News Letter 5846-017
13th day of the 4th month 5846 years after creation
The 4th Month in of the first year of the third Sabbatical Year
The Third Sabbatical Year of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
June 26, 2010
Shabbat Shalom Family,
This week as the G8 and G20 come to Toronto, we have had a 5.0 earthquake, which is not too common here. The next day we had a tornado in Midland Ontario again not far from where the G8 are meeting. What does it mean? I do not know. I do know Toronto is not easy to get around in at the best of times and now with so many roads closed, it is very difficult.
Concerning the oil that is still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico I read in the Sabbatical and Jubilee years in Leviticus 26:. 27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; 28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat . 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation , and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. 32 And I will bring the land into desolation : and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. 34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate , and ye be in your enemies ‘ land; even then shall the land rest , and enjoy her sabbaths.
Your land shall be desolate. How desolate will it be? It will be so desolate that your enemies when they have captured it will wonder why they even bothered to take it. They shall be astonished. The land will be so desolate that it will not produce food for you to eat and the famine that will come because of the desolation and also because of the war, will be so bad that you are going to eat your own children!!!!
As the oil continues to spew out and as hurricane season comes; I am wondering what will happen when the chemicals and the oil are lifted up in a hurricane to come down as rain further up the eastern half of the USA.
Brethren if you have not yet watched the DVD on the Sabbatical and Jubilee years then I once again urge you to do so now. https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=251 If you have not yet ordered and read the book, The Prophecies of Abraham, then I also urge you to so now. https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=601
Do not put this off any longer. If you think you can escape to Panama or South America or go hide in the mountains and bush away from everyone then you desperately need to rethink your survival plans. Yahovah has told you what to do and when to do it. We have shown where He has said it in past Newsletters.
Here is something else for you to consider http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=170373 Watch the video.
Some of you have written saying that you are waiting to see what I am going to do. I have had my house on the market since March of this year. I am leaving for Israel as soon as it sells. Your prayers would be welcome as the buyers have stopped coming. http://www.thegrimeteam.com/MyHomeDtl.asp?lstPages=1&HomeID=1060788
First of all I must apologize for the attack I launched in last week’s News letter. In the mail was a letter from a brother who urged me to rethink my approach. Not my teachings but my approach.
May I please make a suggestion to you? I think it is important enough to write you and tell you something that you need to know and pray about so that you can better serve the needs of the Torah community out there, okay?
Joseph, really try hard to REFRAIN from using the word “Heresy” or “Heresies.” You know from Orthodox Catholic Church history that “Heresy” was THEIR WORD to describe anyone that did not subscribe or go along with THEIR doctrines and as a result, THOSE PEOPLE were labelled “heretics” meaning, there was justification to seek them out, burn them at the stake, and destroy their lives. Hence, you have what later becomes a dogma of the Catholic Church under the Counsel of Trent which taught, “Tis No Murder to Kill a Jew or a Heretic.” Thus, the DARK DAYS of the post reformation period and the onging Spanish Inquisition is resurrected by sheer use of THEIR TERMS in our lives.
I URGE YOU BROTHER that what one person may call errant doctrine may not actually be errant but only a mis-understanding and/or misinterpretation of someone’s ideas. This is so horribly destructive. I get this stuff all the time with my own teachings in search of Torah Truth.
Enough said. Just speak the truth and let the TRUTH take its stand. It will STAND. Error will be exposed for what it is and doesn’t need our help in exposing it. Just speak truth and truth will shine. It’s a natural divine law of YHWH.
Brethren I do regret using the word heresy and I do understand that some just are not up to speed on many false teachings out there. We all go through stages as we grow towards the truth. I will continue to show you why the wrong teachings are wrong as I do again this week. Just because you do not understand does not make you a heretic but to those who continue to lie and to teach their lies, I make no apology for exposing your untruths.
My ancestors were hunted and killed during the Protestant reformation with this term labelled upon them. They were Jewish. So I do regret using it in last week’s News Letter.
Brethren keep in mind I do live with an unconverted mate and I do love my wife. Her understanding of torah is similar to many others. I do not hate these people. I would that they would open up the bible and read it. But I do hate it when people twist the scriptures to soot their own pet doctrines. These are the ones I go after to disprove. Sometimes in my zealousness I go too far. I regret that.
Last week’s News letter had a great many reactions. I was more nervous about the tithing reaction and the suggestion at preparing a farm in Israel. I just was not sure how the brethren would react. Many are interested in the farm part. I am glad to read their remarks. Thank you for your positive feedback on this. It is most encouraging.
But if this is to take flight then we need to do more than say that it is nice. We need to back this and support it. This means you will have to reach into the vault and invest some of that hard earned cash. It means you will have to trust someone. It means that after so many times of being used and burnt you will once again try to trust someone with what you feel is a good idea to support.
One sister wrote;
Agree with the tithing info. We are admonished to give offerings to our Father, and what you admonish in giving to those teaching us is right on – what a great way to give Abba glory.
Another Sister wrote to me and said the following;
Well, bless my soul!
I delight in His Shabbat and part of that delight is the rich meat of your weekly studies that I anticipate every week and appreciate so much. I’m here in my cave eating dates….I continue to be amazed at what you are sending out. Baruch ha shem YHVH.
Received your overwhelming book!( The Prophecies of Abraham) If I hadn’t been reading your newsletters for a few months, I would have keeled over in dread! Also, I’ve been aware of these things coming on and the Father is preparing me.
I got 3 of the newsletter at 3 different email addresses- so I am reading it 3 times.
I got the revelation on tithing lies and how Jezebel steals “the tithe” some years ago, what a racket! It’s always encouraging to get such detailed teaching as confirmation, and reassurance that I am not a rhubarb after all!
What jumped out at me is the few sentences on the plan for farms in the aravah. I went on a 10 day “mission” with Netafim (“drops” – drip irrigation) several years ago and investment in greenhouses, but the people I tried to associate with were scammers. So, I want to know more about that. I guess Grimmer’s yurts will come in handy, but I can’t imagine how to take the heat down there in a yurt like a bedouwi. The Israeli greenhouse farmers down there have been trying joint projects with the Jordanians, because they have water and to push good relations with Jordan, but they are incapable the Israelis said
I got it about supporting the truly deserving, of which I consider you one. of very very few.
Shabbat Shalom from the City of the Great King,
Another brother wrote to say Your efforts to establish a ministry in and through the land of Israel is very exciting to read and pray about. Just be sure to continue beware leaven of Pharisees and Herod.
Another sister sent in a number of great articles on Tithing and I have added them to the web site and if you are so inclined you can read them at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=651 Again they all show us that we are not to tithe as the churches would have you believe.
Last week we exposed one false teachings about the Lunar Sabbath lie and another about how not to count to Shavuot by ignoring the barley and the wheat. The Article was not even out 2 hours before I was being challenged by one of the leaders who teach this false Sabbath teaching. They too read this News Letter.
Brethren you need to read the scriptures and stay close to Yahovah in all things, especially now as we near the end of this age.
We are told in Revelations in the messages to the churches to listen to the messages to each church. Listen to each one and apply it to ourselves. Yahshua is telling us to get the leaven out. To get the leaven which we have brought with us from our former denomination along with all the false teachings that some us still think are correct. Listen to the message to the churches.
Revelation 2: 2 “I know your works, and your labour, and your endurance, and that you are not able to bear evil ones, and have tried those who say they are emissaries and are not, and have found them false; 3 and you have been bearing up and have endurance, and have laboured for My Name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 “But I hold this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 “So remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works, or else I shall come to you speedily and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 “Yet this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.
9 “I know your works, and pressure, and poverty – yet you are rich – and the blasphemy of those who say they are Yehud?im and are not, but are a congregation of Satan. 10 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. See, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, in order to try you, and you shall have pressure ten days. Be trustworthy until death, and I shall give you the crown of life. 11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes shall by no means be harmed by the second death.”
