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.

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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.

The Fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
(Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
(Genesis 3:1-7 ESV)

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:8-24 ESV)

In his First Epistle to Timothy, Paul the Apostle wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:11-14 ESV).

Paul the Apostle was telling Timothy that the serpent beguiled Eve. Adam was not beguiled by the serpent. He absolutely saw through the subtlety of the serpent and chose to follow Eve into sin because of his love for her.. He was willing to give up everything, his walk with God (YHWH) and even risk death to keep Eve as part of his life (for better or for worse),

In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the eating of its fruit represents the beginning of the mixture of good and evil together.Before that time, the two were separate, and evil had only a nebulous existence in potentia. While free choice (apparently) did exist before eating the fruit, evil existed as an entity separate from the human psyche, and it was not in human nature to desire it. Eating and internalizing the forbidden fruit changed this and thus was born the yeitzer hara, the Evil Inclination.

Rashi notes that the first sin came about because Eve added an additional clause to the Divine command:

“Neither shall you touch it.” [By saying this, Eve] added to the command, and thereby came to detract [from it]. This is as it is written [Proverbs 30:6], “Do not add to His Words.”
In the 

Talmud

, several opinions are proposed as to the identity of the fruit:
  • Rabbi Meir says that the fruit was a grape, made into wine. The Zohar explains similarly that Noah attempted (but failed) to rectify the sin of Adam by using grape wine for holy purposes. The midrash states that the fruit was grape, or squeezed grapes (perhaps again alluding to wine).
  • Rabbi Nechemia says that the fruit was a fig, as it was from fig leaves that God made garments for Adam and Eve upon expelling them from the Garden: “By that with which they were made low were they rectified.”
  • On the other hand, Rabbi Yehuda proposes that the fruit was wheat, because “a babe does not know to call its mother and father until it tastes the taste of grain.” On this, Tosafot there explains, “And this is called the Tree of Knowledge.”

In Christian theology, the tree of knowledge is a forbidden tree yielding fruit that when eaten, came forth original sin and subsequently, the Fall of Man in Genesis 2-3.

In CatholicismAugustine of Hippo taught that the tree should be understood both symbolically and as a real tree – similarly to Jerusalem being both a real city and a figure of Heavenly Jerusalem. Augustine underlined that the fruits of that tree were not evil by themselves, because everything that God created was good (Genesis 1:12). It was disobedience of Adam and Eve, who had been told by God not to eat of the tree (Genesis 2:17), that was obnoxious and caused disorder in the creation, thus humanity inherited sin and guilt from Adam and Eve’s sin.

In Western Christian art, the fruit of the tree is commonly depicted as the apple, which originated in central Asia. This depiction may have originated as a Latin pun: by eating the malum (apple), Eve contracted mālum (evil). or simply because of religious artists’ poetic licence.

Satan’s motive operandi is deceit, being the father of all lies. He didn’t tempt Eve to eat from the Tree of Life, as that would have led to eternal life. Instead he chose to tempt her with the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. The Tree of Good of Evil was a double-edged sword as indicated by it’s name. Not only would consuming this fruit open one’s eyes to morality and end innocense, the consumption of the fruit of this tree would also release our inner demons, the evil that each carry inside of us. Lies, disobedience, rape, murder, homosexuality, etc. all became part of our nature.

Satan’s careful planning and cunning deception coupled with Eve’s willingness to listen and then cooperate with this deception was a disaster for mankind. “Eve took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate” (Genesis. 3:6). Satan did not take the fruit and put it in Eve’s mouth. He can tempt but he cannot force. Adam and Eve were totally responsible for their actions.

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
    (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
  • But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
    (James 1:14-15 ESV)

Amenhotep II: Pharaoh of the Exodus

Statue of Amenhotep II at the Egyptian Museum (Turin)

The Bible nowhere mentions the name of the pharaoh of the Exodus, but Bible students have always been curious as to who he was. No doubt, some Christians will be wary of trying to discover something the Bible has not clearly revealed; but in studying this question one can come away with his faith increased in the Bible as the unerring word of God. Although the Bible does not specifically name the pharaoh of the Exodus, enough data is supplied for us to be relatively sure who he was.

