It is not faith "IN" God that saves you!!! Emunah of God does.
CATEGORIES: 5849 | News

Joseph F. Dumond

Joe Started Sightedmoon in 2005 to assist him in spreading his understanding of the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years according to Torah.
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Published: Jun 13, 2013 - (5856)
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News Letter 5849-018
5th day of the 4th month?5849 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Month in the Fourth year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences

 

June 15, 2013

 

Shabbat Shalom Family,

We are now in the 4th month the new moon being sighted last Monday night, making it and Tuesday day the first day of the 4th month.
On Shabbat June 22, 2013 I will be in Sarnia Ontario presenting the teaching on Assyria. If you do not know who the players are from history, then you can’t know who they are in prophecy. This Shabbat we will show you who Assyria is today in such a way that you will never have any doubt again. Make sure you bring both hands to lift your jaw off the floor once you see this presentation.

Have you made your plans for Sukkot yet?

There is a small group in Tennessee East of Nashville, that will be at a campground and there are hotels in the town up the road. Last count we had about 25-30 families that were coming. They have asked me to speak about the Sabbatical Years and the prophecies they show us for all 8 days. I have accepted and will be speaking there during this time. If you want to hear the whole thing then this is one time to hear it and to be able to talk to me about these things with your questions.

  1. Opening Day Night before. ?Introduction and Greetings and what they can learn. No Teaching.
  2. First High Holy Day 2 Teachings.?Review of The Sabbatical and Jubilee years and how to prove them. Morning and Afternoon.
  3. Day Two ?The Ten Lost Tribes and where they are and who they are now.
  4. Day Three ?Assyria and the King of the North and the King of the South. Who are they today and how to prove it yourself.
  5. Day Four Now having shared who the key players are in the bible we can now explain the Prophecies of Abraham and how the Jubilee cycles teach you history both past and future.
  6. Day Five The Prophecies in the Law of Niddah. How is a woman’s menstrual cycle prophetic to the End Times? The men will just love this. We will also discuss who will receive invitations to the marriage supper of Mathew 22.
  7. Day Six ?The 70 Shabua of Daniel Explaining the true meaning of the so called 70 weeks of Daniel. How it was twisted and what it actually does say. This is the most scariest prophecy in the whole bible and is now for the first time able to be understood because of the Jubilee cycles. It blows the Daniel timeline teaching to pieces.
  8. Day Seven Joseph’s The 2300 Days of Hell and the Two Witnesses and
    Seven Years of Famine and 7 years of plenty. Building on what we have learned up to this point we can now understand some other prophecies of Daniel and show you when they begin based on our understanding of the Jubilee cycles from the Prophecies of Abraham and Josephs life.
  9. Day Eight The Last High Holy Day. The Great Enlightenment The Covenant made with many for one Shabua When it began and when it ends. This is another absolute stunner and when you see this combine with all the other teachings you will realize just how far down the road we are and how close we are to those terrible times spoken of in the bible.

 

The weekly Sabbath and the Eighth day could be two teachings on these days. We are also planning a midrash during one of these times. We just wait to see when the actual days are once we know the sighting of the moon in the 7th month.

These will be the most detailed teachings on these subjects I have done to date. Some parts will be reviews and some will shock and awe you. Some you just will not believe. Yes we are working hard to have them all recorded and available to everyone. They may even be available before Sukkot. Time will tell.

But do understand these are going to be very heavy duty teachings. Not for the faint of heart. This is not going to be milk but heavy to chew on meat. At some point in history, some group of people had to be that last generation that would see and have to go through all those terrible things we read about in the bible. It is now time for you to understand the chronology of events and exactly where we are in those events. I have never had the opportunity to explain it all in as much detail as I will during this coming week of Sukkot. You do not want to miss out on this. Most get one part or another at another time but not all of it explained at one week long session.

By the end of this week of Sukkot you will understand why I have to do what I am doing and hopefully you too will begin to warn everyone else. Look forward to seeing you there.

Email me and I will connect you to the hosts. admin@sightedmoon.com

Also last week we did speak to the producer of the TV series I have asked you all to support. In one month we have raised enough to do about 3 or 4 programs. This is awesome and I do thank you all for your help so much.

We are now going to begin and we have already started. Things are going to go fast now. But in order for me to get these teachings in front of the millions of Christians the world over we do have to pull our horns in some or we won’t get on any programs at all. So I have to rely on the judgment of the producers for this part. The audience will be able to get the horn by reading the books after.

I also have another huge concern. In order to make these teachings available I have to go to Charlotte N.C. and to other on site locations around the world. This means I will be away from my contracts for up to one month or more, in order to do this as cheaply as possible. It means I will loose those contracts, which will be replaced by other people. It means I will loose my sole source of income to pay my bills and look after my family and as you know my wife is not a believer and is not willing to pull up stakes and live on the road. Brethren I need some prayers over this. I do not know how to over come this obstacle. I need a miracle. To date every dollar donated has gone to the Vineyard and now to this production. None has gone to me. Even the royalties I have received from the sales of the two books, and it is not a lot, has gone back into those two projects.

Like you, I have grown accustom to eating three times a day and having a place to call home. Please pray for Yehovah to show me how I should go forward and for it to be as plain as day so I see it.

IN the news this week is something we all need to consider. We have been warning about this sort of thing now for seven years. And even thought this is an anomaly it too is becoming the norm in the western states. http://thetruthwins.com/archives/dust-bowl-conditions-are-literally-returning-to-the-western-half-of-the-united-states Three years of severe drought has turned the soil of much of the western United States into a fine powder that the wind can easily pick up. As a result, we are seeing “apocalyptic” dust storms unlike anything the region has seen since the days of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Last week I received this email sharing with me some things I had not known before about the two severe Tornados that struck Oklahoma.

 

THE REST OF THE STORY THAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT!

Pro 11:21 Hand to hand, the evil one does not go unpunished, But the seed of the righteous shall escape.
Pro 1:24 “Because I called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one inclined,
Pro 1:25 “And you spurned all my counsel, And would not yield to my reproof,
Pro 1:26 “Let me also laugh at your calamity, Mock when your dread comes,
Pro 1:27 “When your dread comes like a storm, And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.
Pro 1:28 “Let them then call on me, but I answer not; Let them seek me, but not find me.
Pro 1:29 “Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of ????,

Presidential Proclamation — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2013 05/31/13 Obama wants America to be the launching pad for homosexual “rights” worldwide! America is now as a sin-diseased nation spreading the sin to the rest of the world. Look at the destruction the day he made this announcement!

“And because LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration is implementing the first-ever Federal strategy to advance equality for LGBT people around the world.

We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people. This was the date of the massive tornado storm that severely damaged Oklahoma and Missouri.

SIDE NOTE: (In addition OK city had a gay and lesbian week long celebration. The city of OK had to vote on if they would let them do a marching parade through the city. They voted yes, President signs this proclamation and the next day the F5 hit. A proclamation is a very big deal. This is like changing the day of Thanksgiving from one day to another. It takes a proclamation to do it. So is Coincidence? Hmm. OK city looks to have been kicking of the month long pride month.)

What was stunning in the proclamation was that Obama plans on using America to press the homosexual agenda worldwide! He is going to use America as the springboard for homosexual rights worldwide. America used to send out large numbers of missionaries throughout the world to preach the gospel of Messiah, but now it is sending out government agents of sin.

America is now a vector for spreading sin. It is not just people promoting sin, but the government of the United States is doing it. This means that it is creating Ordinances of the Amorites, which brings Yah’s judgment on the nation.

NO ONE IS STANDING UP AND SAYING THIS IS A BAD IDEA FOR OUR NATION. DID ONE PERSON CALL THEIR CONGRESSMAN OR SENATOR?

**The May 31, 2013, Deadly El Reno, Okla. tornado was widest ever measured on Earth, had nearly 300 mph winds*** 06/04/13 This massive F-5 tornado happened the day Obama said he was going to make America a vector for sin! This very well might be the “new normal” for America. The destruction is matching the nation’s level of sin.

At least 16 dead after rain, twisters lash mid-US; storms head east 06/02/13 The meteorologists used the word “terror” to describe the power of this storm. Is this going to be the “new normal” for tornadoes and other natural disasters? Meteorologists reported this as the greatest tornado outbreak in history. Up to 30 square miles were destroyed along with about 15,000 houses. Is this going to be the “new normal” for the nation as Obama promotes the homosexual agenda worldwide?

“Violent storms that left at least 16 people dead in Oklahoma and Missouri were heading towards the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Sunday, as the nation’s mid-section struggled to cope with floodwaters. At least 13 people –including nine adults, three of who were storm chasers, and four children — were killed after five tornadoes — one a half-mile wide — struck the Oklahoma City area Friday evening, terrorizing communities already battered by deadly storms this spring.”

Massive wildfire rages in California, threatening 1,000 homes 06/03/13 This could be the “new normal” this summer.
I HOPE YOU ALL REALIZE HOW SERIOUS THIS IS. WITH BROTHERLY LOVE IN THE BODY OF ????? MESSIAH, BRO

I also praised the brethren in Thailand in last week’s introduction and here is another email from them. Are you willing to go 5 hours out of your way to get a book about the Sabbatical Years so you can learn the will of Yehovah?

Dear Joseph,

Yesterday I went to Bangkok to get my 5 books. Since 2 days I was feeling so week and the courage to go there was fading.
So I said to myself: You are going to get the TRUTH. There is no way you are breaking down now. You just go to get that TRUTH you want to know about thins long.
We were happy together and talked about you.
I marveled about the size and thickness of your book. Wow!
The first I will send to Switzerland as a birthday present to a good friend who has relatives in America and knows very well English. And some will also go to Switzerland to friends who speak well this language.
I travelled 5 hours to get them, Joseph, and I read in it during the home trip. I am so grateful to have it and cannot thank my heavenly Father enough that he blesses me with it knowing more about His will and welfare for us and that He uses you and so many others for spreading His word and make it UNDERSTOOD.
I can feel your love burning heart through every line and my fire gets kindled anew and anew. May this never end and may many hearts get this holy fire.
Be greatly blessed Joseph with your family and the whole set apart staff.

