The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”).

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei (September or October). According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the Days of Awe, adherents to Judaism try to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers themselves absolved by God.

  • And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
    (Leviticus 23:26-32 ESV)

There are five afflictions associated with observance of Yom Kippur. The Seder Moed states that the following abstentions (deliberate self-denials) meet the requirements for Yom Kippur.

  1. Eating or drinking.
  2. Wearing leather shoes.
  3. Bathing.
  4. Anointing oneself with oil
  5. Marital relations

On this day the high priest (Kohen Gadol) makes sacrifice for his own sin and the sins of the people. He reconsecrates the entire tent of meeting and its surrounds for the worship and service of God. This is the only day of the year that the high priest is allowed to enter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle blood for the atonement of sin. The ceremony is described in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus.

  • The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died, and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel. And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Moses did as the LORD commanded him.
    (Leviticus 16:1-34 ESV)

God’s repeated instruction to the people is that they are to deny themselves. They must abstain from food and other pleasures, to fast in sorrow for their sins. This is not a time for joyful celebration, but for deep repentance and solemn sacrifice.

The following summary of the Temple service is based on the traditional Jewish religious account described in rabbinical writings, appearing in contemporary traditional Jewish prayer books for Yom Kippur, and studied as part of a traditional Jewish Yom Kippur worship service.

While the Temple in Jerusalem was standing (from Biblical times through 70 C.E.), the Kohen Gadol was mandated by the Torah to perform a complex set of special services and sacrifices for Yom Kippur to attain Divine atonement, the word “kippur” meaning “atone” in Hebrew. These services were considered to be the most important parts of Yom Kippur because through them the Kohen Gadol made atonement for all Jews and the world. During the service, the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple, the only time of the year that anyone went inside. Doing so required special purification and preparation, including five immersions in a mikvah (ritual bath), and four changes of clothing.

Seven days prior to Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol was sequestered in the Palhedrin Chamber in the Temple, where he reviewed (studied) the service with the sages familiar with the Temple, and was sprinkled with spring water containing ashes of the Red Heifer as purification. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) also reports that he practiced the incense offering ritual in the Avitnas Chamber.

On the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol had to follow a precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications:

