News Letter 5851-017
9th day of the 4th month 5851 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Month in the Sixth year of the Third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes, Famines and Pestilence
The Year of the Tithe for the Widows, Orphans & Levites
June 27, 2015
Shabbat Shalom Family,
Eric Bissel will be with us in Sarnia, Ontario,on June 27.
The times are June 27th, 9-12 and 1-4 (depending on Eric, in which case it could be longer).
We have had a very busy week this week. First we were told about our Bishop friend in Africa who had received our books and DVDs this past January, and then promptly began to teach them to the 65 Churches he is responsible for.
He then had to flee to a neighbouring country due to the rioting that was breaking out and the possible genocide that even today is still a possibility. But even in the wake of all of this, our brother the Bishop met with the Bishop of the country he fled to.
During the course of last week, he explained those things found in the books, Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016 and The 2300 Days of Hell to this other Bishop, who afterwards said that they had been lied to all these years.
We are eagerly waiting for another update and information as to how we can help both of them in their countries.
We ask that you will help now by praying for these men and their assemblies for protection from any genocides that may arise and that they can continue to do the work and reach all of their countrymen and other nations around them.
This is a really stunning story.
And just last week ten of our books arrived with a group of Torah observers in Kenya. We can only pray they are able to understand and share this message.
At the same time as we were being told of these events in Africa we were contacting a brother in Manilla, Philippines to whom we had sent 25 copies of Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016 and also 25 of The 2300 Days of Hell.
We were unaware of the cost of import taxes on the books and they were being held until they were paid for. Our contact could not afford the high taxes, so we offered to pay for them and promptly sent him the money needed and then some. He was very surprised by this on our part.
We only want to share the message of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years to all people around this world who will listen.
After he began to read our books he has invited me to come to the Philippines to speak during Sukkot 2015. In fact, we will be speaking with his group and others leading up to Sukkot after Atonement as well.
The Philippine people are scattered around the world working and doing business in most countries. If you know of anyone who has family in the Philippines then let them know to come out and hear what we have to say. We will be teaching about the Sabbatical years and the prophecy of Daniel and how it relates to the people in this part of the world.
This week we also have some disappointing news to share with you.
James Relf our web site designer, who answers all your tech questions, let me know we had some major problems. James has been working for months on preparing to move the entire website to Jerusalem and to Switzerland where we believe it will survive the events coming in 2020 or thereafter.
In order for him to accomplish this, he must convert all our videos and audio into multiple formats which is a massive undertaking. This will allow everyone to enjoy our content no matter which browser they are using. Once completed all material for our site will then be hosted on our own server so that we are prepared for what is coming and it is available to all even if youtube or vimeo goes down.
Anyway, due to the workload on his computer, it finally crashed and all the work became corrupted and will have to be re-done. After multiple attempts to repair the damage and restore the mistakes, the situation just kept getting worse. James also works on other Messianic teachers websites and they were offline for a while as well while he scrambled to fix the problems. Our site fortunately, was not affected due to our updates that James does for us regularly.
Long story short, his large computer is toast. We need to replace it in order to move the website and to continue to maintain this current site. The cost to replace this type of computer is going to run about $3,500. We are looking into this now.
This week we heard on the news about Taylor Swift taking her music away from Apple who were going to give it away for free for three months and not pay the artist that produced those songs.
Taylor Swift said
“Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing.”
Would any of you work for three months without being paid?
For the past number of years, I have seen something happening here with the tribes of Israel that has saddened me. I see an apathetic view of keeping Torah. A more and more ambivalent and ever-increasing coddling of liberal attitudes in the whole of our society and even amongst those who claim to be Torah observant, mixing in with the Torah their liberal ideas, attitudes and false teachings they bring from their former groups. And the mixing in of conspiracy teachings as if they were the gospel itself.
When I first learned about the Sabbatical years way back in 2005, I began to tell people that same year in north America and also in Israel. By 2008 I was on the Prophecy Club and went across the USA speaking in 10 cities in 12 days.
In 2010 we published our first book The Prophecies of Abraham. We then had to write Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016 to answer all the questions this subject raised. That book came out in 2013 and we then published two more books in 2014: The 2300 Days of Hell explaining the prophecy of Daniel 9:24 by understanding the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles, and our e-book on The Blood Moons, showing how the blood moons came before disasters in almost every case in the bible all the way back to the death of Adam.
Today the blood moons again warn us of impending doom to those who will not obey, and this doom is right in front of us.
But who is listening to our warning? Who is helping us to share this message and carry this load? Who?