Bangkok

 

Joe,

This is Paul from the Sukkot trip last year, remember our late night walkabout in Jerusalem on Shemeni Atzeret? ? I would like to comment on your discussion concerning “grace.” Walking “grace” back through its Greek equivalent to its Hebrew original of “chen” or “chanan” means to bestow similar traits, see below. In Genesis 6:8, God found similar traits in Noah. Similar traits of who? The World or God himself? I see it best when viewed in Paleo-Hebrew pictogram: “het” is a tent wall “nun” is a seed or sprout. Everyone from the same tent or house would have similar traits. If we are in the Father’s House, we should display similar traits as the Father or His Son. A child of God, because we know there are no adults of God, whether in-grafted, adopted or native born are to have similar traits to the Father. Each one of us is at a different point on the journey to learning and living by the Father’s traits; thankfully we all have one living example, Yeshua, that shows us what living by the Father’s traits, e.g. His Words, should look like.

Another way I have heard it explained using the Paleo-Hebrew pictogram is God wooing us out of our house, living by our rules or effort, and into His house. Whose house do we want to live in? That is the decision we have to make. Live in our own house, make up the rules as we go. Live in the Father’s house, live by His rules. It is that simple.
Shavua tov,
PAUL

 

Joe – an answer to prayers.

Interesting, I too have many e-mails I have not sent to you and I too am uneasy about some of the things you hold as truth for this day. And when I chose not to send them, I prayed that Abba would provide someone who would better use words to send to you. He did, praise be to YHVH. Unlike the person who wrote you of their concerns, expressed, I have been a Sabbath-keeper since 1962, keeping festivals, and 7th year land Sabbath when I had gardens, and excusing debts. Long ago I shed the ” Christian mentality” you speak of, never was churchified, I was 18 when I started learning about Abba’s plan and way of life.

The letter has led me to search deeper into my uneasiness, and brought answers to some questions. Praise Yah. I get what they are saying about being under the “law”, hopefully we all realize that we are under Messiah, the message of Messiah that comes from our Abba. And as his letter says, this doesn’t do away with the instructions given in Torah, but there are some we can’t carry out in this day.

Coming out of WW, I don’t think what we learned, if we indeed learned, would be called baggage, but it wasn’t fully realized truth because Abba didn’t give it all to us at that time. And i don’t think He is yet finished with His restoring truth. As time has gone on, as you too have experienced, we get rid of some (maybe many) of things we thought were truth, because things are more clearly revealed to us. These are just the beginning of being brought to full truth.
I wouldn’t call the writer of the letter “a baby”, as they do, too much love and wisdom in how the heart and concerns were presented. And I see the letter as a big answer to my prayers, and I am thinking other’s prayers also. Since there are at least two of us concerned, there are probably others, people who have been burned in the religious, including messianic communities, people who have prayerfully taken their concerns to Abba. Thank you for kindly referring to the things in the letter, and I really think you will consider them, not just seek to justify what you have taught, and the way you have taught. Too many “teachers” are guilty of that these days.

As to grace, I don’t think this person misunderstands it, tho as you say, the general Christian community, many of whom read your messages, haven’t been taught the true message of grace and faith. Nehemia on Truth2U has touched on the Hebrew chan/chanan and aman/emunah. Thought it pretty good, think you listen to the program. So sad translation gets so lost down through the ages.
A big thank you to whoever wrote the letter, better responding to the convictions they hold than I have mine. Would be neat to correspond with that person.

I thank you all for your letters and emails that you send. Never be shy about sending them. My bark is not as bad as it sounds. I do challenge you all to study and prove what I am saying to be true or false. Not just to hold your positions. But to prove them again and again in some cases. I do stretch your tent pegs. I know this.

Last week we began to answer an email I had received from a dear sister. Please see last weeks News letter for the whole email. I will not paste it here again each week. https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=862
I have had some great responses which we will share in the coming weeks. Before we begin this weeks explanation I would like to share one thing that I did receive with you. Some consider my articles judgments upon them when in fact they are many times an examining of my own faults that I have or had.
Giving Myself a Black Eye

by Skip Moen, D. Phil.

but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB
Discipline – We live the lives of Jacob, so maybe we need the same faith as Jacob. What I mean is that we aren’t Job. We are not righteous men and women. We struggle with Torah. We make mistakes. We take “vacations” from the commandments. We are “foremost” among the sinners, just like Paul. I would imagine that most of us have at one time or another attempted to manipulate God’s grace in our favor. It’s difficult for us to say with complete confidence, “Even if you slay me, yet I will worship you.” We are much more like the schemer Jacob, trying to figure out how to stay out of trouble and still get what we want.

Jacobs’s faith is a fighting faith. He has to wrestle with God. He loses (so do we all) but he won’t quit even in defeat. That’s why his name becomes Israel – and for the rest of his life you will find that he vacillates between his old name and the new name God gave him. Sounds a lot like me.
What does Paul’s statement about discipline have to do with Jacob? Well, the word Paul uses is the Greek hypopaizo. Yes, it does mean discipline, but it is a word from the boxing world. It is used by Diogenes Laertius to describe a fight where one man gives the opponent a black eye. Hypopaizo is a punch in the face. It’s a graphic, powerful, confrontational word that belies the idea of mental asceticism. Paul literally says that in order to follow the leading of Yeshua he must pound himself into shape. He gives himself a black eye in order to stick with the Lord. He and Jacob go through the same “discipline,” that is, they have to use every ounce of energy to hold on to God in order to be worthy of His blessing.
Discipline is not for the weak. It’s not for those who aren’t willing to be beaten up a bit. It’s not for those who are out of shape, who think this life should be easy and God will “take care of things.” Discipline is for those who are willing to be knocked down and still get back up again. This is what I need, and for the same reasons Paul states. What is the point of providing all this elaboration of the Word if I myself fail to meet its standard? I have to be ready to be given a black eye for God’s sake. Most of the time that black eye doesn’t come from some other person. I’m the only one, other than the Lord, who knows how much I fail to keep the instructions that I teach others. I need to beat myself into shape. God will certainly assist, but until I take off the face guard, I am not really in the fight. In this battle, I have to be ready to give myself a black eye.
Far too often we opt for a comfortable spirituality. Of course, we are willing to take on difficult tasks “for the Lord,” but when it comes to beating myself, to wearing down all those offers from the yetzer ha’ra, we would rather play the church video game from the couch. No blood in that! If you get hit, it doesn’t hurt and you can just push the OFF button. God, unfortunately, is the God of life, not games, and life is in the blood. If you’re going to play in His world, you better bring bandages.

Last week we addressed the issue of being saved by Grace Through Faith. But now we must define exactly what it is to have faith. Many talk about faith all the time, but what is it?

Some say that if you do not do it (what ever that “it” is) that your faith is lacking. Before you read any further write down what the word faith means to you right now. And then compare your understanding of this word to what we are about to learn. Again this was sent to me but I do not know from where it came. I have added to it in places, but the whole of the article belongs to someone I do not know. Sorry.
What does the word “believe” mean?

Most people will not read to the end of this article because they think they already know. Digging a little deeper.

Gen 15:5 And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. 6 And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 15:6 is that famous verse that is recited by many to support the idea that redemption is all about believing. Believing is an undeniable factor in our relationship with Yehovah, but let us dig a little deeper.

There is NO word in Hebrew that means ‘believe’. Hebrew is a concrete language and culture. It is based upon tangibles. In Hebrew the world is experienced through the senses of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight; and things of the world are described by their function or characteristics. This is the Eastern way of thinking.

The other way of thinking is the Greek way, also referred to many times as the ‘Western’ way. The Western way of thinking is abstract. It experiences the world through the mind and describes the world through appearances.

It is confusing, and sometimes impossible, when you try and read the Scriptures with a Western mindset. Translators, in order to try and get the point across, resorted to abstract words and ideas that western thinkers could easily grasp hold of. But abstract ideas are just that, abstract! When you read the Scriptures with your mind instead of through your senses, you are left with a muddled paint-by-numbers picture… with no numbers. So the Westerner wants to know “what colors do I use?”, “what kind of paintbrush do I use?” and “why does Yehovah make this picture look like this when my mind thinks it should look differently?” The scriptures do not answer their questions. The answers are not there because to the Hebrew who wrote the Scriptures as designed by Yehovah, there were no questions. Concrete. Concrete. Concrete.
For example: At the beginning of this paper I suggested that we “dig a little deeper.”

Eastern thought would understand that I am suggesting work and sweat and the possibility of blisters to make a hole deeper with the end result being to find water. A Western translator could very easily translate this phrase into “let’s think about this more thoroughly.”
So the Westerner is sitting on a stool with his chin on his hand…..thinking. If he does finally figure out that he is supposed to dig……he wants to know how deep? How wide? What kind of tool? And why is he digging a hole? His abstract stream of thought has taken him so far away, he doesn’t even remember that we are talking about belief.

The Hebrew dug. He is sweaty and tired, smiling and thanking Yehovah that water has been found. He is “experiencing” what the action of digging produced.

If Genesis 15:6 inspires those of us who ‘believe’, we should understand just what exactly it means to believe in the Hebrew since there is no word for it. If we base our spiritual lives on Yehovah’s Word, it helps to know what His Word really says.

The word translated into ‘believed’ in the original Hebrew text is aman. It is a Hebrew root word that means “firm” or “sure”. (Remember… senses and function.) This little, three letter Hebrew root word (Aleph -Mem -Nun ) has been translated into believe(d), trust(y), sure, steadfast, verified, nurse, father, faithful, bring up, firm, established, continuance and stand fast… to name a few.

Firm ground does not give. A firm arm is strong (destructive or protective, depending on the context). Firm care leads to recovery. A firm jaw can mean steadfast but a firm neck is stubborn….you get the picture? A firm step can be confident and upright, but if we read Proverbs 14:15 we are told that “The simple believes (aman) every word but the prudent considers well his steps”.

