News Letter 5849-043
3rd day of the 10th month
5849 years after the creation of Adam
The 10th Month in the Fourth year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
December 7, 2013
Shabbat Shalom Brethren,
We had planned a lavish introduction to the video teachings two weeks ago and that was postponed to last week. And then at the last minute the marketing team we had hired to help us promote the web site and the video teachings quit without any notifications and has not returned any emails or any phone calls. I was forced to figure out how to send out the News Letter notification late last week. It was the first time in 7 years that we almost did not have a news letter. So my apologizes.
In this festival of lights season, the season when Satan fools the world into keeping the false light of Chanukah or Christmas which is all to the glory of Satan, we now come to the time when the sun sets early on Friday evening and some of you may still be at work. The weekly Sabbath begins at sunset and ends at sunset Saturday evening.
Here in Southern Ontario sunset is now 4:42 but some of you may still be working until 5 pm. It is once again the time of testing. Will you keep the Sabbath Holy, or will you work on it just a little bit or buy the milk on the way home after the Sabbath has begun? It is a time of testing. The exact same way the manna was used to test the people in the wilderness.
Exo 16:4 Then Jehovah said to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from the heavens for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain amount every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My Law or not.
The question you need to determine is if you have past the test this week or failed it again.
At Sukkot I showed the brethren one of the first places that the Sabbatical years is mentioned in the bible and it is in direct comparison with the weekly Sabbath in Exodus 23.
Exo 23:10 And you shall sow your land six years, and shall gather in the fruits of it. 11 But the seventh year you shall let it rest and let it alone, so that the poor of your people may eat. And what they leave, the animals of the field shall eat. In the same way you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive yard. 12 You shall do your work six days, and on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your ass may rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.
At Sukkot I was showing the brethren that the Sabbatical years were every 7th year the same as the weekly Sabbath is every 7th day, week after week with no added extra days. It is always the 7th day and it is always the 7th year.
But something I had not realized was WHY? Why was Yehovah comparing the weekly Sabbath to the Sabbatical years?
Then while reading an article by Alex Fox written on 11/26/2013 · http://putoff.org/why-is-it-wrong-to-buy-and-sell-on-the-sabbath-and-holy-days/
He said some things that caused me to rethink the Sabbath and Sabbatical years once again. I shared it with him and he has included them in this rewritten article.
Let’s get right into scripture:
“And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands unto the Torah of Elohim, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, all who had knowledge and understanding, (29) were joining with their brothers, their nobles, and were entering into a curse and into an oath to walk in the Torah of Elohim, which was given by Mosheh the servant of Elohim, and to guard and do all the commands of ???? our Master, and His right-rulings and His laws, (30) and that we would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons, (31) and that if the peoples of the land bring wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a set-apart day, and we would forego the seventh year and the interest of every hand.” (Nehemiah 10:28-31)
The above passage, along with Nehemiah 13:15-21, are very clear passages that show, at minimum, that there is something about buying and selling on the Sabbath day that Judah believed was wrong.
Now, the question is, why did they believe that buying and selling were things that they could not do? We can look through the whole Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and not find anything that specifically addresses buying or selling on the Sabbath. Yet, in verse 29, we see that they are talking about entering into an oath, or a vow, to walk in the Torah. Then, they listed three things that they were going to change:
- They would longer intermarry with nations that YHWH had forbidden for marriage
- They would no longer buy nor sell anything on the Sabbath (note: the word for “wares” is literally related to “buying” in the sense that it means anything that can be bought)
- They would obey the commands for the Sabbatical years.
Proving the first and third items are pretty easy: Intermarriage is covered in the following verses: Exodus 34:12-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Deuteronomy 23:2-4. Basically, it was forbidden to intermarry with the Ammonites and Moabites, and even the children of those marriages down to the tenth generation were prohibited from coming into Israel. That is why they had to be removed from Israel in Nehemiah 13 and Ezra 9-10. Those nations were specifically prohibited from being intermarried with.
The Sabbatical year requirements are also very clearly laid out in the Law in several places: Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-7, Deuteronomy 15:1-6. As an aside, this is a subject that we need to learn more about today. One website with a lot of info on the subject of figuring out when the Sabbatical years actually are today is Joseph Dumond’s site, https://sightedmoon.com/. I recommend his book on Sabbatical years. It is very inexpensive in PDF form.