Few stepped up and helped in the beginning. For years I paid what it cost to share this message out of my own pocket. Then some more came forward and we could do a little more. By the grace of Yehovah a few came at the right time and made it possible to record our teachings in 2013 on video. Our expenses also began to increase and my business was sold.
Most of you do not expect Taylor Swift to work for free and give her music away for nothing, yet almost all of you expect those like me to work week in and week out providing you the teachings we have learned and published after we have purchased the books we studied from. We traveled and paid for it ourselves and many times never cover the cost incurred. Is Taylor Swift more worthy than those teaching you the Torah?
Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
I ask you to judge me by the things that Yehovah has done through us. That He has allowed us to be apart of.
James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it? 17 Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works. 19 You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Brethren, we have just 8 months to explain the Sabbatical year starting in 2016 to all we can, yet here in North America the viewpoint is apathetic. Few care. Many claim 2017 to be the Jubilee year without any facts and yet none of them are going to keep 2016 as the 49th year. They are hypocrites, each and everyone of them.
Those things I am saying in the book Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016 are convicting people. We have just shared two great examples in Africa. And we are hoping to do great things in the Philippines as well. Will you help us to keep on doing this? Will you help us each and every week, so we can pay for those things that break and to be able to plan to send people to assist those in other countries or send books? We just need help. Will you pray for us daily and for this message to go out by some miracle to places we have never thought of? Will you yourself tell others to get these books and study them or teach them to others? You can be doing this too.
Read this parable, speaking about Israel and ask if this does not sadden you.
Mat 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who made a marriage for his son. 3 And he sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they would not come.
Israel would not come. Your family and friends and neighbours would not and will not come.
4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage. 5 But not caring, they went their ways, one to his field, another to his trading. 6 And the rest took his servants and treated them spitefully, and killed them.
No one cares. Their ears grow tired of learning, tired of the many who do not teach the truth.
7 But when the king heard, he was angry. And he sent out his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
Are you aware that the 4th curse of Lev 26 is the sword? That is the curse that is to start after the 2016 Sabbatical year, and this is why we need to warn everyone we can. We are told in Ezekiel if you see the sword coming you must warn the brethren. We are doing this. I have gone personally to each of the messianic and Sabbath keeping groups that I can find in and around Ontario and told the leadership about the Sabbatical years and given them the books.
I have also spoken face to face with almost all the Messianic teachers and the few I have not met, I called. But not one of them is going to keep the Sabbatical years and they teach the brethren not to as well.
Some of the local groups are interested and others are not. I have done this in an effort to find those who will obey Yehovah and keep the Sabbatical year in 2016. Those who do not obey will have to face the sword the same way the Jews did the Holocaust in WW II. They were not protected even though they kept the Sabbath and Holy Days. They did not keep the Sabbatical and Jubilee years.
Now pay attention to what Yehovah says next to His servants.
8 Then he said to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they who were invited were not worthy.
Israel, all 12 tribes was not worthy. Are you?
9 Therefore go into the exits of the highways, and as many as you shall find, invite them to the marriage. 10 So the servants went out into the highways and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. And the wedding was filled with reclining guests.
These are the gentiles that are invited and Brethren, I see this first hand all the time. More excitement and enthusiasm comes from the Asian Brethren who are learning these truths.
You have just read about two examples in Africa and now we are going to the Philippines. But the Torah is not waiting for you to bring it to China or Korea or India. No, it does not wait for you. That wedding is going to happen and if you are not in your seat then it will be given to one of the Gentile peoples who will take it.
We need your help to reach all 12 tribes of Israel and these gentile nations by whatever means we can. Will you help us weekly from this time forward? Prayers, or posting our book in your social media pages and doing it all the time. And financial support is needed. Not much, but we do need some.
I do also want to thank those of you who have been praying for us, and have written to encourage me and have supported us financially. Thank because you have played a part in promoting this message, by doing your part with me. Thank you.
This week as we come to the end of June, the month with all the Gay Pride parades around the world, I just could not let it go by without once again showing you what is going on in the world. How these very events are foretold to us just before we return to the land.
That time is directly in front of us and at the same time we have all of these disgusting events around the world and even in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
I am going to post a few articles for you to read to help you gain a greater understanding of this in an overall view. I know many of you are too too busy to read these things. That is fine. When they overcome you, you will know you could have been prepared beforehand but….
Our first article explains the importance of Afflicting our Soul at the Day of Atonement and connects it to the story of Balaam.
I wanted to share with you one article I saw this past month. As I searched for it, I came upon this page listing all the places around the globe with Gay Pride Parades. I also learned that there are Gay cruise ships and Gay bus trips and a great many things that are now catering to the Gay lifestyle.