Here we are told that a simple man is firm in all. We can understand that being firm in all things is irrational and can lead to pride or anger or over-confidence or danger. Of course, that is according to the Western way of thinking. The Eastern way of thinking knows that there is soft ground and firm ground, wet ground and rocky ground, high ground and low ground, etc. so it is wise to watch your step. A firm step on soft ground is over-confidence and not upright!

“And he believed in Yehovah…” ??literally says:
“And he was firm in Yehovah…”

Believing IN Yehovah puts the focus on His existence. It doesn’t require anything but an abstract submission to the idea that He exists, much like a child living in the United States who ‘believes’ in the Tooth Fairy. If parents forget to exchange that tooth for money, and the child wakes up the next day without his reward, how long will the child continue to believe? What did the child surrender except for a tooth that fell out? What kind of relationship does that child have with the Tooth Fairy except to get something they did not work for from someone who seems to exist soley for the purpose of making them happy? Unfortunately, this is very similar to the way a lot of people view our Creator. Belief doesn’t take effort.

THIS WRITER DOES NOT BELIEVE “IN” Yehovah. I BELIEVE Yehovah.

Believing Yehovah places the focus on you. Believing Yehovah is standing firm in Him. Believing Yehovah requires submission to His authority. Believing Yehovah is knowing what He says is true and knowing He is with you…not hoping that He is. Believing Yehovah is delighting in Him, regardless of the circumstances. Believing Him is a systematic walk during which you continue to empty yourself of yourself, so that He can fill you up according to His purposes. It is praying for His will to be done and not your own.

A word that we are all familiar with, amen (pronounced Ah-main, not Aye-men), comes from the root aman. It is a firm answer of acceptance and surrender to what was said.

In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul is trying to explain a very difficult truth to the Jewish believers living in Rome: That following Yehovah’s instruction in Torah is not what redemption is based on. It was difficult for the Jews to come to grips with this. Torah was essential to the Jewish people as a way to show their obedience to and sanctification by Yehovah. And even though they were firm in Yeshua’s sacrifice, they still understood Torah to be Yehovah’s instructions for a Holy People. So as they watched Gentiles come into the fold with no knowledge (and consequently, it seemed, no respect) for Yehovah’s Word, the Jewish believers had a tendency to think of themselves as ‘better’ than the Gentiles and apparently boasted in this fact. They couldn’t accept that these ‘pagans’ could be worthy to the God of Israel if they wouldn’t even circumcise themselves as an outward sign of their grafting in. Paul wanted to make it clear to them that Yehovah has no room for boasting and that all men are equal in sin.

Paul states in Romans 3:20:

“By the deeds of Torah no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by Torah is the knowledge of sin.”

The sign of the covenant with Yehovah as established through Abraham was circumcision. Males from the nations who surrendered to Yehovah showed their devotion and became part of Israel by undergoing circumcision, regardless of their age. What Paul is saying here is that no flesh will be justified (more specifically…no lack of flesh) because the New Covenant and new sign was Yeshua!

To bring all of this into perspective, I will show you a present day situation that may shed some light on what was going on in Rome. I am a Jewish believer. Yehovah tells us in Torah not to eat unclean animals so therefore, I don’t eat them. When I see a fellow believer eating bacon-wrapped shrimp… my skin crawls. It is an uncontrolled reaction. However, if I thought that I was better than that person and less guilty of sin because I was doing what my Father wished in regards to dietary laws, I would be WRONG. I would be boasting in my obedience. I don’t follow Torah to earn ‘points’. I follow Torah because I love my Father.

By Yehovah’s grace I know that His redemption through the blood of Messiah is available to us all, Jew and Gentile, One in Him. We are all at different stages on our paths in this race and are to be as a family, helping one another along.

In the situation above, if the person were to push a bacon-wrapped shrimp in my face and encourage me to eat it because we are all under Grace, he/she would be WRONG. ? Yehovah expects us to be firm in Him. His instructions in Torah are for us all.

Recall for a moment Jacob’s son, Joseph, when tempted by Potiphar’s wife in Egypt. His thoughts were not “Oh, I shouldn’t,” or “It would be fun but I might get caught.” His response to her was “How can you ask me to sin against my God?” Now THAT is powerful! THAT is firmness in Yehovah!
In fact, if we read further in Genesis to Chapter 26, Yehovah appears to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and reiterates the same promise that He had made to Abraham in Genesis 15. But we get the details in verses 4-5 that explain what it meant that Abraham was “firm in Yehovah”.
Gen 26:4 And I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of the heavens, and will give to your seed all these lands. And in your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.
It was because Abraham was firm in obeying Yehovah. Abraham was firm, he believed Yehovah, he had faith, because he kept the commandments the statutes and Yehovah’s Laws.

This is the faith of Abraham. This is what so many do not understand. It is not faith IN God. It is firmness of Yehovah. To just believe and obey Yehovah.

Paul, in Rome, tries to explain this, continuing in Romans 3:27-30:
27“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law [is boasting excluded]? [The law] of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of Torah. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

The word ‘faith’ in Hebrew is ‘emunah’ and within it you can see the root word aman. Firmness. Faith. Faithfulness. We are justified by our firmness in Yehovah, not by our deeds since we will always fall short! I may not eat lobsters and pork chops, but I know that I have not always observed the Sabbath as He would have me do. I know that I have had bad thoughts and have said unkind words. But Avinu (our Father) will justify us through our firmness in Him. Firmness in Him is firmness in His atoning sacrifice, Yehshua, and our firm desire to please Him through our firm obedience and firm repentance when we see our sin through Torah.

As we saw earlier, aman can also be translated as ‘established’. Not only is Paul telling us all that it is the ‘law of firmness’ that justifies us, he states in the next verse, verse 31, that Torah is made firm through our firmness in Yehovah! He asks:

31 Do we then make void Torah through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish Torah.”

He is literally saying “Are Yehovah’s instructions made void through our firmness? No! Our firmness in Him strengthens His instructions.”
Torah shows us HOW to walk as a redeemed people under the blood of Messiah. And all of this is to show to the world the Glory of the Yehovah who sanctifies us!

An even more encouraging confirmation of all of this is what Paul says next in ?Romans 4:3!

“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed Yehovah and it was accounted to him as righteousness.”

He doesn’t say that Abraham believed in Yehovah, does he?
Now going back to the teaching we did last week.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Last week we showed you what Grace and Mercy are.

“Grace means you received something you did not deserve. Mercy is not receiving something you did deserve. Grace is God sharing His blessings with us while mercy is God restraining His judgments against us.”

And you all know that right in the giving of the Ten Commandments Yehovah tells us how He gives Mercy to those who KEEP the commandments.

Exo 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 I am Jehovah your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, 6 and showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments.

Yehovah says “showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments.”
Yehovah is giving grace for something you do not deserve and Yehovah is showing you mercy, that is not receiving the judgment or punishment that you do deserve.

This is what Grace is and you all know that Yehshua said in Joh 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments. Tying this back into the 10 commandments once again.

1Jn 2:3 And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, I have known Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His Word, truly in this one the love of God is perfected. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked.

You are saved by Grace; being forgiven what you deserve and not punished for what do deserve through your faith; your belief OF Yehovah to keep those commandments.

You believe, that is you do those commandments because you love Yehovah; because you love Yehshua. That is how you show Him your love. That is how you show Him your faith, your belief, your ‘emunah’, by doing the law as James says.

Jas 2:17 Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works. 19 You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” 24 You see then how a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 

Faith in Hebrew is the word

Emunah, means fidelity, or faithfulness, stability, steady and truth.

Once you have your stability and are walking in faithfulness, you will already have the Torah written on your heart and you will no longer need someone to teach you every detail, because it will be part of you.

I want to share also this note I received from Gerald Brown. Most of it is relative to the discussion at hand, although some may apply to other subjects we will discuss later on.

Hi Joseph,

This seems like the perfect opportunity to share some perspective regarding the letter written by your subscriber with questions. The first thing that jumps out at me is the reference to the “Law of Moses.” What is the “Law of Moses”? Christians use the term “Law of Moses” as a reference to laws Moses supposedly made up for the children of Israel to follow that were abolished at the cross. Your writer doesn’t say the laws were abolished, but that the curses were abolished because Yeshua became a curse for us. The curses are merely a warning of what will happen to us when we disobey. If I understand his reasoning correctly, the curses of disobedience no longer have a place in the life of a believer in Yeshua because Yeshua became a curse for us. This sidesteps the fact that Moses never invented any laws for the people of Israel. Every law or instruction Moses gave the people of Israel came from God.

A couple years ago I did an electronic search of the entire Bible for the phrase “law of Moses,” copied every instance of the phrase into a pdf file, and made some observations of these verses. I’ve attached it for your convenience. Do with it what you wish.

The second thing that jumps out at me has to do with the concept of redemption. Redemption is not a purchase. Redemption is a release from slavery — the slavery of sin. Redemption is to set something right, to correct a wrong. The Greek word for ransom (lutreau) is the word used to describe a release. The concept represented by the word “ransom” is not a payment, but a release. In a kidnapping case, the demand for the ransom may be based on the payment of money, but the ransom itself is the release from custody. Yeshua came to show us how to live so we could obtain this release from sin. We sold ourselves for nothing and we are to obtain our freedom without money according to Isaiah 52:3.
This is the role of the kinsman redeemer. The fee for redeeming land could not exceed what had been paid for it. Since we sold ourselves into sin without money, we are redeemed without price. Yeshua is our elder brother, our kinsman redeemer. Salvation is not an economic issue.
The third thing is the discussion of the grace of God. The grace of God is His gracious character, His graciousness. Grace is not a commodity that is dispensed when we sin, but the gracious way He treats us at all times. To say that “grace is unmerited favor” implies that we might merit some favor under the right circumstance. As sinners we never merit favor. God’s grace is how He treats us well under every circumstance.
The fourth thing that jumps out at me is the Christian teaching [advanced by Monte Judah in his article you quoted] that Yeshua died as a substitute for me because I’m a sinner. The biggest problem with this is that the Passover lamb is not a sin offering. The Passover lamb is a blemish free lamb and is sacrificed at the appointed time, and not because of anyone’s sin. No sins are ever placed on the head of the Passover lamb. This means that no sin is associated with the Passover lamb at any point of the festival. The LORD instructed that it is always to be this way. Exodus 34:25a states this: “Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven;” Leaven represents sin and is required to be removed from our lives and property before Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. Exodus 23:18 is a parallel to this verse. Sin is not to be an issue related to Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yet Christians make the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter to be all about Jesus accepting the sins of the world on

His shoulders so we don’t have to think twice about sin.