Admittedly, there are two schools of thought concerning the date of the Exodus, the early date and late date theories. Proponents of the late date theory (1290 B.C.) are clearly in the majority, but they reject clear Biblical statements with reference to the date of the Exodus. Therefore their arguments in favor of a particular pharaoh will not be considered in this article.

The Book of First Kings states, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 6:1 KJV).

This statement in Kings along with Egyptian and other secular records make it fairly straightforward to determine who was Pharaoh of Egypt and at approximately what time the Exodus occurred.

Before proceeding, the exact date of the Exodus must be established. The central text for this crucial historical event, (1 Kings 6:1), connects the Exodus to later Israelite history by noting that Solomon began constructing the Temple in the 480th year after the Exodus, signifying an elapsed time of 479+ years. All but the minimalists agree that the counting of the 479+ years should begin with May of 967 or 966 BC, depending on whether one accepts Young’s or Thiele’s version of Solomon’s regnal dates. Thus the 479+ years began either in 1446 or 1445 BC, either of which can be substantiated by the Biblical text and harmonized with the conclusions drawn from the present work.

A compelling argument for choosing 1446 BC is that the Jubilee cycles agree with this date exactly, yet are completely independent of the 479+ years of 1 Kings 6:1. The Jubilee dates are precise only if the priests began counting years when they entered the land in 1406 BC (Leviticus 25:2–10). The Talmud lists 17 cycles from Israel’s entry into Canaan until the last Jubilee in 574 BC, which is 14 years after Jerusalem’s destruction by using the Tishri calendar, a statement also found in chapter 11 of The Seder ‘Olam, which predates the Talmud. Consequently, 1446 BC is preferred over 1445 BC.

Wikipedia has a decent summary of all the plagues that Moses smote Egypt with under God’s authority (Plagues of Egypt).

And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people. And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
(Exodus 11:1-10 KJV)

The tenth plague upon Egypt specified that the firstborn of all classes of people, from pharaoh who sat on the throne to the lowest slave girl behind the millstone, along with the firstborn among the livestock, would all die at the hands of the Death Angel (Exodus 11:5). Being that the throne was included in this edict, one might expect that pharaoh himself—if he actually was the firstborn son of his father, which was the normal protocol for succession under Egypt’s dynastic rule—would have died during this last and most terrible plague (Exodus 12:29–30). However, since the exodus-pharaoh obviously lived through the final plague, he could not have been “the king’s eldest son,” a title the Egyptians liberally used of pharaoh’s eldest son, who stood in line behind his father as the heir apparent to the Egyptian throne. Therefore, in order for Amenhotep II to qualify as a legitimate candidate for the exodus-pharaoh, he could not have been “the king’s eldest son.”

Amenhotep II indeed would have survived the tenth plague, because he was not the firstborn son of Thutmose III. In the words of Redford, the idea that Amenhotep II was the eldest son of Thutmose III “does not seem possible in the light of our present knowledge.” Toward the middle of Thutmose III’s reign, in Year 24, the heir to the throne was not Amenhotep II, but Amenemhet, who was called “the king’s eldest son.” There is little doubt that he was the older half-brother of Amenhotep II who died before he could assume the throne. In an inscription from the Karnak Festival Hall that dates to Year 24, Amenemhet was being appointed to an administrative position in the temple of Amun, Appointing the king’s eldest son Amenemhet as overseer of cattle.” Since Amenemhet probably was no longer a child when the inscription was composed, he would have been born fairly early in the coregency of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut. Therefore, Amenhotep II would not have died during the tenth plague, as the record bears out that he was not the firstborn son of Thutmose III.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came ye out in the month Abib. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
(Exodus 13:1-22 KJV)

From most historical sources, it would appear that Amenhotep II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. His father was probably Thutmose III, and it appears that Amenemhet was Thutmoses III’s firstborn son who died at the hand of the Angel of Death (Malach HaMavet). It also appears that Thutmose IV, son of Amenhotep II, was not the legitimate successor to the throne.

