News Letter 5847-023
19th day of the 5th month 5847 years after the creation of Adam
The 5th Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.
August 20, 2011
Shabbat Shalom Family,
Last week I was trying to share with you the bounty that we have been blessed here with. I was saying that in full knowledge of the famine in East Africa, of the severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma and of the riots in England.
And then my Grand Daughter came to visit and the rest of my family also came over at the same time. We had all my children and Granddaughter and one nephew all here on erev Shabbats, so I abruptly cut short my introduction to last week’s News Letter.
I had been working late each night the week before and did not have the normal time I usually have to prep each article I send out which does take me about 2 hours for the final posting.
Let us now consider each of the events I have mentioned above.
Why is it that East Africa is having a famine again?
Why is England having riots?
Why has no rain fallen on Texas and Oklahoma?
Why is Southern Ontario so blessed by the great harvest we seem to be having?
At the end of the last week someone finally had the nerve to tell us the truth about what was going on in London. I was able to read a play by play of brethren who were reporting via Facebook as each neighborhood went up in flames. Groups of men stood guard at the entrance to their neighborhoods and were called vigilantes in the papers and racist for preventing and chasing away car loads of black youth from entering into their part of the city and vandalizing it.
Then we read this week in The Trumpet.com
Someone at long last has had the courage to tell the plain, honest truth about race.
After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence—as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and other places—Philadelphia’s black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who did such things.
Just to identify the rioters and looters as black is a radical departure, when mayors, police chiefs and the media in other
cities report on these outbreaks of violence without mentioning the race of those who are doing these things. The Chicago
Tribune even made excuses for failing to mention race when reporting on violent attacks by blacks on whites in Chicago.
Is it racist to say that most of the prisons are full Chinese? Is it racist to say that most of the terrorist acts are done by Chinese? We all know what groups fit the description above and it ain’t the Chinese. The Chinese for the most part, do teach their youth to respect authority and parents. No the Chinese are not perfect but you get my point. Certain groups of people are world renown for certain actions. Most of the prisons in the USA are full of people from African and Hispanic descent. Most of the terrorist acts are done by people with a Muslim background in religion.
Again, what is going on in the world right now and how is it related to me?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8zAfn_EGcY&feature=player_embedded You can watch the riots going on in Chile this past week.
Here is a news report of the riots in Wisconsin this past month. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhOwBQaIRlE
Are you ready for the coming race riots on a street near you? In The Great Reckoning by James Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg although I can’t find the quote I recall they warned of race riots coming to North America and shortly after reading that book back in 1990’s the Los Angeles riots broke out in 1992.
Now 20 years later it seems to be stirring once again with current world economic stress’s contributing to the whole mess.
This past week I also watched a follow up on the Haitian earthquake which took place on January 12, 2010. People are still living in what was described as misery. No work, no help, no money to rebuild although much was promised. Misery is an appropriate word. Squalor is another as it also describes the conditions they live in. People are now killed for food, prostitution is rampant and cholera has everyone scared.
But I did not see any signs of anyone turning back to Yehovah. Voodoo continues to rule this country.
I then decided to check on Joplin Missouri to see how it was fairing after the May 22, 2011 F-5 tornado levelled the town. It was while looking for this information that I also discovered that
Missouri had a devastating February blizzard, and this was followed by floods that have affected several areas of the state, and then tornadoes that caused damage in Sedalia and St. Louis, and then the EF-5 that struck Joplin.
But unlike Haiti Joplin is getting itself back together. I could not help but think of Isaiah, except the people do not yet know. They do not yet get it and they have not yet returned to Yehovah the one who allowed the tornado to come in the first place.
Isa 9:9 And the people shall know, all of them, Ephrayim and the inhabitant of Shomeron, who say in pride and greatness of heart: 10 “The bricks have fallen down, but we rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we replace them with cedars.” 11 And ???? set up the adversaries of Retsin against him, and stirred up his enemies, 12 the Arameans before and the Philistines behind. And they devour Yisra’?l with an open mouth. With all this His displeasure has not turned back, and His hand is still stretched out.13 And the people have not turned back to Him who smites them, nor have they sought ???? of hosts.
???? of hosts is the one who is right now setting up the adversaries of the USA. The next Sabbatical cycle is the 4th one and it is the one that speaks of war.
Lev 26:23 ‘And if you are not instructed by Me by these, but walk contrary to Me, 24 then I also shall walk contrary to you, and I Myself shall smite you seven times for your sins. 25 ‘And I shall bring against you a sword executing the vengeance of My covenant, and you shall gather together in your cities, and I shall send pestilence among you, and you shall be given into the hand of the enemy.26 ‘When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back to you your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
This web site was set up for one reason. It was to share the knowledge of what happens when you do not keep the Sabbatical years and of course if you do not keep Torah in general.
The famine in east Africa and the death of millions who are starving is a result of ignoring Torah.
You will notice that this famine does not have the support of many Americans who still remember the US Marine whose body was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu not too many years ago.
The riots in London are the result of ignoring Torah.
The drought in the bible belt of the USA is a result of ignoring Torah. No the bible belt does not do what the bible says, hence the oxymoron. And this is what Joplin is doing. They have not returned to Yehovah. They still pray to the false gods they did before the F-5 tornado hit and they still have not repented.
The above video shows the events that have happened in just 2011. You should watch it and consider where we are in the chronological order of Prophecy. This video does not touch on the current economic chaos gripping the world once again. So much for the much ballyhooed recovery that they said was going on. Again this explained to you in the DVD about why the economic meltdown must come.
Also in the news this week was another concert in Belgium where 5 were killed by freak weather that destroyed the concert stage. http://ca.news.yahoo.com/video/world-26345347/raw-video-five-killed-in-belgium-stage-collapse-26349843.html#crsl=%252Fvideo%252Fworld-26345347%252Fraw-video-five-killed-in-belgium-stage-collapse-26349843.html
Here is one in Illinois. http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/167212/9 And here is the third one in Ottawa Canada http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/07/18/bluesfest-stage-collapse.html All of these have happened in just the past month. You can see the rebelliousness has left the youth after the terror comes.
I wonder just how far Yehovah will have to go before He gets their attention. Actually I do know; He is going to have to go all the way.
Isa 8:16 Bind up the witness, seal the Torah among my taught ones. 17 And I shall wait on ????, who hides His face from the house of Ya?aqob?. And I shall look for Him. 18 Look, I and the children whom ???? has given me – for signs and wonders in Yisra’?l from ???? of hosts, who dwells in Mount Tsiyon. 19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their Elohim? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the Torah and to the witness! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because they have no light 21 And they shall pass through it hard pressed and hungry. And it shall be, when they are hungry, that they shall be wroth and curse their sovereign and their Elohim, looking upward. 22 And they shall look to the earth and see distress and darkness, gloom of hard times, and be driven into thick darkness.
Rev 16:21 And great hail from the heaven fell upon men, every hailstone about the weight of a talent. And men blasphemed Elohim for the plague of the hail, because that plague was exceedingly great.
Once again let us look and see what we are told to expect when we do not and will not keep torah.
Mat 24:7 “For nation shall rise against nation, and reign against reign. And there shall be scarcities of food, and deadly diseases, and earthquakes in places.
Yehshua Himself is warning us of what would come in the end times. He was of course referring to sections of Torah when He said it. Here are the second and fourth curses of Lev 26 for not keeping the Sabbatical years. Does this not sound familiar now to what you are being told on the nightly news about the food shortages and droughts.
Lev 26:19 ‘And I shall break the pride of your power, and shall make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 ‘And your strength shall be spent in vain and your land not yield its crops, nor the trees of the land yield their fruit.
Lev 26:25 ‘And I shall bring against you a sword executing the vengeance of My covenant, and you shall gather together in your cities, and I shall send pestilence among you, and you shall be given into the hand of the enemy. 26 ‘When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back to you your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
Although the fourth curse is in reference to war, which is still to come to the USA, it has already come to Somalia.
We are also told some other information in Deuteronomy. Can you not see the curse on the USA right now having $211 trillions of dollars in debt? With each disaster this debt is increased. Each disaster costs billions to repair it. And can you not see the curse on the USA because this once great land now has no rain in Texas and Oklahoma, again the bible belt of the USA; Except they do not do what the bible says.
Deu 28:12 “???? opens to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. And you shall lend to many nations, but you do not borrow. 13 “And ???? shall make you the head and not the tail. And you shall be only on top, and not be beneath, if you obey the commands of ???? your Elohim, which I command you today, to guard and do.
You are watching the USA become the tail of the nations as this debt is going to strangle her to the ground. But do not stop here, read what else you are told in Deuteronomy about what will happen to you the USA and to you the UK and note just how many of what is to happen is already happening.
Deu 28:15 “And it shall be, if you do not obey the voice of ???? your Elohim, to guard to do all His commands and His laws which I command you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you: 16 “Cursed are you in the city, and cursed are you in the field. 17 “Cursed is your basket and your kneading bowl. 18 “Cursed is the fruit of your body and the fruit of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 19 “Cursed are you when you come in, and cursed are you when you go out. 20 “???? sends on you the curse, the confusion, and the rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken Me. 21 “???? makes the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. 22 “???? smites you with wasting disease, and with inflammation, and with burning, and with extreme heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew. And they shall pursue you until you perish. 23 “And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you iron. 24 “???? makes the rain of your land powder and dust; from the heavens it comes down on you until you are destroyed. 25 “???? causes you to be defeated before your enemies – you go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall become a horror to all the reigns of the earth. 26 “And your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth, with no one to frighten them away. 27 “???? shall smite you with the boils of Mitsrayim, with tumours, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you are unable to be healed. 28 “???? shall smite you with madness and blindness and bewilderment of heart. 29 “And you shall be groping at noon, as a blind man gropes in darkness, and not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and plundered all the days, with no one to save you. 30 “You become engaged to a wife, but another man does lie with her. You build a house, but do not dwell in it. You plant a vineyard, but do not use its fruit. 31 “Your ox is slaughtered before your eyes, but you do not eat of it. Your donkey is violently taken from before you, and it is not given back to you. Your sheep are given to your enemies, with no one to save them. 32 “Your sons and your daughters are given to another people, and your eyes look and fail for them all day long, and your hand powerless. 33 “A people whom you have not known eat the fruit of your land and all your labours. And you shall be only oppressed and crushed all the days. 34 “And you shall be maddened because of the sight which your eyes see. 35 “???? smites you in the knees and on the legs with evil boils of which you are unable to be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head. 36 “???? brings you and the sovereign whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other mighty ones, wood and stone. 37 “Thus you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a mockery among all the peoples to which ???? drives you. 38 “You take much seed out into the field but gather little in, for the locust consumes it. 39 “You plant vineyards, and shall labour, but you neither drink of the wine nor gather, for the worm eats it. 40 “You have olive trees in all your border, but do not anoint with oil, for your olives drop off. 41 “You bring forth sons and daughters, but they are not with you, for they go into captivity. 42 “Locusts possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground. 43 “The sojourner who is among you rises higher and higher above you, but you come down lower and lower. 44 “He lends to you, but you do not lend to him. He is the head, and you are the tail. 45 “And all these curses shall come upon you, and they shall pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of ???? your Elohim, to guard His commands and His laws which He commanded you.
But do not stop here, there is still more that you need to know that will come to you if you still will not obey Yehovah and keep Torah;
Deu 28:52 “And they shall besiege you at all your gates till your high and fenced walls, in which you are trusting, come down in all your land. And they shall besiege you at all your gates in all your land which ???? your Elohim has given you. 53 “And you shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom ???? your Elohim has given you, in the siege and distress in which your enemies distress you. 54 “The man among you who is tender, and who is very delicate, his eye is evil against his brother, against the wife of his bosom, and against the rest of his children whom he leaves behind, 55 against giving any of them the flesh of his children that he eats, because it is all that has been left to him in the siege and distress with which your enemy distresses you in all your gates. 56 “The tender and the delicate woman among you, who have not tried to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and tenderness, her eye is evil against the husband of her bosom, and against her son, and against her daughter, 57 and against her seed which comes out from between her feet, and her children whom she bears, for she eats them in secret for lack of all, in the siege and distress with which your enemy distresses you in all your gates. 58 “If you do not guard to do all the Words of this Torah that are written in this book, to fear this esteemed and awesome Name, ???? your Elohim, 59 then ???? shall bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues, great and lasting plagues, and grievous and lasting sicknesses.