The phrase “blood of my sacrifice” is not just a reference to the blood of the yearly Passover animal, but is a reference to the blood shed by Yeshua on the cross. No sin is to be associated with the death of Yeshua. Christians ignore this limiting instruction and heap the sins of the world on Him on the cross, incorrectly saturating Him with our sins. They then use this as an excuse to ignore all the life-saving instructions given to Moses since they mistakenly claim their sins were dealt with at the cross. The Christian emphasis is on forgiveness when the biblical emphasis is on a changed lifestyle.

Yeshua is not a substitute for us. The words “substitute,” “substitution,” and “substitutionary” are never used in the KJV. If Yeshua’s death was a substitute for my death, scripture would clearly emphasize it. The verse where Paul wrote that Jesus died for our sins would be better translated that He died because of our sins. His death is not a trade for my death. Yeshua died to demonstrate that He told the truth to Adam in Genesis 2:17 that sin kills and it would kill even God Himself if he had sinned. His resurrection is testimony that He did not sin and no sin was ever associated with Him.

Keep up your good work.
Shalom,
Gerald

THE LAW OF MOSES Gerald Brown

Christians often speak about the law of Moses in negative terms and often say about this law that it has been abolished. Scripture shows otherwise. There are a total of 22 verses where the phrase law of Moses is found in scripture. They are presented here with a few comments.

Joshua 8 31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.

GB: The ‘law of Moses’ was written on stone by the LORD. This is obviously a reference to the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai. The ‘law of Moses’ originated with God, not Moses. Moses was merely the conduit through which God made known to the people of Israel His life-giving instructions. In this instance, the ‘law of Moses’ is a reference to the Ten Commandments.

Joshua 23 6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

1 Kings 2 3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

2 Kings 14 6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

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.

2 Chronicles 23 18 Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.

2 Chronicles 30 16 And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites.

Ezra 3 2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

Ezra 7 6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.

GB: The instructions in the books of Moses did not originate with Moses; all of its content was given to him by the LORD God of Israel. Moses didn’t invent any laws. The ‘law of Moses’ has the same source as the Ten Commandments. Moses is merely the privileged conduit through which God gave His life-saving instructions to the people. The only possible exception is the advice given to Moses by his father-in-law, Jethro, to set up a system of judges so that he would not be worn out by dealing with all the disputes among the people. Even that was likely given by God to Moses through Jethro.

Nehemiah 8 1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.

GB: This is the second Bible writer to state that the source of the instructions in the books of Moses did not originate from Moses, but from the LORD who commanded them to Israel. The ‘law of Moses’ has the same source as the Ten Commandments.

Daniel 9 11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

Daniel 9 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Malachi 4 4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

GB: Christians have arranged the books of the Tanakh so that Malachi is the last book. One of the last commands before moving into the New Testament is to remember the law of Moses, the statutes, and judgments. Malachi’s call is for the people of God to live by the law of Moses, the statutes, and judgments. This applies to the Jews and others who were attracted to the Messiah when He came. By rejecting the law of Moses, the statutes, and the judgments, Christians reject living according to God’s will. To the extent that Christianity rejects the word of the LORD given through Moses, Christianity is a false religion.

Luke 2 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished,
they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

GB: The parents of Jesus – Joseph and Mary – lived according to the law of Moses. For those who find the person of Jesus attractive, they need to study the messages of Jesus and follow His teachings and example.

Luke 24 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

GB: The Jewish scriptures, the Tanakh, is organized into three sections: the Pentateuch or books of Moses, the prophets, and the writings or psalms. Jesus uses the term ‘law of Moses’ in this story to reference the five books of Moses. The ‘law of Moses’ is the first section of the Tanakh and includes all the laws and instructions which God said would last forever. Not even one of the instructions of the LORD given to Moses is said to have a temporary application. All have an enduring value, which is why Malachi said to “Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” There is no scripture that renounces this principle, otherwise the God they serve is schizophrenic. God is not a respector of persons, which means the plan of salvation is the same for the Israelite and the gentile.

John 7 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

Acts 13 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

GB: The purpose of the law of Moses was not to justify the people, but to give them a vision for a lifestyle and standard of living to which they could aspire.

Acts 15 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

GB: The decision at the Jerusalem council did not set aside the law of Moses, but merely allowed the gentile converts to learn it at a pace they could absorb it – very much the same way a child growing up would learn it. Read Acts 15:21 to see that these gentiles would be in the synagogue every Sabbath to listen to the writings of Moses. The list of four things stated in Acts 15:19 is not the complete list of things expected of gentiles, but is only the threshold of what was required of gentiles in order for them to worship in the synagogue. As they continued to worship in the synagogue Sabbath after Sabbath, they would learn all of the LORD’s instructions. There is no suggestion that certain portions of the writings of Moses would be omitted.

Acts 28 23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

GB: Luke tells us that, when Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he called the chief Jews and taught them about Jesus out of the books of Moses and the prophets. This is a reflection of what Jesus did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as recorded in Luke 24:25-27. The notion that the law of Moses is dispensable for living a godly life is ludicrous. Remember, the Lord said about Moses that He spoke with him face-to-face, and that he even saw His form. (See Exodus 33:11-23, Deuteronomy 5:4 and 34:10.) No other human being has come that close to understanding God and been so privileged. Why anyone would want to diminish the law of Moses is a complete mystery.

1 Corinthians 9 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.* Doth God take care for oxen?

* Deuteronomy 25:4

 


Triennial Torah Cycle

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at?https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf

15/06/2013      Deut 22       Zech 6-9      2 Tim 3-4

 

Justice, Caring and Holiness Precepts (Deuteronomy 21:22-22:30)

This section begins with instructions on hanging someone. Notice that the criminal was put to death and then hanged (verse 22). “The guilty person was not hanged by the neck; this form of execution was not practiced in ancient Israel. The hanging was actually the impaling [or tying up] of the corpse for public viewing after death by stoning. Everyone would know that individual had brought guilt on the community. The exposure of the corpse was limited to one day. For that day, it reminded people of God’s judgment on the sinner” (Nelson Study Bible, note on 21:22-23). Thus, a criminal so hanged had to be buried before sunset (verses 22-23; compare Joshua 8:29). The hanging on a tree of the condemned person’s corpse was considered a “curse” (Deuteronomy 21:23). That is part of why Joseph of Arimathea was anxious to take Jesus from the cross and bury Him before the new day, a Holy Day, began (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:38-42). Jesus, when being nailed on the cross, became “accursed” for us—He, being innocent of any crime or sin, took away the curse for the violation of the law (that is, the death penalty) that we, through our sinful conduct, had brought upon ourselves (compare Galatians 3:13; Romans 6:23).

Deuteronomy 22:1-4 gives practical examples on how to love our neighbor: If we find something that belongs to our neighbor, we are to return it to him. We are to take care of the found item until it can be returned (verses 1-3). We are also to assist our neighbor when he needs help (verse 4). And we are not to hide ourselves from helping (compare Isaiah 58:6-7). Rather we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

Deuteronomy 22:5 prohibits cross-dressing. A man is not to wear women’s clothes and vice versa, according to the cultural norms of the day. This deals with transvestitism or with conduct that could even give the appearance that one is engaged in such a practice. The command does not forbid unisex fashions—that is, attire that is culturally acceptable for both men and women to wear. It should also be noted here that “in the ancient Middle East, dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex was a magical practice intended to bring harm to people. For example, a transvestite male would predict that the soldiers of another army would be as weak as females” (Nelson, note on 22:5).

Verses 6-7 are concerned with the preservation of the environment and wildlife—one is not to take the mother bird and the young birds at the same time, but let the mother go free so that she can continue producing offspring, thus perpetuating the species. If the opposite were done, taking the mother and leaving the young, the young would, of course, die, leaving none of the birds alive.

Verse 8 is another law showing concern for neighbor. In ancient houses, roofs, which were flat, were often used like other rooms, especially during hot weather. Thus, there was a real danger of someone accidentally stepping or falling off the edge of the roof. Therefore, this law was to protect others by requiring that a house have a parapet or railing around the roof’s edge to prevent accidental injury. While we do not normally put railings around our roofs today unless it is common for people to walk on them, we would certainly do so around a balcony or very high deck. Indeed, the principle here is simply that we try to anticipate dangers in anything we plan or build and do what we can to protect others from those dangers. This law was simply a practical way to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)—to take reasonable steps to protect others from injury.

Verse 12 repeats the command from Numbers 15:37-41 that tassels be added to the four corners of one’s clothing. One source comments: “To understand the significance of the tassel, we must first understand the significance of the hem. The hem of an ancient Near-Eastern garment was not simply a fold sewed to prevent the threads of the cloth from unraveling. The hem of the outer garment or robe made an important social statement. It was usually the most ornate part of the garment. And the more important the individual, the more elaborate and the more ornate was the embroidery on the hem of his or her outer robe. The tassel must be understood as an extension of such a hem…. Thus, the significance of the tassel (as well as the elaborate hem) is this: It was worn by those who counted; it was the ‘I.D.’ of nobility. The requirement of a blue cord in the tassels [see Numbers 15:38] lends further support to the notion that the tassels signified nobility because the blue dye used to color the threads was extraordinarily expensive” (Jacob Milgrom, “Of Hems and Tassels,” Biblical Archaeology Review, May-June 1983, pp. 61-62).
This supports the common Jewish understanding: “In ancient times non-Jewish royalty wore fringes on the hems of their clothes to indicate their high position. The Torah instructs all Jews to remember that they are a nation of priests with God as their ruler” (Malka Drucker, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, 1982, p. 48). However, the explicitly stated scriptural reason for tassels is found in Numbers 15:39-40: “that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord to do them…and so be holy to the Lord.” Perhaps, in reminding the Israelites that they were a royal priesthood, the tassels also reminded them that this responsibility required them to obey Him and remain holy. It may even be that the tassels reminded them that God had taken them from slavery and made them a wealthy, blessed people—and that He would continue to bless them as long as they remained faithful to Him.