Although the Christian community historically has accepted that the exodus-pharaoh died in the Red Sea when his army drowned, there is no such statement to this effect in Exodus, the only first-hand source for the event, or anywhere else in Scripture. One of the most important principles that a theologian (Doug Petrovich ThM MA) was taught during his seminary studies is this: “Say everything the text says; say no more, and say no less!” Saying more than what is written in the text is known as eisegesis, or reading into the text what the interpreter presupposes it to say. Eisegesis must be avoided here. What does the text actually say about the fate of this pharaoh? Moses only states that the Lord would “be honored through pharaoh” by the destruction of his army (Exodos 14:4), but throughout the entire narrative of Exodus, Moses never explicitly states that pharaoh died along with his army.

Those who advocate that Pharaoh died with his army in the Red Sea is in the Book of Psalms, which says, “He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left” (Psalms 106:9-11 KJV).

I much prefer to believe that Pharaoh Amenhotep II returned to his palace and temples knowing well that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob defeated him and his army without any intervention from mankind. I can assure you that  Pharaoh Amenhotep II died a believer.

Hatshepsut who was the daughter of Thutmose I was the Egyptian princess who drew Moses from the Nile and legally adopted him to be her son and put him in line to be pharaoh. When Moses fled from Thutmose III in 1486 B.C. for slaying an Egyptian this put an abrupt end to Hatshepsut’s co-regency. Hatshepsut died shortly after Moses’ departure. Some say that Thutmose III had a hand in this either directly or indirectly.

Thutmose III apparently did something that only occurred one additional time in the span of Egyptian history. The Egyptian people viewed their pharaohs as being a god in the flesh. The temple of Hatshepsut lies along the Nile in the Diro Valley , just across from Karnak , where one can see what remains of Hatshepsut’s figure. Thutmose III, who undoubtedly hated her, completely eradicated nearly all her monuments throughout Egypt. Only on one other occasion would Egyptian authorities eradicate the monuments of a previous pharaoh and erase his name wherever found. This raises the question of any record of Moses and his place in Egyptian history.

The renowned conqueror Thutmose III led 17 military campaigns into the Levant, but his son—in stark contrast—led only two or three. While many scholars have attempted to determine the exact number, there exists a virtual dearth of discussion about this sharp decline. Aharoni attributes it to an underlying diminishment of Egyptian power: “Already in the days of Amenhotep II, the son of Thutmose III, cracks began to appear in the structure of the Egyptian Empire.” Vandersleyen hints at the dissipation of Egypt’s might by the end of Amenhotep II’s reign: “It seems possible to consider this reign as unsuccessful, a time of decline: a few exploits abroad, a few preserved memorials, an almost complete absence of sources after the ninth year of the reign.” Yet the intervening years featured neither Egypt’s engagement/loss in war nor a significant change in the political climate. Der Manuelian writes, “Despite Thutmose III’s military success, Mitanni remained Egypt’s primary adversary in Dynasty 18, and there is no reason to doubt her continued aggressive policy in the reign of the young King Amenhotep II.”

A papyrus dating from the end of the Old Kingdom was found in the early 19th century in Egypt. It seems to be an eyewitness account of the events preceding the dissolution of the Old Kingdom. Its author, an Egyptian named Ipuwer, writes:

  • Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.
  • The river is blood.
  • That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!
  • Trees are destroyed.
  • No fruit or herbs are found.
  • Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.
  • Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.
  • The land is not light [dark].

This papyrus which supposedly dates from the Old Kingdom seems to discuss many of the plagues brought upon Egypt preceding the Exodus. Although science may date this as an Old Kingdom document, any researcher will discover that many Egyptologists cannot even agree on which date any particular pharaoh was on the throne, let alone when a papyrus document was created.