The riots in London and the severe drought in the US are just part of the curses. More will come.
Keep My Commandments by Mark Uraine
And if you like this article Mark has sent me the 175 references that mention to Keep the Commandments, I can forward them on to you.
This concept appears over 175 times in the Bible. It must be pretty important.
Psa 19:7 The Torah of ???? is perfect, bringing back the being; The witness of ???? is trustworthy, making wise the simple; 8 The orders of ???? are straight, rejoicing the heart; The command of ???? is clear, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of ???? is clean, standing forever; The right-rulings of ???? are true, They are righteous altogether, 10 More desirable than gold, Than much fine gold; And sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.
1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands. 3 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands,1 and His commands are not heavy,
2Jn 1:6 And this is the love, that we walk according to His commands.1 This is the command, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
Joh 14:15 “If you love Me, you shall guard My commands.
Exo 20:6 but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands.
Many a Christians will quickly quote to you that it is impossible to keep the old commandment law. There are too many or we do not have to keep them. They all say ‘all you have to do is to love JESUS’.
So read again John 14:15 These Christians also do not understand what Yehshua meant when HE said in 1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Is it possible to keep Torah?
Of course it’s possible, in fact it’s commanded of us. Many like to believe that God’s law is too difficult and we often hear the false teaching that it’s impossible to do. These people look at the 759 statutes, judgments, and commandments and feel overcome with a sense of helplessness. But then they turn around and willingly sign a state contract for a driver’s license and commit themselves to over 2000 traffic laws. Does that sound logical? Just being a U.S. Citizen alone adhere’s us to over 2 million laws in the U.S. Code, and we can’t follow the 759 laws of God?
Yes, the laws of God require a change of heart, a life commitment, and yes, it’s OK to feel helpless. That’s why our Father sent us the Holy Spirit to remind us of his promise and to comfort us when we’re overwhelmed. The Holy Spirit guides us step by step into obedience under God. And obedience to God is found in his law.
759 laws – that’s it! And many of those don’t even apply nowadays. There are several that are specific for women and approximately 200 laws that directly deal with the temple and procedures of which can not be applied today because there is no temple. With this in mind, our ability to keep Torah has just increased by 33%.
Has anyone ever kept Torah?
Yes! The Bible provides many examples of people who kept Torah and followed it blamelessly. One such example are the parents of John the Baptist; Zacharias and Elisabeth.
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
They walked in ALL the ordinances of God blamelessly! At this time in their lives they were not breaking any of his statutes, judgments, or commandments.
King Josiah was another individual who obeyed God and had the heart to keep his law.
2 Kings 23:25
And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
Joshua and the Reubenties, Gadites, and half of the Mannassites were keeping all of God’s law.
1Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
2And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
3Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
4And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
5But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
6So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
Hezekiah, the King of Judah, did not depart from God’s law.
2 Kings 18:6
For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
And don’t forget the many years that Israel remained under the mercy of God when entering the promised land. This was due to keeping Torah. It was only when they broke the law that they were punished.
As is shown there are many people who have kept the laws of God, and it might be a bit of encouragement to know there are people doing it today! So anyone teaching that we can not follow God’s law is teaching a false doctrine which is untrue and not from God.
But the Israelites weren’t able to keep God’s law
Actually, it’s not that the Israelites weren’t able to keep his law… it’s that they willfully chose not to. God longed for their heart because he knew, if they loved him with all their heart, they would be obedient to him.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
God originally wanted this law to be in their hearts. But the people were too rebellious.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
5For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
8And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.
This is why God himself has now written his law on our hearts! And now we may love God, and prove this love in obedience to his law.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
No way, it’s just not possible
This is true. Without the help of Yehshua, we will likely fail. This has been ingrained in us from early on. We’ve been taught adamantly that we cannot follow his law, and so now we will fail. But what does scripture say?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And there is the key. With Yahshua, we can overcome, we can love God through obedience, and we can keep Torah.
So then what do we do next? What is the next step we need to take once we repent from not keeping Torah?
Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
A NEW LOOK At Baptism
How should “baptism” be administered? How should it be performed? The Greek word for baptism, baptizo, means “to make whelmed,” or “fully wet.” It means, literally, “to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge.” How should this be done? Should you be “re-baptized”?
In ancient Judea, a person had to be in a state of ritual purity in order to enter into the Temple area. If a person had become ritually impure, he was required to undergo a ritual immersion in water — t’vilah in Hebrew. The apostle Paul, and early Jewish Christians, participated in this ritual (compare Acts 21:23-26; 24:18).
Archaeologists have discovered almost fifty ritual baths called mikva’ot — in the excavations around the southern wall of the Temple precincts.
The Judean ritual of purification by immersion, the mikva, is undoubtedly a forerunner of the practice of baptism. In ancient Judaism, a cleansed leper, a woman after her menstrual period, any ceremonially defiled person, and a Gentile convert to Judaism, had to undergo the mikva and be immersed in water, prior to being declared “pure” and able to enter the Temple, or reenter society.
The first mention of baptism, as such, was that of John the Baptist. He came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, calling upon people everywhere to repent of their sins, telling them the kingdom of heaven was at hand. “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:5-6).
The Example Set by Yeshua the Messiah
Even Yeshua the Messiah came to John the Baptist to be baptized by him. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:13-17).
Yeshua set an example for each and every one of his true disciples and followers, to be baptized as he was (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Baptism is a “type” of our complete “burial” of the “old man” who “dies” to the power of sin. As Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are BURIED with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death [by being immersed in water through baptism], we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:3-6).
When we come up from the watery grave of baptism, a type of “death,” we are to live a new life to YEHOVAH God through the Messiah, even as Yeshua himself arose from the dead. As Paul continues: “For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but ALIVE unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:7-13).
Importance of Baptism
Physical baptism, as an outward “sign” of inward repentance toward YEHOVAH God and cleansing from sin, and the power of sin, is a requirement for salvation. It is no trivial matter. Although YEHOVAH certainly could save someone without baptism, if circumstances prohibited baptism being performed, nevertheless, YEHOVAH clearly commands baptism to be performed in all cases where it is possible! Yeshua commanded: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature [person]. He that believeth, and is BAPTIZED, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). On the first day of Pentecost, when YEHOVAH sent the holy spirit, and it came upon all the disciples, Peter preached to the assembled Judeans at the Temple during the Holy Day, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Luke, the early church historian, records, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (v.41). Thousands were added to the Ecclesia, even as YEHOVAH God the Father called them through the holy spirit, they heard the word, believed, and were baptized.
But how was this act of “baptism” performed? When Yeshua began preaching the gospel of the kingdom of YEHOVAH God, calling people to repentance (Mark 1:13-14), those who responded were baptized. We read in the book of John: “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Yeshua himself baptized not, but his disciples,), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee” (John 4:1-2). Notice! Yeshua himself did not perform the ceremony, but he had instructed his disciples, and they were the ones doing the baptizing of new converts.
But again, how was this done? Obviously, it required an act of immersion or submergence under water — like the ancient mikvah. However, although a ritual bath could have been used, at times John the Baptist, and Yeshua and his disciples, used the Jordan River as a place to perform baptism. In another case, when Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch came to “a certain water,” the eunuch said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Philip replied, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ [Yeshuah Ha Moshiah, in Hebrew, or, Yesou Christo, in Greek] is the Son of God.” So they stopped the chariot, in which they were riding, “and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:37-39).
Old Testament Baptismal Types
A type of “baptism” is found in the Old Testament Scriptures. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Cor. 10:1-2). These people were down in the Red Sea, although it was not touching them, but they were also under the “cloud.” This was a type of baptism. They were leaving “sin city,” or Egypt, as it were, and passing out of that country, where they were “free” from the fetters and shackles of Egypt (a picture of “sin”). It should be noted that they individually put themselves down into the passageway through the Red Sea. No man took them by the garments, or by the hand, and pushed, pulled, or shoved them. They did not on their own, under the guidance and direction of Moses.
In another example of “baptism” in the Old Testament Scriptures, we read the amazing story of Naaman the Syrian general who was a leper. The story is told in II Kings, chapter 5. Naaman came to Elisha the prophet to be cured of his leprosy, after hearing about him from an Israeli maid (vs. 2-3). He came “with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha” (v.9). Naaman was a very important man, obviously, a powerful and honorable general, the “captain of the host” of the Syrian army (v.1). Yet Elisha did not go out to meet him, as some might have thought a good thing to do to curry favor with the general. Rather, he merely sent a “message” to him, saying, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (v.10).
Naaman was angry, and turned away in a furious state of mind, feeling humiliated and treated with disdain. As he left, he said to his attendants, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me [the prophet did not even do that!], and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a smoldering rage. But his servants, of a wiser state of mind and not caught up in the “vanity trip” of the glamour and adulation and egotism of their master, humbly asked him, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather, then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (v.13).
Naaman got a hold of himself, controlled and subdued his emotions, and “took a chance.” We read the chronicle: “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (II Kings 5:13-14).
The Hebrew word for “dipped” here is tabal, and means “to dip, plunge, immerse.” In this verse, Naaman “immersed himself” in the Jordan River seven times! And his leprosy was cleansed. He was healed! But because of his original prideful, somewhat arrogant attitude, he almost lost out on YEHOVAH’s blessing of healing, and almost condemned himself to leprosy for the rest of his life.
Naaman, like all of us, had to learn a lesson — that we must obey YEHOVAH, no matter what He says, or how silly or foolish it may seem in our own human eyes. For, as YEHOVAH says through His prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The Mikvah in Ancient Israel
In ancient Israel, when a person became “unclean,” he or she was required to “bathe” themselves (see Lev. 15:5, 6, 7,8, etc.). When the High Priest on the Day of Atonement prepared to perform his duties, he was required first of all, before all else, to “wash his flesh in water” (Lev. 16:5), and then to put on the holy garments. Later the same day, after performing his major duties, involving the cleansing of the sanctuary, the sacrifice of the live goat, and the confession of sin over the Azazel goat, and banishing it into the wilderness, he was required once again to take off the linen garments, and to “wash his flesh with water” in the holy place, and put on his garments, and make an atonement for himself and for the people (v.22-24). The person who takes the Azazel goat into the desert also had to “bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp” (Lev. 16:26). Any person who ate something that died of itself, or that was torn by beasts, also had to “bathe himself in water,” and then would be ritually “clean” that evening (Lev. 17:15). Anyone who refused to do this would “bear his iniquity” (verse 16).
The sacrifice of the “red heifer” was a special rite performed only a total of 7 or 9 times during the history of Israel and Judah, till the destruction of the Temple. It was sacrificed on the Mount of Olives, facing the Temple to the west, at the very spot where Yeshua the Messiah himself was later crucified, the red heifer being a “type” of the sacrifice of the Messiah for our sins. The High Priest, upon completing the sacrificial ceremony, was required to “bathe himself in water, and afterward come into the camp” (Num. 19:7). The one who assisted the High Priest and who performed the actual killing of the red heifer, and who burned her flesh to ashes, also was required afterwards to “bathe his flesh in water” (v.8).
The word for “bathe” in these verses is the Hebrew word #7364 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word rachatz, and means literally “to wash oneself,” “to be washed.” When one was commanded to “wash” or “bathe” oneself, it required a total bath or immersion in water. For this purpose, the ritual baths, or mikvah, was used. The whole being of the person was to be submerged, immersed in, and overwhelmed with water. This ritual bath later became the ancestral “type” of the New Testament act of “baptism.”
Baptism — A Self-Administered Rite
Now, back to baptism. The ordinance of baptism is patterned after the ritualistic mikvah or sacred bath. The practice of ceremonial immersion, the forerunner of Christian baptism, was a “self-administered” baptism, in which the person, or priest, walked out into the bath, or pool, and then immersed himself (or herself). In light of this, Dr. Robert Lindsey of Jerusalem has suggested that John the Baptist himself did not actually “baptize” people, by putting his hands on them and pushing them under the water. Rather, the baptism was a self-administered procedure to which John bore witness and supervised. Similarly, in the Jewish ritual of the mikvah, the person is forbidden to touch anyone else while in the baptismal pool or bath. Such touching would “contaminate” the process and render it “unclean” and unfit.