Today it is the Holy Spirit that reminds us of God’s law (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit was not given, or even promised, to ancient Israel at large, so they needed such physical reminders (compare Deuteronomy 5:29). Under the terms of the New Covenant, those physical reminders should not be necessary, as the law of God is being written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:33). It is true that Christ wore tassels (see Matthew 9:20, the word translated “hem” here and “borders” in 23:5 referring to an ancient hem with tassels as described above), but He lived His human life under Old Testament rules, including its sacrifices and offerings and its physical reminders.

Deuteronomy 22:13-30 discusses laws of sexual morality. If it was discovered that a newly married bride had engaged in sexual immorality or fornication prior to marriage, she was to be stoned (verses 20-21). If the husband’s accusation of fornication prior to marriage was proved wrong, the husband had to pay a fine to his wife’s family and was not allowed to ever divorce her (verse 19). This was done to protect the wife, as the husband had to continue to provide for her.

When two unmarried people engaged in fornication and were discovered, the perpetrators had to marry each other (verse 28) unless the father of the girl refused to consent to the marriage. In that case, the man who had enticed the virgin still had to pay “money according to the bride-price of virgins” (Exodus 22:16-17). If two people engaged in adultery, that is, where at least one of them was married to someone else, then both perpetrators were to be stoned (verse 23). The concept of adultery even included a “betrothed,” though not yet married, woman, as she was already considered to be the “wife” of the new husband (verses 23-24). Then there was the matter of rape. If a sexual relationship involving a betrothed woman occurred in the city where other people were nearby, but the woman did not cry out for help, this was considered adultery and not rape, since the woman could have been heard if she had cried out, thereby demonstrating her disagreement with the sexual encounter. On the other hand, if a rape of a betrothed woman occurred in the isolation of the countryside, where her cries for help would have been to no avail, then the matter was declared a rape and only the rapist had to die (verses 25-27).

 

Don’t Get Mixed Up (Deuteronomy 21:22-22:30)

Deuteronomy 22:9 forbids sowing a vineyard with different kinds of seed. Verse 10 prohibits plowing with an ox and a donkey together. And verse 11 prohibits wearing garments of different material. Let’s examine these three prohibitions in more detail.

The prohibition against wearing certain clothes is actually quite specific. Note that the words “such as” have been added to verse 11. It should actually read, “You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, wool and linen mixed together.” That the mixing of wool and linen is really the issue here may also be seen in Leviticus 19:19, which clearly states, “Nor shall a garment of mixed wool and linen come upon you.” Wool is an animal product, while linen is a plant product. Such should not be combined, as they produce clothes of lesser quality. Further, the Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (JFB) notes that research has determined that wool blended with linen may sometimes increase static electricity to the point of causing heat rashes in hot climates (note on Lev. 19:19). Thus, with the prohibition being so specific, synthetic fabric does not even appear to be an issue here, or fabric that is part synthetic and part wool or that is part synthetic and part linen. It should also be noted that the prohibition is against a particular fabric being an improper blend. It apparently does not prohibit wearing wool and linen at the same time or even as different parts of the same garment.

The purpose of the prohibition against sowing different kinds of seed may have been twofold. First, it may have been “directed against an idolatrous practice, viz., that of the ancient Zabians, or fire-worshippers, who sowed different seeds, accompanying the act with magical rites and invocations” (JFB, note on Leviticus 19:19). But this law was evidently also given to prevent the intentional or unintentional cross-pollinating of different kinds of plants, as this would produce substandard hybrids. The same commentary notes that “those who have studied the diseases of land and vegetables tell us that the practice of mingling seeds is injurious both to flowers and to grains. ‘If the various genera of the natural order Gramineae, which includes the grains and the grasses, should be sown in the same field, and flower at the same time, so that the pollen of the two flowers mix, a spurious seed will be the consequence, called by the farmers chess. It is always inferior and unlike either of the two grains that produced it, in size, flavor, and nutritious principles. Independent of contributing to disease the soil, they never fail to produce the same [result] in animals and men that feed on them'” (note on Leviticus 19:19). For other examples, cucumbers should not be planted near watermelons because they will cross and produce a perversion. Likewise, the various members of the muskmelon and cantaloupe family should not be planted near pumpkins or certain types of squash, as they will mix. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with planting peas or beans among corn, or planting two pasture grasses together. In that case, there is no problem as each seed continues to reproduce only after its own kind.

With today’s scientific knowledge, there is much planned hybridization. However, much of it is controversial because, generally speaking, with most “improvements” or advantages come corresponding disadvantages or weaknesses. Hybrid plants grown for human food have often proven less healthful.

Several reasons have been offered for the prohibition against yoking an ox and a donkey together for plowing. One explanation is that an ox is a clean animal, while a donkey is unclean. Also, it has been shown that the ox cannot tolerate the smell of a donkey, so that both animals don’t really work together harmoniously. They pull unequally and, sometimes, even against each other. The Soncino Commentary suggests that the “underlying principle is prevention of cruelty, since the ass which is weaker than the ox would suffer in such a combination.” The JFB Commentary expresses all of these thoughts, stating: “An ox and ass, being of different species and of very different characters, cannot associate comfortably, nor unite cheerfully in drawing a plow or wagon. The ass being much smaller and his step shorter, there would be an unequal and irregular draft. Besides, the ass, from feeding on coarse and poisonous weeds, has a fetid breath, which its yoke-fellow seeks to avoid, not only as poisonous and offensive, but producing leanness, or, if long continued, death; and hence, it has been observed always to hold away its head from the ass and to pull only with one shoulder” (note on 22:10). All of this certainly serves to illustrate a spiritual principle the apostle Paul brought out in the New Testament. In light of everything that was just pointed out, we can perhaps better understand Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 6:14, where he says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Indeed, this lesson may be found not only in the rule about plowing, but also the ones concerning seeds and fabrics. For while these precepts have value in the physical realm, they illustrate a spiritual reality: Don’t get mixed up with this world.

 

Four Chariots From Between Two Mountains of Bronze (Zechariah 6)

The final vision of the night, often reckoned as the eighth but most likely the seventh (see comments on previous reading), is that of four chariots coming from between two bronze mountains (verse 1). Each drawn by horses of a different color, they thunder forth throughout the earth, evidently to deliver judgment on the nations (verses 2-8). This follows right on from the previous vision of the end-time captivity of Israel and Judah by a final revival of Babylon (see Zechariah 5).

The picture of two bronze mountains is rather mysterious. In the Hebrew, the first occurrence of the word for mountains, after the word for two, is ha-hari, containing the definite article ha and therefore meaning “the mountains.” And yet there does not appear to be any immediately preceding explanation for them—or a following one for that matter. So is the image here literal or figurative?

Well, there are no bronze mountains in the world. Bronze is not a naturally occurring metal. It is an alloy of copper and tin. The King James Version has “brass” here (6:1), which is an alloy of copper and zinc, and there is some dispute over which is intended, as the bronze of ancient Israel “varied a great deal in composition, and some contained an admixture of zinc, approaching brass. Such may have been the ‘fine shiny bronze, precious as gold’ (Ezra 8:27, NASB…)” (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “Mineral Kingdom”). In any case, there are no mountains of bronze or brass, yet mountains do provide the ingredients. God described the Promised Land as a land “out of whose hills you can dig copper” (Deuteronomy 8:9).

Yet bronze could also denote appearance rather than actual material composition. As explained in the Bible Reading Program comments on Isaiah 6, the Hebrew word for bronze, nechoshet, is related to the word for serpent, nachash, evidently because of the “shiny” quality they both share. Recall Daniel’s vision of the glorious being with “arms and feet like burnished bronze in color” (Daniel 10:6). When the apostle John described the present appearance of Jesus Christ, he said, “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace” (Revelation 1:15). The metal, then, would seem to denote a flashing, fiery appearance, as Ezekiel describes His legs and feet as “the appearance of fire with brightness all around” (Ezekiel 1:27).

There is also the figurative usage. One of the curses on the Israelites for disobedience was that God would make their “earth like bronze” (Leviticus 26:19), meaning hard and dry and unable to produce crops. Bronze could also signify firmness and invincibility. God set Jeremiah as “bronze walls against the whole land” so that no one would prevail against him (Jeremiah 1:18). Others point to the two massive bronze pillars that stood before the vestibule of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:15-22)—one named Jachin (meaning “He Will Establish”) and the other named Boaz (meaning “In Him Is Strength” or possibly “He Is Quick.”) Some, pointing to the bronze serpent Moses made and the bronze altar of sacrifice of the tabernacle and temple, see the metal as signifying judgment.

How, then, are we to understand the bronze mountains? As the chariots that come from between them (Zechariah 6:1) are also described as going out “from their station before the Lord of all the earth” (verse 5), this would seem to locate God in this picture either where the two mountains are or between them. Various explanations have been proposed. Here are seven such possibilities:

1. Given that Zechariah prophesied in Jerusalem and that the work of the nation at that time was rebuilding the temple there, many would identify one of the mountains as Jerusalem or its Temple Mount (see also 8:3). And some would identify the other mountain as the one across the Kidron Valley from the temple—the Mount of Olives. The picture here would be of God in the Kidron Valley unleashing His forces of devastation against the nations, the mountains to either side of Him—Jerusalem and the Temple Mount—ablaze or illuminated like bronze. Indeed, as other prophecies show, even those at the end of the book of Zechariah, the returning Jesus Christ will fight the nations who oppose Him at Jerusalem. And as explained in the Bible Reading Program comments on Joel, many equate the Valley of Jehoshaphat (meaning “Judgment of the Eternal”) with the Kidron.