Much of this information has been taken directly out of the Holy Bible. Secular and historical information was extracted from the following sources.

  1. The Exodus and Ancient Egyptian Records
  2. The Exodus: True or False
  3. A Historical Timeline of the Bible
  4. Who Was The Pharaoh Of The Exodus?

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His Son’s Name

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4 KJV) The obvious answer to these rhetorical questions must center in God, the Creator of all things. But the fascinating revelation in this Old Testament passage is that God has a Son and that both have names. Many publications exist that contain detailed Scriptures concerning the name of Jesus Christ. Many have been compiled and categorized by The Blue Letter Bible. Likewise, Almighty God also has several names.  Many publications exist that contain detailed Scriptures concerning the name of Jesus Christ. Many have been compiled and categorized by The Blue Letter Bible.

It is cleat that Almighty God and Jesus Christ each have multiple names. The links provided above contain the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ. Do not take these names in vain, do not blaspheme using a Sacred Name. The consequences for doing such  a thing are severe. Interestingly enough, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 KJV). Does this mean that if we seek salvation with “Yeshua” that our salvation is invalid? Of course not! Yeshua, or specifically Yehoshua was the Name o Jesus Christ. Jesus’ name had been translated into many languages, and sometimes during translation, words become changed, We obviously know who we are praying to an placing out faith and trust in at any time we pray to or through Jesus Christ, Yeshua, or Yehoshua. This name game that is being okaed by the Sacred Name Movement is nothing more than a stumblingblock placed in the path of new believers by Judaizers, who wanted to re-establish the full law (Talmud) and repeal the grace of salvation through out Lord Jesus Christ..

Master of the Moon

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 51:7 KJV)

The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed “The Cradle of Civilization” due to the birth of various kingdoms within its borders, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia.

In current usage the Fertile Crescent has a maximum extent and a minimum extent. All definitions include Mesopotamia, the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The major nation in this region is Iraq, with small portions of Iran near the Persian Gulf, Kuwait to the south and Turkey in the north. More typically the Fertile Crescent includes also the Levantine coast of the Mediterranean Sea, with Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Water sources include the Jordan River. At maximum extent, the Fertile Crescent also may include Egypt and the Nile Valley within it. The inner boundary is delimited by the dry climate of the Syrian Desert to the south. Around the outer boundary are the arid and semi-arid lands of the Zagros Mountains to the east, the Anatolian Highlands to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the west.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a pagan as a follower of any polytheistic religion. It would be fair to extend this definition to the worship of any false god(s) or goddess(s), those without any religion, and those who worship any god other than Yahweh (YHWH), the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Immediately following the Great Flood, Noah and his family were blessed by God and told to, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 10:1-12, 11:1-4 KJV)

Instead of accepting God’s blessing and obeying His commandment, people settled on the plains of Shinar and began to establish a kingdom and build a tower (Tower of Babel) in direct opposition and disobedience to God’s wishes and commandments.

The Tower of Babel is historical account of a unified humanity using all its resources to establish a city that is the antithesis of what God intended when he created the world. The Tower of Babel is a symbol of human autonomy, and the city builders see themselves as determining and establishing their own destiny without any reference to God.

The Ancient Babylonian enterprise was all about human independence and self-sufficiency apart from God. The builders believed that they had no need of God. Their technology and social unity give them confidence in their own ability, and they have high aspirations, constructing a tower with its top in the heavens. Contrary to God’s plan that people should fill the earth, the city-building project is designed to prevent the population from being dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Nimrod’s hunting was not just for animals, but for the souls of men. He sought to turn people away from God. The Jerusalem Targum has Nimrod saying, “Depart from the judgement of God, and follow the judgement of Nimrod.” Genesis informs us that Nimrod was building his own kingdom. He was establishing a centralized society in much the same way as the leaders United Nations and the European Union are today. His government would control resources and the workforce. A self-sufficient society, under one leader, with no need for God. Nimrod’s kingdom was to be a satanic counterfeit of the coming Messianic Kingdom, for he had established himself as mankind’s savior. Nimrod is Satan’s first attempt to raise up a human universal ruler of men. There have been many subsequent attempts, such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Muhammad Ibn `Abd Allāh Ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Adolf Hitler. Satan will finally succeed in his attempts with the rise of the the Antichrist.