“I know your works, and where you dwell, where the throne of Satan is. And you hold fast to My Name, and did not deny the belief in Me, even in the days in which Antipas was My trustworthy witness, who was killed near you, where Satan dwells. 14 “But I hold a few matters against you, because you have there those who adhere to the teaching of Bil?am, who taught Balaq to put a stumbling-block before the children of Yisra’?l, to eat food offered to idols, and to commit whoring. 15 “So you also have those who adhere to the teaching of the Nikolaites, which teaching I hate. 16 “Repent, or else I shall come to you speedily and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
19 “I know your works, and love, and service, and belief, and your endurance. And as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 “But I hold against you that you allow that woman Izeb?el, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and lead My servants astray to commit whoring and to eat food offered to idols. 21 “And I gave her time to repent of her whoring, and she did not repent. 22 “See, I am throwing her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent of their works. 23 “And I shall slay her children with death.
2 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before Elohim. 3 “Remember, then, how you have received, and heard. And watch and repent. If, then, you do not wake up, I shall come upon you as a thief, and you shall not know at all what hour I come upon you. 4 “Nevertheless, you have a few names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they shall walk with Me in white, because they are worthy. 5 “He who overcomes shall be dressed in white robes, and I shall by no means blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I shall confess his name before My Father and before His messengers. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.”
8 “I know your works – see, I have set before you an open door, and no one is able to shut it – that you have little power, yet have guarded My Word, and have not denied My Name. 9 “See, I am giving up those of the congregation of Satan, who say they are Yehud?im and are not, but lie. See, I am making them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 “Because you have guarded My Word of endurance, I also shall guard you from the hour of trial which shall come upon all the world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 “See, I am coming speedily! Hold what you have that no one take your crown
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold or hot. 16 “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. 17 “Because you say, ‘Rich I am, and I am made rich, and need none at all,’ and do not know that you are wretched, and pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked. 18 “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire,1 so that you become rich; and white garments, so that you become dressed, so that the shame of your nakedness might not be shown; and anoint your eyes with ointment, so that you see. 19 “As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. So be ardent and repent.
There is a message that is being promoted amongst the churches that teaches the doctrines of Balaam, and of the Nicolaitans, and of Jezebel. These are false or idolatrous teachings that lead the people away from Yahovah and His torah.
Notice this; all of these teachings from these false systems are there for one reason and one reason only, to lead you away from Torah and away from Yahovah and His kingdom. For this reason I had to speak up last week and will do so this week and next and as long as Yahovah allows me to see the falsities of these teachings of Satan. Leading up to last week’s News letter I was involved in many debates and discussions about these things and believe Yahovah was leading me to see them for what they are; A deception upon His flocks.
These teaching mentioned in revelation are alive now amongst the brethren and are brought in when people come from the churches they have left. But what they do not do is leave all that churchianity baggage at the door. Far too many think that if just start sounding Hebraic in their conversations that it is being good enough.
Read the Torah and do what it says. Do not twist it to soot your own misconceptions that you bring with you from your former denomination. We have all done it, but we all must recognise it and stop it.
We will cover these false teachings in future articles, but this week I wanted to expose another false and misleading teaching.
I have chosen the UCG to help in this exposé, which can be read at http://www.gnmagazine.org/issues/gn27/rapture.htm
What’s ‘Left Behind’ in the Rapture Theory?
Millions of people have read novels structured around the idea of the rapture of Christians. Why do people believe in a rapture? Is there any biblical validity to this teaching?
by Cecil Maranville
Many people traveled to Jerusalem to be on the scene Jan. 1, 2000, in anticipation of certain events. Some expected Jesus Christ to return on that date; others thought they would be “raptured” away to meet Him. Yet the day came and went with nothing of the sort happening.
Where did the idea of a rapture—a supernatural, sudden removal of believers—originate? Why do so many people believe that the Bible prophesies a rapture?
The Left Behind series of books and videos have variably stirred, frightened or entertained millions. Authors Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye popularized in the 1990s the same understanding and expectations about “a secret rapture” that author Hal Lindsey had in the 1970s with The Late Great Planet Earth and Vanished.
The Left Behind novels revolve around the story line that non-Christians are “left behind” when Christ secretly and suddenly removes true believers from earth. Christians who are driving cars, piloting planes and going about their everyday activities abruptly disappear—and those “left behind” are baffled by their mysterious disappearance. Political and sexual intrigue is spliced into the religious theme of the books in the name of spreading the message to as wide an audience as possible.
Mr. Lindsey was the first modern writer to popularize the rapture theory. He still writes and speaks on the theme. The popular American TV program 60 Minutes II recently caught up with him on a tour he was leading in Israel. He was still preaching that end-time prophecy will begin with the rapture, which is the instant calling to heaven of Christians. “People will actually disappear, Lindsey says” (“Apocalypse Now,” CBS, 1999).
Mr. Jenkins is the writer of the Left Behind material. Mr. LaHaye provides him with input from a religious perspective. Their popular works do not offer readers the theology of the rapture idea in a systematic fashion. That is, the books do not explain the scriptural basis for the dogma or how one might prove it from the Bible.
The rapture as doctrine
Although the idea of the rapture is accepted as fact by millions, its proponents cite only a few ambiguous biblical passages to teach and define the doctrine.
A dictionary defines rapture simply as “ecstatic joy or delight; joyful ecstasy.” Another says rapture means “a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things.” How do these meanings relate to the return of Christ?
Explanations are ambiguous. Some point to a single word in the Latin translation of a single word in the Greek text of the Bible (Mike Cady, The Rapture-Prophecy Bible Study, 1998, p. 3). The Latin word is rapere, meaning “to seize” or “to abduct.” The concept is that Christians are suddenly snatched or seized from the earth by Christ.
So widely held is the belief that the theological definition of the rapture finds its way into another dictionary as “the experience, anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon his return to the earth.”
Even this definition does not accurately reflect the prevalent explanations of the rapture theory; that is, rapture defenders teach that Christ will do the snatching of believers before and separate from His return, not “upon His return.”
• Christ, they say, will approach the earth, not return to it, to seize believers several years before His actual return-the second coming.
• According to the most common version of the rapture:
• Christ revealed the rapture to the Church in the apostle Paul’s epistle of 1 Thessalonians.
• This is a secret coming, evidenced only by the absence of Christians afterward.
• At the rapture Christians will be changed to spirit and transported to the safe haven of heaven to wait out a seven-year “tribulation” that occurs on earth.
• The rapture’s purpose is not only to protect Christians, but to motivate them to be spiritually ready at all times for their unannounced abduction by Christ.
Supposed scriptural proof
What is the scriptural basis for this enigmatic doctrine? Credit for development of the rapture theory generally goes to 19th-century theologian John Nelson Darby and his interpretations of the apostle Paul’s statements regarding Christ’s return.
Although some advocates of the rapture occasionally refer to a few other scriptures, all agree that the main argument is based on this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
It is the Greek for “shall be caught up” that is translated into the Latin rapere, the linguistic basis some claim for the word rapture. But where is the theological basis for the doctrine? Where does it say here—or anywhere else in the Bible, for that matter—that Christ will come close to the earth to remove Christians years before His prophesied second coming?
What Darby interpreted to mean that Christ would come close but not actually return to the earth are three words: “in the air.” He took license from the fact that the verse doesn’t say that Christ actually returns “to the earth.” (Darby may well have been motivated by noble objectives, as we will note later.)
A theory based on inaccuracy
Before examining other aspects of the theory, it is necessary to analyze these verses. The entire theory hinges on whether Darby’s understanding was accurate or not. The Bible tells us that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). That is, true understanding must come from God alone.
One of the important keys to an accurate understanding of any part of the Bible is to read what it says in context. The near context of these verses in 1 Thessalonians 4 begins in verse 13 and concludes in verse 18.
Paul wrote this section of the letter in answer to concerns of the local Christians. Was he responding to the Thessalonians’ worries about their safety in an end-of-the-age tribulation? No. Was he addressing their worries about whether Christ would return to rescue them? No. Was he writing about their supposed neglect of their spiritual readiness for Christ’s return? No.
Why, then, did Paul write 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?
As you read verse 13, you discover that Christians in Thessalonica were grieving over the unexpected deaths of members of their congregation. Like other Christians of that day, they apparently thought Jesus would return in their lifetimes. Thus they were caught unprepared for the death of people in the faith.
Paul wrote that they should not be overwhelmed by grief as though there were no hope for life beyond the grave: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
Paul explains his main point in verse 14: God will bring the dead back to life. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
Paul doesn’t leave the subject there. He adds a time reference: “with Him.” Did Paul refer to an approach by Christ, or was He referring to the second coming? Nothing in this passage justifies an understanding other than the second coming. Neither is there a nuance of a “secret” coming.