How does this relate to the Christian practice of baptism?
Yeshua the Messiah, John the Baptist, and the early apostles were all Judeans. They were well acquainted with the mikvah, and the rites of purification. It is undoubted therefore that baptism, which was based on and patterned on the mikvah purification ritual, should also be performed in a similar fashion, without human hands of another person interfering with the process. Baptism is literally between each man or woman and YEHOVAH God. It should be performed by the person himself, standing in water, and immersing himself! This should be done, of course, under the supervision of the one responsible for conducting the “baptism” ceremony — but without that person actually “laying hold” on the individual being baptized. Thus, the vast majority of so-called “Christian” baptisms performed down through the years have missed the point, and failed to fulfill this ritual in the strict sense of the word.
To have another human being plunging another beneath the water is contrary to YEHOVAH’s intent on two counts:
1) It interposes another human being between each person and YEHOVAH God: yet the word of YEHOVAH says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). For one man to literally “baptize” another interposes a fallible human being in the middle of this divine relationship.
2) It interferes with total and complete ritual purity and the symbolism of true and complete “baptism” or immersion: When one man “baptizes” another, pushing him below the water, wherever his hands touch the individual or the clothing of the individual, that spot is not “washed,” or “cleansed,” but is prevented from being touched by the water. But even more important, baptism is a purely voluntary act, which a person decides to do of his own free will. Therefore, for another person to “plunge him under the water” implies he needs human assistance to do this, and perhaps is even forced or coerced into doing it. This obstructs the “voluntary” nature of the act itself, and contradicts the whole sacred meaning of a person choosing to immerse themselves in the water, to become cleansed of sin, and to become spiritually “purified” in the sight of YEHOVAH God.
Baptism is a symbol of our “death” in the water, and being raised by YEHOVAH to newness of life. In true death, no human being would be touching us. Also, no human being can raise us up to live again, in newness of life — only YEHOVAH God and the Messiah can do that. Therefore, the symbolism is violated by a man plunging a person into the water, and then a man lifting us up out of the water.
How Baptism Should Be Performed
What is the purpose of a man, or minister of YEHOVAH God, “baptizing” another? Of course, ministers of YEHOVAH are commanded to “baptize” people who have repented of their sins. But what does this entail? What does it mean? How is it to be done?
Obviously, those in charge of the baptismal ceremony are actually there to SUPERVISE each candidate as they perform their own self-immersion, and to see to it that they do it properly, and go all the way under the water, in complete “burial.” They need not touch the individual or his or her clothing in carrying out such supervision. They merely need to be attentive, and to watch carefully, insuring that the person being baptized completely fulfills the requirement.
The candidate and the person “baptizing” should both go into the water, as John the Baptist did with Yeshua, and Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch, and then on confession of sin and repentance, the candidate should gently lower themselves all the way beneath the water, in a sitting position, and then rise up from that position out of the water. How simple. How plain. How divine and pure and sensible.
Too many times I have seen churches, and ministers of various churches, try to inject themselves, and their systematic theology, into the lives of people, commanding them to be baptized their way, and only in their church, insinuating their self-proclaimed authority over the new Christians. In this way they bring them into a state of religious “bondage” and spiritual slavery to their dictatorial and dogmatic “authority.”
Such a system of baptism is definitely not YEHOVAH’s way.
Although we at Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH) do not endorse the common type of baptism performed by most so-called “Christian” churches, we do not condemn the baptisms themselves, either. Rather, even though such baptisms may not have been “perfect,” in a technical sense, still, we believe YEHOVAH accepts them, and honors them, as real baptism, so long as the person being baptized at the time of baptism, knew and accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, and repented of their sins, and committed their lives entirely to Yeshua as his servants and followers, completely. The inward motivation and genuine sincerity of the individual accepting YEHOVAH God as Savior, and repenting of their sins, and giving their life over to Him in total surrender of self-will and one’s entire self, is the most important thing — not the “mechanics” of the baptism having been performed “perfectly.”
As Paul said to the Athenians, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). We accept such baptisms as valid and do not require “re-baptism” in such cases. However, for those who would like to be baptized over again, as a sort of “confirmation ceremony,” that would be all right. Even as some married couples go through a “second” marriage ceremony, later on during their marriage, as a sort of “celebration” of their first marriage, even repeating the nuptial vows, and perhaps even having a “second honeymoon,” in the same manner it would not be wrong for a person who has been baptized once to undergo the ceremony again, at a later time, as a “celebration” of their baptism, and as a “confirmation” of it.
The Laying on of Hands
In addition to being baptized in water, we also read about another part of the baptism process in the Scriptures. It is often referred to as the “laying on of hands.” What is this, and is it also necessary for a person to receive the holy spirit?
We read in Acts 8 of Philip preaching the gospel, and baptizing people in Samaria, performing great signs and miracles. The account in the book of Acts continues, “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they PRAYED FOR THEM that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).
Why hadn’t they received the holy spirit when Philip baptized them? Here was a man who even did miracles, signs and wonders, and yet the people had not received the holy spirit after they were baptized. If all that was needed was the “laying on of hands,” then why hadn’t Philip done this himself?
Two points we need to notice here: First, Philip preached the gospel vigorously, but he had not been ordained as an elder or minister. Furthermore, the gospel was being preached in a NEW AREA, where it had never gone before. Therefore, Philip did not have sufficient authority to “lay hands” on the new disciples so they would receive the holy spirit. Only the apostles at this time had such authority. No doubt that is why he did not perform this simple function. He could preach and even baptize, but he did not have authority to “lay on hands” so another could receive the holy spirit.
The account continues, “When Simon [Magus, the magician] saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the APOSTLES’ HANDS, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit'” (verses 18-19). Simon Magus recognized that the apostles had the authority to lay on hands, so that people could receive the holy spirit. He lusted after his power for himself, so Peter rebuked him for his evil attitude of trying to “buy” this power (verses 20-24).
This power to “lay on hands” so that people would receive the spirit of YEHOVAH God was only given to the apostles (or ordained ministers) at that time.
Is the laying on of hands necessary, then, when a person is baptized?
The answer is that if a person who is overseeing the baptizing is not sufficiently qualified, for YEHOVAH God to use to give the baptized individual the holy spirit, then it is necessary for another qualified individual to “lay hands” on the baptized person. Some people may be qualified to counsel a repentant person, and to baptize them, but not qualified to “lay hands” on them, because they are not ministers of YEHOVAH God, but only a “lay person” in YEHOVAH’s Ecclesia.
On the other hand, if a true minister of YEHOVAH God, or an apostle or prophet, supervises the baptism of a person, it is evident that such people do NOT always need the laying on of hands — because YEHOVAH honors the baptismal authority of such individuals. When Cornelius and his household received YEHOVAH’s spirit, even before they were baptized, Peter had them baptized anyway as a symbol of their repentance and conversion — but they were not required to have hands laid on them, because they already had the holy spirit.
Therefore, the only reason why baptism itself had not been sufficient when Philip oversaw the baptism of the new believers in Samaria was he had not been an ordained minister of YEHOVAH God at that time. However, there is nothing said, in Acts 2, about the apostles laying on hands on the people they supervised for baptism on that first Pentecost, when 3,000 were converted. Evidently, only baptism was necessary at that time, since the apostles had monitored the baptism (Acts 2:38). Later, when Philip witnessed the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, there was no need for laying on of hands — just baptism (Acts 8:38-39).
Similarly, when the Messiah himself was baptized in the presence of the prophet John, the holy spirit came upon him without the need of “laying on of hands.” In the example set for us by the Messiah himself, such a thing was not done. Therefore, laying on of hands is NOT necessary in all cases when baptisms are performed. Laying on of hands only becomes necessary when the baptisms are done in an incomplete way or witnessed by a person who lacks authority in YEHOVAH God’s sight to give YEHOVAH’s holy spirit to another repentant person.
In Acts 19 we find a good example. When Paul arrived at Ephesus, he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered him, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then Paul replied, “Then what baptism did you receive?” They answered, “John’s baptism” (Acts 19:1-3.) Paul explained to them about Yeshua, and “they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all” (verses 5-7).
Notice that these men had not been baptized into the Messiah. When they were, and Paul laid hands on them, YEHOVAH gave them His spirit so much so that they spoke in tongues, or foreign languages, as the apostles had on Pentecost, and Cornelius’ household had at Caesarea.
Is laying on of hands necessary, then, to receive the holy spirit? In most places where baptism is mentioned, in the gospels and the book of Acts, laying on of hands is not even mentioned. Yeshua did not command his disciples to baptize AND LAY HANDS on all repentant people (Matt. 28:19-20), He just said to baptize them. That is all.
In most cases, therefore, when baptism is supervised by a true minister of YEHOVAH God, one whom YEHOVAH is using, the laying on of hands is not always necessary. In such cases, the act of baptism itself is sufficient. The only time this would not be the case would be in special circumstances where a non-minister did the baptizing, or where a new area was being opened up to the gospel, and those with greater spiritual authority were needed to validate the preaching which had been done. In the case of the men at Ephesus, they had not been baptized into the Messiah at all — they only knew John’s baptism. Therefore, they had to baptize themselves again, in the name of the Messiah, and to have Paul’s hands placed on them, to receive the holy spirit. YEHOVAH God thereby testified that Paul was indeed His servant.
The strongest proof that the “laying on of hands” is not necessary for a new convert in the Messiah when the baptism is supervised by an authorized person, or when the recipient is truly qualified, is, of course, the example of the Messiah himself. The only reason Yeshua was baptized under John was to “fulfill all righteousness” — that is, to set us an example, showing that we, too, must be baptized! But in the Biblical account of the baptism of Yeshua, we find that after he came up out of the water, the Spirit of YEHOVAH God descended upon him like a dove. NO LAYING ON OF HANDS WAS NECESSARY OR REQUIRED! Yet the entire purpose for Yeshua being baptized was to “set us an example,” showing us precisely what we needed to do!
How clear, then, that when baptism is properly supervised, by a true servant of YEHOVAH God, with the authority to oversee baptisms and preach, the laying on of hands is not required or necessary.
Baptism 2,000 Years Ago
When Peter preached that first sermon on Pentecost, in 31 A.D., and 3,000 observant Judean believers in the Torah repented of their sins, and accepted Messiah Yeshua as their Savior, it is interesting to note that this event was at the “Feast of Weeks”– called “Shavuot,” which occurred fifty days after Passover. This was one of the three pilgrimage festivals, and that is why Judeans from around the Roman Empire were found in Jerusalem at this time. Josephus states that hundreds of thousands came to the festivals at these times.
When the spirit of YEHOVAH descended on those who were gathered “in one place,” the Judean pilgrims from throughout the Diaspora heard those local Judeans glorifying YEHOVAH God in various languages (Acts 2). Peter’s call to repent and to be baptized would have been familiar to his Judean audience. When he explained this should be “in the name of Jesus Christ,” they understood their repentance and purification would be in the context of the ministry and life of Yeshua, as Messiah.
Since 3,000 Judeans heard the message, and repented, and believed, and were baptized that day. Where is it likely that such a crowd would have been gathered, to hear Peter? Where in Jerusalem would there have been sufficient water to baptize 3,000 individuals?
It is very likely that this message or discourse was delivered in the court of the Temple, to the East or South. The baptisms would most likely have been performed in the numerous ritual baths, or mikvahs, located near the entrance to the Temple Mount. These ritual immersion baths served the needs of the thousands of Judean pilgrims who streamed into Jerusalem at the three major annual festivals — Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
It is surely not beyond the realm of possibility that these ritual immersion baths served the needs of the Messianic Community of the Early Ecclesia, especially on those days when thousands of Judean converts accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. Three thousand were converted and baptized on Pentecost. A few days later, another 5,000 were added: “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).
Thirty years later, in about 60 A.D., when Paul returned to Jerusalem on a visit, James and the other apostles at the headquarters church told him, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law” (Acts 21:20). The word translated “thousands” here is murias from which we get the English word “myriads,” and means literally “ten thousands.” It means “an innumerable multitude,” “an unlimited number.” The same word is used in Jude 14 where we read, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints” (Jude 14). These could have numbered between 50,000 and 100,000 or more before the Judean-Roman War of 70 A.D., a short ten years later. The ritual baths near the Temple Mount would have been a very logical place where many were baptized. Many others may also have been baptized in different pools around Jerusalem, such as the pool of Siloam, and many others in the Jordan River.