So, why is it wrong to buy or sell on the Sabbath?
Let’s look a little more closely at some of the Hebrew words used in Nehemiah 10:30. They are:
2. buy (laqach – #3947) “A primitive root; to take (in the widest variety of applications):—accept, bring, buy, carry away, drawn, fetch, get, infold, X many, mingle, place, receive (-ing), reserve, seize, send for, take (away, -ing, up), use, win.” This is literally the action of taking something from another person. In context with merchandise (ware), it is specifically to buy something — anything!
3. sell (makar – #4376) “A primitive root; to sell, literally (as merchandise, a daughter in marriage, into slavery), or figuratively (to surrender):— X at all, sell (away, -er, self).”
Buying and selling, also known as trading, is where we need to start, to figure out the answer to this question. If we look at any dictionary definition of trading, or perhaps Wikipedia, we can see that trading is a type of commerce.
“Retail trade consists of the sale of goods or merchandise from a very fixed location, such as a department store,boutique or kiosk, or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Wholesale trade is defined as the sale of goods that are sold merchandise to retailers, to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users, or to other wholesalers and related subordinated services.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade)
More specifically, buying and selling can be related to sales.
“A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. Signalling completion of the prospective stage, it is the beginning of an engagement between customer and vendor or the extension of that engagement.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales, emphasis added)
“The seller or salesperson – the provider of the goods or services – completes a sale in response to an acquisition or to an appropriation or to a request. There follows the passing of title (property or ownership) in the item, and the application and due settlement of a price, the obligation for which arises due to the seller’s requirement to pass ownership. Ideally, a seller agrees upon a price at which he willingly parts with ownership of or any claim upon the item. The purchaser, though a party to the sale, does not execute the sale, only the seller does that. To be precise the sale completes prior to the payment and gives rise to the obligation of payment. If the seller completes the first two above stages (consent and passing ownership) of the sale prior to settlement of the price, the sale remains valid and gives rise to an obligation to pay.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales, emphasis added)
These are some very basically understood concepts about buying and selling. Note above that “goods or services” are what are actually being sold. Let’s dive into this a little more:
“In economics, goods and services are the outcome of human efforts to meet the wants and needs of people. Economic output is divided into physical goods and intangible services. Goods are items that can be seen and touched, such as books, pens, salt, shoes, hats, and folders. Services are provided by other people, such as doctors, lawn care workers, dentists, barbers and waiters. Consumption of goods and services is assumed to provide utility(satisfaction) to the consumer.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goods_and_services, emphasis added)
None of this should really be rocket science or “wow!” moments for anyone. This is all common sense; trading, bartering, sales: the same thing that has happened in human culture for thousands of years. There is a provider (the seller) and the consumer (the buyer). The provider is the one that provides the goods or service to the consumer, who has paid for those goods or services.
Let’s put that in biblical terms: In sales, the consumer is the master, and the provider is the servant. After all, if you are dissatisfied with the product you have purchased, do you not typically have the right to refuse payment? Or to return the item and get your money back? You are the master, when you are the customer.
There is a very common phrase in sales: The customer is always right. This is because the customer is the master in the sales master-servant relationship. When the master has given a directive to do something, the servant is obligated to obey that directive, unless it will cause them undue harm or loss. Even then, sometimes the master wins out, in the servant’s desire to please. This should ring a few bells, for we are literally bought-and-paid-for servants of our Father, and we have each made sacrifices in our lives to obey His instructions.
Biblically speaking, many people automatically think of slavery or “ownership” when they think of “servants.” Most people think that “ownership” is not something that really exists in today’s culture. However, that is really not the case. We might not call it “ownership” today when we have a business relationship with someone, but there are certain penalties that can happen when one does not live up to their side of the master-servant relationship, even today. They can even include jail!
Let’s ask a “modern” question: If you decided to stop paying your home mortgage and continued to live there, then refused to leave when evicted, what would happen to you? You would be thrown in jail. What would happen to your house? It would be lost back to the bank, would it not? The bank has provided a service, and you haven’t paid. They are the master of you, because you owe them. This is very similar to a biblical situation:
“And that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred pieces of money. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ (29) “Then his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I shall pay you all.’ (30) “But he would not, and went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.” (Matthew 18:28-30)
While the larger context of this passage clearly shows this servant’s lack of appreciation of the blessing of his Master removing his debt, and a lack of compassion for his fellow servant… the point is, the fellow servant is not owned by the servant that threw him in prison! Yet, it was still lawful to put that person in prison until he paid the debt (even though the first servant should have forgiven the debt instead). This is the same case that exists today in a master-servant relationship. Once money is owed for a service or product rendered, that money must be paid or there are consequences that happen. As usual, there is nothing new under the sun.