Verse 15 amplifies the point about the future of Christians who have died by declaring that those who remain alive at the coming of Christ have no spiritual advantage over those who died. “… We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.” Said another way, those who have died are not at any disadvantage.
Paul continues: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (verses 16-17).
• All Christians, living and dead, will be included in the events described in verses 16-17:
• The return of Christ heralded by a powerful angelic announcement (hardly secret).
• The resurrection—return to life—of deceased Christians (the main subject addressed by Paul, according to the context).
• The simultaneous joining of the returning Jesus with deceased Christians and Christians still living at the time.
Verse 18, the final verse of the section, concludes and reiterates the main thought: “Therefore comfort one another with these words”; that is, with the understanding of the destiny of Christians who died before Christ returns.
Rapture ideology out of sync
Not only is the reasoning of the rapture theory entirely out of context with the verses used to support it, the theory is also out of synchronization with events revealed in the rest of the Scriptures.
Another letter written by Paul also addresses the Christian hope of the “change” of a Christian from mortal to immortal at Christ’s return. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 he wrote of the promise of a transformation from physical life to everlasting life. This is a crucial point: What is the timing of this prophesied change from mortal to immortal?
Verses 22 and 23 are clear on the matter: “… In Christ all shall be made alive [resurrected], … those who are Christ’s [Christians] at His coming.” Paul said nothing to the Corinthians of anything like a snatching away before Christ actually comes, and he used no language that might imply a near approach by Christ in lieu of the second coming.
Paul provides more specifics about the timing. The prophesied change to spirit will occur at “the last trumpet” (verse 52), language similar to that used in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. What is the significance of the sounding of a trumpet at Jesus’ return and the resurrection of the dead in Christ?
A trumpet like instrument was used “in early times chiefly, perhaps exclusively, for warlike purposes. It gave the signal ‘to arms’ … [and] warned of the approach of the enemy … [It] was heard throughout a battle … and sounded the recall … Afterward it played an important part in connection with religion. It was blown at the proclamation of the Law … and at the opening of the Year of Jubilee … heralded the approach of the Ark … [It] hailed a new king … and is prophetically associated with the Divine judgment and restoration of the chosen people from captivity” (International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, electronic database, 1996, “Music”).
The trumpet mentioned in Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians is the same as the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15-18—the last trumpet, which announces the second coming. The dead in Christ are resurrected, living Christians are changed to spirit, and Jesus Christ returns to earth—all at the same time.
Attempting to read into a few words in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the concept of a near coming before the second coming and a different time line for the resurrection prophesied to occur at the second coming is not “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
The rapture theory is in conflict with the Scriptures.
“One will be taken . . .”
In their eagerness to uphold belief in the rapture, supporters use various prophecies that speak of Christ’s return to bolster their belief in the rapture. They reason that their interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 requires Christians to be in a constant state of readiness for their unannounced removal by Christ.
Prophecies of the second coming are not in doubt. What is in doubt is the application of these messages to their forced interpretation of a precoming.
One such prophecy is Matthew 24:36-44. It starts with “But of that day and hour [of the second coming] no one knows” and ends with “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The point of this passage is the need for Christians to be prepared for the second coming.
(You will want to read the article The Return of Yahshua https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=20 and Conjunction or Sighted Which? https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=22 to get a full understanding of the Hebrew expression “But of that Day or Hour no one knows”. You must be keeping the Holy days in order to understand that on the Feast of Trumpets is the day Yahshua returns and it is on this day that the 7th month is determined by the Sighted moon and because of this no one will know the day or the hour.)
However, some will lift verses 40 and 41 out of context and use them to support belief in a rapture. You will probably recognize the verses immediately: “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left.” If one ignores that the context of these verses talks about the second coming, they may seem to lend credence to the rapture.
But it is unsound theology to interpret any verses out of context. In addition, the understanding of any reference must agree with the teaching of the rest of the Bible.
In the context of this passage, Christ makes plain the fact that no one will know the exact timing of His coming (notice that Christ repeatedly refers to His coming, not a supposed near approach). His warning, in light of that fact, is that Christians should be constantly alert and spiritually prepared (verses 42, 44-51).
Now the understanding of verses 40 and 41 becomes clear. People who are not prepared will be caught off guard by the abruptness of His coming. Some who live or work close to others will be caught off guard while their companions will not be. Some will be “left”—not “left behind” after a secret rapture, but left unprepared. (Again it is because they do not keep the Holy days and as such do not understand how they tell us the plan of Salvation)
Another reason offered by rapture theorists in defense of their interpretation of end-time prophecy is God’s promise of protection. To be sure, God says to His Church through John: “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
In Matthew 24:21-22 Jesus spoke of abbreviating the terrible crisis at the close of the age of man to spare His chosen people: “For there shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, not ever shall be. And unless these days were shortened, no flesh would be saved alive; but for the elect’s sake, those days will be shortened.”
But nothing in these references or in others concerning the protection of the saints indicates that they will be protected during this time in heaven. To the contrary, if there is any indication of a location, it is described in Revelation 12:14, where it is called simply “the wilderness.” Even then, the same prophecy foretells that Satan will assault at least some of the people of God.
“And the dragon [Satan] was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (verse 17).
The focus of godly men and women needs to be on spiritual preparation and maturity. The faithful are promised that nothing, including tribulation, warfare and Satan’s hostilities, can separate them from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).
Being swept off to heaven to be sheltered from tribulation is nowhere detailed—or even hinted at—in the Scriptures.
What reason did the theologian John Darby and others have for even considering such a doctrine as the rapture? An article on the Millennium in Unger’s Bible Dictionary offers a plausible explanation. In the century before Darby, Daniel Whitby promulgated the philosophy of “postmillennialism” in England. “This interpretation maintains that present gospel agencies will root out evils until Christ will have a spiritual reign over the earth, which will continue for 1,000 years. Then the second advent of Christ will initiate judgment and bring to an end the present order” (1988).
It is reasonable to suspect that Darby’s intent was to counter the false teaching that the actions of men could bring about the Kingdom of God—as well as the equally incorrect teaching that prophecies of a kingdom are only symbolic (a view called “amillennialism”). Darby believed, rightly, that Jesus Christ would return to earth to establish and rule over the Kingdom of God (called “premillennialism”).
Regardless of his motivation, Darby departed from the Scriptures himself with his rapture theory. At least he accurately understood that Christ would return to reign on earth, which leads us to an important concluding point.
Meeting Christ in the air
Seeking to refute the accurate understanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, one author asks, “If [Christ] is already headed our way, why would we need to be caught up to meet Him?” (Todd Strandberg, The Pretribulation Rapture, 1999, p. 2). That’s an interesting question whose answer reinforces what we have already learned from the Bible about this much—misunderstood topic.
The answer lies in the meaning of the word translated “meet.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says the word “is used in the papyri of a newly arriving magistrate. ‘It seems that the special idea of the word was the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary’ (Moulton, Greek Test. Gram., Vol. I, p. 14)” (1985, “Meet”). The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary adds in its notes for these verses that “when a king enters his city the loyal go forth to meet him …”
How appropriate it is that His followers should rise to meet the King of Kings!
F.F. Bruce’s International Bible Commentary adds: “To meet is used in the papyri of the official reception given to a visiting governor, whom his citizens escort into the city from which they have come to meet him” (1986, notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Another key question to address is “Where will Christ be?” After all, Paul tells us we will “always be with the Lord” after meeting Him (1 Thessalonians 4:17). An Old Testament prophet answers: “Behold, the day of the LORD is coming … And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:1, 4).
Christ will not be in heaven after the second coming, but will be on earth—and so will the resurrected saints who meet Him.
Christians are resurrected from the dead or, if living at the time, changed to spirit at the last trumpet when Christ returns. They will meet Him in the air as an escort of honor as He returns to the Mount of Olives to rule the earth from Jerusalem. They are then destined to reign with Jesus Christ in His glorious kingdom (Revelation 20:6). GN
The Rapture—A Popular but False Doctrine! http://www.wnponline.org/wnp/wnp0809/rapture-false-doctrine.htm
The rapture, often called “the blessed hope,” is sadly more hoax than hope, even though the man who started it had no intention of deceiving anyone. You need to know what the Bible actually says!