  1. The Kohen Gadol first performed the regular daily (tamid) offering — usually performed by ordinary priests — in special golden garments, after immersing in a mikvah and washing his hands and feet.
  2. The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
  3. The Kohen Gadol leaned (performed Semikha) and made a confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. The people prostrated themselves when they heard this. He then slaughtered the bull as a chatat (sin-offering) and received its blood in a bowl.
  4. At the Eastern Gate, the Kohen Gadol drew lots from a lottery box over two goats. One was selected “for the Lord,” and one “for Azazel.” The Kohen Gadol tied a red band around the horns of the goat “for Azazel.”
  5. The Kohen Gadol ascended the mizbeach (altar) and took a shovel full of embers with a special shovel. He was brought incense. He filled his hands and placed it in a vessel. (The Talmud considered this the most physically difficult part of the service, as the Kohen Gadol had to keep the shovelful of glowing coals balanced and prevent its contents from dropping, using his armpit or teeth, while filling his hands with the incense).
  6. Holding the shovel and the vessel, he entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies. In the days of the First Temple, he placed the shovel between the poles of the Ark of the Covenant. In the days of the Second Temple, he put the shovel where the Ark would have been. He waited until the chamber filled with smoke and left.
  7. The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the bull’s blood and entered the Most Holy Place again. He sprinkled the bull’s blood with his finger eight times, before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Holy of Holies, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  8. The Kohen Gadol went to the eastern end of the Israelite courtyard near the Nikanor Gate, laid his hands (semikha) on the goat “for the Lord,” and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim (priests). The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. He then slaughtered the goat, and received its blood in another bowl.
  9. The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the goat’s blood and entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies again. He sprinkled the goat’s blood with his finger eight times the same way he had sprinkled the bull’s blood. The blood was sprinkled before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Kadosh Hakadashim, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  10. Standing in the Hekhal (Holy), on the other side of the Parochet from the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol took the bull’s blood from the stand and sprinkled it with his finger eight times in the direction of the Parochet. He then took the bowl with the goat’s blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner, putting it back on the stand.
  11. The Kohen Gadol removed the goat’s blood from the stand and mixed it with the bull’s blood. Starting at the northeast corner, he then smeared the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the Golden (Incense) altar in the Haichal. He then sprinkled the blood eight times on the altar.
  12. The Kohen Gadol left the Haichal and walked to the east side of the Azarah (Israelite courtyard). Near the Nikanor Gate, he leaned his hands (Semikha) on the goat “for Azazel” and confessed the sins of the entire people of Israel. The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. While he made a general confession, individuals in the crowd at the Temple would confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sent the goat off “to the wilderness.” In practice, to prevent its return to human habitation, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off its edge.
  13. While the goat “for Azazel” was being led to the cliff, the Kohen Gadol removed the insides of the bull, and intertwined the bodies of the bull and goat. Other people took the bodies to the Beit HaDeshen (place of the ashes). They were burned there after it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had reached the wilderness.
  14. After it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had been pushed off the cliff, the Kohen Gadol passed through the Nikanor Gate into the Ezrat Nashim (Women’s Courtyard) and read sections of the Torah describing Yom Kippur and its sacrifices.
  15. The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet both before removing the linen garments and after putting on the golden ones.
  16. The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar. He dismembered the rams and burned the parts entirely on the outer altar. He then offered the accompanying mincha (grain) offerings and nesachim (wine-libations).
  17. The Kohen Gadol then offered the Musaf offering.
  18. The Kohen Gadol placed the insides of the bull and goat on the outer altar and burned them entirely.
  19. The Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  20. The Kohen Gadol returned to the Holy of Holies and removed the bowl of incense and the shovel.
  21. The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed into a third set of golden garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  22. The Kohen Gadol completed the afternoon portion of the regular (tamid) daily offering in the special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet a tenth time.

The Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen), immersed in the mikvah five times, and washed his hands and feet ten times. Sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (grain) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur). The Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times. The Tetragrammaton was pronounced three times, once for each confession.

Most Christians disregard the feasts and celebrations of the Tanakh (Old Testament). They do this because they have been mislead to believe that these Holy Days are irrelevant or insignificant in some way. Paul the Apostle wrote that these feasts and celebrations were a shadow (type/antitype) of the things to come through Jesus Christ.

  • Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
    (Colossians 2:16-17 ESV)

The Day of Atonement has deep theological significance in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah). Chapters 8 to 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews argue that it pointed forward to the work of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) as our High Priest.

  • These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
    (Hebrews 9:6-15 ESV)

Mary Fairchild wrote, “The Tabernacle and the Temple gave a clear picture of how sin separates us from the holiness of God. In Bible times, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies by passing through the heavy veil that hung from ceiling to floor, creating a barrier between the people and the presence of God. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter and offer a blood sacrifice to cover the sins of the people. However, at the very moment when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:51 says, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.””

Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV). Many Christians are not aware of the significance of this passage. During the time of the Second Temple, a strip of wool would be dipped into the blood of the sin offering which had been sacrificed. This wool was cut into two pieces, one was kept in Jerusalem at the Second Temple, and the other was tied to the horns of the goat for Azazel. When the strip of wool that was in Jerusalem turned white, the High Priest knew that the sacrifice was accepted by God for the atonement (covering) of the sins of the people.

Chapters 8 to 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews also clearly explains how Jesus Christ became our High Priest and entered heaven (the Holy of Holies), once and for all, not by the blood of sacrificial animals, but by his own precious blood on the cross at Calvary. Christ (Messiah) Himself was the atoning sacrifice for our sins; thus, he obtained for us eternal redemption, All believers accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the final atonement for sin.