If this hasn’t quite clicked for you yet, let’s make this very clear. It is wrong to buy and sell on the Sabbath and Holy Days because buying and selling is a master-servant relationship.
Let’s prove this a little further. In Exodus 20:10, we know that we are not to work, nor our manservant, maidservant, animal, or even the stranger within our gates (obviously not your servant). The word for manservant is ebed (#5650). The root of ebed is abad(#5647). Now, that might look familiar to some of you, because abad is the root word of abodah (#5656), which is the word used in Leviticus 23 for all the Holy Days except Sabbath and Atonement, as “servile.” It means work done by a servant.
Look at the definition for abad (#5647): “A primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.:— X be, keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, ear, execute, + husbandman, keep, labour (-ing man), bring to pass, (cause to, make to) serve (-ing, self), (be, become) servant (-s), do (use) service, till (-er), transgress [from margin], (set a) work, be wrought, worshipper.”
This word is translated as “serve” more than any other meaning, 227 times in the KJV. But, does ebed (or its root, abad) exclusively connotate an owned servant giving that service? No!
In fact, Jacob called himself a “servant” (ebed) to Esau, as a measure of respect and submission: ”And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” And he said, “The children with whom Elohim has favoured your servant [ebed].” (Genesis 33:5)
Did Esau own Jacob? Obviously not.
All of this is to point out that the 4th commandment’s prohibition of having male or female servants work for you is not isolated to a relationship where you “own” that person. Of course, if you just read the rest of the 4th commandment, it even mentions the “stranger within your gate,” which is clearly not someone you own.
Buying and selling, very simply, is a master-servant relationship, where goods or services are paid for and received. To do this on the Sabbath Day or on a Holy Day, where having servants work for us is clearly prohibited, is to profane the Sabbath by disobeying YHWH’s direct instructions.
It has nothing to do with what is being bought or sold, nothing to do with how much is being bought or sold, and nothing to do with whether Nehemiah was dealing with a “going to the market day” type of situation, as many of the COGs like to claim. Buying and selling anything on a Sabbath or Holy Day is wrong, because having a servant work for you on the Sabbath is wrong. We are supposed to remember that we came out of Egypt and we should desire the same for anyone that would “serve” us, as well!
“And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Mitsrayim [Egypt], and that ???? your Elohim brought you out from there by a strong hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore ???? your Elohim commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)
There are no degrees of “buying and selling.” This is exactly the same as with the seventh commandment — there is no “degree” of adultery that is OK.
Interestingly, this example in the book of Nehemiah is proof that some of YHWH’s people DID understand some of the magnified intent of at least some of the Law, before the Messiah came and explained more about murder and adultery in Matthew 5.
[Update 11-28-2013 – Added below section with connection to sabbatical years from feedback from Joseph Dumond]
The really amazing part about all of this master-servant relationship understanding with buying and selling on the Sabbath is that it also is completely connected back to the Sabbatical years! Remember, out of three things Judah specifically listed that they were going to change, TWO of them have to do with no longer profaning the Sabbath (weekly and seventh-yearly), and it turns out that both of the two are related! Take a look at one of the things that was commanded to be done every seventh year:
“When you buy a He?rew servant, he serves six years, and in the seventh he goes out free, for naught.” (Exodus 21:2)
“At the end of every seven years you make a release of debts. (2) “And this is the word of the release: Every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbour, he does not require it of his neighbour or his brother, because it is called the release of ????.
(3) “Of a foreigner you could require it, but your hand is to release whatever is owed by your brother. (4) “Only, there should be no poor among you.For ???? does greatly bless you in the land which ???? your Elohim is giving you to possess as an inheritance,” (Deuteronomy 15:1-4)
See how this also ties in with the Sabbath commandment and Deuteronomy 5:15 above? “And you shall remember that you were a slave…” We literally, on a weekly basis, are picturing the seventh year as well, when we release all servants from their debts. And, of course, we’re also picturing the seventh millennium, when all mankind will be freed from the influence of Satan when he is placed in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.