The Rapture Is Wrong: The Saints Don’t Rise to Run Away http://www.wnponline.org/wnp/wnp0811/rapture-wrong-saints.htm
The Bible says the saints rise to meet Christ at His return. But they aren’t snatched away to heaven. They rise in the air to perform a fitting salute to the King of Kings and then join Him, not in heaven, but on the earth. If this is different from what you have heard or believed, you need to prove what the Bible actually says!
The Rapture: Who’s Left Behind? http://www.beyondtoday.tv/programs/archive/?Title=The-Rapture-Whos-Left-Behind-&ProgramID=bt055
Why do many people believe a doctrine that has no biblical validity? Isn’t it time you learned the real truth? A Beyond Today video presentation.
Bible FAQ – Does the Bible teach a secret rapture? http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/bible-teach-secret-rapture.htm
There has been a great deal of interest in end time events based on the Left Behind series of books and movies. What does the Bible teach about the rapture?
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading which can be found at
There is so much information in these two chapters again.
This Chapter 15 is the one when Yahovah makes the covenant with Abraham. This was done when Abraham was 80 years old and not when he was 75 as some assume. Abraham was 75 when he was told to leave and Yahovah told him what he would do for him, now with the meat offering and the sacrifice as it is done in chapter 15, this is a binding contract and notice it is Yahovah who is bound to keep His word. Our ancestors did not bind themselves to it until they were at Mount Sinai.
This day was the 1st day of Unleavened Bread in the year 2028 After Creation or 1809 BC. It is also the 4th year of the third Sabbatical cycle. And just as we are now in the first year of the third Sabbatical cycle, I do expect something significant to take place in the 4th year or in 2013 CE on the first day of unleavened bread.
We are given a couple of prophetic clues in chapter 15.
Once again we are told in verse 7 And He said to him, “I am ????, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” Notice it is Ur of the Chaldeans and not Ur of the Sumerians; Big difference. Ur of the Chaldeans is now known as Urfa in Southern Turkey.
In verse 13 And He said to Ab?ram, “Know for certain that your seed are to be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years.
This seed is Isaac and when Isaac was being weaned, that is when he was ten year old, is when this affliction began to happen to him. Isaac was born in 2048 After Creation and he was ten in 2058. 400 year later is 2458 which is the year of the Exodus.
Now Abraham was 80 when the Covenant was made and we are told that it was 430 years after the covenant
Exodus 12: 40 And the sojourn of the children of Yisra’?l who lived in Mitsrayim was four hundred and thirty years.
So Abraham was 80 in 2028 when the covenant was made and then 430 years later is 2458 After Creation. And this also matches the 400 year prophecy which began with Isaac at age ten.
I forget whether it was Jasher or the Koran which says that Ishmael was threatening Isaac and had a knife in his hand. Isaac was having a large celebration at age 10, the first bar mitzvah. Ishmael never got one and was jealous. This is what Sarah saw and this is why Sarah ran him and Hagar out of the community of Abraham.
In verse 16 we are told another prophecy. 16 “Then, in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the crookedness of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Isaac is the first generation, Jacob the second, and Levi the third and then 1 Chronicles 6:1 The sons of L?wi: G?reshom, Qehath, and Merari. 2 And the sons of Qehath: Amram, Yitshar, and H?eb?ron, and Uzzi’?l. 3 And the children of Amram: Aharon, and Mosheh, and Miryam
But of those who went into Egypt we have Jacob, Levi, Qehath and Amran and then Aaron and Moses. But also note that Amran married his fathers sister who bore Aaron and Moses.
Although we can make this work for four generations, this is not what this prophecy is teaching us. The word generations is Strong`s # 1755 and is the word dowr-a revolution of time.
Using this word this way shows us that the fourth millennial day from this time of Abraham brings us to our time now at the end of this the sixth millennial day. Abraham received this prophecy at the beginning of the third millennial day. Four millennial days later is the end of this the sixth day.
Chapter 16 I have explained in the Prophecies of Abraham which you can read at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=492 titled War and the Birth of Ishmael. Please go and read this. It is so very relevant to what is taking place on the world scene right now. The birth Ishmael is a prophetic end time event.
Abimelech Attempts to Establish a Monarchy
9:1 Now Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s kinsfolk and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, 2 “Say in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” 3 So his mother’s kinsfolk spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem; and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4 They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the temple of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5 He went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone; but Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, for he hid himself. 6 Then all the lords of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.
The Parable of the Trees
7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us.’
9 The olive tree answered them,
‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil
by which gods and mortals are honored,
and go to sway over the trees?’
10 Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us.’
11 But the fig tree answered them,
‘Shall I stop producing my sweetness
and my delicious fruit,
and go to sway over the trees?’
12 Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us.’
13 But the vine said to them,
‘Shall I stop producing my wine
that cheers gods and mortals,
and go to sway over the trees?’
14 So all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us.’
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you,
then come and take refuge in my shade;
but if not, let fire come out of the bramble
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
16 “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and honor when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him as his actions deserved–
[Verses omitted from the reading: 17 for my father fought for you, and risked his life, and rescued you from the hand of Midian; 18 but you have risen up against my father’s house this day, and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his slave woman, king over the lords of Shechem, because he is your kinsman–]
19 if, I say, you have acted in good faith and honor with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you; 20 but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the lords of Shechem, and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the lords of Shechem, and from Beth-millo, and devour Abimelech.” 21 Then Jotham ran away and fled, going to Beer, where he remained for fear of his brother Abimelech. (Judges 9:1-16, 19-21, NRSV)
As we look ahead, we see two lessons on Abimelech (today and tomorrow, from Judg. 9), two on Jephthah (from Judg. 11, 12, cf. 10:17-12:7), and five on Samson (Judg., 13-16), a section which Ailish Ferguson Eves calls “The Spiral of Decay (Judg. 10:1-16:31)” (The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary, p. 138 on Judg. 10:1-16:31). She is, of course, aware that Abimelech, at least, if not Gideon as well (cf. comments yesterday from Yairah Amit) have given that spiral a strong initial spin, for she contrasts “two judges . . . that have ministries over two decades and are buried in honor,” namely, Tola and Jair (Judg. 10:1-5, passed over in the daily readings), with Abimelech and Jephthah.
So the story of Abimelech begins with his becoming king of Shechem, “ironically where the Israelite covenant assembly took place (Josh. 24:1-27)” (K. Lawson Younger, NOAB, 3rd ed. on Judg. 9:1-6). Eves calls him “the Pseudo-King” (subtitle for Judg. 8:29-9:57). He went to Shechem, “to his mother’s kinsfolk” (Judg. 9:1) and laid down the challenge, but at second hand, for he told them to”say in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal [Gideon] rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh” (v. 2). We have already been told that Abimelech is the son of Gideon’s concubine (8:31), whereas the seventy are sons of Gideon’s “many wives” (8:30)–a distinct disadvantage from the narrator’s point of view. But now he appeals to his own family on his own behalf against the more “legitimate” sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon). So “his mother’s kinsfolk” spoke to “the lords of Shechem,” whose “hearts inclined to follow Abimelech,” whom they considered a “brother” (Judg. 9:3). With their support–“seventy pieces of silver out of the temple of Baal-berith” (v. 4a), “corresponding to Gideon’s seventy sons” (Younger, on 9:4)–he hired “worthless and reckless fellows” (v. 4b), and he went and “killed his brothers . . . seventy men, on one stone” (v. 5a). That must have needed his hired gang of thugs! apparently one for each brother (at a piece of silver apiece). But ominously for Abimelech, Jotham, the youngest brother escaped by hiding himself (v. 5b). So Abimelech was made king “by the oak of the pillar at Shechem (v. 6).
