith, the oil did not burn out, and the flames shone brightly for eight full days. The following year, Jewish Sages officially proclaimed the festival of Hanukkah as a celebration lasting eight days, in perpetual commemoration of this victory over religious persecution.

The Hanukkah lights are more than simply a reminder of God’s deliverance and miracles in days gone by. They provide inspiration for us, in our times, to enrich our lives with the Light of Messiah Yeshua and in remembering the greatest miracle of all, His birth! In ancient times, the Jewish people rededicated the Temple with the Menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to the Lord and to the salvation of this world. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 KJV)