YHWH freed us from slavery to sin (Egypt), and we’re also to free all who would work for us on the seventh day, just like in the seventh year. This is an amazing connection that Joseph Dumond made when he read this article, and I’m so thankful he pointed it out. Everything ties together so beautifully in the Word of our Father. Blessed be the Name of YHWH!
Have a blessed week everyone. May YHWH shine His light upon you and bless, keep, and guard you!
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading Cycle
Gen 13 Judges 5-6 Ps 29-30 Mat 17:22-18:35
Abram and Lot; Expansion of the Promises (Genesis 13)
The story of the separation of Lot from Abram gives us a concise and interesting picture of Abram and how he dealt with others, as well as how he trusted God. When he and Lot returned to Canaan from Egypt, both were rich and had large flocks and herds. But as pasturage and water were in short supply, with all their possessions it was inevitable that strife would result. When the trouble came, Abram took the lead in resolving the dispute. Though he could have made the decision unilaterally, being the elder, the patriarch of the clan and possibly Lot’s foster father (since his real father had died years earlier, Genesis 11:28), he instead behaved himself with deference, care and entreaty. Not only was this an act of good will and humility, but it was also an act of faith—for Abram trusted that God would make good whatever would fall to him as a result of Lot’s choice. Abram’s motivation, faith and conduct are an example for all of us.
Lot’s motivation, faith and conduct here are also an example for all of us—and, as the results would show, not the best example for us. Lot saw the richness of the well-watered Jordan River valley and chose to dwell among the cities of the plain—”toward” Sodom (verse 12, KJV). At the time he simply made the best choice human reason would indicate. However, when we next meet Lot he is no longer dwelling “toward” Sodom but actually living in it (Genesis 14:12). Later we find him even sitting in the gate participating in that evil city’s government (19:1). Though a “righteous man” who was severely troubled by the depravity of the people of Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8), he was nevertheless corrupted by it, to the point of offering his daughters to be sexually assaulted (Genesis 19:8) rather than trusting in God’s protection (although it is possible that this was a lying ploy, which still shows lack of trust in God). When we last see Lot, though delivered with his life and posterity, his life is in shambles. He has lost his possessions in Sodom’s destruction, he has lost at least two married daughters who remain behind (compare verses 12-15), he has lost his wife to the desire for Sodom instilled in her by living there (verse 26), and he has incestuously fathered children by both his remaining daughters (verse 30 ff.). The lesson is clear: Seeking our own paths without God’s guidance and immersing ourselves in a corrupt environment can gradually seduce us into the ways of the world and lead eventually to ruin.
After Abram and Lot separated, God appeared to Abram. He told Abram to look toward the four cardinal directions, surveying the land of Canaan. All that he could see, God assured him, would be given to him and his seed forever. In addition, God expanded His promises by telling Abram he would have vast numbers of descendants. It is probably significant that this incident occurs after Abram had expressed faith in God’s providence by giving Lot first choice as to where he would dwell and pasture his flocks.
The Song of Deborah (Judges 5)
“The Song of Deborah is one of the finest examples of an ode of triumph preserved in Israelite literature.[with] a vividness, an almost staccato effect of action and a spirit of sheer exultation” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, chapter 5 summary). The song celebrates the outcome related in our previous reading—a most unexpected deliverance from an apparently unconquerable and desperately cruel foe.
Considering all that transpired, the opening lines of the song are most instructive: “When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!” While this is not an exact translation of the Hebrew here, the idiom used being somewhat obscure, it does perhaps convey the intent behind it. And the sentiment is certainly a true one in any case. For strong, fearless, visionary leadership combined with a people who willingly offer themselves to God produces an irresistibly powerful and successful combination. Wherever there is vacillation and little success among God’s people, at least one of these two factors is missing.
The song gives some very interesting details of God’s maneuvering in the deliverance from Jabin, as well as the conditions of Israel’s servitude to that terrible king. Verses 4-5 reveal that God caused a major rainstorm just before or during the battle. No doubt the muddy ground mired the heavy iron chariots of Jabin, vastly reducing his army’s strength and demoralizing his troops. God often uses weather to confound armies, and it has even apparently happened in modern times.