The Corpus Christianum and Judaism have been influenced and corrupted by the adoption of the rituals and practices of Babylon’s Mystery Religion. The Torah specifically forbids this where it is written, “When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32 KJV).

The Book of Exodus also says, “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee” (Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32-33).

The influence of Babylon’s Mystery Religion doesn’t end with the corruption of the Corpus Christianum and Judaism. As previously stated, Mystery Babylon is the basis for any and all other religions in the world. The Apostle John wrote, “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. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:1-6 KJV).

Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him. It is said that there are three major Abrahamic religions. These  are reputed  to be, in chronological order of founding, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Judaism regards itself as the religion of the descendants of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham. It has a strictly unitary view of God (YHWH), and the central holy book for almost all branches is the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as elucidated in the Oral Torah (Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash).

Christianity began as a sect of Judaism in the Mediterranean Basin of the 1st century CE and evolved into a separate religion, the Christian Church, with distinctive beliefs and practices. The Christian Bible (Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah) is usually held to be the ultimate authority, alongside Sacred Tradition in some denominations (such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy).

Islam arose in Arabia in the 7th century CE with a strictly unitary view of God (Allah). Muslims (adherents of Islam) typically hold the Qur’an to be the ultimate authority, as revealed and elucidated through the teachings and practices of Muhammad.

Less well-known Abrahamic religions, originally offshoots of Shi’a Islam, include the Bahá’í Faith and Druze.

Although Islam claims to be a Abrahamic religion and monotheistic, it is neither. It may make references to some Patriarchs from Judaism and Christianity, but in almost all cases the backgrounds and personal attributes of these characters are not in harmony with the Tanakh or B’rit Chadashah.

Almost all scholars agree that Babylon was the source of all pagan religions in the world. Nimrod was the human father of idolatry and paganism. Even to this day, the earth is still held tightly in the Mystery Religion of Nimrod. Alexander Hislop taught that mythological persons like Adonis, Apollo, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Janus, Mars, Mithra, Moloch, Orion, Osiris, Pluto, Saturn, Vulcan, Zoraster, and many more, were all Nimrod.

A star (or stars) and crescent featuring in some combination form the basis of symbols widely found across the ancient world, with examples attested from the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia. The star and crescent appear in combination in finds from in and around ancient Israel. It has been associated with the Moabites (14th or early 13th – 6th century BC), as the symbol or symbols appear on what are thought to be Moabite name seals. Crescents appearing together with a star or stars are a common feature of Sumerian iconography, the crescent usually being associated with the moon god Sin (Nanna to the Sumerians) and the star (often identified as Venus) with Ishtar (Inanna to the Sumerians). However, in this context, there is a third element often seen, that being the sun disk of Shamash. Academic discussion of a star or stars together with crescents in Sumerian representations does not always clearly indicate if they appear in isolation (the “star and crescent” as such) or as part of a triad of symbols, “the three celestial emblems, the sun disk of Shamash (Utu to the Sumerians), the crescent of Sin (Nanna), and the star of Ishtar” or “the crescent of Sin (the moon god), the star of Ishtar and the ray of Shamash”. All of the gods mentioned in connection to the star and crescent symbol are either Nimrod or his mother and wife (Nimrod married his mother) Semiramis (Queen of Heaven). Nimrod and Semiramis, were the prototypes for all pagan gods and goddesses that permeated all subsequent cultures and societies.