Have YOU Been Baptized?
Baptism symbolizes a person’s “death and burial” of their human flesh and desires, the “old man,” and their rising up out of that watery grave having obtained “new life” and becoming a “new man” in Messiah Yeshua. As Paul wrote, “That ye put off on concerning the former conduct the OLD MAN, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and that ye put on the NEW MAN, which after God is CREATED in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
Baptism, then, is a vital and integral part of the Christian life. It is the beginning of a NEW LIFE — a life destined to live for all eternity. When we are baptized, having repented of our sins and accepted Messiah Yeshua as our mediator, YEHOVAH God promises to give us His own holy spirit (Acts 5:38) — a part of His very own Being, and Life, within us. From this point on the Messiah and his character is being “FORMED” IN US (Galatians 4:19). And if we grow, and endure, and remain faithful to the end of our lives, then we will inherit ETERNAL LIFE in the Family and Kingdom of YEHOVAH GOD!
Have you been “baptized”? Remember Peter’s words:
“REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT” (Acts 2:38).
“REPENT YE THEREFORE, AND BE CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT YE, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Have you “repented”? Do you “believe”? Have you accepted the Messiah — Yeshua — as your personal savior?
What hinders you from being baptized?
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To learn more about where the example of Baptism comes from we go once again to Jewish sources.
Mystical Mikveh Immersion
The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism by Ron Moseley, Ph. D.
“Baptism as a rite of immersion was not begun by Christians but was taken by them from Jewish and pagan forms….” – Dr. Merrill Tenney, the editor of the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible
The term mikveh in Hebrew literally means any gathering of waters, but is specifically used in Jewish law for the waters or bath for the ritual immersion. Ancient sages teach that the word mikveh has the same letters as Ko(v)Meh, the Hebrew word for “rising” or “standing tall,” therefore we see the idea of being baptized “straightway.”
The building of the mikveh was so important in ancient times it was said to take precedence over the construction of a synagogue. On the third day of creation we see the source of the word mikveh for the first time in Genesis 1:10 when the Lord says,
“…to the gathering (mikveh) of waters, He called seas.”
Because of this reference in Genesis the ocean is still a legitimate mikveh to orthodox Jews.
Tovelei Shaharit (Dawn Bathers)
The Essenes were anciently known as regular practicioners of daily immersion. In the Talmud these daily Mikveh practicioners are called tovelei shaharit or “dawn bathers.”Not only Nasarenes, but several other Jewish groups observed ritual immersion every day to assure readiness for the coming of the Messiah. Epiphanius mentioned one of these groups called Hemerobaptists which means “daily bathers” in Greek. The Clementine Homilies, or Recognitions of Clement, tell us that Peter always washed, often in the sea, before dawn which was no doubt a custom of all Nasarenes of his time. This practice received great attention by early historical writers on the Essenes. Qumran is certainly filled with ritual bathing pools and one quite large community Miqvah has been uncovered outside of the Essene Synagogue / Temple site in the Essene quarter of Jerusalem.
Ancient dawn bathing Nasarenes used at least three forms of Baptism, or mikveh purifications. We know this because the surviving remnants of these Nasarenes, the Nasorai sect (Mandeans), still preserve these forms of this ancient Nasarene purification rite once practiced and promoted by Yeshua (Jesus). They are the daily Rishama Mikveh immersion, performed before dawn. The Tamasha immersion, and the Masbuta immersion. The surviving Mandean versions of these are:
• RISHAMA BAPTISM: The first of the miqvah purifications performed is the rishama (signing), the priests presence is not required, such that each man or woman is his or her own priest or priestess. This should be performed daily, and with covered head, just before sunrise after the evacuation of the bowels and before all religious ceremonies.
• TAMASHA BAPTISM: The second, the tamasha, is a simple triple immersion in the river, again this is performed without the aid of the priest or priestess. In present Mandean tradition, it must be performed by women after menstruation and after childbirth. Both man and woman must perform this ablution immediately after sexual intercourse, it must be performed after touching a dead body, after nocturnal pollution or any serious defilement or contact with a defiled person, as impurity is contagious – a person touching an unclean person, himself becomes unclean. These practices are related to the ritual purity laws of the Jews and were no doubt taught and practiced to some degree, and after their own fashion, by early Nasarenes (See Clementine Homiless). In the Qumran Temple Scroll, the first of the regulations concerning people who were excluded from the holy temple precincts concerned a man who had a nocturnal emission. He was not permitted to re-enter “until three days have passed. He shall wash his garments and bathe on the first day, and on the third day he shall wash his garments and bathe, and after sunset he shall enter the sanctuary.”
• MASBUTA BAPTISM: The third ablution, or ‘full baptism’, encompasses all aspects of baptism and must be performed by a priest or priestess. This ablution is known as masbuta (maswetta) includes the sacraments of oil, bread (known as pihtha) and water (from the river only, known as mambuha), the kushta (the hand grasp and kiss) and the final blessing by laying the right hand of the priest or / and priestess on the head of the baptised person. The masbuta should take place on the first day of the week, in association with major initiations and after major or shameful defilement’s. Major sins such as theft, murder, and adultery require more than one baptism.
The modern B’nai-Amen version of these three immersions are:
• RISHAMA MIKVAH: This is a daily pre-dawn self-immersion.
• TAMASHA MIKVAH: This is the weekly immersion held at the outset of the lunar Sabbath. It is a three-fold self immersion during the Sangha refuge.
• MASBUTA MIKVAH: This is the special Shekinah Day baptism ceremony held anually and semi-annually. It is performed jointly by one’s Godmother and Godfather (i.e. Spiritual Guardians).
Non-Essene Mikveh Traditions
The rabbinical tradition attributes, in its Mishnah, to Ezra a decree that each male should immerse himself before praying or studying. Immersion was so important among the Pharisees that it occurred before the high Priest conducted the service on the Day of Atonement, before the regular priests participated in the Temple service, before each person entered the Temple complex, before a scribe wrote the name of God, as well as several other occasions.
Essene & Pharisee Temple Mikvaot
The New Testament tells us that many of the early church’s daily activities were centered around the Essene Temple. Historically, we know that there were also many ritual immersion baths (mikvaot) on the Bloody Temple Mount including one in the Chamber of Lepers situated in the northwest corner of the Court of Women (Mid. 2:5). Josephus tells us that even during the years of war (66-73 A.D.) the laws of ritual immersion were strictly adhered to (Jos. Wars, 4:205). Herod’s Temple itself contained immersion baths in various places for the priests to use, even in the vaults beneath the court (Commentary to Tam. 26b; Tam. 1:1). The High Priest had special immersion pools in the Temple, two of which are mentioned in the Mishnah. We are told one of these was in the Water Gate in the south of the court and another was on the roof of the Parva Chamber (Mid. 1:4; Mid. 5:3). There was an additional place for immersion on the Mount of Olives which was connected with the burning of the red heifer (Par. 3:7). A special ramp led to the mikveh on the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount, which was built as an arched way over another arched way to avoid uncleanness from the graves in the valley below. Recent archaeological excavations have found 48 different mikvaot near the Monumental Staircase leading into the Temple Complex.
Rabbinical Mikveh Use
According to non-Essene Jewish law there are three basic areas where immersion in the mikveh is required.
• Immersion is required for both men and women when converting to Judaism. There were three prerequisites for a proselyte coming into Judaism: Circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice (Maimonides, Hilkh. Iss. Biah xiii. 5). Essene Law also included conversion immersion, but not circumcision or animal sacrifice.
• Immersion is required after a woman has her monthly period (Lev. 15:28). Essene Law also included immersion for some forms of sexual pollution, but not all sexuallity was considered defiling.
• Immersion is required for pots and eating utensils manufactured by a non-Jew (Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion p-263). Essene Law also included utensil immersion.
• It is customary to be immersed in the mikveh before Yom Kippur as a sign of purity and repentance and before the Sabbath in order to sensitize oneself to the holiness of the day.
There are six descending orders of Mikveh spoken of in the non-Essene Mishnah (Oral Law), the highest being that of a spring or flowing river, such as the Jordon. Nasurai (Mandean) texts tell us that this was considered the highest form of Mikveh among Nasarenes as well.
The six non-Essene restrictions on the water used in the mikveh come from the corrupt Leviticus 11:36 text. They are:
• The mikveh can not contain other liquid besides water.
• The water has to be either built into the ground or be an integral part of a building attached to the ground.
• The mikveh can not be flowing except for a natural spring, river or ocean.
• The water can not be manually drawn.
• The water can not be channeled to the mikveh by anything unclean.
• The mikveh must contain at least 40 sa’ah or approximately 200 gallons of water. (Rabbi Yitzchok ben Sheshes said the amount of 40 sa’ah was derived from the idea that the largest normal human body has a volume of 20 sa’ah, therefore the amount of water needed to “nullify” this body is double this amount or 40 sa’ah.)
To the ancient Jews, both Essene and non-Essene, the mikveh was a process of spiritual purification and cleansing, especially in relation to the various types of Turmah or ritual defilement when the Temple was in use. We learn from the Clementine Homilees that Peter practiced daily pre-dawn Mikveh immersion. We may infer from this that all Nasarenes, including Yeshua and Maria, also practiced daily purifications. The orthodox (Rabbinic Judaism) clasifies Mikveh laws under the Chukim group:
Mishpatim Laws: The moral or ethical laws that are necessary for man to live in harmony are known as Mishpatim and are literally translated judgments.
Edos Laws: The rituals and festivals which reawaken us to important religious truths such as Sabbath, holidays, the Tefillin and the Mezuzah that remind us of God’s presence are known as Edos and are literally translated witnesses.
Chukim Laws: The third group often has no explicit reason given for their existence except for Israel’s identification as God’s chosen people to the other nations (Deuteronomy 4:6). This group of laws are known as Chukim and are literally translated as decrees. Among the decrees of this group are the dietary laws as well as ritual immersion.
In ancient times immersion was to be performed in the presence of witnesses (Yebam. 47b). The person being baptized made special preparations by cutting his nails, undressed completely and made a fresh profession of his faith before the designated “fathers of the baptism” (Kethub. 11a; Erub 15a). This is possibly where churches, sometime later, got the term Godfathers. The individual stood straight up with the feet spread and the hands held out in front. The candidate would totally immerse themselves by squatting in the water with a witness or baptizer doing the officiating. Note the New Testament points out the fact that Jesus came up straightway out of the water (Matthew 3:16).
The concept of immersion in rabbinic literature is referred to as a new birth (Yeb. 22a; 48b; 97b; Mass. Ger. c.ii). Note six other important aspects of ancient rabbinic Jewish immersion:
1. Immersion was accompanied by exhortations and benedictions (Maimonides Hilkh. Milah iii.4; Hilkh. Iss, Biah Xiv .6). A convert would reafirm his acceptance of the Torah by declaring, “I will do and I will hear” which was a phrase from the oath that was originally taken by the priests not to forsake the Torah (Deuteronomy 29:9- 14). Mandeans had a similar saying they were known to utter at such times. This ritual demonstrates the willingness of the convert to forsake his Gentile background and assume his Jewish identity by taking on the status of one who keeps the commandments.
According to a number of Jewish sages, mayim, which is the Hebrew word for water, shares the same root as the word “mah”, meaning “what.” This teaching points out that when a person immerses in water, he is nullifying the fleshly ego and is asking, “what am I?” in the same manner that Moses and Aaron did in Exodus 16:7 when they said to the Lord, “we are what?”
2. The Jewish baptism candidates were often immersed three times. The idea of total immersion comes from the Scripture in Leviticus 15:16 when it says, “he shall wash all his flesh in the water.” One reason it was customary to immerse three times was because the word mikveh occurs three times in the Torah. We know this to have been an early Nasarenes practice under Yeshua.
3. According to Jewish law the immersion had to have a required witness. Dr. William LaSor in the Biblical Archaeology Review says apparently the Biblical phrase “in the name of” was an indication of the required witness. In several New Testament references such as I Corinthians 1:13, 15; Matthew 21:25; Acts 1:22; and Acts 19:3 we see early baptism mentioned in conjunction with the name of individuals such as John and Paul. Further information on this can be found in Jewish literature concerning proselyte baptism where it indicates his baptism required attestation by witnesses in whose name he was immersed.