On the news tonight was a story about a man who is now a woman and wants to have an operation to change the sex organs to make the process complete. The story said that there are over 900 people waiting for this operation to take place, but only about 177 are being approved by this government agency. They were upset at the slowness of the process and were going to claim they were being prejudiced against because of sexual stereotypes.
This story was then followed by comments from Ontario’s lesbian Premier Kathleen Wynn. When I changed the channel from this story I was able to tune in to Modern Family, where the gay lifestyle is made to be normal in a comedic fashion.
We have been acclimatized. Like a frog in a pot of water. If you put the frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out immediately, but if you put it in a pot of temperate water and then turn up the heat slowly, the frog will sit there and cook to death and never know what happened.
You, Brethren, are that frog and the water is near to boiling and you have no clue and many of you will not believe me, because you know better. But here is a short video of a group of young ladies at a gay pride event at Duke University and they are from a variety of Churches and they all agree that you can be gay and be a christian…..
Christianinty does not keep the Torah. It has no compass to follow. Therefor it changes the rules to suit the times they are in. It has not changed since they were first founded.
From 119 Ministries: Paul, The Nazarene Ringleader.
Epiphanius, 4th century ‘church father’ wrote:
But these sectarians…did not call themselves Christians–but “Nazarenes,”….However they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do….They have no different ideas, but confess everything EXACTLY as the Law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion– except for their belief in Messiah, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that God is one, and that his son is Yeshua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the ENTIRE LAW, THE PROPHETS, AND THE WRITINGS are read IN HEBREW, as they surely are by the Jews.
They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law –circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest — they are not in accord with Christians….they are nothing but Jews.
They have the Goodnews according to Matthew IN ITS ENTIRETY IN HEBREW. For it is clear that they STILL PRESERVE THIS, IN THE HEBREW ALPHABET, AS IT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN.
Epiphanium; Panarion 29
Here is the article I was looking for, about this young child dancing in the Gay Parade in a very sexual fashion with many people watching and enjoying his dancing.
We also have another article again dealing with Baal Peor and what it really is that Israel was doing with the Moabite women. Baal Peor is the god of holes. Sexual hole. Oral and Anal sex.
So what does all of this have to do with prophecy?
In Daniel 9 we are told about the covenant made with many. In our book The 2300 Days of Hell, we explain how the UN created the UNEP in 1972 and since then the whole world has signed on to it. One of the main declarations in this UN Environmental Program was the charter on human rights. In these Human rights are the rights of the LGBT, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transvestite. All signatory nations are obliged to push for these human rights when making all national negotiations and treaties.
It is one of the things the US pushes for when dealing in the Middle East. You can read our teaching on this in The 2300 Days of Hell book or watch our two part video on The Great Enlightenment of Mankind.
Brethren, we are now in the times just before we are to enter the land of Israel at the end of the 6th millennial day. Just like the Moabite women and Israel, today Baal Peor, the god of holes, is dominant in our society. Christianity does not keep the law and because they are not tied to the law of the Torah anyone can do what ever is right in their own eyes, just as the young ladies said at Duke University in the short video above. All you need is love.
Yehovah says something else. He says you need to obey Him, and because our society does not obey Him, He is raising up the Islamic army that is going to kill this society for going after Baal Peor. Lev 26 says the next curse is the curse of the sword. Daniel 9 says that this is to take place in the middle of this 70th Jubilee cycle which began in 1996 and ends in 2044. That means the middle is 2020.
Do you really think it is wise right now not to keep the Sabbatical year in 2016 and the Holy Days of Lev 23 and the weekly Sabbath at this time in history? On the contrary, I think it is the most important thing any of us can do, to obey Yehovah and have faith He will protect us from the evil coming.
The question is, are you more into unnatural sex and liberal attitudes than you are into obeying Yehovah? As always, you get to choose. Choose wisely.
For the past number of years, Lora Skeahan has been helping me by preparing these Torah Portions for me and having them ready for you each week. She has done this with little fanfare and with the occasional thank you from me.
Lora has handed in her resignation this month and this will be the last one prepared by her. I do want to thank her for her time and effort that she has put into this work for all of you all these years. She has also contributed to the research of Remembering the Sabbatical Year of 2016 and The 2300 Days of Hell. The second book she has made some major contributions.
I do thank her for all her help and look forward to when we can work on another project together. Yehovah be with you and Charlie. Shalom.