But before hiding out in Beer (v. 21), apparently for the three-year duration of Abimelech’s “reign” (v. 22), Jotham dared to address the lords of Shechem, who had just made Abimelech king (v. 6), from “the top of Mount Gerizim” (v. 7, ‘just south of Shechem,’ Younger on v. 7). According to Yairah Amit, “It would have been impossible for the Shechemites to hear things uttered at the top of Mount Gerizim; this is a literary model of uttering from a high place (cf. E.g. 1 Sam. 26:13-14; Num. 23:14)” (Yairah Amit, The Jewish Study Bible, p. 531 on Judg. 9:7). The “parable” (Amit on vv. 7-21), or “fable or parable of the trees,” an “ironic story” (Eves on Judg. 9:8-15), is a thinly disguised allegory in which the good trees, the olive tree (vv. 8-9), the fig tree (vv. 10-11), and the vine (vv. 12-13), each in turn refuse the invitation to reign over the trees. “Shall I stop producing my rich oil,” says the olive tree, “by which gods and mortals are honored,/ and go to sway over the trees? (v. 9). In the same manner, the fig tree prefers to produce “my sweetness/and my delicious fruit” (v. 11), and the vine prefers to produce wine (v. 13). But the bramble, “a useless bush” (Younger on 9:14), has nothing better to do, and agrees to “rule” the trees. Amit observes,
The connection between the parable and what it represents is not exact . . . Abimelech, for example, unlike the trees in the parable, was not offered the monarchy, and he and his supporters, unlike the explanation, were not burned by the citizens of Shechem. It seems, therefore, that the parable was an independent anti-monarchic work, but was integrated here to criticize Abimelech and to inform the reader that when all the trees are interested in having a king, they must beware of the thornbush [‘bramble’ NRSV] and look carefully for a suitable tree. (Amit, pp. 530-531 on Judg. 9:7-21).
“The parable,” adds Amit, “is based upon a pattern of three and four, where the fourth element is different and climactic: three refusals by the useful trees . . . opposed to the agreement of the fourth, the thornbush. This structure emphasizes that the refusal of the useful trees cleared the way for an aggressive figure, and that Abimelech is totally useless” (Amit, p. 531 on 9:7-21). The parable closes with a threat: “if not [in good faith], let fire come out of the bramble/and devour the cedars of Lebanon” (v. 15d, e). In his interpretation, Jotham applies the threat to “the lords of Shechem, and Beth-millo” (v. 20), anticipating Abimelech’s slaughter of the Shechemites (vv. 42-45).
The Hebrew name is probably derived from the word for “back” or “shoulder” – an apt description of Shechem’s location in the narrow valley between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal approximately 65 km North of Jerusalem. It was strategically located controlling major North-South and East-West roads, but lacked natural defenses and for that reason required heavy fortification. In addition to Jacob’s Well (400m to the South East) it is thought that the city derived its water supply via a conduit from a cave in Mt. Gerizim (Wright, 1965: 214-228), while the fertile plain of ‘Askar provided the city with food (Toombs, 1992: 1174-1175).
Shechem’s strategic location and plentiful supplies of both food and water explain why it was occupied for thousands of years. The city is referred to many times both in biblical and extrabiblical records. These together with the extensive archaeological work that has been carried out enable us to trace with a fair degree of certainty the history of the city.
3.1 Before the Patriarchs. It is likely that Shechem was one of the oldest settlements in Canaan. The earliest written record comes from an inscription on the Stele of Khu-Sebek who was a noble in the court of Sesotris III (c. 1880-1840 BC). It reads: “his majesty reached a foreign country of which the name was skmm [Shechem]. Then skmm fell, together with the wretched Retunu [an Egyptian name for the inhabitants of Syro-Palestine].” An Egyptian execration text (a clay tablet on which curses are inscribed and then ceremonially broken) dating from the mid nineteenth century refers to one Ibish-hadad of Shechem, indicating that Shechem was an important centre of resistance against Egyptian rule (Toombs, 1992: 1179).
3.2 The days of the Patriarchs.
3.2.1 Abraham. The first reference to Shechem in Scripture occurs in Genesis 12:6-8. This passage records how Abram travelled southwards through Canaan until he reached the great tree of Moreh at Shechem in the centre of the land. There the Lord appeared to him and in response he build an altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord. The oak or terebinth of Moreh was to feature significantly later in the Old Testament, but it is important to note that although the location may well have been a place of Canaanite worship Abram did not associate himself with that worship (Hamilton, 1990: 377).
3.2.2 Jacob. On his return from Paddam Aram Jacob settled for a time within sight of the city of Shechem and bought the second plot of land in Canaan (33:18-20; cf. 23:1-20). There Jacob set up an altar to God, the God of Israel (El Elohe Israel). While he and his family were encamped near the city, the son of one its leading citizens, Shechem son of Hamor, took Jacob’s daughter Dinah and raped her. Having found her to his liking he then persuaded his father to obtain Jacob’s consent to marry Dinah. Jacob’s son’s tricked Hamor into disabling all the men of the city by persuading them to be circumcised themselves on the pretence of removing a ceremonial obstacle to intermarriage. Simeon and Levi pressed home the advantage they had gained by putting the city to the sword and rescued Dinah, who was apparently being held in Shechem’s house (34:1-31).
Jacob was troubled by the slaughter and feared for the lives of his family when the Canaanites heard about what had taken place. Having been commanded by the Lord to move to Bethel he purified his camp of all the foreign gods and buried them under the terebinth (35:1-5).
3.3 Conquest to Monarchy
3.2.1 Tribal allotment. Shechem was part of the tribal territory of Manasseh (Josh. 17:7). It was also both a city of refuge (20:7) and a Levite city, set aside for the Kohathite clan (21:20-21).
3.3.2 Covenant Renewals at Shechem. The book of Joshua records two covenant renewals carried out by Joshua (8:30-35; 24:1-27; cf. Deut. 27:11-13). Although the first does not mention Shechem by name, it is clearly implied by its location between the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. There is no evidence either from scripture or archaeology that the Israelites conquered the city by force (Toombs, 1992; 1183-1184). This fact has served to fuel a number of the recent theories of Israel’s origins, but does not mean that the original Canaanite inhabitants remained there during the conquest. It seems far more likely that the city was captured without a fight and that it was inhabited by Israelites. At the conclusion of the ceremony Joshua “…took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord” (Josh. 24:26 NIV), almost certainly outside the city were both Abraham and Jacob had sacrificed (3.2.1, 3.2.2).
3.3.3 Joseph’s Place of Burial. While he was in Egypt Joseph gave specific instructions regarding the arrangements for his burial (Gen. 50:24-26). Joseph’s bones were removed from Egypt at the Exodus (Exod. 13:19) and buried in the tract of land that Jacob had bought (Josh. 24:32).
3.3.4 Abimelech & the Kingship. Following the death of Gideon Abimelech, the son of his Shechemite concubine (Judges 8:31) claimed the kingship that his father had refused (9:1-3: cf. 8:22-23). Having persuaded the citizens of Shechem to follow him he set about murdering all but one of his brothers (9:3-7). Jotham, the only surviving son of Gideon addressed the citizens of Shechem by way of a prophetic parable which foretold their destruction by fire (9:7-21). After three years the people of Shechem decided that they had had enough of Abimelech’s rule and attempted to make Gaal son of Eded their leader (9:22-30). Abimelech learnt of Gaal’s rebellion and attacked the city from the plain to the east as the people were going out to work in the fields (9:31-45). Once the city had fallen Abimelech turned his attention to the stronghold of the temple of Ba’al berith, where about a thousand of the city’s inhabitants had taken refuge. Rather than lay siege he set fire to the tower, killing the remaining citizens of the city (9:46-49). Abimelech himself was slain shortly afterwards attempting to repeat this procedure in the nearby city of Thebez (9:50-55).
3.4 Monarch to Exile
3.4.1 David’s Laments. Shechem is mentioned by David in two national laments attributed to him (Psalm 60:6-8=108:7-9). The verses cited remind the audience that it is the Lord who has measured and given the land; the people are only his tenants. He is also sovereign over the nations.
3.4.2 Jereboam’s Capital. Following the death of Solomon all Israel was summoned to Shechem to make Rehoboam his son king, probably because of its historic associations. Rehoboam’s foolishness resulted in the division of the kingdom with Jereboam son of Nebat ruling the ten northern tribes (2 Kings 12:1-17; 2 Chron. 10:1-17). Jeroboam initially chose Shechem as his new capital and fortified it against attacks from the South (1 Kings 12:25). The archaeological evidence for these fortifications is confused, but they appear to have taken the form of casemate walls (Toombs, 1992: 1184). The city lost much of its prestige when Jereboam moved his capital first to Peniel in the Transjordan (12:25) and then to Tirzah about seven miles to the North of Shechem (14:17).