Verses 6-9 reveal the severity of Jabin’s oppression. Main highways were desolate of traveler, whether trader or pilgrim; all took the rougher unknown, but safe, trails through the hill country. Moreover, the many small Israelite villages were under constant fear of destruction, and as a result many were depopulated, the people either moving to larger cities or preferring tent dwelling, as did Jael.
Verse 20 has been interpreted in several ways, with some scholars preferring to understand it as an ironic slap at the Canaanite practice of astrology, while others view the stars as symbolic of real heavenly forces, implying that Israel had angelic help in its fight against Jabin. Another explanation is that the reference is to meteors.
Gideon’s First Works (Judges 6)
Deborah and Barak’s victory brought Israel 40 years of independence and peace. But Israel again did evil in the sight of God, and God once again delivered them over to their enemies, this time the Midianites. For seven years the Midianites, with smaller contingents of Amalekites and Mesopotamians, would raid Israel during harvest seasons, swooping down and confiscating all the produce of the fields. Many Israelites took to the hills to live in caves, no doubt because the invaders would seize even the foodstuffs stored in houses, and dwelling in highland caves provided a place both of security and of safe storage.
Gideon was a Manassite, but of the smallest of that tribe’s clans, and he himself the “least” in the house of his father—implying the smallest, youngest, least important or least thought of. In any case, he was clearly not a man of any considerable wealth or influence. But God often works through the unknown and apparently insignificant. This is also true of New Testament times (see 1 Corinthians 1:26).
During this oppression, God, through His prophet, plainly told Israel why they were being oppressed (verses 8-10). Yet, when the Angel of the Lord—who seems to have been the Lord Himself in this case (compare verses 12, 14, 16, 23), i.e., the preincarnate Christ as messenger of the Father (compare Genesis 16:10-13)—appeared to Gideon, Gideon asked why all this had happened. Apparently few paid any heed to the words of the prophets. Nevertheless, the time for punishment was to be ended, and God had chosen Gideon as the instrument of that deliverance.
Our introduction to Gideon is somewhat humorous. He is threshing wheat not out in the open on a threshing floor as would normally be the case, but hidden in a winepress out of fear of the Midianites stealing the grain from him. Yet this divine Messenger’s first words to fearful Gideon are, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (verse 12). “Both statements seemed absurd. First of all, where was the God of Israel? Second, anyone with eyes to see could know that he was no mighty man of valor. Gallant generals and fearless warriors did not hide from the enemy in winepresses” (Phillip Keller, Mighty Man of Valor, 1979, p. 25). But God often refers to people according to what they will become. Gideon certainly didn’t come across as mighty or valorous initially, but by believing and trusting in God, he ultimately lived up to the confidence God placed in him and truly became a mighty warrior, a man of valor. Interestingly, the name Gideon itself actually meant “Hewer,” “Feller” or “One Who Cuts Down,” perhaps implying an overcomer. And after God’s calling, Gideon would begin fulfilling the meaning of his name.
His first action was to destroy the local altar to Baal—another sign that few Israelites were listening to God’s prophets. When the local officials sought to put him to death, Gideon’s father Joash challenged them to let Baal prove his own divinity by taking vengeance on Gideon through some supernatural means. The challenge was ironic, because it would show Baal completely incapable of taking vengeance upon anyone—Midianite, Amalekite, Mesopotamian or even the smallest, most insignificant man in Manasseh. Of course, nothing happened. Joash then called Gideon by the name Jerubbaal (“Let Baal Plead” or “Let Baal Take Revenge”), thus making him a living taunt to the worshipers of Baal.
The destruction of the altar, and the confounding of the Baal devotees, gave evidence to Gideon that God was on his side. He would need the encouragement of that thought, for then the seasonal raids of the Midianites and their confederates commenced. When they appeared, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he gathered an army from Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali—again, only a few of the tribes of Israel.
While the Spirit of the Lord had come upon Gideon, he had as yet developed little faith. He required another sign from God that God would truly deliver Midian into his hands. While this was probably for his own sake, he may also have felt it necessary for the Israelites to know, with the evidence of such signs, that God had chosen him to fight the battle. In any event, God did perform the famous fleece signs. Gideon, we can see, was still used to walking by sight, not faith. Nevertheless, the success of his enterprise was not to come from his strength but God’s. The signs were given, and Gideon was emboldened.