Triennial Torah Portion
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading
Lev 9 Jeremiah 37-39 Prov 21 Acts 18
Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 9-10)
In chapter 9 Moses instructs Aaron to proceed and offer the first offerings as God’s high priest. In verse 15, the offering for the people is a goat. While the animal specified as a sin offering for the congregation in Leviticus 4:14 was a bull, a goat was used for this purpose on some occasions (16:9, 5; Numbers 28-29; 15:22-26; 2 Chronicles 29:20-24; Ezra 6:17; 8:35).
At this inauguration of sacrifices, Aaron pronounces a blessing on Israel (verse 22). The specific wording of the priestly blessing that God commanded to be bestowed upon Israel is given in Numbers 6:23-26. This may be the blessing to which Leviticus 9:22 refers.
In verses 23-24 we see a spectacular event. “The sacrifices were consumed, not by fire ignited by Aaron, but by fire from before the Lord. This is the first of only five times that the Old Testament records fire from God as a sign that a sacrifice was accepted (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kin. 18:38; 1 Chr. 21:26; 2 Chr. 7:1). Since the fire on this altar was never to go out [see Leviticus 6:9, 12-13], all Israel’s sacrifices from this time forward would be consumed by fire that originated from God” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 9:24). However, while certainly plausible, it is not absolutely clear that this was the case.
After Aaron’s sons are later killed for bringing profane fire before the Lord, Moses explains to Aaron why God has done this and then instructs Aaron’s cousins to remove the dead men from the sanctuary. God then commands Aaron and his sons to not drink alcohol before going into the tabernacle of meeting. But the account had only spoken of Nadab and Abihu bringing profane fire and incense before God—so why is this particular instruction regarding intoxicating drink given to Aaron in the midst of what had just happened? Although it is possible that God was simply relating another way that one could show disregard for him during these rituals, the text here may be indicating that the inappropriate use of alcohol had played a role in the two brothers’ poor judgment and behavior.
The punishment God inflicted on the two was very severe. We know there are certainly many times where people have “worshiped” God in a way that He does not recognize or appreciate, yet for which He does not strike them down immediately. However, at the time of this account, God was playing a very visible role in the nation of Israel and was actually teaching the people the magnitude of reverence they needed to have for Him: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3)—it was critical for them to understand.
What Aaron’s sons did was not in ignorance, for God had already given clear instructions through Moses on how He was to be regarded. In this situation, Nadab and Abihu’s disregard and carelessness could not go uncorrected—it was not only offensive to God, but would have fostered a careless attitude about God’s instructions among the people. When God says to regard Him as holy, He means it. The instructive nature of this event was so important that Aaron and his remaining sons were not allowed to show any outward sign of grievance—they were required to maintain their composure and to continue their priestly duties to illustrate the justice and righteousness of God’s wrath.
The NIV Study Bible notes regarding the death of Nadab and Abihu: “They are regularly remembered as having died before the Lord and as having had no sons. Their death was tragic and at first seems harsh, but no more so than that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In both cases a new era was being inaugurated…. The new community had to be made aware that it existed for God, not vice versa.”
Moses pointing out that the goat of the sin offering (Leviticus 10:16) was not to be burned but eaten by the priests shows that this particular sin offering was not for the whole congregation or priesthood (see Leviticus 4). It is thus a later offering than the one referred to in 9:15. Following the death of his nephews, Moses was rather concerned about making sure everything was being done correctly. In verse 18, he isn’t rebuking Aaron’s sons for failing to bring the blood into the holy place, but rather pointing out that, because the blood was not brought in, the offering was to be eaten, not burned (see 6:29-30).
Aaron explains that he himself did not eat of the offering because he was afraid God would not accept it. Eating of the sin offering was an act of worship symbolizing satisfaction with God’s justice, and Aaron understood the need to be in a proper and reverential frame of mind. Yet he and his sons were sorely grieved and distracted by what had happened—perhaps even unnerved and unhappy with God’s judgment for the moment.
“Aaron did not eat of the sacrificial meat because he was afraid of what more God might do. He was not being rebellious, as his dead sons had been in burning the incense. Aaron was arguing that in circumstances such as the one he faced that day, God would prefer the priest to err on the side of caution rather than presumption…. Rebellion arises from a heart that is not right toward God. Moses recognized that Aaron’s failure was not rebellion, that his argument had merit, and that Aaron could be forgiven” (Nelson Study Bible, notes on verses 19-20).
Another Delegation When Egypt Intervenes (Jeremiah 37:1-10; 34:8-22)
In chapter 37, Zedekiah sends another delegation to Jeremiah, asking him to pray for Judah and its leaders (verse 3). Spiritually blind people commonly think that the prayerful intervention of a known righteous person will cause God to turn a threatening situation around. They fail to realize that they need to change their behavior and that no other human being can do that for them (Acts 8:22-24).