Hosea refers to the depths the Northern Kingdom had descended to in graphic language when he speaks of bands of priests who murder those on the road to Shechem (6:9). Such activity was not unknown in the days before the monarchy (cf. Judges 9:25) and was facilitated by the narrow ravines through which the city was approached (Toombs, 1992: 1175). Shechem was a city of refuge and as such was supposed to be a place of safety. Ironically the situation in the land had degenerated so far that those fleeing the avenger of blood were in danger from the very people who were meant to protect them.
3.4.3 Destruction. Archaeological evidence suggests a destruction of the city during the reign of Menahem (2 Kings 15:13-16). In 724 the city fell again to the Assyrians and was reduced to a heap of ruins along with all the other cities of the Northern Kingdom (Toombs, 1992: 1185).
3.5 After the Exile. Shechem was all but abandoned after its fall to the Assyrians. That there were still some Israelites living there is evidenced by Jeremiah’s account of the ill-fated delegation from that city (41:4-7). After this time the city shows no sign of occupation for about 150 years.
3.5.1 A Samaritan City. The Assyrians settled exiled peoples from other nations in the Northern Kingdom. According to 2 Kings these peoples were taught how to worship the Lord in order to prevent attacks by lions, seen as divine judgement. However, the people simply added the worship of Yahweh to their own beliefs and worshipped both (2 Kings 17:24-34). During the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem the Samaritans sent messengers offering their help so that they might take part in the temple worship. The sharp rebuff they received led them to fiercely oppose the reconstruction and a long lasting hostility between the two peoples (Ezra 4:1-3; cf. Luke 9:52-53; John 4:9).
When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians he was initially supported by the Samaritans, who put 8 000 troops at his disposal in his campaign against Egypt. When Alexander left they attempted to free themselves from his rule:
While Alexander was in Egypt, the Samaritans in Samaria revolted and killed the newly appointed governor, Andromachus. In retaliation Alexander destroyed the city of Samaria and established a garrison of 600 troops there. Many of the Samaritans fled to the foot of Mt. Gerizim and, with Alexander’s permission, built a temple to rival the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (Anderson, 1988:303-304).
In 128 BC the Jewish leader John Hyrcanus (134-104 BC) levelled the temple on Mount Gerezim, adding to the long hatred between the two peoples. In 107 BC he captured Samaria and it is thought that the final destruction of Shechem also took place at this time. The defensive walls were buried so that they could no longer be used. The surviving population relocated to the nearby towns of Sychar and Neapolis (Anderson, 1988: 304; Wright, 1965: 183-184).
3.6 Shechem in the New Testament. The city of Shechem no longer existed in the time of Yahshua, but it was referred to as a historic location.
3.6.1 Stephen’s Speech. Stephen’s speech as recorded by Luke in Acts 7:2-53 provides a review of the history of Israel from the time of Abraham. Verse 16 and its reference to Shechem has proved particularly difficult to explain. The problem arises because it apparently contradicts the text of Genesis by stating that Abraham, rather than Jacob bought the plot of land at Shechem from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33:18-19; cf. 23:3-20). Commentators have suggested a number of explanations for this: a) Abraham was the original purchaser of the field and Jacob merely renewed the transaction as he did with the well Abraham’s servants had dug (Gen. 21:27-30; 26:28-31) (Archer, 1982: 379-380). This solution relies on an argument from silence as Genesis makes no mention of any land purchase at Shechem by Abraham. More importantly there is no reference to a tomb on the plot that Jacob bought. b) Jacob bought the site in Abraham’s name, so in effect Abraham bought the land (Stott, 1990: 134). c) Luke records Stephen’s speech accurately, a speech that contains a number of generalisations and conflations after the manner of popular Judaism of the period. Four similar difficulties of the same sort occur in verses 2-8 of the same chapter, indicating that Stephen was not intending to be absolutely accurate in the details he presented (Longenecker, 1981: 340-341). This seems to be the best explanation of the passage.
Psalm 33- the power of God
By Eli Dahan, Biblical teacher at ClassicalHebrew.com
When there are righteous people in the world, when they are praising The Lord,
It seems to be that the power of God can be seen more clearly to us, as written in psalm 33:1-
“???????? ??????????, ????????; ???????????, ?????? ????????.”
“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous, praise is comely for the upright”
This psalm start with the saying that the power of God is not hidden to us, we can see it, we can feel it, we can understand a part of it- we just have to look at the nature to see the miracles of The Almighty as written in next verses, but first of all let us play with the harp, let us sing loud and clear, let us compose to him a new song, cause he is the one who does the justice, he is the one the grace and kindness, the one who can commend this actions:
“???????? ??????, ???????? ????????; ????????? ?????, ????-???????.
?????? ???????, ??? ??????; ????? ???????????? ??????????.
???????? ????????, ????-???????; ????????? ????????, ????-???????? ?????.
???? ???? ????? ????????; ????-??????, ??????????”
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea together as a heap; He layeth up the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him for He spoke and it was; He commanded, and it stood.”
The power of God consists, among others, the submission of the nature to him, from above, upward, from the heavens downward, to the ocean and the sea. Furthermore the power is on the human beings, all the people of the world. Pay attention, my friends to the last two sentences that exhibit to us the parallelism!
11 Come, you children, listen to me; Let me teach you the fear of ????. 12 Who is the man who desires life, Who loves many days, in order to see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.
Chancellor’s Parashah Commentary
Chancellor’s Parashah Commentary
Yom Kippur 5758
Ismar Schorsch is the chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
A Palestinian preacher, Rabbi Alexandri, was wont to speak in the language of an evangelist: “Who desires life?” he would declaim, “Who desires life?” And quickly the crowds gathered, demanding, “Give us life!” At last, Rabbi Alexandri would begin by quoting two verses from Psalm 34: “Who is the person who is eager for life, who desires years of good fortune? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile (34:13-14).”
That is the extent of the Talmud’s tale. No hint of how those who assembled reacted. I suspect many suffered a letdown. What brought them in such large numbers (the Talmud says the whole world came to listen) were expectations of a different message. Their presence indicated the pervasive hunger for personal salvation. The average life expectancy of a Roman citizen of the second century was less than twenty-five years. Without the hope of an afterlife, in which virtue would be valued and rewarded, the untold suffering of this world could no longer be endured. Christianity had already launched its remarkable conquest of the Roman empire on the wings of its gospel of individual salvation.
Yet Rabbi Alexandri refused to dilute or surrender Judaism’s age-old stress on this-worldly salvation. The story borders on parody. Though bearing the telltale signs of a Christian missionary, Rabbi Alexandri holds out neither a doctrine of faith nor a glimpse of heaven, only a moral principle. For him, the task remains to better the society in which we are fated to live out our years. What a vast improvement we could effect if human speech ceased to be an instrument of assault or deceit!
The message of Rabbi Alexandri also captures the spirit of Yom Kippur. On this holiest day of the Jewish year, we do not take flight from this world. We do not fast, pray and seek forgiveness in order to gain life eternal. The liturgy is singularly free of allusions to what might await us after death. The terror we dare to face is that of our own mortality, not that of hell or damnation. The modesty of our request of God boggles the mind. We ask for but one more year to serve as God’s partner in the completion of creation. The request is out of all proportion to the spiritual intensity of our effort.
Showing up at synagogue is surely not enough. Yom Kippur is not a sacrament. It does not possess the power to automatically cleanse an indifferent, passive or defiant participant. Soberly, the Mishna warns us: “One who repeatedly says to himself, ‘I can sin and repent,’ will never have the ability to repent genuinely. Or one who thinks that, ‘I can sin and Yom Kippur will effect atonement for me,’ is sadly wrong. Yom Kippur will not atone for him. Indeed, only the sins we commit against God are atoned for by Yom Kippur. Those we commit against another human being are not atoned for by Yom Kippur until the person we have offended forgives us.”
This is a demanding prescription. Going through the motions of the Yom Kippur ritual changes very little. We need to work on ourselves; we need to rectify our ways in relating to others before we can approach God with heartfelt professions of contrition and failure. And the catalyst that prompts us to make the effort is the “shock therapy” that another year has passed. Yom Kippur helps us live our lives backwards. Will we be able to take our leave at death content that we have done our utmost to improve ever so slightly the human condition?
It is for this reason that al het, the public and collective confession that we recite throughout Yom Kippur, focuses exclusively on those commandments which govern our interaction with fellow humans. A list of 44 sins, double the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and not a single one of a ritual nature! What a striking affirmation that ethics lie at the heart of Judaism and that what ultimately expresses its deepest purpose is not its ample and distinctive ritual but its moral nobility. Ritual is the garb for the ethical quest.