2. Another possibility relates to Zechariah 14:4, which says that the returning Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives, which will then split in two, leaving a northern half and a southern half. God refers to the resultant rift between the two halves in the literal Hebrew as “the valley of My mountains” (verse 5, Green’s Literal Translation). The image is that the chariots of destruction then go out from this location.

3. Others take the two mountains as meaning the heavenly Mount Zion (seat of God’s spiritual temple) and the earthly Mount Zion (seat of God’s physical temple)—with Christ descending in the air between them and sending out His forces of judgment from this location. Bronze here would seem to have the figurative sense of firmness or strength.

4. Still others, given that “mountain” often represents a kingdom in prophecy, see “between the two mountains” as signifying the transition from God’s earthly kingdom of national Israel to the millennial Kingdom of God—and that “between” them denotes the time of coming judgment.

5. There are some who would take the two mountains as signifying God’s Kingdom and Satan’s kingdom, though it does not seem that both of these would be characterized by the same metal in the same prophecy.

6. Yet another theory is that “the two mountains” must refer to something previously mentioned in the relating of Zechariah’s visions. The flying scroll of the previous chapter represented the curses for disobedience in God’s covenant with Israel pursuing the people to visit judgment upon them. Interestingly, God through Moses had told the Israelites to publicly post the covenant between two mountains at Shechem—and for half the people to proclaim the blessings from Mount Gerizim and half to proclaim the curses from Mount Ebal (see Deuteronomy 27). And this they did (Joshua 8:30-35). Yet how could this possibly relate to the punishment on the gentile nations indicated in Zechariah 6? Notice that just after telling the Israelites of the curses that would befall them for disobedience (see Deuteronomy 27:1-30:1), God said that they would repent and return from captivity (verses 2-6) and that this would then happen: “Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you” (verse 7). So the curses that had pursued and stricken the Israelites would turn around and strike the gentile nations. Consider also that after proclaiming the blessings and curses between the two mountains at Shechem, Joshua and the Israelites went out from there and conquered the Promised Land. This was figurative of the end time, when another Joshua (Jesus Christ) will lead His hosts to victory over the nations, conquering the “promised land” of the Kingdom of God—the entire earth.

7. Another possibility that has been offered, and perhaps the simplest, is that the two bronze mountains refer directly to the two bronze pillars (literally “standing things”) before the temple. Mountains are certainly symbols of strength, just as were the bronze pillars—given their names related to strength and God establishing. Indeed, mentioning the two bronze mountains as the place of God’s presence to a people engaged in the work of rebuilding the temple would quite likely have made them immediately think of the two pillars. So the picture here would simply be of God’s agents going out from the place of His throne (which the temple represented).

Let’s next consider the horse-drawn chariots. The picture of red, black, white and dappled horses in Zechariah 6 recalls the red, white and brown horses of chapter 1. Though similar, the images are not the same. The different colors in chapter 1 may have represented the different areas of oversight of some of God’s angels in their reconnaissance of the nations. The colors in chapter 6 seem to most closely resemble the colors of the horses in Revelation 6: white, red, black and pale. While the order is not the same, the meanings of the colors are probably similar. The red horse of Revelation 6 signifies war and bloodshed, the black horse signifies famine, and the pale horse symbolizes plagues of disease and other calamities. “Dappled” in Zechariah 6—or splotchy—could fit the image of a variety of plagues. The parallel between the white horses of Zechariah 6 and Revelation 6 is perhaps not immediately grasped, as the one in Revelation is often designated as false religion—which does not fit with the one sent out by God in Zechariah. In fact, the white horse simply signifies conquest—as Christ Himself arrives on a white horse (Revelation 19). In Revelation 6, it is false religion doing the conquering: “And he went out conquering and to conquer” (verse 2). In Zechariah 6, it is God’s agents who claim victory.

Yet the agents of God in this chapter are evidently not angels as in chapter 1. Rather, the horses and chariots of chapter 6 evidently represent waves of judgment from God. In verse 5, “four spirits of heaven” could also be “four winds of heaven,” symbolizing destructive power sent out over the earth by God (see Jeremiah 49:36). In fact, notice Revelation 7: “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree…’…till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads'” (verses 1-3). The sealing is completed during the Great Tribulation (see verse 14) so that the four winds are released thereafter during the day of the Lord. (There might be some relation, at least thematically, to the releasing of four angels bound at the Euphrates during the Day of the Lord in Revelation 9:13-21 to cause vast destruction.)

The red horses of Zechariah 6 are not designated as going to any particular place but evidently are first in going “throughout the earth” (see verse 7, which applies to all the horses)—that is, to the whole world, indicating a period of global war. In verse 6, the chariot of black horses charges into the “north country.” In Zechariah’s third vision earlier the same night, “the land of the north” was specifically equated with Babylon (Zechariah 2:6-7). And Babylon was mentioned again in the previous vision (5:11). So it appears that end-time Babylon will be hit with a period of devastation and famine—which it will experience in the Day of the Lord. This may parallel the imagery in Joel 2:2-11 (see also verse 20). The black horses are followed to Babylon by the white horses of conquest—to be ultimately fulfilled in the coming of Christ and His heavenly hosts.

The plagues of the dappled horses strike south toward Egypt and other areas that are today Muslim. Interestingly, “if the chariots in Zechariah’s seventh vision are understood as moving from Zion in just the two directions, north and south, the geo-political outlook of Zech 6:1-8 is comparable to that in Daniel 11 with its concentration on the Ptolemies to the south and the Seleucids to the north, threatening the covenant people in between” (Meredith Kline, Glory in Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions, p. 218 footnote)—with the conflict continuing to the end-time. Later in the book of Zechariah, we are told of plagues on Egypt following Christ’s return if they refuse to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (14:16-19), showing how God will work with all nations.

Yet the principal enemy of chapter 6 is Babylon. Recall that God had been “exceedingly angry with the nations at ease” (1:15)—the enemies of Israel. He had foretold their punishment (verses 18-21), particularly that of Babylon (2:6-9). Now, with the judgment on the Babylonians accomplished, God’s Spirit is at last able to rest from bringing punishment on them (6:8).

 

The Crowning of Joshua (Zechariah 6)

Whether or not Zechariah was still experiencing his final vision when God gave Him the instructions of verses 9-15 is not clear. In any case, his carrying out of the instructions, including his relaying of God’s message, would not have been part of a vision. Evidently, the episode described here literally took place on the day following the night of visions. The date would still have been the 24th day of the 11th month, because days were reckoned as beginning at sunset and lasting until the following sunset.

A new group returns from Babylon (verse 9), represented by a certain Heldai (referred to in verse 14 as Helem), Tobijah and Jedaiah. Following the vision in chapter 5 of the future captivity of Israel and Judah by Babylon, and the vision earlier in chapter 6 of Babylon’s coming punishment, the newly returned group represents, in the context of the visions, the returning captives from end-time Babylon. The men of Zechariah’s day brought gold and silver for the temple. Even so, the captives of the end time will return and contribute to God and His work.

Regarding Josiah the son of Zephaniah, Dr. Meredith Kline identifies him as “a treasury steward. Confirming this identification of his role is the designation for him in v. 14. In place of the name Josiah is lehen. The l- is usually taken as the preposition ‘for,’ which is prefixed to each of the other three names. It should, however, be taken together with the hn and this lhn has been shown to be an Akkadian loanword, the Neo-Assyrian lahhinu (also attested in the Aramaic lehen), used as a title for a court or temple official, a steward of precious commodities. Josiah was then a temple official. Such an office was occupied in the days of Hezekiah by Kore ben Imnah, who was set over the storage and distribution of the offerings (2 Chr 31:14). Josiah’s ‘house’ does not refer to his residence but to the storage or treasury room(s) connected with the temple, over which he was in charge. It was naturally to this ‘house’ of Josiah that the returning exiles brought their treasures for the temple. And it would have been at that (treasury) house that Zechariah received through Josiah’s offices the exiles’ donation as requisitioned by the Lord” (Glory in Our Midst, pp. 228-229).

With their gift Zechariah was to see to the making of a royal crown to be placed on the head of Joshua the high priest, probably to encircle the base of his priestly miter or turban. This would signify combining the priesthood and monarchy in one office. Yet Joshua was certainly not being actually crowned as king. Judah was still under Persian rule and there was no provision for the line of Aaron to reign anyway. Some have speculated that this ceremony was to signify Joshua, the ecclesiastical leader, soon taking over civil rule as well given the conspicuous absence of Zerubbabel after this point. The event is also seen as representative of the later rise of the Hasmonean priest-kings around four centuries later. But this episode symbolized neither of these things.

Joshua was in no way personally assuming the royal office. He would not wear the crown again beyond this symbolic coronation. Rather, it would be kept in the temple for a memorial (verse 14). The point is that “again, as in chapter 3, Joshua is typical of Messiah both by name and office. The crown was to be a composite one (the verb is singular in v. 14), one set above another” (Charles Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, p. 300). As in chapter 3, the Messiah typified by Joshua is again referred to as the Branch. He is introduced with the words “Behold, the Man…” (verse 12), the very words by which Pontius Pilate introduced the brutalized Jesus to the crowd that cried out for His death (John 19:5). The prophecy states that the Branch would “branch out” (Zechariah 6:12). Jesus told His followers, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). His Church would grow out from Him—and eventually His Kingdom throughout the earth and then the whole universe. The Messiah, as the ultimate Zerubbabel figure, would be the one to build the temple (Zechariah 6:12-13; see 4:9). He would accomplish the building of the second temple in Zechariah’s day. He would build the spiritual temple of His followers, the Church of God. And He will also build a new temple in Jerusalem in the Millennium. Church and state will be united through His rule as both Priest and King.

Not only would the crown in the temple represent the hope of Christ’s future coming as both ruler and intercessor, but it would also serve as a memorial to those who had contributed to the crown and thus to the Kingdom by their gifts to the work of God—and this as a representation of those who would come from afar in the future (verse 15). This would include not only Israelites but also the gentiles. All would be allowed and encouraged to “build the temple” along with the Messiah Himself—though this remained, as always, contingent on faithful obedience (same verse). Some of this is fulfilled in the Church of God today, God’s spiritual temple, but the ultimate emphasis here, as throughout Zechariah’s visions, is on the incredible time of Christ’s return.