This time, Zephaniah the priest is again sent, along with an official named Jehucal, an associate of the Passhur sent in the previous delegation (see Jeremiah 38:1, where the official’s name is spelled Jucal).
(Jeremiah 37:4 mentions the fact that Jeremiah will later be put in prison, an episode we will soon read about in 37:11-38:28.)
The current inquiry is evidently occasioned by a major change in events—the Egyptians now entering the conflict (compare verse 7). “In the late spring or early summer 588 B.C., Pharaoh Hophra led the Egyptian army into southern Palestine. The Babylonian forces withdrew their siege of Judah and Jerusalem to confront the Egyptians. Zedekiah hoped the Babylonians would be defeated” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 6-8). The “then” of verse 5 is not to denote a new time frame after the inquiry. Rather, verses 4-5 should be understood as parenthetical—giving the background to the inquiry.
The king probably wondered if Jeremiah’s message had now changed in light of the Egyptian advance: “The approach of the Egyptian forces (vv. 5, 9) seemed to contradict the message of 34:2-7; moreover, with the withdrawal of the Babylonian army, Zedekiah may have thought that Jeremiah’s predictions of doom were wrong after all… Also, Zedekiah may have been encouraged by his alliance with Pharaoh Hophra… He may indeed have doubted his own prophets, and so he wanted to get a message from Jeremiah that would please him. Thus he asked the prophet to pray for him (v. 3)—i.e., to support his actions… In other words, what Zedekiah wanted was for the Lord to make the temporary withdrawal of the Babylonians permanent. He may somehow have felt that the presence of Jeremiah, though he predicted doom, would insure God’s protection against Jerusalem’s capture. As for his regard for Jeremiah, it was tinged with superstition” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verses 2-3).
It may be that Zedekiah was thinking that God had relented because of his recent emancipation proclamation, mentioned in the latter part of chapter 34. And indeed, God may have granted the lifting of the siege for this reason—or at least as a test of the people’s resolve. Sadly, they had no resolve to continue in their commitment to God and His righteousness. (Human beings in general often try to make God into what they want Him to be—and have Him act as they want Him to. When they need help, they cry out to Him—but not to intervene when and how He deems appropriate, but in the time and manner that they think He should. And when the objective seems met, they want God to retire once again.)
Zedekiah and the rest of the nation’s hopes that Egypt would save them were in vain, as God makes clear through Jeremiah. This was a passing circumstance. Even if Egypt’s forces managed to weaken the Babylonian army, it would still return to finish its devastating work (37:6-10).
Emancipation Revocation (Jeremiah 37:1-10; 34:8-22)
After God gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, having freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the first judgment He gave them was the maximum time of seven years that fellow Israelites could be kept in servitude (Exodus 21:1-6), whether or not these Israelites “had sold themselves into servitude for the payment of their debts, or though they were sold by the judges for the punishment of their crimes. This difference was put between their brethren and strangers, that those of other nations taken in war, or bought with money, might be held in perpetual slavery, they and theirs; but their brethren must serve but for seven years at the longest” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, note on Jeremiah 34:8-22). In Jeremiah’s time, however, the people of Judah had been ignoring this law.
When Nebuchadnezzar with his armies and allies attacked the cities of Judah, and Jerusalem was under siege, King Zedekiah made a covenant proclamation to the citizens of Jerusalem that gave an appearance of repentance (34:8-9). Perhaps this was even in response to God’s warning given through Jeremiah at the beginning of the siege: “Deliver him who is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire” (21:12).
The citizens appeared repentant also since they readily responded and emancipated their Jewish slaves (verse 10). However, it soon became obvious that Zedekiah and the Jews were not truly repentant and had no real commitment to that decision. The people soon “changed their minds” (34:11)—they repented of their repentance! Zedekiah either changed his mind or at least weakly failed to enforce his proclamation. (Indeed, we will later find him obviously weak and vacillating.)
Two occurrences led to the Jews re-enslaving their servants. First was the lifting of the Jerusalem siege when the Chaldeans left to confront the oncoming Egyptian forces (37:5). Even though God knew the hypocrisy and superficiality of Zedekiah and the people of Jerusalem, He, out of His great mercy, probably orchestrated this timely reprieve for the Jews. The second factor was the people realizing more than ever how advantageous it was to have slave labor. As soon as they got what they really wanted, deliverance from the Chaldeans, they felt they no longer needed God. Big mistake! God is not to be mocked or manipulated.