Hence the dispensing of charity must accompany our inner resolve to change direction and our profusion of prayers. Carlyle may be right that “the greatest of faults is to be conscious of none;” for Judaism, however, self-awareness is but the first step in a process of repentance that must culminate in positive and effective action. Significantly, we conclude Yom Kippur by turning to the construction of the Sukkah. After a period of withdrawal, we reenter the world to choose life.
May you have an easy fast and a good finish.
Mat 20:17 – 21:22
This week Mathew 20:17-29 strikes me. Especially after last week’s teaching about tithing. Tithing is used to bring the people into submission to those exacting that tithe. Now this week we read what Yahshua says about those who would seek to be in power over you.
25 But ????? called them near and said, “You know that the rulers of the gentiles are masters over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 “But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 “And whoever wishes to be first among you, let him be your servant, 28 even as the Son of Ad?am did not come to be served, but to serve,1 and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
We read in Isaiah 49: 1 Listen to Me, O coastlands, and hear, you peoples from afar! ???? has called Me from the womb, from My mother’s belly He has caused My Name to be remembered. 2 And He made My mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid Me, and made Me a polished shaft. In His quiver He hid Me.” 3 And He said to Me, ‘You are My servant, O Yisra’?l, in whom I am adorned.’ 4 And I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for emptiness, and in vain. But my right-ruling is with ????, and my work with my Elohim.’ ” 5 And now said ???? – who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Ya?aqob? back to Him, though Yisra’?l is not gathered to Him, yet I am esteemed in the eyes of ????, and My Elohim has been My strength – 6 and He says, “Shall it be a small matter for You to be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Ya?aqob?, and to bring back the preserved ones of Yisra’?l? And I shall give You as a light to the gentiles, to be My deliverance to the ends of the earth!” 7 Thus said ????, the Redeemer of Yisra’?l, their Set-apart One, to the despised , to the loathed One of the nation, to the Servant of rulers, “Sovereigns shall see and arise, rulers also shall bow themselves, because of ???? who is steadfast, the Set-apart One of Yisra’?l. And He has chosen You!”
We Israel are His servants. We who are taught these great truths must humble ourselves and reach out and teach and correct those who do not yet know. We must do so as a slave and expect nothing in return. Just as last week we were shown about the labourers in the vineyard who complained about receiving the exact same wage as those who were hired just before the job was done, so it is to be with us who are called first to teach, but also with Israel as a whole who has been the ones to preserve this message and to share it to the world.
It was preserved by Judah all these years and through the missionary efforts spread around the world in many forms. It has been done and is not done right. Even Israel who is now first will be last and the gentiles will then be first. Can we grasp that thought? It should be on our minds as we complain about our reward when we stand up to receive it.
If you have forgotten, we wrote to you a few weeks ago about you being a bond servant. You can review this at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=633 The Torah of the Bondservant.
Now as we read the rest of this week’s Torah portion two things jump out at me. First is in Mathew 22: 22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” This goes back to what we showed you in last week’s teachings
Proverb 15: 8 The slaughtering of the wrong ones Is an abomination to ????, But the prayer of the straight is His delight.
Proverb 28: 9 He who turns away his ear from hearing the Torah, Even his prayer is an abomination
James 5: 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, so that you are healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous one accomplishes much.
1 John 3: 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we guard His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
John 9: 31 “And we know that Elohim does not hear sinners. But if anyone fears Elohim and does His desire, He hears him.
Isaiah 59: 1 Look, the hand of ???? has not become too short to save, nor His ear too heavy to hear. 2 But your crookednesses have separated you from your Elohim. And your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing.
Proverb 15:29 ???? is far from the wrong ones, But He hears the prayer of the righteous
The other section that jumps out at me is the cursing of the fig tree. Why did Yahshua do this?
First of all Yahshua rode in to Jerusalem on a colt. This in chronological terms was the 10 day of month of Nisan. We are commanded to take a lamb of the flock on the tenth day of Nisan.
Exodus 12: 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Yisra’?l, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month each one of them is to take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household
Yahshua is the lamb of Yahovah and He is now going to be examined for impurities for the next 4 days until Passover.
On the second day on His way back into Jerusalem as He came from Bethany, Yahshua curses a fig tree and immediately the fig tree withered away. Why did He do this? Did Yahshua have a hissy fit because there was no fruit?
The answer takes us right back to the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 2:15 And ???? Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of ?d?en to work it and to guard it. 16 And ???? Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall certainly die.”
Adam was told not to touch the tree or else he would die. Then in chapter three we read of how Satan does not go and tempt Adam but instead goes to the weaker vessel Eve. Satan does not go and tempt Yahovah, but is now tempting Israel, His bride.
1 And the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which ???? Elohim had made, and he said to the woman, “Is it true that Elohim has said, ‘Do not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We are to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Elohim has said, ‘Do not eat of it, nor touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You shall certainly not die. 5 “For Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like Elohim, knowing good and evil.” 6 And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, and she took of its fruit and ate. And she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made loin coverings for themselves.
Note the word crafty- it means to be adept in the use of subtlety and cunning b : marked by subtlety and guile This is what many of the false teachings out there do. They use subtle manoeuvres to sway you away from the truth. Anything to get you away from the truth is all that matters to Satan.
As soon as they ate they knew they had sinned and sought to cover it up using a fig leaf from the very tree they had just sinned under. Adam and Eve sought to use a fig leaf to cover their sin. Notice this. On the day of Atonement your sins are covered, not by a fig leaf, but by the blood of the lamb which is shed at Passover. That Lambs blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat;
Leviticus 16: 14 He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
Now the tree of knowledge of good and evil is represented by the fig tree and this is why Yahshua cursed it. Yahshua also knew that He was about to be hung on a tree near the place where He is arrested.
Now just an aside here; what penalty required you to hang a man on a tree? There is none. Yet in Deuteronomy 21 you are told 22 “And when a man has committed a sin worthy of death, then he shall be put to death and you shall hang him on a tree. 23 “Let his body not remain overnight on the tree, for you shall certainly bury him the same day – for he who is hanged is accursed of Elohim – so that you do not defile the land which ???? your Elohim is giving you as an inheritance.
The Menorah is made after the shape of the tree of life. What is that tree of life? It is an almond tree, Exodus 25. Yahshua was hung on an almond tree. This tree would also be very close to the actual red Heifer sacrificial pit which was on the Mount of Olives. Once again we are coming close to the secret place.
I have been to Israel at Passover now a couple of times and both times I have looked at the fig trees to see if there are figs on them. It is spring time and the figs are not yet out.So the reason Yahshua cursed the tree was not because there were no figs on it; the reason was because the fig tree was growing near the location where He would be hung on a tree and stoned to death. The tree represented a way of life. Satan’s way of life is the tree of knowledge of good and evil and is represented by the fig tree. Yahovah’s way of life is represented by the Almond tree and Yahshua did not want to be hung on a tree that represents good and evil.
The 613 Mitzvot
We are also going to continue to study the 613 laws of Torah which we can read at http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm
We are doing 7 laws each week and this week we shall study laws 100-106. We also have commentary from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
100 Not to commit incest with one’s wife’s sister (Lev. 18:18) (CCN131). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
Do not commit incest with your wife’s sister. “Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.” (Leviticus 18:18) This is the very type of multi-wife relationship that jump-started the nation of Israel, not that it was Jacob’s fault or plan. God allowed it and used it for His own purposes in that instance, but He’s making it clear here that it is not His pattern for the ideal family unit. If polygamy is dynamite with a short fuse, polygamy with sisters is like nitroglycerine on a bumpy road—it’s apt to blow up in your face with no warning at all.
101 Not to have intercourse with a woman, in her menstrual period (Lev. 18:19) (CCN132).
( I have been editing the anti Jewish slant the source I have been using sometimes says. I am going to allow it this one time. Instead of rabbis, I would insert the word men instead. It is men in general who are ignorant of the woman’s body.)