The Arabs, before the time of Muhammed, accepted and worshiped, after a fashion, a supreme god called Allah. Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshipped at the Kabba in Mecca by Arab pagans before Muhammad came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. The name Allah, as the Qur’an itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa.

In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last king of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia as a center of Moon-god worship. Scholars have noted that South Arabia’s stellar religion has always been dominated by the Moon-god in various variations. Many scholars have also noticed that the Moon-god’s name “Sin” is a part of such Arabic words as “Sinai,” the “wilderness of Sin,” etc. When the popularity of the Moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs remained true to their conviction that the Moon-god was the greatest of all gods. While they worshipped 360 gods at the Kaaba in Mecca, the Moon-god was the chief deity. Mecca was in fact built as a shrine for the Moon-god.

Allah is Al-Ilah, which is related to Enlil, Baal, Baili, and to many other false gods. So Allah, contrary to popular belief, was not invented by Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, but in fact existed before his birth. Muhammad’s father’s name was Abdullah, abd in the Arabic language refers to a slave/servant therefore Abdullah means servant of Allah. In an allegory, a poem was written centred on Gilgamesh (Nimrod). The goddess is addressed and scolded for trying to kill Gilgamesh.

Tammuz, the lover of thy youth. Thou causest to weep every year. The bright-colored Allahu bird thou didst love. Thou didst crush him and break his pinions.”
(James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Vol. IX, Unabridged Edition, The Scapegoat)

The Allahu bird in Islam symbolizes the Archangel of Death. As with everything else in Islam, it is a culture founded upon death and conquest, not peace as Muslims claim and would like everyone to believe.

Archaeological evidence proves that the symbol of the crescent moon and the star and the name of Allah were in use as far back as 2,500 BCE, 3,100 years before the founding of Islam.

The Holy Bible teaches that God cannot be tempted by evil and neither tempts anyone with evil. Evil is understood as referring to immorality and sin. Specifically, immorality and sin is the transgression of the law. The law defines all sin and immorality in the Torah.

King David wrote, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalms 5:4-5 KJV).

The Apostle James wrote, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:13-17 KJV).

The Prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13 KJV).

In stark contrast, the Qur’an teaches that Allah is the author of evil. “Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little; Swaying between this (and that), (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray, thou (O Muhammad) wilt not find a way for him: O ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you?” (Qur’an Surah 4:142-144).

The Torah teaches that God cannot lie. It says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 KJV).

The Apostle John recorded Yeshua’s words when he wrote, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44 KJV).

Islam teaches and condones the practice of Taqiyya. In summary, Taqiyya means religious dissimulation. It is a practice emphasized in Shi’a Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion. This means a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are under those risks.

The Apostle Matthew recorded Yeshua’s words and wrote, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV).

The Qur’an teaches, “He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him” (Qur’an Surah 112:1-4). The “Oneness of Allah” is taught in every sect and offshoot of Islam. The inscriptions on the outside of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem make many blasphemous statements concerning God and Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

The Apostle John wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23 KJV).

Coincidentally, the Dome of the Rock was built over the wrong rock. This fulfilled many prophecies including the prophecy recorded by the Apostle John when he wrote, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2 KJV). Not only does God’s prophetic words always come true, but in some ways we can see that He has a sense of humor.

There can only be one truth. The Qur’an contradicts itself many times. The Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah have no contradiction or errors as they are the infallible Word of God. Allah is not God, Muhammad was not a prophet and the Qur’an is not holy. All things come full circle, and all false religions were born in Babylon. It is written, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16 KJV).

Seventh Heaven

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
(Psalms 19:1 KJV)

The Third Heaven is a spiritual division of the universe within Judeo-Christian cosmology. In some traditions it is considered the abode of God, and in others a lower level of Paradise, commonly one of seven. Seven Heavens is a part of religious cosmology found in many major religions such as Islam, Judaism and Hinduism and in some minor religions such as Hermeticism and Gnosticism. The Divine Throne is said to be in or above the seventh heaven in most Abrahamic religions.