 

Fasts of Mourning Turned to Joy (Zechariah 7-8)

Zechariah 7:1 is dated to the fourth day of the ninth month Kislev in the fourth year of Darius, corresponding to late November of 518 B.C. Almost two years have passed since Zechariah’s memorable night of visions and the symbolic coronation of the high priest Joshua (see 1:7). With the decree of Darius in the intervening time bringing about a sea change in the region-the Persian province of which Judea was part now helping to provide for the temple’s construction-the rebuilding of the temple was really on the move. The nation was now being blessed instead of cursed, so we would presume the people were seeing bigger harvests and greater wealth and prosperity in general. The nation’s spiritual renewal had progressed even further. This was a time of restoration and great joy. The 70 years since the former temple’s destruction were nearly over-only two more years to go! So this prompted a sensible question regarding certain national fast days that had been instituted as times of mourning over the calamities at the beginning of the exile.

A delegation is sent to the temple in Jerusalem to pray and inquire of the priests and the prophets (the latter referring to Zechariah and Haggai) about the matter (7:2-3). The New King James Version says the deputation was sent “to the house of God” (verse 2). Others, such as the NIV, translate this as “from Bethel,” the town 12 miles north of Jerusalem. The uncertainty stems from the fact that in Hebrew Beth-El means “house of God.” The town of Bethel seems more likely as the temple is nowhere else referred to in Scripture as Beth-El and verse 3 immediately afterward refers to the temple as “the house of the Lord of hosts.” “Over two hundred Jews from Bethel returned from Babylon in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:28; Neh. 7:32), and the city was reoccupied during the restoration period (Neh. 11:31)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Zechariah 7:3).
Zechariah then gives God’s response in chapters 7-8, each of four sections beginning with the same basic wording (see 7:4, 8; 8:1, 18). The fact that the last section returns to the matter of the fasts shows that these are really four parts of one prophecy.

As recorded, the question was particularly concerned with the fast of the fifth month, the 9th of Av (see 7:3), as this day commemorated the destruction of Solomon’s temple. But perhaps the other fasts were initially mentioned as well. God’s first response through Zechariah also mentions the fast of the seventh month (verse 5). This does not refer to the fast God commanded in the Law for the seventh month, the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:29). Rather these (and the other two mentioned in Zechariah 8:18) were all instituted through tradition:

“Counting the beginning of the year from the month of Nisan, the Jewish sages identified these dates as follows (in the Talmudical tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b): the fast of the fourth month fell on the ninth of Tammuz, the day when the city walls were breached (2 Kings 25:3-4; Jer. 39:2); the fast of the fifth month was on the ninth of Ab, when the house of God was destroyed by fire (2 Kings 25:8-10); the fast of the seventh month was on the third of Tishri, the anniversary of the assassination of Gedaliah the son of Ahikam (ibid. 25; Jer. 41:2); and the fast of the tenth month fell on the tenth of Tebeth, which was the day when the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1, Ezek. 24:2). In Zechariah’s day, sixty-eight years after the destruction, when the rebuilding of the Temple was almost complete, the question naturally arose whether the time had not come to annul these fasts, since Jeremiah’s prophecy about the duration of the exile might well be thought to have been fulfilled” (The Illustrated Family Encyclopedia of the Living Bible, Vol. 8, p. 93, quoted in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on Zechariah 7:2-3).

Rather than a simple yes or no, God points out that there’s a much larger question to look at here with regard to what is being asked. Just what are these fast days all about anyway? He does not condemn the idea of national fast days. Instead, the real issue is one of motive and making sure to properly prioritize what is truly important. The exiles who have returned have undergone a period of spiritual renewal. But they still have areas to grow in-just as Christians do many years after conversion. God wants the people of Judea-and those Jews who were still in Babylon for that matter (as word would no doubt get back to them)-to really examine their hearts and consider the reasons they did the things they did, including why they engaged in the particular religious practices they did.

God asks, “Did you really fast for Me-for Me?” (verse 5). The sad truth is that their fasting was selfishly motivated. In verse 6, God says the same was true in regard to their feasting-it was all for themselves. It may be hard, though, to understand how self-denial can be selfish. Yet consider that rather than using fasting as a tool to draw closer to God, to realize total dependence on Him and more readily discern His will-which is the true purpose of fasting-the people were using the fasts to both wallow in self-pity and make God feel sorry enough for them to do something for them. Moreover, some likely fasted to feel good about themselves-and some to prove their righteousness to others. Centuries later, Jesus Christ would condemn such impure motives for fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).

Realize, further, that these fasts were instituted to mourn the terrible calamities that God had brought, not to mourn over and consider the behavior that had brought the punishment-the nation’s sins. Whereas it would have been fitting to use these anniversaries as opportunities to reflect on just why they had gone into exile, they merely grieved over their circumstances. Where was the searching self-examination and the depth of heartfelt repentance that God desires? As we will see, the people continued in many of their wrong attitudes and practices. So when they persisted in violating what God commanded, He would of course not look very highly on their form of piety that He did not command. Again, however, traditional national fast days were not the problem. The problem was attitude and motive. The same wrong mindset of the people could of course attach to God’s commanded Holy Days too-and in fact did. It was just particularly incongruous that fasting over calamities would ignore the very reasons for the calamities!

In verses 8-10, God reminds the people to focus on what’s really important-the weightier matters of the law, such as justice, mercy, faith and love (compare Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42), the true religion of looking out for the widow and orphan (see James 1:27), and other matters of serving and helping one’s neighbor. It was the refusal of their forefathers to heed this message that brought about the exile (Zechariah 7:11-14). These are the kinds of contemplative thoughts the national fast days should have been stimulating. The fact is, the relationship of the people to God could not have been right or they would have been right with one another (compare Matthew 5:23-24). Faith without a right way of life is a mockery of everything God stands for. The same challenge exists for God’s people today. Fasting, prayer, Bible reading, church attendance and the like can all become shallow rituals if they are not accompanied by a genuine desire to serve God and a lifestyle of integrity and outgoing concern toward others.

Zechariah 8 “continues the thought of the previous chapter. The prophet emphasized in chapter 7 the need of obedience from the fate of their fathers [a warning]; now he exhorts them in chapter 8 to the same condition of heart by placing before them promises of God’s future blessing [a message of the good news of God’s Kingdom]. This section parallels that of 1:14-17, just as chapter 7 answered to 1:1-6” (Charles Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, p. 308). The Church of God today is also to deliver a warning and call to repentance as well as the all-important message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

God in the person of Christ will come to literally dwell in Jerusalem (see 8:3). Chapter 8 gives us a beautiful picture of the security, peace and joy that will then permeate not only the Holy City but all the world. Considering the terror and violence of the Middle East today, the imagery in verses 4-5 of people growing to great age and children playing in Jerusalem’s streets is an astounding contrast. Expositor’s comments on verse 6: “Such things may have seemed too good to be true in the eyes of the Jewish remnant living ‘at that time,’ but the Lord Almighty did not so regard them. Nothing is too hard for him (see Gen 18:14…). [Merrill Unger]… explains the thought of the verse thus: ‘If the remnant of the nation in that future day will scarcely be able to comprehend how such miraculous things just promised could become a reality, the divine reply is, “Because they seem difficult to you, must they also seem hard to me?”‘ The answer is obvious.”

In verses 7-8, God promises the restoration of all His people. He will gather them from both east and west-that is, from wherever they have been scattered throughout the world.

In verses 9-10, God encourages His people to be strong in their work of building the temple-and there is likely a spiritual meaning for His spiritual people of the end time intended here too. With confidence in God’s promises, we should be strong in participating in God’s spiritual-temple-building work today.

Israel will be blessed tremendously. Notice that God says He will deliver both Judah and Israel at that time-that is, all 12 tribes (verses 11-13).
In verses 14-17 God again sets forth our moral responsibilities-as all people living by these precepts is the way that will bring about the wonderful world of peace God proclaims.

Finally, in verses 18-19, God returns to the matter of the Jewish fasts. During the millennial reign of Christ, they will be turned into times of joy and feasting. This would parallel Christ’s point about His followers not fasting while He was with them (Matthew 9:15). In the future Kingdom of God, Christ will again dwell with His people.

“Therefore,” God instructs at the end of Zechariah 8:19, “love truth and peace.” God’s point through all that we have read is that our integrity and manner of life-in thought, word and deed-is what is most important. We cannot substitute false piety for righteousness-for that will serve only to take us away from God. Instead, in drawing close to Him by striving to obey all His commands, paying special heed to areas of life He refers to as more important, God’s people will ultimately live in a perfect world of peace where they will never again need to seek of Him the reason for their national punishment through fasting. For they will be perpetually delivered. That, Zechariah proclaims, is where the focus needs to be.

How, then, was this matter of the fasts resolved? We are not specifically told. “According to Jewish tradition, when the nation was in peace and prosperity the fasts were suspended; when they were in trouble the fasts were reinstituted. Since AD 70 [when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its temple] the Jews keep the principal fasts” (Feinberg, p. 312). This would seem to be acceptable, as long as the right focus is maintained when participating in the fasts. As Jesus said in the same verse cited above, Matthew 9:15, His own followers would fast when He was no longer with them. Of course, this refers more to personally chosen times. Yet national days of prayer and fasting on traditional days would be acceptable as well as long as they don’t devolve into ritualism, legalism, self-pity or false piety.

While the negative aspect here sadly still often characterizes Jewish religious practice today, that will not be the case in the world to come. Indeed, the people of other nations in the Millennium will even seek out the Jews as those who are close to God-and who can therefore guide and teach them in the ways of true worship (Zechariah 8:20-23).