Their sin was especially egregious because they were reneging on a covenant they had made with God in His temple to right the wrong (34:15). They had even ratified the covenant with a ritual first mentioned in Scripture in Genesis 15:9-17 (Jeremiah 34:18). They “passed through the parts of the animal cut in two, implying that they prayed so to be cut in sunder (Matthew 24:51; Greek, ‘cut in two’) if they should break the covenant” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown’s Commentary, note on Jeremiah 34:18). And indeed, the punishment would be severe.
As a result of their treachery, freeing slaves only to re-enslave them, God remarks with sardonic irony that He would free them—from His protection. “‘Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the LORD—’to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine!'” (34:17). God said He would bring Babylon’s army back to conquer and burn Jerusalem—killing or capturing its people.
Jeremiah Imprisoned; Zedekiah’s Wavering (Jeremiah 37:11-38:28)
The temporary lifting of the Babylonian siege from Jerusalem provides an opportunity for some movement outside the city. Jeremiah sets off for the land of Benjamin—presumably for his hometown of Anathoth, just three miles outside the capital—to, as one commentator translates verse 12, “attend to a division of property among his people there” (qtd. in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, footnote on verse 12). (The King James translation, “to separate himself thence in the midst of the people,” is incorrect.) “The presupposition is that a relative had died in Anathoth; so it was incumbent on Jeremiah to be present in connection with the inheritance” (footnote on verse 12).
But the prophet is arrested on suspicion of defecting to the Chaldeans by a captain of the guard named Irijah. His grandfather’s name is Hananiah (verse 13)—possibly, as some have suggested, the false prophet Hananiah who died at Jeremiah’s decree from God (see Jeremiah 28).
We then come to Jeremiah’s imprisonment. It is not entirely clear if our current reading encompasses two separate imprisonments or two accounts of the same one (compare 37:11-21; 38:1-28). Those who argue for two imprisonments point out that Jeremiah 37:15 mentions the prophet being cast into “prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe,” where he is thrown into a dungeon or cistern (verse 18), while 38:6 says he was “cast into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son” (or Malchiah son of Hammelech). The argument in favor of one imprisonment here is that the two accounts are extremely similar and that, at the end of both, Jeremiah requests of the king that he not be returned to Jonathan’s house to die (compare 37:20; 38:26). Indeed, one imprisonment seems rather likely, which would mean that the dungeon or cistern of Malchiah was in the house of Jonathan—easily explainable if ownership had changed, if Malchiah had built the cistern, or if Malchiah was the official in charge of prisoners.
Pashhur, one of the leaders Jeremiah is arraigned before (who was part of Zedekiah’s delegation to Jeremiah at the beginning of the Babylonian siege in chapter 21), is the “son of Malchiah” (38:1)—perhaps the namesake of the dungeon. With Pashhur is Jucal (same verse), the Jehucal of the delegation Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah when the siege was lifted at the beginning of chapter 37.
The officials are outraged at Jeremiah’s public proclamation of what they consider to be a seditious message, and they call for his execution. Interestingly, Zedekiah declares himself powerless against these leaders (38:5). He is evidently insecure in his position. Though he had reigned for a decade, it should be recalled that many still considered Jeconiah, a prisoner in Babylon, as the real king. Also, Zedekiah later mentions his fear of pro-Babylonian factions (verse 19). Many were likely blaming Zedekiah for having instigated the Babylonian siege. Now that it had been lifted for a time, a coup was not out of the question. Nevertheless, Zedekiah certainly wielded a great deal of power still. He could have protected God’s prophet, but it didn’t seem politically expedient to him.
The leaders order Jeremiah thrown into the prison “dungeon” (verse 6) or “cistern” (NIV)—ostensibly, as they had called for his execution, with the intention of his dying a slow death. “The cistern of Palestine was commonly a pear-shaped reservoir into which water could run from a roof, tunnel, or courtyard. From about the thirteenth century B.C. it was plastered and its opening stopped by a suitable cut stone, large enough for protection, but sometimes quite heavy (cf. Gen 29:8-10)… [In] abandoned reservoirs there is usually a mound of debris underneath the opening, consisting of dirt and rubbish, blown or knocked in, shattered remnants of water containers, and not infrequently skeletons. These may represent the result of accident, suicide, or some such incarceration as that which Jeremiah endured, although he did not experience the usual fatal end of exhaustion and drowning in water and mud” (“Cistern,” The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, 1983, p. 129).
Jeremiah is rescued through the intervention of Ebed-Melech the Cushite, who convinces the king to have the prophet removed from the cistern (Jeremiah 38:7-10). He takes great care in helping Jeremiah out of his confinement (verses 11-13). How ironic that “a foreigner, a once-despised Cushite [and eunuch], cared more for the prophet of God than did the king and princes of Jeremiah’s own people” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 11-13). We later learn that this is because he trusts in the God of Israel—and that God will reward him with deliverance from Jerusalem’s destruction (39:15-18).