It is believed that the origin of this myth goes back to astrology. Ancient astrologists could identify seven great heavenly objects and assumed each was floating in a separate heaven. The number seven in Biblical references symbolically represented perfect completion, as in the seven-day week, the seven eyes and horns seen on the Lamb of God in The Book of Revelation, and the seventh in the generations of Adam: Lamech who was completely wicked, and Enoch who walked with God.

According to Jewish teachings in the Talmud, the universe is made of seven heavens (Shamayim). Vilon (Isaiah 40:22), also called Arafel, Raki’a  (Genesis 1:17), Shehaqim (Psalms 78:23), Zebul (Isaiah 63:15, I Kings 8:13), Ma’on (Deuteronomy 26:15, Psalms 42:9), Machon (1 Kings 7:30, Deuteronomy 28:12), and Araboththe seventh Heaven where the ofanim, the seraphim, the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord are located.

The Jewish Merkavah and Heichalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch.

The Hebrew Bible does not mention third heaven or the number of heavens.

References to distinct concepts known as “Heaven” ( Shamayim) occur in the very earliest books of the Tanakh. The second use of the word heaven, in Genesis 1:8 and 20 refers to the atmosphere over the earth in which birds fly. The third, mentioned in Genesis 1:14, is the setting for the celestial lights, later identified (Genesis 1:16) as the sun, moon and stars. The first use of the word heaven is used in Genesis 1:1 to describe the heaven of heavens (Deuteronomy 10:14) the light creation in Genesis 1:3 is all the celestial beings such as the angels and the very image that the Spirit of God makes for Himself to receive glory on the throne of God as God. When God divided the light from darkness (Genesis 1:4-5) this was the separation of the Heaven of Heavens into two sections Day (God’s throne) and Night (where our universe is contained).

A third concept of Heaven, also called shamayi h’shamayim (the “Heaven of Heavens”) is mentioned in such passages as Genesis 28:12, Deuteronomy 10:14 and 1 Kings 8:27 as a distinctly spiritual realm containing (or being traveled by) angels and God Himself.

Due to the ambiguity of the term “Heaven” as it is used in the books of the Tanakh, and the fact that the word in Hebrew, shamayim, is plural, a number of interpretations have been offered for various texts involving its nature, notably the assumption of the prophet Elijah.

An Epistle of the Apostle Paul, included in the Brit Chadashah, contains an explicit reference to the Third Heaven. In a letter to the Corinthian church he writes, “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4 KJV). The Greek says “caught away”, not “caught up” possibly reflecting Jewish beliefs that Paradise was somewhere other than the uppermost heaven.

The apparent parallelism of the passage equates the Third Heaven with “Paradise” the traditional destination of redeemed humans and the general connotation of the term “Heaven” in mainstream Christianity.

Four allusions to the Apocalypse of Moses occur in close proximity in 2 Corinthians. The allusions are “Satan as an angel of light”, the distinction of Satan and the serpent as two beings, “Third Heaven” and “Paradise”, the connection to this Jewish material has led to discussion about whether Paul accepted these traditions, or alternatively whether Paul’s vision of Third Heaven is a continuation of his conflict with the Superapostles in the previous chapter, and that the material comes not from his own teaching, but in reply to material similar to Apocalypse of Moses being transmitted by the Superapostles to the Corinthians. Whether this is so partly depends on whether irony is detected in this section. The relationship of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still widely disputed among many people.

This article will not discuss the beliefs of Islam, Hinduism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism any further regarding their theology on this subject. Sound Doctrine Ministries mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah and provide glory to God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, the doctrines and theology of these false religions are of no further interest to us  regarding this topic.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

The English word “firmament” in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew, raqiameaning “expanse.” Its meaning is not “firm boundary” as Biblical critics have alleged, but might be better paraphrased as “stretched-out thinness” or simply “space.”