Do not have intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period. “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity.” (Leviticus 18:19) There is a large body of Torah law about which the rabbis are relatively clueless—that of ritual purity. They have identified the what, of course, but not the why. We will discuss these issues at length later (Mitzvot #561-576). Here we see the physiological side of what Mitzvah #572 will cover from a symbolic viewpoint: the disposition of women during their periodic menstrual cycle. They and their husbands are to abstain from sexual intercourse during this time. Again, we see that our Manufacturer knows how we’re built, and His instructions reflect the proper use of the equipment: intercourse during menstruation, as it turns out, makes a woman more vulnerable to a variety of vaginal infections, and puts her at greater risk for cervical cancer. Moreover, abstinence during menstruation is known today to be a safe, low-tech method for enhancing a couple’s fertility (see #63).
This passage doesn’t specify a duration for sexual abstinence. It merely describes it: “as long as she is in her customary impurity,” which typically lasts about five days for a healthy woman. Leviticus 15:19 defines the duration of ritual impurity as a seven-day period. According to the rabbis, however, the time of separation ends only after the woman’s seventh clean day (following the five days or so of her menses) making the period of separation a minimum of twelve days—almost twice what Yahweh mandated. Typical rabbinical bungling, the result of which in this case is a degree of sexual frustration Yahweh never intended.
One wonders if perhaps this monthly week-long hiatus was what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Do not deprive one another [of sexual contact] except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:5) We can only imagine how different the attitude and walk (and love life, for that matter) of the average young Christian husband would be if he and his wife “gave themselves to fasting and prayer” in place of sex for five or six days out of every month while God took care of the routine periodic maintenance chores on his wife’s sexual apparatus.
102 Not to have intercourse with another man’s wife (Lev. 18:20) (CCN124).
Do not have intercourse with another man’s wife. “Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.” (Leviticus 18:20) More simply stated is the way Yahweh wrote it with His own hand on a stone tablet: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). That’s a pretty good summary of most of the mitzvot in this section. I can only reiterate that Yahweh ordained marriage between a man and a woman to be a picture of the relationship He seeks to enjoy with His people—lifelong, fruitful, devoted, faithful, and loving. As the prophet Malachi puts it, “Did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:15) Adultery is the ultimate treachery.
Yahshua provided commentary for us during the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even if it is your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even if it is your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30) The problem is, it’s not really our eye or our hand that “causes us to sin,” though we use our bodily members to facilitate our crimes. It’s our sinful character, our darkened heart, our carnal nature. It is this that we need to “cut off and throw away.” Paul characterized it as “dying to self” in order that we might “live to Christ.”
103 Not to commit sodomy with a male (Lev. 18:22) (CCN116).
Do not commit sodomy with a male. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) There. He said it. It’s wrong. I don’t want to hear any more politically correct hogwash about how homosexuality is an “acceptable alternative lifestyle,” or how “God made some people different from others in their sexual propensities.” If He did, then He’s awfully confused. Granted, this is merely one of hundreds of behaviors that are prohibited in the Bible, any one of which is sufficient to define us as “sinners.” On the other hand, Yahweh goes beyond merely telling us not to do this; He uses the word “abomination” to describe this particular “alternative lifestyle.” The Hebrew word translated abomination is toebah, which means: “something morally disgusting, that is, an abhorrence; especially idolatry or an idol—an abominable custom or thing.” (S) It comes from the root ta’ab, a verb meaning “to abhor, the logical response to a strongly detestable activity. It is associated with a severe sense of loathing.” (B&C) To put things in perspective, this is the strongest language you can find in the Bible. Make no mistake: God hates homosexuality.
104 Not to have intercourse with a beast (Lev. 18:23) (CCN117).
Do not have intercourse with a beast. “Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it.” (Leviticus 18:23) I guess I’ve led a sheltered life. Under normal circumstances, this one never would have entered my mind, much less would I have needed instructions prohibiting it for me to know it was wrong. I mean, duh! We don’t really need a special mitzvah telling us not to hit ourselves over the head with a frying pan, do we? So why are we told something like this? As I observed at the beginning of this section, the land to which the Israelites were moving was populated with a people whose “iniquity was full.” They had grown so perverse in so many ways, God had no choice but to eradicate them and their practices if He wanted to keep His chosen people set apart for His purposes. This sort of sick behavior was part of what Yahweh wanted to wipe out.
Beyond that, our sexual relationships are once again pressed into service as a picture of our relationship with Yahweh—or not. Genesis 1:26 reports that we are made in the “image of God.” In all of nature, God designed his creatures to mate only with their own kind—you can’t cross a cat with a gnat. And we are God’s “kind.” At least, we become so when we are “born from above.” (John 3) But it’s also possible to be born from below—to become indwelled with the spirit of Satan (whether metaphorically or in fact). This is the spiritual equivalent of “having intercourse with a beast.”
105 That a woman shall not have intercourse with a beast (Lev. 18:23) (CCN118).
A woman shall not have intercourse with a beast. “Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.” (Leviticus 18:23) In the interests of being thorough, Yahweh makes sure that the women of Israel understand that this applies to them, too. Their purity was every bit as important to God’s plan of redemption as that of the men. And as for the spiritual application, we are reminded that when “God made man in His image, He made them male and female.”
106 Not to castrate the male of any species; neither a man, nor a domestic or wild beast, nor a fowl (Lev. 22:24) (CCN143).
Do not castrate the male of any species; neither a man, nor a domestic or wild beast, nor a fowl. “You shall not offer to Yahweh what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land.” (Leviticus 22:24) The rabbis have missed the point entirely here. Yahweh’s instruction was not about castration at all—it was about respect. The Israelites were not to offer imperfect sacrifices, animals that had been injured or for some other reason had become worthless (or worth less) to them as livestock. They were to offer perfect specimens, without spot or blemish, usually specified as males, often of a certain young age. Why? Because their sacrifices were a prophetic dress rehearsal—a symbol—for what Yahweh Himself was about to offer up as a propitiation for our sins: a perfect Sacrifice, without sin, a young male full of promise, as flawless in character as the lambs or goats of the Levitical sacrifices were in body.
Of all the laws we have now looked at this is the first one that was off. And as far as I can remember there has not been any law so far that we could not do and should not keep.
We are less than twenty percent of the way through our list of the “613 mitzvot,” and some startling truths are beginning to emerge.
God’s actual instructions fall into two basic categories (neither of which is mutually exclusive). Some are practical instructions on how to maintain the “equipment” of the human race, how to keep our bodies and our communities free from physical ailments and undue degradation—even down to the molecular level, by keeping the DNA in our gene pool vigorous and healthy. Others are spiritual in nature, instructing us how to approach and relate to our God. But the spiritual mitzvot invariably work themselves out in our relationships with our fellow men, and the practical “Laws” just as often include a symbolic component instructing us how to remain holy, set apart for Yahweh’s use.
As strange as it may sound coming from a dyed-in-the-wool literalist like myself, God’s symbols, lurking just beneath the surface in these mitzvot, are the primary point; in many cases the rules seem to be there largely to serve as vehicles for the deeper truth. As we can readily observe from Yahshua’s modus operandi, teaching in parables is one of God’s favorite methods: the lessons would be somehow less personal if we didn’t have to glean the truth from the story and watch the “light bulb” go on above our heads. What matters is not that the stories are true or untrue—it’s that they aren’t in themselves the point. A good example is the tale told to David by the prophet Nathan about a poor man whose sole possession, a little ewe lamb, was callously slaughtered by his rich neighbor so he could entertain a guest. David was rightly indignant, and being king, declared that the rich man should die for his crimes. Only then did Nathan tell him, “You are the man.” If the prophet had chastised the king to his face (as John the Baptist later did to Herod) David might never have repented and asked forgiveness for his role in the Bathsheba affair. His defenses would have been up, and his human nature might have gotten the better of him. But since the story had been presented in symbolic form, the king was able to relate to the core truth of it and make the proper response.
I believe that a great deal of the Torah uses exactly the same instruction technique. I’m not suggesting that there’s some hidden meaning that only an illumined inner circle of religious devotees can perceive—a secret kabalistic system of hidden knowledge that elevates the cognoscenti above the unwashed masses. Rather, I’m asking the reader to merely scratch one layer beneath the surface, to blow the dust off the cover—to look at the obvious underlying truth. What Yahweh said to do, and what He meant for us to learn by so doing, are as obvious as any parable recorded in the Gospels. But as Yahshua observed, the meanings of the parables are only for those who are willing to see the light: “The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’” (Matthew 13:10-17)