Following the rescue is a dialogue between Jeremiah and Zedekiah, wherein we are afforded insight into the king’s thinking. The narrative again demonstrates Zedekiah’s instability—constantly wavering and giving in to the pressure of those around him. His day-to-day life was one of rebellion against God, yet there still seemed to be an ingrained fear of one of God’s servants. Sadly, Zedekiah was like many leaders today—more intent on pleasing people than following the truth (38:19-20).
The first-century Jewish historian Josephus makes this comment about the king: “Now as to Zedekiah himself, while he heard the prophet speak, he believed him, and agreed to everything as true, and supposed it was for his advantage; but then his friends perverted him, and dissuaded him from what the prophet advised, and obliged him to do what they pleased” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, chap. 7, sec. 2).
Nations need leaders who are steadfast and not wavering. God also requires the same of His people. “Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Messiah, who is the head of his body, the Assembly” (Ephesians 4:14-15, New Living Translation).
Instead of standing fast, “Zedekiah will go down in history as having made more U-turns than a learner-driver breaking in wild chariot horses” (Derek Williams, ed., The Biblical Times, 1997, p. 196).
Jeremiah “was stirred to his most direct eloquence. ‘And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire’ ([Jeremiah 28] v. 23). This was Zedekiah’s last chance to save the city, its walls, its warriors, its women and children. All he had to do was trust the prophet, to lift his head high, take up the flag of truce, walk past the princes and out to the Chaldean armies. This simple act of contrition could have saved the city” (Mastering the Old Testament, Vol. 17: Jeremiah, Lamentations by John Guest, 1988, p. 271).
Biblical historian Eugene Merrill writes: “Zedekiah was nearly persuaded. Only his pride of position and need to maintain a face of courage in the midst of certain calamity prevented him from acceding to the word of the man of God. That stubbornness against the truth proved to be the undoing of the king and all his people with him” (Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 1987, p. 465). Zedekiah could not bring himself to surrender. Jerusalem was to fall.
In verses 24-26, Zedekiah commands Jeremiah to not reveal to the other leaders what the two of them had discussed—but to instead say that he had made a request of the king that he not be put back in the cistern to die. Jeremiah complies (verse 27). So did Jeremiah lie? No, for he actually did make this request as part of their discussion in 37:20—which argues in favor of the two accounts covering the same episode.
While Zedekiah consents to Jeremiah’s request that he not be returned to the cistern, the king does not completely free the prophet. Rather he commits him to the “court of the prison” (verse 21; 38:13, 28) or “courtyard of the guard” (NIV)—”a place near the royal palace where limited mobility was possible, such as in the transaction to purchase the field [mentioned in our next reading] (see 32:1-15; Neh. 3:25)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Jeremiah 37:20-21). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “The courtyard of the guard, probably a stockade (cf. Neh 3:25), was the part of the palace area set apart for prisoners. (Friends could visit them there.) The soldiers who guarded the palace were quartered there” (note on Jeremiah 32:1-2). Jeremiah will remain in this place until the Babylonians conquer the city (38:28; 39:11-14).
Second Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont’d (Proverbs 21:9-31)
44. Final Outcomes and Judgments (21:9-19)
TYPE: INCLUSIO. “Proverbs about consequences and judgments are collected between the frame of similar proverbs on the ‘quarrelsome wife’” (NIV Application Commentary, note on verses 9-19). Verse 9, repeated in 25:24, mentions dwelling in a corner of a housetop. A roof of that time was flat. The reference is either to sleeping out in the open or in a small makeshift room set up there (see 2 Kings 4:10). Taken together, the frame verses (i.e., Proverbs 21:9, 19) illustrate that it’s better for a man to dwell all alone in discomfort than to live with a contentious wife.
? “Lessons from the Merciless (21:10-13)…. These verses concern merciless behavior, and vv. 11-12 describe how one can learn a lesson by observing the punishment that befalls the evil. These four verses thus form a chiasmus [of a-b-b-a]” (NAC).
? “Reconciliation and Justice (21:14-15).” Verse 14 should not be understood as sanctioning bribery to subvert justice. Some see the verse as merely observing, without moral comment, a practice that works. But what would be the purpose of that here? Others take the verse as counseling the appropriateness of gifts in some cases to appease an offended party (compare Proverbs 17:8). Yet what of the fact that the gift is “in secret”? The idea could perhaps be to allow the offended party to save face and not be embarrassed by the public knowing he is accepting a gift. Some see the meaning as privately settling a litigation issue out of court. It may have been to deter misreading Proverbs 21:14 as condoning bribery undermining the justice system that verse 15 was placed immediately after it?contrasting the end results of justice and lawlessness.