4. The immersion candidate was not initially touched by the baptizer in Yeshua’s (Jesus’) day. Because Leviticus 15:16 says “He shall wash all his flesh in the water,” Rabbinical Judaism stresses that the entire body must come in contact with the water of the mikveh. To insure the immersion was valid, no clothing or individuals could touch the candidate. Any such intervention that prevented the water from reaching a part of the body was known as Chatzitzah and rendered the immersion invalid. Although the mikveh was more spiritual than physical, often the bath had two sets of steps, one entering and another leaving so as not to defile what had been purified. We know from Mandean tradition, and also Cyril of Jerudalem, that early Nasarene baptisms were performed without restricted clothing. Once relativily pure from preliminary self immersions, catecumens could be touched by the oficiating Priest and Priestess for full Baptism.
5. The baptismal water (Mikveh) in rabbinic literature was referred to as the womb of the world, and as a convert came out of the water it was considered a new birth separating him from the pagan world. As the convert came out of these waters his status was changed and he was referred to as “a little child just born” or “a child of one day” (Yeb. 22a; 48b; 97b). We see the New Testament using similar Jewish terms as “born anew,” “new creation,” and “born from above”, although among Nasarenes one was seen as born anew and separated from the non-Essene world, and among B’nai-Amen the immersion meant separation from all the world, including the unconsecrated Nasarenes.
6. Jewish law requires at least three witnesses made up of qualified leaders to be present for certain immersions (Yebam 47b). Ordinarily a member of the Sanhedrin performed the act of observing the proselytes immersion, but in case of necessity others could do it. Secret baptism, or where only the mother brought a child, was not acknowledged. Essene law had similar injunctions.
The Jerusalem Talmud states, “nothing can stand before repentance” (Yebamos 47b). According to Dr. David Flusser, the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the New Testament teach that water can purify the body only if the soul has first been purified through repentance and righteousness.
The Jews believe that uncleanness is not physical, but rather a spiritual condition as related in Leviticus 11:44 where it states by wrong actions one can make the “soul unclean.” Therefore, the purification through ritual immersion, as commanded in Essene tradition, and rabbinical scripture, is basically involved with the soul, rather than the body. In rabbinical tradition, water and blood symbolism intertwine. In true Essene tradition, purification comes thru the Earthly Mother and her consecrated elements of earth, water, air and fire. There are two types of each of these four elements, making eight consecrated substances used for purification among the B’nai-Amen. The are Grain and Salt (Earth); Water and Oil (Water); Ash and Spirit (Air), and Incense and Wine (Fire).
Associated with these 8 substances are eight everyday cleaning agents: Corn Starch and Borax (Earth); Water and Soap (Water); non-phosphate Detergent/Washing Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide (Air), and Aromatics and Vinegar (Fire).
The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel
I have shared this story before.
I was baptized as an infant in the catholic faith by having some water sprinkled on my head. This was not a real baptism. I had no say and no understanding.
In 1983 I was baptized in the World Wide Church of God in a horse trough by being totally immersed. Thus I began my journey to understanding Torah.
At Sukkot in 2006 I was re-baptized in the Gihon Spring which flows from beneath the very throne of Yehovah when the temple stood; The Living waters spoken of many times in scriptures. At this time the man who laid hands on me asked that my gifts be enhanced for Yehovah’s work. Since then I have not been able to stop speaking out about the Torah and our Creator and His Sabbatical years. What gifts or talents lie dormant inside of you? When will you be baptized and reborn to this new way of life?
Each time I go back to Israel I mikveh again in those special waters that flowed from beneath His very throne.
Triennial Torah Portion
We now return to our 3 1/2 year Torah studies which you can follow at
Ex 29 Isaiah 50-54 Ps 149-150 John 19
In order to be placed in the service of God’s tabernacle, there needed to be specific duties carried out that would prepare and purify Aaron and his sons. Aaron and his sons were consecrated (purified) and sanctified (set apart for a special purpose) before God. The priests officiated at the earthly altar of the Creator God of the universe. They were to carry out their duties with a sense of awe, because of His holiness (Psalm 99:9). They were not to be careless in any way. To violate what might have been viewed as minor details in their duties could have resulted in death. God is holy and He must be obeyed and worshiped according to His will. As The Nelson Study Bible notes on Exodus 28:43: “It is difficult for us to grasp the gravity of the priests’ responsibility as they ministered before the living God. They had to serve God with a pure heart, to represent the people without guile, and to worship without deviating from the commands of God. To fail would invite judgment—even death. Sadly, priests did die because they failed to show respect for the holiness of God (Leviticus 10:1, 2; 1 Samuel 4:17; 2 Samuel 6:7). Of course, these are major issues with which we must all be concerned. In light of the fact that, as mentioned before, God refers to His people today as “a holy priesthood” and even “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, 9), we should consider such passages very soberly. Still, God is a God of grace. If we slip up and sin, the answer is to repent and go to Him for forgiveness and restoration, trusting in His kindness and mercy.
God—that is, the preincarnate Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:4)—was married to the nation of Israel by covenant. Isaiah 50:1, as commentaries generally agree, implies that He maintained this relationship and did not issue a certificate of divorce to His people. “Though the Lord had put away Israel, as a husband might put away a wife, it was for only a short period of exile (see 54:5-7; 62:4) and not permanently. Permanent exile would have required a certificate of divorce (see Deut. 24:1-4)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Isaiah 50:1). Yet this would seem to contradict Jeremiah 3, where God stated that He did indeed issue a certificate of divorce. How do we resolve this?
In Jeremiah 3, it is clear that God divorced the northern tribes of Israel (verse 8), but not the southern nation of Judah—the Jews. “No prophet suggested that God had completely broken His covenant; rather, they predicted God’s faithfulness to a remnant who would return (Mic. 4:9, 10). Your mother [in Isaiah 50:1] refers to Jerusalem, more specifically, the inhabitants of the preceding generation that had gone into exile” (Nelson Study Bible, same note). This is important to recognize. While God had divorced the northern Kingdom of Israel, he maintained His covenant with the “mother” of all Israel—Zion or Jerusalem, the center of His true worship and the faithful remnant it represented.
Indeed, even in Jeremiah 3, God tells those of the northern tribes who would return to him that they would be considered joined to Zion and still married to Him (verse 14). God has never divorced all of Israel completely. He retained the Jews as the faithful remnant of Israel. Yet they ultimately proved unfaithful as well and He sent them into captivity in Babylon. But He still looked to a small minority of the Jews as the faithful remnant of Israel to whom He was still married. Thus, He brought a small group of Jews back to the Promised Land from Babylon. But these ultimately proved unfaithful as well, even murdering Him when He came in the flesh as the Messiah, Jesus Christ. So God finally raised up a spiritual people—still considered the faithful remnant of Israel (compare Romans 11:5; Galatians 6:16), spiritual Jews (see Romans 2:25-29)—”Jew” being, as it was following the northern tribes’ divorcement, a designation of the faithful remnant (compare Hosea 11:12).
Of course, it should be noted that the Old Covenant marriage between the preincarnate Christ and Israel did come to an end with Christ’s death. This allows Him to remarry—but, amazingly, to remarry the same “woman” Israel, yet one in which she would be spiritually transformed as part of the terms of a new covenant (see Romans 7:1-4; Isaiah 54; Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Returning to Isaiah 50, notice the reference to creditors in verse 1—clearly an imaginary scenario since God cannot be indebted to anyone. “If the Lord had sold Israel to creditors (see Ex. 21:7; 2 Kin. 4:1; Neh. 5:5), He would not have any authority over their destiny. But the Israelites had sold themselves because of their own iniquities (see 42:23-25). Therefore God as their Redeemer could buy them back (see 41:14; 52:3)” (Nelson Study Bible, same note, emphasis added).
Continuing on, while Isaiah 50:4-9 may be describing some of Isaiah’s own anguish in delivering his prophecies, it is more clearly part of the speech begun in verse 1. This means that it is still the Lord who is speaking. And it shows that He, the Creator of the universe, was going to come and be stricken across the back, have patches of His beard painfully yanked out, and be spat upon. These are things Jesus would suffer at the hands of human beings (verse 6; Matthew 26:67; 27:30)—which He went through to redeem these very same people, indeed to redeem us all.
Isaiah 50:10-11 exhorts Israel to trust in God and obey His Servant—again, referring to Christ. Verse 11 criticizes those who walk by the light of their own fire (relying on themselves) rather than by the true light—the Word of God, both living (Jesus Christ) and written (Scripture). Their lives will end in punishment. From other passages we know that God will later bring them back to life to give them their only opportunity for salvation. However, if they persist in rejecting Him even then, their lives will be ended permanently.
Awake to Righteousness (Isaiah 50-51)
Chapter 51 begins with three requests for those who are God’s people and know righteousness to “listen to Me” (verses 1, 4, 7). It ends with three commands for Jerusalem to “awake, awake” (verses 9, 17; 52:1). This ties in with Paul’s admonition to the Church in 1 Corinthians 15:34: “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” Those who know God must live in accordance with His commands. Indeed, those who don’t obey Him don’t really know Him (see 1 John 2:4).
In verse 1, Zion being dug from the hole of a pit is not a negative connotation. It simply denotes the same thing as the previous clause, being hewn from rock. The image is one of being quarried from a pit or mine as precious gems or metal. And the fact that the people of Israel are meant is clear from verse 2—those brought forth of Abraham and Sarah. Spiritually deriving from Abraham and Sarah (Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:29; 4:21-31), believers are the only ones who really know God’s righteousness and have God’s law in their hearts (Isaiah 51:7). But eventually, starting with the time of Christ’s return, the rest of Israel (physical Israel) will become part of spiritual Israel—as will then the entire world.
In stark contrast to this instruction for us to look to Abraham and Sarah, most of modern Christianity goes to great lengths to separate its theology from the Old Testament. In doing so, it breaks the continuity that exists throughout Scripture and loses much spiritual understanding. Here, we see that Christians ought to look for and learn from that unbroken continuity, which runs seamlessly from the Old Testament through the New. The roots spring from the Old Testament.
In verse 3, Zion is to be comforted with the fact that it will be a paradise like the Garden of Eden (see also Ezekiel 36:35)—as indeed the whole world will become under the rule of Jesus Christ, with God’s holy “mountain,” or kingdom, of Zion growing to fill the whole earth (compare Isaiah 11:6-9; Daniel 2:35). In verses 4-6, “the heavens and earth of the material universe are contrasted with God’s salvation and righteousness. The material is impermanent and will ‘vanish like smoke.’ God’s salvation will remain forever. How vital to anchor our hopes in salvation than anything in this passing world” (Bible Reader’s Companion, note on Isaiah 51:4-6)—see also 2 Peter 3:10-13 and Hebrews 12:25-29.
Directly tied to salvation here is God’s righteousness. But what is righteousness? King David defined it as obedience to all of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:172). And that is certainly the implication here in Isaiah: “…you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law…” (51:7). Many today, even many who profess Christianity, want to do away with God’s law—to abolish it. Yet God says, “My righteousness [i.e., His law] will not be abolished” (verse 6). Indeed, God’s law defines His way of life—the way of love. And while many things will pass away, love never will (1 Corinthians 13). Only those who ultimately choose to live by God’s perfect law of love will experience salvation from eternal death to enjoy eternal life with Him forever.
Of course, obedience to God’s law of love should never be construed as some stern duty. True, godly love is an expression of outflowing concern that comes from the heart. It includes devotion and loyalty to God and deep care for others as the focus of our deepest emotions. The New Testament instruction about the New Covenant reveals that God wants our hearts to be in the covenant and the covenant to be in our hearts. He wants to be a Father to us and for us to be His children in a loving family relationship.