 

Prophecy Against Judah’s Neighbors (Zechariah 9:1-10:1) August 1-5

Chapters 9-14 of Zechariah contain two undated oracles. They may have been written years after chapters 1-8. Some have suggested a time in the prophet’s old age, perhaps later than the Persian conflict with Greece around 480 B.C. since Greece appears in this section as a dominant power—though this is not a requirement, as God well knew that Greece would emerge as such a power. The focus of this section of prophecy is predominantly on the end time, with 18 occurrences of the phrase “in that day.” And it is a heavily messianic section, referring to both the first and second comings of the Messiah.

Verses 1-2 of chapter 9 label the first oracle as a message against the land of Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre and Sidon (and verses 5-7 add the cities of Philistia). Hadrach was in Syria, “north of Hamath on the Orontes River, southwest of Aleppo” (The Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 1). Verses 3-4 describe destruction to come on Tyre, reminiscent of Ezekiel’s prophecies against Tyre in Ezekiel 26-28. As explained in the Bible Reading Program comments on those prophecies, destruction of both ancient Tyre and its end-time counterpart appears to be intended. The greatest ancient destruction of Tyre was accomplished by Alexander the Great—as the unwitting agent of God—when he rebuilt an ancient causeway out to the island fortress, breached its towering walls and set the city ablaze. And this was a forerunner of the destruction God will bring against end-time Tyre—that is, the global power bloc also referred to in prophecy as “Babylon the Great” (see Revelation 18).

Many see Zechariah 9:1-8 as descriptive of Alexander’s march down the eastern Mediterranean coastline, as he subdued the Persian territories there. “His successes,” commentator Charles Feinberg states, “are recounted in verses 1-7, and verse 8 notes the deliverance of Jerusalem. After the Battle of Issus, Alexander quickly conquered Damascus, Sidon, Tyre (after seven months it was burned), Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron. The course of his victories in 332 BC was from northern Syria south by the valley of the Orontes River to Damascus, then along the Phoenician and Philistine coast” (The Minor Prophets, 1990, p. 314). This was more than a century after Zechariah lived.

Verses 5-6 says, “The king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. A mixed race [‘bastard’ in the King James Version here is an inaccurate translation] shall settle in Ashdod.” In Alexander’s conquest, “Ashkelon lost its population, and Gaza was reduced after a siege of a few months…. Special mention is made by a contemporary of Alexander that the king of Gaza was brought alive to the conqueror after the city was taken; the satrap, or petty ‘king’ of the city, was bound to a chariot and dragged around the city to his death…. Ashdod was to lose its native population during this invasion, being replaced by a…mongrel people. It was Alexander’s policy to mingle different conquered peoples” (p. 316).
Notice that verse 1 mentioned the eyes of all people, especially “all the tribes of Israel” being on the Lord—that is, on Him carrying out His will against these nations. The scattered tribes of Israel, on the northern periphery of the Persian Empire, experienced a measure of liberation through the conquests of Alexander. Yet this could also signify all the Israelites of the end time witnessing the coming of the Lord to deliver them—as described later in the chapter (see verse 14).

Verse 7 describes the removal of unclean and idolatrous practices from the Philistines—and apparently their conversion, as their remnant will be for God. This will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus Christ, demonstrating that the earlier verses in this prophecy are likely dual—applying to both ancient and future times. Ekron, probably representative in verse 7 of all the Philistines who are left, “will be like the Jebusites [the former inhabitants of Jerusalem] in a good sense. When David conquered Jerusalem, he did not destroy the Jebusites; instead, they were absorbed into Judah (e.g., Araunah in 2 Sam 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:18). So it will be with a remnant of the Philistines” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verses 5-7).

Verse 8 further shows the end-time element of this prophecy, as God promises to never again allow a foreign oppressor to tramp through His people’s land. Since the time of Alexander, other oppressors have clearly afflicted the people of God. So the prophecy must refer to the time beyond Christ’s return.

 

The Messiah’s First and Second Comings (Zechariah 9:1-10:1)

Zechariah 9:9 contains the prophecy of the saving Messiah arriving on the colt of a donkey. This was fulfilled when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on such a donkey colt a few days before His crucifixion (Matthew 21:2-7; John 12:12-15). “The donkey was the mount of princes (Judg. 5:10; 10:4; 12:14) and kings (2 Sam.16:1, 2)” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Zechariah 9:9). God had forbidden Israel’s kings from multiplying horses to themselves (Deuteronomy 17:16). Horses would have been a symbol of exaltation and conquest. Notice that Zechariah 9:10 shows horses and chariots as war implements. The donkey was to symbolize humility and peace—and Israel’s anointed kings were to represent the future Messiah who would humble Himself in the cause of ultimate peace.

Yet Jesus’ first coming is not the primary focus of the remainder of the chapter. Verse 10 will not be fulfilled until Christ’s second coming. Note the reference to Ephraim, as representative of the northern tribes. The end of the verse describes the Messiah’s global dominion. In the remaining verses, we see that God will deliver His people.

Yet though Christ speaks peace to the nations (verse 10)—and indeed has done so through Scripture for nearly 2,000 years—they hatefully reject Him. He must therefore subdue them through means of war (verses 13-15). God will even use the returned captives of Ephraim (representative of the northern tribes) and Judah to fight their enemies. This is not a contradiction of the peaceful donkey imagery. Rather, it exactly parallels an ancient prophecy given about the Messiah by the patriarch Jacob: “The scepter [symbol of kingship] shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [i.e., the Messiah] comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:10-11). “The imagery in this verse describes the warfare that the Messiah will wage to establish His reign (Ps. 2; 110; Rev. 19:11-21). Wine recalls the color of blood” (Nelson, note on Genesis 49:11-12).

Notice in verse 13 that the Israelites fight against the sons of Greece. The first part of the chapter (verses 1-8) seemed to indicate the Greco-Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great as typical of the coming of the Messiah. Yet here we see Greece as the enemy. Some have attempted to link verse 13 with the Jewish fight in the days of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Greek overlords of Syria. Yet, while there may have been a forerunner in that divinely assisted struggle, the verse here clearly mentions the presence of not just Judah but also Ephraim, as representative of the northern tribes—and they were not present during the Maccabean period.

The actual Hebrew word for Greece is Yavan (written in English as Javan). And the sons of Javan could refer to the nationalities listed in the table of nations in Genesis 10. “The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim” (verse 4). Javan is generally understood to represent the Greeks. Elishah is typically equated with Cyprus. Tarshish is often thought to denote southern Europeans of the western Mediterranean, such as Spain (site of ancient Tartessus). Kittim, denoting western lands, could refer to people of Cyprus, Crete, Sicily, Italy and perhaps other western Mediterranean areas. Dodanim (spelled “Rodanim” in 1 Chronicles 1:7) may correspond to the Rhodians and other Aegean peoples. So southern Europeans could be intended in Zechariah 9:13 by Javan and his sons. Interestingly, this is where the descendants of ancient Tyre and Sidon may be found today—as well as the descendants of ancient Babylon. So the end-time Babylon, centered at Rome, may well be in mind in Zechariah 9:13. Indeed, as this latter-day system descends from ancient Greece—as from ancient Persia and Babylon before it—those who are part of it can rightly be described as descendants of Greece.

Yet the reference here may also be to the Hellenization (spread of Greek culture) begun under Alexander. By the time of Jesus’ first coming, the Jews regarded all non-Jews as “Greek”—a term frequently used in the New Testament for any and all gentiles. Foreseeing this divide, God in Zechariah 9:13 may simply be contrasting the Israelites with their gentile enemies. Even today, Greece is reckoned as the birthplace of Western civilization.

The returned exiles of Israel and Judah, though reduced to mainly slingstones for weapons, will fight together against their foes—and will miraculously gain victory as Christ returns in power and glory to save them (verses 13-16). In verse 15, “Zechariah describes the victory banquet of God’s people in celebration of His victory over the nations and securing of Jerusalem. The people will be filled with drink like sacrificial basins were filled with blood, and they will be filled with meat like the corners of the sacrificial altar (see Ps. 110)” (Nelson, note on verse 15).
This mighty deliverance will come “in that day” (verse 16)—the Day of the Lord. And the people of God will experience great blessing and prosperity (verses 16-17). In 10:1, “the latter rain (Deut. 11:14) refers to the rain that comes in late spring and is essential for an abundant grain harvest” (note on Zechariah 10:1). The rains signify all blessings, both physical and spiritual. God’s people will pray for these—and He will answer their prayers in abundance. Just as thunder and lightning precedes a shower of rain, so will the lightning, trumpet and whirlwind of Christ’s coming (9:14) precede a shower of blessings—the greatest blessing being the pouring out of God’s Spirit.
This oracle continues through the remainder of Zechariah 10 and chapter 11—our next two readings.
2 Timothy 3

Shaul had just given Timothy advice concerning how to deal with those who will come in opposition to the message in the last chapter and now in chapter 3 he proceeds to more of a revelation in his words to Timothy but they seem to be for this purpose of those living in the last days. For this is the setting now in Shaul’s letter. “In the last days hard times shall come.”

“Because: Men shall be lovers of self Lovers of money Boasters, proud Blasphemers Disobedient to parents Thankless, wrong-doers Unloving, unforgiving Slanderers, without self-control Fierce, haters of good Betrayers, reckless, puffed up Lovers of pleasure rather than lover of Elohim
Having a form of reverence but denying its power”

Shaul is speaking of persons in the assembly here mostly. Denying the power is in reference to the straight path of Torah and its power unto LIFE. Lawlessness. We are to “turn away from these” Put them away from the true assembly. In doing this, they will be exposed.

Persecutions will come as one stands for the Way of Life and for the true Path. But their end is Life and reward. Those who are evil and imposters, let them also go on their way… going astray and leading astray. We are to stay on the true path of Torah. All the God-breathed scriptures are those that are good for direction and pointing out the landmarks to life, for knowledge of the snares and traps along the way, for getting us back onto the true and straight path, and for lighting our way for making right decisions when we reach forks in the road.

 

2 Timothy 4

With Yehovah as witness, Shaul charges Timothy to proclaim the word. To proclaim the word with urgency at every opportunity, for the time when others will listen is going to go away. People will become hard of heart, desires fables and myths, and will not bear the truth and sound instruction. Be prepared for this and remain sober and expect hardship.

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