The Day of Atonement is significant for Christians. It pictures Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and that Satan has a role and will be sent away (and bound for the millennium). While many Christians somewhat understand this, because they do not keep this and the other Holy Days, they often do not have a proper view of God’s entire plan of salvation, such as the role of Satan and Christ.

This Day of Atonement provides a type/antitype not only what has happened (with Christ) but some of what will happen with Satan (while the holy days that follow show other events that will happen later). This is information that Christians living in these latter days should value.

I recommend Passion for Truth Ministries‘ video by Jim Staley, God’s Prophetic Calendar: Yom Kippur for additional studies on the Day of Atonement.

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)

Temptations Wings

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical Gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. Some scholars maintain that he was influenced by the Essenes, who were semi-ascetic, expected an apocalypse, and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although there is no direct evidence to substantiate this. John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity.

Most biblical scholars agree that John baptized Yeshua at “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” by wading into the water with Yeshua from the eastern bank. John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, in Aramaic Matthew, in the Pseudo-Clementine literature, and in the Qur’an. Accounts of John in the New Testament appear compatible with the account in Josephus. There are no other historical accounts of John the Baptist from around the period of his lifetime.

John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself, and, in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Yeshua is the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Yeshua, since John announces Jesus’ coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John. Some scholars have further speculated that Jesus was himself a disciple of John for some period of time, but this view is disputed.

  • Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    (Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)

After His immersion in the Jordan, Yeshua left the water and went out into the Judean wilderness west of Jericho; it was a dry and waterless place. There He fasted forty days. From those heights, He could clearly see the Jordan River and the plains of Moab where Moses had delivered the words of the Book of Deuteronomy to all Israel.

  • Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
    (Matthew 4:1-2 ESV)

Yeshua’s forty-day fast is a reflection of Moses’ forty-day fast on Mount Sinai. Messiah Yeshua, the ultimate redeemer, comes in the pattern of Moses, the first redeemer. More than that, the forty-day fast and confrontation with the adversary may be an allusion to the forty days of repentance that precede the Day of Atonement.

The Jewish tradition of forty days of repentance beginning on the first day of the sixth month, the month of Elul, are observed in remembrance of Moses’ second sojourn on Mount Sinai. After the sin of the golden calf, Moses returned to Sinai and was “…there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water” (Exodus 34:28). Meanwhile, Israel was camped below the mountain in a state of mournful repentance.

  • So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
    (Exodus 34:28 ESV)

The annual forty days of repentance before the Day of Atonement relive this story from the Torah. It is customary for the extra-pious in Judaism to periodically fast and recite prayers of repentance throughout these forty days in preparation for the Day of Atonement.

It seems unlikely that we can date this particular custom to the days of  Yeshua with any confidence, nor can we assume that the story of the temptation actually happened during the forty days before the Day of Atonement. Nevertheless, the imagery of the temptation story and the forty days of repentance share several features.

In Jewish tradition, these forty days are regarded as the allotted time to examine one’s life, identify one’s shortcoming and to make repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement. It seems significant, then, that the story of Yeshua’s forty days begins with John the Baprist’s call for repentance and the Messiah’s immersion in the Jordan River. After Yeshua emerged from the water, the Gospel of Mark tells us, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12 ESV).

The traditional forty days of repentance conclude on the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting. Moreover, the Day of Atonement is regarded as a day for dealing with the adversary and his accusations. The liturgies for the Day of Atonement are filled with references to a legal showdown between God and the devil. In the Temple ritual for the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat for Azazel (the name of a fallen angel in some early apocalyptic sources) is led out into the wilderness and shoved over a cliff–an annual ritual celebrating the defeat of evil.