Verses 9-11 of Isaiah 51 show that God will deliver His people as He delivered Israel from Egypt in ancient times. Rahab here is a reference to Egypt (see 30:7). The name signifies “fierceness, insolence, pride” (“Rahab,” Smith’s Bible Dictionary). Egypt is called a “serpent” in the King James Version and a “dragon” in the Revised Standard Version. It is the same Hebrew word tanniyn (Strong’s No. 8577) used for the pharaoh of Egypt in Ezekiel 29:3, there translated “monster” in the NKJV). “The imagery [of Ezekiel 29] pictures a crocodile” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 4-5). Indeed, the protector god of Egypt was the crocodile god Sobek—whose name in Egyptian meant “rager” (Michael Jordan, Encyclopedia of Gods, 1993, p. 240, “Sobek.”), of which rahab seems a reasonable Hebrew equivalent.
God delivered Israel from Egyptian captivity in ancient times. He later, as promised through Isaiah, delivered the Jews from Babylonian captivity. And in the end, God will deliver Israel and Judah from an end-time Assyro-Babylonian captivity. The punishment on His people will come to an end (51:22). Humbled, they will at last be ready to repent and “awake to righteousness.” Then it will be time for Israel’s enemies to suffer affliction for their evil in turn (verse 23)—until they too are ultimately brought to repentance.
It should be recognized that the deliverance from Babylon spoken of here and in the next chapter, while literal as mentioned, is also figurative of the deliverance from sin that Christians now have in Christ. In one sense, God has rescued believers from spiritual Egypt and Babylon—sin and this world. But in another sense, this is an ongoing process, as we overcome throughout life with His help. Finally, in an ultimate sense, deliverance and salvation will come when Christ’s followers are glorified at His return. In fact, even the terrible trial and suffering mentioned in this section will befall a number of people in who are believers (compare Revelation 12:17; Revelation 3:14-19). God’s message to all of us: “Be zealous and repent” (verse 19). Indeed, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin.”
Chapter 52 begins by describing Zion or Jerusalem in a state of bondage and captivity from which it is to be freed and then exalted. The statement in verse 2 to “arise and sit down” is not a contradiction. She is to rise from the dust and sit on a throne. As the New International Version phrases it: “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem.” Once again, we should notice the parallel between national Israel’s physical deliverance and spiritual Israel’s salvation—which physical Israel will eventually experience as well, following its conversion into spiritual Israel.
God allowed His people to be taken captive in ancient times and will do so again at the end. But the gentile captors do not understand themselves to be agents of God’s punishment. In fact, they glory in their power and terribly abuse God’s people, saying such things as “So where is their God?” (see Psalm 115:2). In this way, God’s name is continually blasphemed throughout the duration of His people’s captivity (Isaiah 52:5). God will make Himself known to all nations through His awesome deliverance of His people.
The apostle Paul quotes verse 7, mentioning what is written there about how beautiful the feet are of those who preach the gospel, or good news, of salvation (Romans 10:15). This concept is addressed as well by the prophet Nahum (Nahum 1:15). And in Ephesians 6:15, Paul explains that our feet are to be clothed “with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” which is what makes them beautiful—a poetic expression for the fact that good news (the gospel) is being brought by the feet of the bearer. By extension, we could view this as applying to whatever means is used to transmit such information (today including an automobile conveying a minister to deliver a sermon, a postal delivery truck bringing a magazine proclaiming God’s truth, a radio station carrying a program on which the good news of God’s Kingdom is announced, etc.).
God led the apostle Paul to draw upon the prophecies of Isaiah because they still directly apply to the life of a Christian, as well as provide an outline of the events yet to unfold in the history of mankind. Again, we see continuing evidence that the Old Testament, and not just the New, is for Christians.
The command to be “clean” and to depart and separate ourselves from that which is unclean (Isaiah 52:11) is referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:17. It is a theme echoed in the book of Revelation as well—to come out of Babylon, as a type of that which is unclean (Revelation 18:2, 4). God says moreover that those who bear His “vessels” are to be clean. This appears to refer to priestly duties. God told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons: “Whoever of all your descendants throughout your generations, who goes near the holy things which the children of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he has uncleanness upon him, that person shall be cut off from My presence: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 22:1-3). The priests thus had to remain ritually clean to carry out their duties. Yet this was merely symbolic of the spiritual purity God requires of His spiritual priesthood, (see 1 Peter 2:5, 9).
The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52-53)
Beginning with Isaiah 52:13, we have a section giving some of the remarkable prophecies of the Messiah’s sufferings and other aspects of His life at His coming—that is, His first coming. We have seen that God will redeem His people (verse 2). And now He tells us how. While ultimate deliverance would come by a miraculous force of awesome power (at the Messiah’s second coming), redemption would first come through a great sacrifice out of the depth of unfathomable humility. The Lord—the Creator of mankind, Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 3:9)—would come in the flesh and die for the sins of those He created. God the Father would thus give His only begotten Son for redemption of the whole world (John 3:16). It is truly mind-boggling to contemplate.
“Amidst a declaration of the Lord’s coming salvation (see 52:7-12; 54:1-10), Isaiah [through God’s inspiration] places a portrait of the Suffering Servant (52:13-53:12)…. Three other passages in Isaiah focus on the Servant and [the four] are called the ‘Servant Songs’ (42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9). The first song celebrates the Servant as the One who will establish justice for all (42:4). The second highlights the deliverance that the Servant will provide. He will restore Israel and become a ‘light to the Gentiles.’ The third emphasizes the God-given wisdom of the Servant. All this culminates in the description of the suffering and death of the Servant in ch. 53, the final ‘Servant Song'” (“INDepth: The Suffering Servant,” Nelson Study Bible, sidebar on Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
Many of the Jews looked for the triumphant Christ to come and save them from their enemies, but they did not recognize the true Messiah when He came to save us first from our sins. Even now, all too many who adhere to at least the form of biblical Christianity look more to the triumphant coming of Christ to give them victory and rulership over the world and fail to grasp the critical importance of eliminating the unclean elements from their lives first. Many, sadly, will find themselves on the outside in that day (see Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-13)—until they have learned to recognize the meaning of Christ’s first coming in their lives.
Because of the conflicts with the Jews over Jesus being the Messiah, it is not surprising that the New Testament writers quote quite a bit from this section of Isaiah.
In discussing his ministry to the gentiles, Paul cites Isaiah 52:15 to show that Christ was fulfilling this prophecy through him in preaching to those who had not yet heard the gospel (Romans 15:21). Right after Paul cites the passage about preaching the gospel mentioned above (10:15; Isaiah 52:7), he quotes from this same section of Isaiah, asking, “Who has believed our report?” (Romans 10:16; Isaiah 53:1). John also quotes this verse in Isaiah as being fulfilled by Jesus when the Jews of His day did not believe in Him.
The apostles Matthew and Peter quoted Isaiah 53:4-6, which deals with Jesus taking our sins on Himself (see Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24-25). Peter also quoted from verse 9 of Isaiah 53 in the same place (1 Peter 2:22). In Isaiah 53:4, some margins correctly state that an alternate translation of the Hebrew word for “grief” is “sickness,” and an alternate translation for “sorrows” is “pains.” Indeed, the New Testament quotes the verse: “He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17). Here, then, is an important foundation for divine healing—that Christ’s physical suffering, together with His death, was to not only pay for our sins, but also to take upon Himself the suffering of our diseases and injuries. (For more on this subject, compare Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 Corinthians 11:29-30; James 5:14-15; Psalm 103:1-3.)
When Philip was sent by God to talk with the Ethiopian eunuch in the desert south of Jerusalem, the man was reading a passage from Isaiah that he asked Philip to explain to him (Acts 8:26-35). The specific section he was reading was verses 7-8 of Isaiah 53.
In verse 12, “poured out His soul [physical life] unto death” refers to His dying from blood loss, “for the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11).
Jesus, when preparing to leave the upper room where He kept His last Passover with His disciples before His death, quoted Isaiah 53:12 about being numbered with transgressors as a verse He needed to fulfill, and a reason to take swords with them (Luke 22:35-38). Mark cites the crucifixion between two thieves as actually fulfilling this prophecy (Mark 15:28).
It is sobering to read this passage, particularly when we see that Jesus was to be beaten into terrible disfigurement (Isaiah 52:14). Having inspired Isaiah to write this prophecy, Jesus, in the moments before His arrest on the night of the Passover, was fully aware of the suffering that lay ahead of Him. Yet through it all, He remained cognizant of His mission—and dedicated to it. He remained the ultimate, giving Servant of His Father. And indeed, He came to serve us too, to the point of suffering indescribable betrayal and agony and finally dying in our place. Let us all accept the justification His death has made available to us (53:11). But, realizing that it is our sins that necessitated His death, let us leave our sinful ways behind with Him in His death—and come out of sin through the power of His resurrected life (compare Romans 5:9-10; Galatians 2:20).
Paul uses verse 1 of Isaiah 54 in his allegory of Sarah and Hagar (Galatians 4:22-31). The barren woman, he says, is like Sarah with the prophecies given her about having many descendants. According to Paul, she represents the New Covenant marriage, to which no children were yet spiritually born—referred to by Paul as “Jerusalem above, the mother of us all.” This New Covenant is actually mentioned in Isaiah 54, as will be explained in a moment.
The “married woman” signified the Old Covenant marriage that already was—physical Israel with its millions of children. This was parallel to Hagar, who bore a son to Abraham while Sarah was yet barren. Yet the child of Hagar was produced apart from faith. God promised that Sarah, though barren, would produce a child through whom His promised blessings would come. This will give birth to its children at the return of Jesus Christ. And eventually, as more and more become part of, and are eventually born of, the New Covenant, the children of the woman who was barren will eventually outnumber those of her rival who are those born of the flesh in ancient Israel. For people of all nations will be made part of spiritual Israel.
Isaiah himself goes on to say that the physical Israelites will no longer be forsaken in their marriage to God, will be accepted of God and will grow to fill the earth—when they, too, are joined to Him and brought forth according to the New Covenant (verses 4-8), which will be accomplished through the Holy Spirit, as we learn in chapter 55. Indeed, in verses 2-3 of Isaiah 54 we see reference to Israel’s expansion, earlier prophesied in Genesis 28:14. Yet, while physical on one level, the subject of the previous verse in Isaiah seems to make it primarily a reference to the expansion of spiritual Israel, the family of God—parallel to Christ’s assurance that in His Father’s house are many dwellings (see John 14:2).
Verses 11-12 of Isaiah 54 are reminiscent of the description of the New Jerusalem recorded by the apostle John in Revelation 21:18-21. The eternal dwelling of the wife of Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-33), the New Jerusalem is itself referred to as the bride (Revelation 21:9-10)—again showing “Jerusalem above”.
The New Covenant is specifically mentioned in Isaiah 54:10, where God calls it “My covenant of peace” and relates it to His mercy. “This expression is also found in Ezek. 34:25-31. It is linked with the New Covenant of Jer. 31, for its benefits become possible only after the Messiah forgives the sins of God’s people and makes them righteous. Some of the benefits overlap: God will Himself teach the people, and they will be established in righteousness (cf. Jer. 31:31-34). Yet the focus of this covenant [here] is on security. God throws a protective covering over His people so that they will be safe” (Bible Reader’s Companion, note on Isaiah 54:10). In verse 9, God equates the surety of His covenant of peace with Israel to that of His covenant with Noah that He would never again flood the whole earth (see Genesis 9:8-17).
In John 6:45, Jesus referred to Isaiah 54:13, showing that when the Father decides to teach someone His way, they will understand Jesus’ role in His plan of salvation. And eventually, all will be taught that way. The last verse in Isaiah 54 gives us a most important factor in this regard. God explains that the righteousness of His servants comes not from themselves but from Him. It is God who draws us to Himself. It is He who actually grants us repentance. It is He who then forgives us and imputes us as righteous through the atoning blood of Christ. It is He who then lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to actually live in righteousness—that is, in obedience to His law. Of course, this does require our participation. If we ultimately refuse God’s work in us, then He will not redeem us.
On March 20 of 2010 we began our 3 ½ year Torah study and one of the first chapters we had to look at was Psalm 1. This week of August 20, 2011 we finally finish reading the psalms.
Psalm 149, the fourth hymn in the concluding Hallel collection, is a royal psalm praising Israel ‘s divine King for granting to His people salvation and the high honor of executing His judgment on the nations for their defiance of His rule. This psalm follows from the conclusion of the previous one, with emphasis on the role of Israel and the focus on His “saints” or hasidim, meaning devoted ones, the Hebrew word being used here three times-in the first, middle and last verses (verses 1, 5, 9). And as in the former case, “Israel” and the “saints” (in addition to the “children of Zion ” in this psalm) should not be limited to God’s physical nation.