Its first occurrence in the Bible relates it to heaven  (Genesis 1:6-8). This firmament obviously could not be a solid boundary above the sky, but is essentially the atmosphere, the “first heaven,” the “space” where the birds were to “fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Genesis 1:20).

Many Young Earth Creationists have interpreted the “waters above the firmament” as a theoretical water canopy which once surrounded the Earth but no longer exists (their source of the waters of Noah’s flood). This is incorrect when closely examined within the literal framework of the Genesis narrative. The reason is because of what is said in this next passage.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
(Genesis 1:14-19 KJV)

There is a second firmament, or second heaven, where God placed the sun, moon, and stars, stretching out into the infinite reaches of space. (Genesis 1:17).

The Prophet Ezekiel’s had a vision in which he described seeing God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. Ezekiel then described the firmament beneath the very throne of God, and above the mighty cherubim  who seem always in Scripture to indicate the near presence of God.

And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
(Ezekiel 1:22-23 KJV)

This glorious firmament, brilliantly crystalline in appearance, must be “the third heaven” which the Apostle Paul described in his epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

There are three “firmaments” or “heavens” mentioned in the Bible, atmospheric space (Genesis 1:20), stellar space (Genesis 1:17), and the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2), where God’s throne is located.

The firmament deals with the structure of the present heavens and Earth. There is presently a three heavens structure. Again, let’s look back at Genesis 1:6-8 and more closely examine that passage to determine the present structure.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:6-8 KJV)

On the second day of the creation, God “divided” the waters (plural) into two parts with a “firmament” in the midst. According to the Genesis narrative, both the waters that were upon the face of the Earth and the waters which God placed above the firmament He called Seas.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:9-10 KJV)

This is important to understand. We know that the waters on the Earth are called “Seas” in the Bible, but there is also another “Sea” that is spoken of in the Scriptures, and that one is above the firmament. During the six days of the Creation, God defined three heavens.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
(Genesis 1:14-15 KJV)

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
(Genesis 1:20 KJV)

These two heavens constitute a continuum called the “firmament,” and this firmament is collectively called “Heaven”.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Genesis 1:8 KJV)

The Third Heaven is above this higher “Sea,” and this higher sea is before and below the Throne of God.

And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
(Revelation 4:6 KJV)

Therefore, this particular “Sea” above the firmament is above the known physical universe. Since the sun, moon and stars are “in” the firmament this “Sea” must be above them. This is difficult for the mankind and science to understand, but it is a Scriptural fact on cosmology.  It represents a firm and impassable barrier between the world of man and the Kingdom of God.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
(Psalms 148:4 KJV)

This is almost certainly the firmament or sea that John saw in his visions.  This is the present sea of separation that will no longer exist when God destroys the old world and makes all things new after the Reign of Yeshua during the Millennial Kingdom and the final judgment that follows.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
(Revelation 21:1 KJV)

This now gives us a better understanding of what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he speaks of a place called the third heaven.

Although the third heaven is not directly mentioned in the Genesis narrative, the established structure of all things is defined in Genesis and, when understood, allows us to comprehend exactly where and what Paul was talking about when he mentions the third heaven in his epistle to the Corinthians. It also gives the reader a better understanding of John’s vision in Revelation. Again, when the Lord God divided the waters He created a boundary which presently exists between the two lower heavens (which constitute the firmament) and the third heaven (where the throne of God is). That boundary is that “Sea,” and again that “sea” is above the two heavens of the firmament. It is also likened in passages of Scripture to crystal or smooth glass.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
(Revelation 15:2 KJV)

All three heavens “declare the glory of God” and all three firmaments “sheweth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Therefore, we should “Praise God in His sanctuary” and also “praise Him in the firmament of His power” (Psalm 150:1).

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 KJV)

Many times throughout my life, I have likened the universe to a type of snow globe on Almighty God’s desktop. This study of the firmament and the order of the universe does nothing if not prove that analogy to be very accurate.