While Yeshua fasted in the Judean wilderness, He was probably between Jerusalem and Jericho, the very place that tradition says the Azazel scapegoat was thrown down. The imagery of the forty days of repentance–which culminate in a Day of Atonement-style, wilderness, fast-day showdown with a fallen angel–seem to be connected to the story of the temptations. At any rate, while fasting in the Judean wilderness, Yeshua encountered the prince of darkness himself.

The temptations Yeshua faced in the wilderness are not the sort of temptations you and I face on a daily basis. We find ourselves tempted by (and giving in to) much more mundane temptations. Even if we were starving to death, we would never be tempted to turn stones into bread because that is beyond our ability to do so. Instead of the common foils of human beings, the temptations of Yeshua are of a peculiar, messianic nature. They are the types of things only an anointed messiah might be tempted to do. They are shortcuts to messianic recognition and power.

In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul the Apostle wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). This passage of Scripture is an absolute truth. I can assure you that any sin I have committed in my lifetime I willingly choose to commit that sin. “The devil made me do it” isn’t a viable excuse.

  • And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
    (Matthew 4:3 ESV)

Yeshua responded to Satan’s temptation with a direct quote from the Torah. He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).

  • And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV)

Yeshua had some notion of where His destiny would lead Him. He foresaw the cross looming on the horizon. He saw His coming mortal death. The tempter urged Him to reveal His messianic identity by defying a mortal death through leaping off the highest point of the Temple, thereby demanding God’s divine intervention and proving to everyone that He was the Son of God.

  • Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
    (Matthew 4:5-6 ESV)

Such an amazing leap would have been witnessed by most of Jerusalem and provided for Yeshua a shortcut to messianic fame. More poignantly, it would have defied human mortality. In essence, it is the temptation to avoid death. In response, Yeshua said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, Yeshua quoted the Torah in response to Satan’s temptation.

  • “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16 ESV)

Ironically, nearly forty years after Yeshua stood on the Temple parapet with the adversary, His younger brother, Yaakov HaTzadik (James the Righteous), was thrown down from that same height for refusing to deny Yeshua’s messianic identity. Miraculously, he was  unharmed during the fall, but was stoned to death by the  the scribes and Pharisees.

  • Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
    (Matthew 4:8-9 ESV)

The third messianic temptation of Yeshua was to take a shortcut to world domination. In addition to miraculous provisions of bread and miraculous salvation, the messianic job description includes dominion and power over all the kingdoms of the world. Note that the devil had possession of these to offer Him. If the Adversary was not in possession of the kingdoms of the world, he could not have legitimately offered them to Yeshua, and it would not have been an actual temptation.

The third test was the most difficult of the three. It was an amazing opportunity. It had the potential of bypassing the cross, the destruction of Jerusalem, 2000 years of exile, the untold suffering of the Jewish people, the Holocaust and all that we endure to this day.

Yeshua could have brought the whole redemption to a quick and final completion, sparing all Israel and millions of human souls, had He only been willing to oblige the enemy that one time for that one moment.

And, once again, the Messiah withstood the test. He responded with another quotation from the Torah. Yeshua was not willing to take any shortcuts to redemption. All kingdoms will be His, but it will happen according to the Father’s will and within the limits of Torah.

  • Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”
    (Matthew 4:10 ESV)
  • It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
    (Deuteronomy 6:13 ESV)

Subsequent to His resurrection and exaltation, the Master has been given the title of authority over the nations, kingdoms and peoples of the world. He told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

This statement provides Yeshua’s final answer to the adversary’s third temptation. By virtue of His exaltation through His death and resurrection, He has wrested the authority over all kingdoms out of the devil’s hands. When the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed in its fullness on earth, Messiah’s authority over all nations and kingdoms will be made manifest

  • Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
    (Matthew 4:11 ESV)

Yeshua did not resort to shouting matches or charismatic-style spiritual warfare. Instead, He met each of the adversary’s temptations squarely with an appeal to Torah. Fortunately, He had never heard of the theology that claims that the Torah is done away with. If He had, what weapons would He have employed against the enemy?