Rather, the truly devoted and obedient people of God are principally in view here-spiritual Israel. This is especially so, given the primarily end-time focus of the song (as implied by the granting of salvation and the execution of vengeance on the nations).
The psalm begins with a call to praise God with a “new song” (verse 1; compare 33:3; 40:3; 96:1). This does not require a song never heard or sung before. The sense can be that of singing with renewed awareness of what God has done. Even old psalms can be sung as new because the congregation always has fresh reasons for expressing gratitude.
Note that the song is to be sung in “the assembly of saints” (149:1). As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out, this statement in the closing frame of the book of Psalms ties back to the opening frame: “The phrase is equivalent to ‘congregation of the righteous’ (1:5), and it may be that Psalm 149 is a formal closure of the Psalter, climaxed by the great praise psalm, Psalm 150” (note on 149:1-5). There is a further tie back to the opening as well. As noted in the Bible Reading Program comments on Psalms 1 and 2, these two untitled psalms together apparently form the opening frame of the Psalter. Psalm 1 lays out the character of the righteous while Psalm 2 is a royal psalm focusing on the Messiah coming to conquer the world and set up His Kingdom. So it seems appropriate to read Psalm 149, the next-to-last psalm, in light of that second opening psalm.
The first part of Psalm 149 communicates a sense of celebration, including praising God with dance, singing with timbrels (tambourines) and harps (verse 3)-celebratory elements that are all invoked in the next and final psalm, as we will see.
Israel rejoices because “the LORD takes pleasure in His people” and “will beautify the humble with salvation” (149:4). God’s people are thus equated with those who have a humble, respectful attitude before Him, parallel to what we read just two psalms earlier within the same Hallel collection: “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy [ hesed ]” (Psalm 147:11). Here, again, we see that their hope will be rewarded with being “beautified” with salvation (149:4). The word here can also mean “adorned” and thus recalls other verses about being clothed with salvation (Psalm 132:16; Isaiah 61:10).
The “salvation” here could signify God saving His people from life-threatening circumstances in the here and now, yet the ultimate
picture is certainly that of salvation in His coming Kingdom. The ancient Israelites in singing this song would have understood both aspects.
The saints singing for joy on their beds (Psalm 149:5) contrasts greatly with past circumstances: “The ‘beds,’ which had before been soaked with tears, share in the joy of the Lord’s deliverance (cf. 4:4; 6:6; 63:6; Hos 7:14)” ( Expositor’s, note on Psalm 149:1-5).
The latter part of the psalm praises God for giving His people a role in executing judgment on the nations (verses 6-9). This applied in part to Old Testament Israel, as the nation fought against the Canaanites, the Philistines and other enemies: “Under the particular administration of the emerging [earthly] kingdom of God put in place in the inauguration of the Sinai covenant…she [Israel] was armed to execute God’s sentence of judgment on the world powers that have launched attacks against the kingdom of God. Under that arrangement, she served as the earthly contingent of the armies [or hosts] of the King of heaven” ( Zondervan NIV Study Bible, introductory note on Psalm 149). The Nelson Study Bible says that Psalm 149 “was used by the army of Israel as well as by the people in their worship of God…. [At verse 6] the focus of the psalm switches from the congregation at worship to the army in training. Israel’s army was to be the vanguard for the battle of the Lord. Their training was to have a strong component of praise and worship of God” (introductory note on Psalm 149 and note on verse 6).
Yet we should once again recognize that the “saints” in this and other psalms is primarily a reference to the spiritually converted people of God-spiritual Zion. Of course, Brethren in this age are not to take up arms and fight, because Christ’s Kingdom for which we wait is not of this world (see John 18:36). Yet when Jesus returns to set His Kingdom up on this earth, His saints, then glorified in divine power, will fight alongside Him-as this psalm makes clear. Indeed, as the patriarch Enoch prophesied, “The Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all” (Jude 14-15). The two-edged sword here (Psalm 149:6) would seem to parallel the book of Revelation’s figurative portrayal of a sharp sword coming out of Christ’s mouth at His return (Revelation 19:15; compare 1:16; Isaiah 11:4-5; 49:2). And the imagery of a two-edged sword is used to represent the Word of God (compare Hebrews 4:12-13).
“The written judgment” (Psalm 149:9) refers to the “punishments” and “vengeance” (verse 7) recorded in God’s Word by the prophets. As Expositor’s notes on verses 6-9, “The ‘sentence’ [NIV] ( mishpat, ‘judgment’) decrees that on the day of the Lord, the wicked (individuals, nations, and kings) will be fully judged for the deeds done against God and against his people (cf. Isa 24:21-22; 41:15-16; 45:14; 65:6; Ezek 38-39; Joel 3:9-16, 19-21; Mic 4:13; Zech 14; 2 Thess 1:5-10).”
The saints will then reign with Christ during the Millennium (see Revelation 20:6), continuing to rule by God’s laws.
With Psalm 150, the fifth and final concluding Hallelujah Psalm, we come to the end of the book of Psalms. As in Psalm 148, the word “praise” ( hallel ) is used here 13 times. Yet this psalm more closely follows the pattern of only the first part of Psalm 148. In this case we see, within the framing Hallelujahs at the beginning and end, 10 imperative calls to praise God (150:1-5) followed by a single summary call to praise in the jussive subjunctive mood-that is, in the form of “let them” (see verse 6). As these calls are brief and without expressive praise, the entire psalm has the form of an extended doxology (a doxology being a brief expression of praise). Recall that Books I through IV of the Psalter each end with a short doxology evidently added to the last psalm in each book (see 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48). Now at the end of Book V, the entirety of Psalm 150 appears to perform the same function-and it may have been composed specifically to close the Psalter.
Though brief, Psalm 150 encompasses many elements of the book of Psalms. As the Zondervan NIV Study Bible comments in its introductory note on the song, “This final call to praise moves powerfully by stages from place [verse 1] to themes [verse 2] to orchestra [verses 3-4] to choir [verse 6], framed with Hallelujahs.”
Verse 1 tells us where God should be praised-in His sanctuary and in His mighty firmament. The sanctuary is God’s temple, meaning His physical temple in Jerusalem and also His spiritual temple on earth, as well as His heavenly temple. The “firmament” here signifies heaven or the sky (see Genesis 1:6-8), and the meaning in this case is probably the entire, vast universe.
Verse 2 of Psalm 150 tells us why God should be praised-“for His mighty acts” (for what He does) and “for His excellent greatness” (for who and what He is).
Verses 3-5 tell us “how God should be praised-with the whole orchestra (eight instruments: wind, string, percussion), with dancing aptly placed at the middle” ( Zondervan, note on verses 3-5)-recalling the celebratory elements of the previous psalm (compare 149:3). Perhaps the idea here is simply to joyfully praise God with whatever we have to praise Him.
And finally, verse 6 of Psalm 150 tells us who should praise God-the choir of all that have life and breath. As The Nelson Study Bible remarks on this verse: “The very breath that God gives us should be used to praise Him. As long as we live we should praise our Creator (146:1,2). By His breath God created all things (33:6), and by our breath we should adore Him. The Book of Psalms begins with God’s blessing on the righteous (1:1) and concludes with all of creation blessing its loving Creator.”
In all that we think, in all that we say, in all that we do, let it be to the praise of our great and loving God, our Almighty Maker and Savior and King, the infinite and majestic Lord of all creation. And let us all sing with joyful hearts, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.
I want to show you a few things in this chapter which I do in Jerusalem when I show brethren the true sites in Israel. We are going to look at the t word Pavement and Gabbatha
From G3037 and a derivative of G4766; stone strewed, that is, a tessellated mosaic on which the Roman tribunal was placed: – Pavement.
Of Chaldee origin (compare [H1355]); the knoll; gabbatha, a vernacular term for the Roman tribunal in Jerusalem: – Gabbatha.
(Chaldee); corresponding to H1354: – back.
From an unused root meaning to hollow or curve; the back (as rounded (compare H1460 and H1479); by analogy the top or rim, a boss, a vault, arch of eye, bulwarks, etc.: – back, body, boss, eminent (higher) place, [eye] brows, nave, ring.
The “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock is the most conspicuous natural feature within the whole of the Haram esh-Sharif. For anyone to build a magnificent shrine over it shows that the “Rock” must have had great significance. And it did. The first Christian pilgrim that has left us a record of his journey to Jerusalem was the Bordeaux Pilgrim who in 333 A.D. mentioned that the most significant building east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (then being built) was the Roman Praetorium where Pilate sentenced Jesus. This structure had its walls centered directly within the Tyropoeon Valley. This was NOT the site of the Temple in the eyes of the Bordeaux Pilgrim. He had already described the Temple site (and several other buildings around it) a few paragraphs before. But only later (after concluding his account of the Temple and its associated buildings) did the Bordeaux Pilgrim mention the imposing structure to the east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with its walls within the valley which he called the Praetorium where Pilate judged Jesus (see John Wilkinson’s excellent translation of the Bordeaux Pilgrim in his book Egeria’s Travels, p.158).
Clearly, the Pilgrim was describing the Haram esh-Sharif as being the Praetorium. He was looking mainly toward the southwest angle of the Haram and northward toward the spot where the “Wailing Wall” of the Jews is presently located. The Pilgrim said this “walled area” contained the residence of Pilate. It was the Roman Praetorium that also went by the name of “Fort Antonia.” In Roman usage, the Praetorium was the headquarters of a military unit and could refer to the whole camp or to the commander’s tent. There was associated with the military fort a prominent “Rock” The apostle John was well aware of its significance in Christian history. Within this walled enclosure of the Praetorium was the “Rock” called in John’s Gospel (John 19:13) “the Pavement-Stone” (in Greek, lithostrotos and in Hebrew Gabbatha).
This particular “Rock” within the Praetorium area had a “Pavement” or flagstones around it. The “Rock” was associated with the Praetorium and was part of Fort Antonia, the permanent Roman Camp that was located in Jerusalem in the time of Pilate and Jesus. And what did Josephus say (he was the Jewish historian of the first century and an eyewitness to the early Praetorium of the Romans called Fort Antonia)? He stated that the central feature of Fort Antonia was a major rock. He said: “The tower of Antonia…was built upon [around] a rock fifty cubits high and on all sides precipitous…the rock was covered from its base upwards with smooth flagstones” (Jewish War, V.v,8 para.238). Before construction of the fortress, the “Rock” was 50 cubits high (75 feet), but Herod later built a platform around it (when it became the north/south center of the walled fortress) and this made it not as high and it became accessible for judicial purposes. That “Rock” around which Fort Antonia was built (and mentioned by Josephus) was the chief geographical feature of the site. It was near this “Rock” that Pilate had his residence at the time of Jesus’ trial. Later Christians believed that some indentions in that “Rock” must have come from the footprints of Jesus as he stood before Pilate and God supposedly allowed his feet to sink into the “Rock.” Though these indentions were not the actual footprints of Jesus (a great deal of Christian folklore became associated with the “Rock”), early Christians came to believe they were the literal outlines of Jesus’ feet. It is easy to explain how this conclusion came to be associated with the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock.