Psalm 29 is a worship hymn composed by David “in praise of the King of creation, whose glory is trumpeted by the thunderclaps [constituting His “voice”] that rumble through the cloudy mass of winter’s rainstorms as they rise above the Mediterranean (‘the mighty waters,’ v. 3 [NIV]), and move from east to west across the face of the sky” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 29). The thunderclouds cover the whole land of Israel, from the northern forests of Lebanon and Sirion, denoting Mount Hermon, to the southern Desert of Kadesh (verses 6, 8).
The booming thunder shakes the ground (verses 4, 6, 8) and terrifies wild deer into giving birth prematurely (verse 9). With the thunder come “flashes of lightning” (verse 7, NIV), these strikes splintering great trees in two (verse 5) and stripping the forests bare (verse 9).
David calls on the “mighty ones” to ascribe to God the glory due Him as the Almighty Creator (verses 1-2). The phrase translated “mighty ones” here literally reads “sons of God,” this expression appearing to denote God’s angels, which are referred to this way in the book of Job (Job 1:6; 38:7).
At God’s great display of power in nature, everyone “in His temple” expresses awe (Psalm 29:9). As David wrote this before the building of the physical temple, it seems that the temple in heaven is intended—especially given David’s urging to the angels in verse 1. However, some suggest that David may be referring to all of creation as God’s temple.
The NKJV translates verse 10 as saying that “the Lord sat enthroned at the Flood”—that is, the Flood of Noah’s day. The NIV, however, renders this in the present tense: “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood.” The latter seems likely, given that the great thunderstorm was accompanied by torrential flash flooding in the desert wadis. However, all of this could well have brought to mind the former Flood, a product of God’s sovereign rule over the natural realm. Moreover, a great flood is also symbolic of chaotic, threatening circumstances (compare Psalm 32:6-7).
As a final thought in Psalm 29, David considers in verse 11 that it is this same great and powerful God who empowers His people—and blesses His people not with the destruction witnessed in nature but, as all forces are subject to Him, with peace.
The translation of the superscription of Psalm 30 is disputed. The KJV and NKJV explain the psalm as a “song at the dedication of the house of David”—evidently referring to the king’s royal palace. The NIV and others, though, think the translation should be “A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.” The Hebrew word here is beyt— “house” in a general sense. Yet the idea of the latter translation is that le-David, as in other psalms, should denote authorship rather than any connection with this house. And “the house” on its own can be a designation for the temple, the house of the Lord—though it could also refer to the palace.
Considering the very personal and specific nature of this psalm with regard to the life of the psalmist, it does not seem to fit very well with the dedication of the temple, which took place several years after David’s death. The most likely conclusion appears to be that this psalm was written by David to be sung at the dedication of his palace. For this reason, we earlier read Psalm 30 in the Bible Reading Program in conjunction with other passages concerning that period (see the Bible Reading Program comments on 1 Chronicles 14; 2 Samuel 5:11-25; 1 Chronicles 3:5-9; Psalm 30).
David reflects on the events that have led up to the joyful occasion of his now-firm establishment at Jerusalem. He praises God for lifting him up, healing him, keeping him alive (verses 1-3). He thanks God for not letting his enemies rejoice over him (verse 1). Indeed, David’s enemies now have no cause to rejoice because God has overturned his prior circumstances: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (verse 11).
This is to serve as an example to all of God’s people—they are always to praise Him for He will ultimately turn hard and dark times to light and joy (verses 4-5). This is especially good to remember in the years before us as we approach the darkening end of the age.
In verse 6, David declares that he is now prosperous and firmly established. He further says to God, “By Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong” (verse 7). The reference here “may be to David’s security in his mountain fortress, Zion; or that mountain fortress may here serve as a metaphor for David’s state as a vigorous and victorious king, the ‘mountain’ on which he sat with such secure confidence in God” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on verse 7).
David ends the psalm with an important reason God has lifted him out of affliction. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy so that my heart may sing to you and not be silent” (verse 12, NIV). All of God’s people have been called out of spiritual darkness to do the same—to sing praise and give thanks (1 Peter 2:9-10).
God is intimately attuned to the fact that we can endure only so much. (Typically, He knows we can endure more than we would choose to on our own!) The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 remains a comfort to us when we are afflicted: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Mat 17:22 – 18:35
24 Doth not your master pay tribute?
This is in reference to the Temple tax that all Jews were to pay to support the work of the Temple. This tax is also an atonement, according to the Torah.