The same is true for us. Without the absolutes of God’s Torah, we all stand vulnerable to the subjective and shifting suggestions of the tempter. Only when we affirm the eternal validity of Torah are we able to call evil wrong and good right.

  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    (James 4:7 ESV)

Can Man Forgive Sins?

Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches.

The Absolution of the Dead is a series of prayers for pardon and remission of sins that are said in some Christian churches over the body of a deceased believer before burial. In the Catholic Church the Absolute are said over a deceased Catholic following a Requiem Mass and before burial. The absolution of the dead does not forgive sins or confer the sacramental absolution of the Sacrament of Penance. Rather, it is a series of prayers to God that the person’s soul will not have to suffer the temporal punishment in purgatory due for sins which were forgiven during the person’s life.

The Holy Bible is very clear that God (YHWH) alone can forgive sins and Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), being God, has the power to do so, but He never communicated any such power to His apostles, nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves, or pretend to exercise it. In fact, it is the mark of antichrist to attempt anything of the kind because, in doing so, he usurps the divine prerogative and places himself in God’s seat. Rather, this passage is to be understood only in a doctrinal, or ministerial way, by preaching the full and free remission of sins through the blood of Christ, according to the riches of God’s grace. To as many as repent of their sins and believe in Christ, all disciples of Christ can confidently declare that all their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake and to His glory.

  • “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    (Mark 2:7 ESV)
  • And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    (Luke 5:21 ESV)

Most churches that practice the absolution of sin do so under the assumed authority of John:20:23. But does this passage of Scripture give us the right to forgive the sins of another man?

  • If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
    (John 20:23 ESV)

The meaning of this verse has been hotly debated for centuries. One thing is certain: this does not mean we have the power to justify people from their sins so that they become born again; only God can do that.

Many people have taught that Jesus was saying that if we fail to witness to others, we are retaining their sins unto them, and if we do share His love with others, then we are remitting their sins. Although there is truth to that statement, that is not what this verse is teaching. Rather, this is dealing with the temporal effects that sin has on people’s lives. There isn’t just a future death penalty for sins, but sin destroys people emotionally and physically in this life too. It is this present destruction that sin brings into people’s lives that Jesus gave us power to remit.

Through intercession we can remit people’s sins so that even though they have sown to the flesh and deserve to reap corruption, they will not reap what they have sown. This is done for the purpose of loosing people from the bondage that Satan desires to hold them in until they see the light and repent. This is only a temporary situation and must be continually repeated if the people we are praying for are continuing to live in sin.

  • Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
    (Galatians 6:7-8 ESV)

On the other hand, sometimes it is not in people’s best interest to remit their sins. There are times when they need to be made painfully aware of the consequences of their sins. In these cases, we have power to retain their sins (church discipline); that is, we withdraw our intercession and let them reap what they sow in the hope that this will cause them to turn back to God.

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.

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.

The Salt and Light of the World

The Salt and the Light of the World is a phrase Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach) used to describe himself and his disciples in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah).

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 ESV)

Jesus again claims to be Light of the World in the Gospel of John during the miracle of healing the blind at birth.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
(John 9:5 ESV)

This episode leads into another passage of Scripture from the Gospel of John where Jesus metaphorically explains that he came to this world, so that the blind may see.

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
(John 9:39 ESV)

In the Christological context, the use of the title Light of the World is similar to the Bread of Life title in the Gospel of John. These assertions build on the Christological themes in the Gospel of John where Jesus claims to possess life just as the Father does and provide it to those who follow him. The term “Life of the World” is applied in the same sense by Jesus to himself.

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
(John 5:26 ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
(John 6:35 ESV)

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
(John 6:51 ESV)

This application of “light compared with darkness” also appears in the First Epistle of John which applies it to God and states:“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
(1 John 1:5 ESV)

Jesus also used that term to refer to his disciples in the Gospel of Matthew.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

In the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas (Gnostic) a similar phrase appears:

There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.

Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost

Idolatry is the worship of an idol (a physical object such as a cult image) as a deity, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honor and regard to created forms other than God (YHWH). Idolatry is anything we put before God. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:5-7 KJV).

An idol is a material object, representing a deity, to which religious worship is directed. It is also controversially and pejoratively used by some Protestants to describe the Orthodox Christian practice of worshiping through the use of icons, a charge which Orthodox Christians reject. In a similarly controversial sense, it is also used by some Protestants to pejoratively describe various Catholic worship practices such as scapulars and the veneration of statues and flat images of the Virgin Mary and saints, which Catholics do not consider to be idolatry.

Veneration is practiced by groups such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Catholic Church. In some Christian denominations, veneration is shown outwardly by respectfully bowing or making the sign of the cross before a saint’s icon, relics, or statue. Veneration amounts to the heresy of idolatry as there is no real distinction between veneration and worship. The practice of veneration distracts a believer’s soul from its true objective, the worship of Almighty God. The Roman Catholic church teaches there is a difference between idolatry and veneration.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Idolatry etymologically denotes Divine worship given to an image, but its signification has been extended to all Divine worship given to anyone or anything but the true God. An essential difference exists between idolatry and the veneration of images practiced in the Catholic Church, viz., that while the idolater credits the image he reverences with Divinity or Divine powers, the Catholic knows “that in images there is no divinity or virtue on account of which they are to be worshiped, that no petitions can be addressed to them, and that no trust is to be placed in them.”” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Idolatry)

The Hebrew word for worship is shachah (שָׁחָה). Shachah means to bow down or prostrate oneself before superior in homage, before God in worship, before false gods, and before angels.

Bishop Robert H. Brom claims that idolatry is condemned by the Catholic Church,  that there is no prohibition against the making of statues or images of various creatures for religious purposes in Scripture, that a Catholic may kneel in front of a statue while praying, and that the religious use of states and images is acceptable because God commanded us to make them. This is open disregard of Scriptures as they are twisted to benefit their positions.

Matt Slick at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry did a wonderful article that examines and cross references Roman Catholicism and the Scripture passages in the Holy Bible.

In the Book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments say: “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:2-6 KJV).

In the Book of Leviticus it says: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 26:1 KJV). Throughout many Christian churches, especially in Catholicism, there are various statues and images of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), Mary, and the saints. In those churches, people very often bow down to statues, sometimes in prayer.

In the Second Book of Chronicles there is an account of Manasseh, a king of Israel, and the error he committed which led the Children of Israel into sin. It says: “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken” (2 Chronicles 33:1-10 KJV).

The Prophet Ezekiel wrote: “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (Ezekiel 14:3 KJV). The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Veneration of Mary is accomplished in the heart. “The Blessed Virgin, as manifesting in a sublimer manner than any other creature the goodness of God,deserves from us a higher recognition and deeper veneration than any other of the saints; and this peculiar cultus due to herbecause of her unique position in the Divine economy, is designated in theology hyperdulia, that is dulia in an eminent degree” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Adoration).

Catholics view Mary and the saints as “intercessors” before God. They believe that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more “direct access” to God than we do. Therefore, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than us praying to God directly. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV). Also in his Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paulwrote, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV). We don’t need an intercessor to approach God for us if we approach Him through Jesus Christ.

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV). “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:28-32 ESV). “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3-5 ESV).

Clearly, the Bible prohibits making images of Almighty God, among other things. These objects are may not be intended for idolatry with everyone who makes or owns one. The concern is that we are making something that may lead someone astray and or make them stumble. The Apostle Paul said, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14 KJV). Likewise, Saint John wrote, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 ESV). Religious art is nothing more to me than more than a drawing of a man, woman or bird. I would prefer to be accused of anconism than idolatry.

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 Sacred Heart

As Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits as commanded by God (YHWH) our Creator approach yet again, many of us still cannot see through the paganism adopted by the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago and they and others are being greatly deceived. These holidays have everything to do with our history, culture and the undeserved atonement for our sins made by Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha’Mashiach) almost two thousand years ago.