The so-called footprints came into vogue when later Christians noticed in the New Testament that a “Judgment Seat” was placed by Pilate on the “Rock” (called in Greek a bematos). That word comes from the root word bema that literally means footprint, or by common usage a footstool where a king or a ruler in judgment would place his feet when he sat on a throne in order to sentence people in any official judicial event. Indeed, even the throne of God was reckoned in the Bible as a spot where God placed His feet below the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple when He sat or stood to make His divine judgments (Psalms 99:5; 132:7; Lamentations 2:1). Each military governor of the Romans carried his official bema or bematos with him in order to make his judgments on behalf of the emperor, and Julius Caesar carried one with him everywhere he went in order to render official judgments (see “Praetorium,” Hasting’s Bible Dictionary). Later Christians simply confused the literal meaning of bema [footprint] and the indentions they saw in the natural outcropping of rock became “Jesus’ footprints.” Though this was error, the reckoning became an indelible identifying mark associated with the “Rock” where Pilate made his judgment against Jesus. This “Rock” (called “the Pavement” by the apostle John) was well known in the time of Constantine. The records show that Helena, the mother of Constantine, ordered that a small Christian Church with the name “St.Cyrus and St.John” be built over that “Rock” (see Life of Constantine in Wilkinson’s Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p. 204). This small church was later enlarged probably in the fifth century to become a major church in Jerusalem called “The Church of the Holy Wisdom.” This church is described very well (and accurately) in a sixth century work written by the Piacenza Pilgrim. He said (with words in brackets mine):
“We also prayed at the Praetorium, where the Lord’s case was heard: what is there now is the basilica of Saint Sophia [the Holy Wisdom Church], which is in front [north] of the Temple of Solomon [located] below the street [east and downslope] which runs down to the spring of Siloam outside of Solomon’s porch [the eastern wall of Solomon’s Temple]. In this basilica is the seat where Pilate sat to hear the Lord’s case, and there is also the oblong stone [I emphasize this point about the “oblong stone” to help identify the spot] which used to be in the center of the Praetorium [the Praetorium tent was moveable]. The accused person whose case was being heard was made to mount this stone so that everyone could hear and see him. The Lord mounted it when he was heard by Pilate, and his footprints [italicized for emphasis] are still on it. He had a well-shaped foot, small and delicate.”
This Church of the Holy Wisdom (which the Pilgrim had just described) was built over “the oblong stone” which the people thought had the footprints of Jesus embedded in it. Just as Josephus stated that the “Rock” was the most prominent part of Fort Antonia [the Praetorium area], so this “oblong stone” was the central feature of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (that was destroyed by the Persians and Jewish soldiers in 614 A.D.). This is the same “Rock” that is now under the Dome of the Rock in the Haram esh-Sharif.
The fact that later Christians thought the footprints of Jesus were embedded in this “Rock,” is a key for identification. There are historical references both Christian and Muslim that attest that the “Rock” over which the Dome of the Rock now stands was the same “Rock or Stone” that had the footprints of Jesus inlayed as foot-like depressions sunk into the “Rock.” Indeed, even as late as the period of the Crusades we read that the court recorder of Saladin (the Muslim who reconquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 A.D.) made mention that Jesus’ footprints had been embedded in the “Rock” underneath the Dome of the Rock (see article “Saladin” in Brill’s First Encyclopedia of Islam). There are several other Muslim references to these footprints of Jesus in the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock that I have present in a more extended context in my new book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.” In fact, in the book I will show in a future article that those footprints of Jesus were sawed away from the “Rock” and placed in a location within the Haram esh-Sharif about 200 yards north of the Dome of the Rock. This later fact is a most interesting and important aspect of the story.
In short, there can be no doubt of the identification. The “Rock” of the Dome of the Rock (which is clearly oblong in shape) and the “oblong stone” within the Church of the Holy Wisdom were one and the same “Rock/Stone.” Sophronius, the Archbishop of Jerusalem in the time of Omar when the Muslims first conquered Jerusalem, called the Church of the Holy Wisdom (when it was yet standing before its destruction in 614 A.D.) as “the House and the Stone” (Sophronius, Antacroeontica as translated by John Wilkinson in Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p.91). This fact shows that Sophronius saw great significance in the “Rock/ Stone.” That “Rock” that later became the spot for the Dome of the Rock to Sophronius was the very stone called “the Pavement” mentioned in John 19:13 (rendered in Greek as the Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha).
Golgotha in verse 17 is describing the place of the skull or the place of the head counting is the mount of Olives East of the Gihon Spring. Again a prove this to all those who come on tour with me. But you can read the exciting evidence here at http://www.askelm.com/golgotha/gol001.htm
Once you know where Golgotha is and what the Dome of the Rock really is and where the temple once stood then you will also be able to find the final verse is John 19 where it speaks of the tomb in which Yehshua was buried. When I take people there they cry and weep once they realize all that happened on this most sacred spot.
Next time we meet in Jerusalem ask me to show you around and see the evidence first hand for yourself.
Also concerning what was written on the cross piece above Yehshua, John states that Pilate wrote the inscription that was to be placed over the head of Yehshua as He was to be hung on the tree of Crucifixion, and the writing was in first, Hebrew, then Greek, and lastly, in Latin. It is interesting that the Roman Governor of Judea would give primacy to the Hebrew Language over Latin or Greek, because he certainly didn’t seem to have any particular love or respect for the Jewish people.
In John’s version, not only is Jesus’ name mentioned but also where He was from, and it is this bold declaration, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” or Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm, that we derive the letters ‘INRI.
But in Hebrew it is Yehshua ha-Notsri u’Melekh ha-Yehudim. This forms the acronym YHVH where the u is also a v.
We are doing 7 laws each week. We shall study laws 514-520
We also have commentary, with editing from me, again from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
(514)Do not offer up a blemished beast that comes from non-Israelites. “Nor shall you make any offering of them in your land, nor from a foreigner’s hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf.” (Leviticus 22:24-25) It doesn’t matter where the blemished animal comes from: it isn’t acceptable as a sacrifice to Yahweh. At its heart, this precept is an admonition against man-made religion, whether originating in Israel or coming from the gentile nations. Since “defects” are a metaphor for sin, it’s clear that God doesn’t want us to approach Him based on our own merits, for we have none—we are fatally flawed. First, rabbinical Judaism attempted to reach God by outwardly observing His Instructions, or at least a caricature of them, while ignoring their spirit. They failed because the basis of their “obedience” was their own strength, a blemished beast indeed. But then the gentiles came along and replaced the clever Jewish caricature with a crass and blatant counterfeit—rules and regulations from their own imagination, imitation godliness bereft of God’s power, doctrines of demons. These too were defective sacrifices, unacceptable to Yahweh. The only sacrifice by which we can approach God is the One He Himself provided—Yahshua, the perfect Lamb of God.
(515)Sacrifices of cattle may only take place when they are at least eight days old. “When a bull or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall be seven days with its mother; and from the eighth day and thereafter it shall be accepted as an offering made by fire to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 22:27) Sometimes it’s not what you do, but when you do it. These next few mitzvot concentrate on scheduling issues found in the Torah. There were practical reasons the sacrificial animals were not to be offered up during the first week of life. It could take that long to determine if the animal was healthy, “without blemish” by Levitical standards. Also, certain biological functions don’t stabilize for a while after birth. (For example, when discussing circumcision in male children in Mitzvah #17, we discovered that the human clotting mechanism isn’t fully developed until the eighth day, hence the timing mandated in Leviticus 12:3.)
But there’s more to it. As we have seen, seven is a key number in Scripture. It indicates perfection, completion, the whole of something. Seven “days” of creation, seven days of the week, seven Feasts of Yahweh, the Seven Sabbatical years in a Jubilee cycle—they all point toward the completion of God’s plan for mankind’s redemption. This process will apparently be accomplished within a seven-thousand-year span of time beginning with the fall of Adam and ending at the conclusion of Yahshua’s imminent Millennial reign. But what happens after that? The eternal state commences, populated by those of us who have chosen to honor Yahweh and accept His Spirit—now immortal beings who will dwell forever in the new heaven and new earth. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start in a sinless state. You may think I’ve strayed off the subject, but I haven’t. As the eighth day represents unfolding eternity, the stipulation that the sacrificial animal must live until the eighth day is a reminder that Yahshua’s sacrifice cleanses us not just during this life, but for eternity future.
(516)Do not leave any flesh of the thanksgiving offering until the morning. “On the same day it shall be eaten; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 22:30) This is actually a companion mitzvah to #495 and #496. The context is the selem, or peace offering—specifically the subset of thanksgiving (Hebrew: towdah). Thanksgiving offerings were to be spontaneous and timely, because the Source of all blessings was supposed to be a recognized reality in Israel. So expressions of gratitude were not to be deferred. Of course, because the towdah was to be eaten by the worshipper and his family, being thankful benefited the one offering the thanksgiving. It’s like the beatitudes: blessed are the thankful, for they shall be appreciated.
(517)Offer up the meal-offering of the Omer on the morrow after the first day of Passover, together with one lamb. “When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 23:10-12) Because Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits fell on successive days (the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth of the month of Nisan) the Jews tended to lump them all into one holiday and call it all Passover. ( Note Judah goes by the 14th, 15th and 16th. But the Torah does not. The wave sheaf day was the day after the weekly Sabbath, a Sunday and as such was not always the 16th but could be any date on the calendar. It had to be after the weekly Sabbath during the days of Unleavened Bread.) But Yahweh was very specific here in Leviticus 23: there were three convocations in the spring, and each miqra was significant in its own right. Passover foretold the death of Yahweh’s Messiah; the Feast of Unleavened Bread predicted the removal of our sin through His sojourn in the tomb; and the Feast of Firstfruits (the subject of this mitzvah) prophesied His resurrection—His victory over death, blazing a trail we can all follow if we choose to. The sheaf of grain (sometimes called an “omer,” which is actually a unit of measure, a little over two quarts) was symbolic of the provision of our salvation through Yahshua’s sacrifice. It was “waved before Yahweh” to demonstrate that this sacrifice was “accepted on our behalf” by Yahweh.
The timing was critical, for it was prophetic of the schedule of Christ’s passion. The sheaf was to be waved “on the day after the Sabbath,” for on the Sunday, in 31 AD, Yahshua emerged from the tomb, proving that there was such a thing as life after death, and that we could attain it by following Him. The promised Lamb of God had been slain on Passover, to be then consumed in the fires of Yahweh’s wrath to atone for our sins, the smoke ascending to heaven as a pleasant fragrance in the nostrils of God—the sweet smell of salvation for His people. The Messiah’s subsequent resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits proved that our souls could—and would—be harvested as well.
…Either that, or Yahweh just likes to see people dress up in funny outfits, wave wheat stalks around in the air, and burn poor, innocent sheep to a fare-thee-well. If these mitzvot mean nothing beyond their literal rites and rituals (as Maimonides seems to think, though there’s no way he or anyone else could have literally performed them without a temple and priesthood), we serve a silly God indeed.
(518)Do not eat bread made of new grain before the Omer of barley has been offered up on the second day of Passover. “You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:14) Maimonides (clever lad that he is) has made three separate mitzvot out of this one precept—dividing it up between the three things not to be eaten before the Feast of Firstfruits offering had been made—bread, raw grain, and roasted or processed grain. Good grief! At least he’s correct in identifying barley as the grain to be offered, for at this time of the year, the barley harvest was just coming in. (Wheat would be the grain du jour seven weeks later at Shavu’ot, or the Feast of Weeks—see Mitzvah #521.)
The point, of course, was that the children of Israel were to express their thankfulness for the bounty Yahweh had provided as soon as it showed up, recognizing and acknowledging the source of their blessings. Verse 10 (see Mitzvah #517) had pointed out that they wouldn’t really be able to do this until they entered the Promised Land, for they would have no crops of any kind to harvest until they arrived. Joshua 5:10-12 records the timing. When they entered the Land, they celebrated Passover as scheduled, making their unleavened bread from the manna that had sustained them during their wilderness wanderings. But the supply of manna ceased the very next day, on the Feast of Firstfruits, when they had sampled the produce of the Land (presumably after the priests had waved the ceremonial sheaf toward heaven). That tended to make them very thankful for the barley they found growing in the Land.
(519)Do not eat roasted grain of the new produce before that time. “You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:14) Thinking more like a lawyer than a Bible commentator, Maimonides is addressing loopholes that only a rabbi would even see. Though Yahweh listed three “forms” the grain might take, these forms are not the point—the timing of the offering and what it represents are the point. Bread or grain is metaphorical of what God has provided for us, and history demonstrates that the specific provision in view in the context of the Feast of Firstfruits is our reconciliation to Yahweh through the resurrection of His Messiah. Therefore, this precept is declaring that until God’s provision of salvation is recognized and thankfully acknowledged, we cannot benefit from it in any way. In other words, salvation is not a gift until we receive it.
(520)Do not eat fresh ears of the new grain before that time. “You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:14) We shouldn’t gloss over the parting shot of the passage’s discussion of the Feast of Firstfruits: “It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.” This same formula was repeated in reference to Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (in Exodus 12), and, here in Leviticus 23, the Feast of Weeks, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. If nothing symbolic was being foreshadowed by these miqrym, if they meant nothing beyond the rites and rituals that defined their observance, this would be an extremely odd thing to say.