Exodus 30:11-16 – And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
26 Then are the children free.
Does Yeshua teach breaking of the Torah here by saying this?
No, for the same reason found in Matthew 12, when Yeshua was challenged as to the behavior of his disciples on the Sabbath. If the religious authorities recognized who Yeshua was, they would have realized that they had a greater “Tabernacle/Temple” before them, in the form the Messiah.
Yeshua’s presence among them took priority over the physical Temple, which was (in this sense only), a “lesser” representation of the image of God and His Kingdom, (a “shadow,” i.e., Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5, 10:1). Yeshua is above the physical Temple as He is the actual image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Note however, that after His death, his disciples continued to attend the Temple for services and sacrifices, but no longer for the Yom Kippur sacrifice (as we will explain in our other studies).
Nonetheless, Yeshua commanded His disciples to pay the tax, for reason explained below.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them
Note that although Yeshua was “correct,” in that His presence initiated a higher level of Torah commandment, He deferred to the principle of setting aside His “right” for the benefit of others. This is an important principle we will discuss in our Romans study.
1 Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
It is possible that the disciples (who are still in the process of leaning the mysteries of the Kingdom from Yeshua), were thinking in terms of “might” or “wisdom” when they asked this. Yeshua turns this question around to show who the “greatest” really are.
3 Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
The full explanation of “being converted” is in verse 4, where Yeshua shows this has to do with humility. As mentioned earlier, Moses is said to be the most humble man to ever live as well as the greatest of the prophets until Yeshua’s time. (See also comments to verse 19.)
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee
Here we have a similar teaching to that of the parables in chapter 13, where Yeshua compared the Kingdom to a pearl and to a field, in both cases showing that nothing was of more value. The allegorical reference to “hand or thy foot” could mean many things, including false doctrines. (See also comments to verse 19.)
10 in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father
This could be a reference to “guardian angels,” a belief that seemed to have been held by Yeshua’s disciples as seen in Acts 12:15. As we discuss in our Revelation study, there also seem to be angels assigned to Israel and to the nations of the world.
17 let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
God is revealed to us in His attributes of both justice and mercy. Justice is seen in this teaching. Compare this to the mercy taught in the parable beginning in verse 23. The various attributes of God, as we perceive them, is a subject of our Revelation study.
19 if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Many critics will point to the countless unanswered prayers of people, as evidence that Yeshua’s statement isn’t true. Many answers are given in response to this challenge, however the words of scripture can’t be ignored:
James 4:3-6 – Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
The adultery James speaks of, as the source of prayer not being answered, is spiritual adultery, as seen by his description of it being “friendship of the world.” As said throughout this study, the way of God is the light of Torah. Outside of Torah is darkness – “the way of the world.”
We like to think that we’re “out of the dark ages” with regard to receiving spiritual light from God. However, with the overwhelming number of people in the world today rejecting either the written Torah (in the case of most of Christianity) or Yeshua, the walking Torah, (in the case of most of Judaism), is it any wonder that God’s blessings are not as prevalent as they should be?
“James” (Jacob) says, “We ask amiss.” Amiss of what? Amiss of the will of God, which is revealed through His Torah. He reiterates that God’s grace (answer to prayer) is given to the humble. Humility comes from denying ourselves and accepting His Torah. Spiritual pride/arrogance comes from rejecting Torah in favor of some other religious belief that allows for “picking and choosing” from the commandments of God.
Some would here interject, “What about the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t the Spirit reveal to us the will of God? The answer is Yes – but the will of God that the Spirit will reveal IS His Torah. The Spirit will make clear to us the deeper meaning of the Torah and how to apply it in our lives. The Spirit will never lead anyone against God’s Torah. If someone “prays to the Spirit” and is told that God’s Torah is not for today, they are hearing from a spirit that is not of God.
Paul gives the same message as “James,” – If you consider yourself not subject to God’s Torah, you are of the world, and not of the Spirit:
Romans 8:7 – Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
20 where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Exactly how is Yeshua “in our midst” if He is presently seated at the right hand of the Father? Does this mean He is simply “looking down at us?” Or is there a literal presence in the “spiritual realm” that “surrounds” us here on earth – and if so, how does this all work?
Although Yeshua’s statement can, in a simple sense, be accepted “on faith,” the concept of God’s presence within creation is actually a very complex area of Bible study.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king …
This parable was discussed earlier in our study.