This article will not explain these feasts and works of redemption, instead, it will expose the Sacred Heart which we unfortunately see every year in greeting cards and Facebook posts/Yeshua said, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24 KJV). If ever there was a time that believers need to be aware of this and come out of the pagan practices of the Christian Church, now is that time. We are under constant attack by the deception and subtlety of Satan, our adversary.

Moses was told by God that, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6 KJV).

Likewise, the Acts of the Apostles (which is presumed to have been written by Luke the Evangelist) wrote, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29 KJV). Therefore any image of Yeshua (Son), Yeshua (Son) or the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirt) is a violation of both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament).

The Sacred Heart is one of the most famous religious devotions to Yeshua’s physical heart as the representation of His divine love for humanity. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Roman Catholic nun, Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Yeshua during a mystical experience. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism. The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, surrounded by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross and bleeding. Sometimes the image shown shining within the bosom of the Messiah with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Yeshua’s death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God, her maternal love for her Son, Yeshua, and her compassionate love for all people. The consideration of Mary’s interior life and the beauties of her soul, without any thought of her physical heart, does not constitute the traditional devotion; still less does it consist in the consideration of the Heart of Mary merely as a part of her virginal body. In 1855 the Mass of the Most Pure Heart formally became a part of Catholic practice. The two elements are essential to the devotion, just as, according to Roman Catholic theology, soul and body are necessary to the constitution of man.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart has been in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar since 1856, and is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. As Pentecost is always celebrated on Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls on a Friday.

These are the Christian origins of these symbols, masses and holidays according to the Roman Catholic Church. However, are they the true origins of these things? There is no question that Christianity and Catholicism has been corrupted by the adoption of paganism.

The Sacred Heart originates in Ancient Babylon. It was the heart of Queen Semiramis who passed it on to her illegitimate son, who according to her, was her late husband King Nimrod who had been reincarnated as Tammuz. Queen Semiramis was deified and became known as Ishtar (pronounced Easter). When Tammuz became an adult, he married his mother. Unfortunately, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar while boar hunting. Nimrod (Tammuz) became known as the Sun God, and Semiramis (Ishtar) became known as the Queen of Heaven. These events eventually led to Easter, Easter Eggs, ham in place of lamb, Sunday and Sunrise Services on Easter morning. These are the earliest recorded historical facts in which Satan attempted to steal and corrupt the Messianic Prophecy contained in the Book of Genesis  (Genesis 3:15).

The Feast of the Sacred Heart has it’s origins in the pagan Aztecs and Mayans of Mexico. Human sacrifice, particularly by offering a victim’s heart to the sun god, was commonly practiced. They would cut the heart out of a living victim and offer it as a sacrifice to the sun god, in this case, Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl, also known as the feathered serpent.

Sol Invictus (“Invincible Sun”) was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire. In 274 the Roman Emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. Scholars disagree whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine.

The word for heart is identical (the only difference as listed is the vowel marking) to the word for Baal in Hebrew and Chaldean Aramaic. Vowel marks are an invention of the Masorete Scribes of the tenth century.

Kukulcan and Quetzalcoatl

It is obvious that all pagan practices will lead one back to Ancient Babylon. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’S vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence. Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad” (Jeremiah 51:6-7 KJV).

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
(Revelation 17:1-5 KJV)

Saint John also wrote, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
(Revelation 18:4-5 KJV)

Who is referred to as “my people” in this passage of Scripture? It is none other than Christians that are involved in the apostate churches of the world. This is a warning. If you attend a church that does not teach sound biblical doctrine, the time to leave and separate yourselves is now, unless you wish to receive the judgement of God when He pours it out on these churches.

Saint Peter said, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
(1 Peter 4:17-18 KJV)

Happy Passover and Resurrection Day.