? “Rewards for Doing Wrong (21:16-18)…. These three proverbs all follow the theme of the ultimate fate of those who do wrong” (NAC)?in contrast to the rewards for doing right in the next section (verses 20-22).
Verse 17 does not mean that it is wrong to enjoy pleasure and luxuries. The point is that those who set their hearts on these things to the point of overindulging and expending resources in pursuit of them will store up no wealth. They will end up with less of what they want. Compare verse 20, which shows that the wise have luxuries, evidently as a result of diligence and restraint, in contrast to fools who squander what they have.
Verse 18 says that the wicked will be a ransom for the righteous. This could simply mean that the lives of the wicked will be given up to destruction in exchange for the peaceful and happy existence of the righteous thereafter. Put another way, the ultimate destruction of the wicked will release the righteous from evil’s tyranny over their lives.
45. Rewards for Doing Right (21:20-22)
“TYPE: THEMATIC….These verses closely correspond to vv. 16-18? (NAC)?contrasting with them.
46. A Mouth in and out of Control (21:23-24)
“TYPE: THEMATIC” (NAC).
47. The Sluggard’s Craving (21:25-26)
“TYPE: CATCHWORD, THEMATIC” (NAC). It’s interesting that many who covet things are too lazy to work for those things.
48. Trying to Fool God (21:27)
“TYPE: INDIVIDUAL PROVERB” (NAC). The first colon here is the same as in 15:8.
49: The False Witness (21:28-29)
“TYPE: THEMATIC …. These two verses should be read together” (NAC). The first colon of verse 28 recalls Proverbs 19, verses 5 and 9. The translation of the second colon of 21:28 is disputed. Some see it as giving credence to the false witness earning punishment (compare NIV, although the Hebrew text is altered in this translation). Others understand a person listening well to a false witness so as to counter with cross-examination. Still others read the verse to say that though a false witness perishes, those who hear his lies will pass them on even long afterward?that is, a liar’s lies persist after he is gone. Yet another way to read the verse is as follows: “A false witness shall perish, / But the man who hears [i.e., heeds] this [i.e., the law or proverb, not him] will speak without end.” Verse 29 seems to parallel this, though a direct parallel is not essential to the thematic relationship between the two verses here. Where the NKJV in verse 29 says the wicked “hardens his face,” the NIV says “puts up a bold front.” This may mark a bald-faced liar giving testimony. He firmly sets his face, but the righteous person who will not give false testimony firmly sets his way ?which, as the previous verse implies, will last forever.
50: Counterwisdom (21:30-31)
“TYPE: THEMATIC.” The book of Proverbs normally uses the term “wisdom” in a positive sense?as based on the fear of the Lord. “Here, however, it speaks of a kind of human ‘wisdom’ that seeks understanding without first submitting to Yahweh and declares that such efforts are futile. Verse 31 gives a concrete example, from a military setting of what v. 30 describes abstractly” (NAC). Human preparation, for war in this case, is important but carries only so far (compare 20:18). We must not place ultimate trust in such preparation. For the outcome of circumstances is in God’s hands. Note elsewhere God’s cautions against trusting in horses, representing military strength (Psalm 20:7; 33:17; Hosea 1:7).
Sha’ul leaves Athens and goes to Corinth. At this time, the Yehudim were being ordered to leave Rome and because of this a couple named Aqulas and Priscilla were fleeing there and also came to Corinth. They were Yehudite and also tent-makers and so Sha’ul and them stayed together for a while and Sha’ul was teaching boldly Yeshua Messiah in the assemblies on the Sabbaths. He had both Yehudim and Greeks believe in his proclaimation of the Good News. This time, when some began to resist and blaspheme, Sha’ul became very agitated. He said from now on, he would go only to the gentiles and he washed his feet of these people.
He stayed though, at the house of the ruler of the congregation named Crispus who did believe in Sha’ul’s testimony, he and all his household. They were immersed and believed and Sha’ul was able to stay with them there in Corinth. The Master appeared to Sha’ul in the night by a vision and encouraged him and told him to stay there, that He had many people there in that place. So Sha’ul did stay there and teach and preach for a year and six months.
Eventually though, some Yehudim brought Sha’ul to the authority there named Gallion to the judgment seat to be judged. When they accused Sha’ul of teaching Elohim contrary to the Torah, Gallion realized this mob was about religious matters and would be no part of it. They would have to handle it on their own.