Blog Scripture Readings for 11-18 Through 11-24-18

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Vayishlach — Genesis 32:4 (3)* – 36:43
Haftarah — Obadiah 1:1–21
Prophets — 1 Samuel 4:1 – 10:27
Writings — Psalms 48:1 – 54:7
Testimony — Matthew 27:32 – 28:20; Mark 1:1 – 3:19

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

* Verse numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse number in Christian English Bibles when they differ from Hebrew Bibles or the Tanakh.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 11/18/18 through 11/24/18.

 

When Did Easter Replace Passover?

Matthew 28:1, When did the early Christians first celebrate a day commemorating the resurrection of Yeshua?

Although the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah is a biblical and historical fact, it’s celebration (known as Easter), is neither commanded in the Scriptures, nor was it celebrated by the original disciples of Yeshua. It is purely an invention of the church, which eventually replaced Passover! Here are the facts:

In A History of Christianity (vol. 1), Kenneth Scott Latourette states that notice of Easter as a festival occurs in the middle of the second century, but that festivals commemorating the resurrection of Messiah were presumably observed by at least some Christians from much earlier times (p. 137). Church historian, Philip Schaff, also attributes the beginning of the Easter festival to the middle of the second century (History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, p. 207). He states that the Christian Passover naturally grew out of the Jewish Passover, as the Lord’s Day (Sunday) grew out of the Sabbath. “It is based on the view that Christ crucified and risen is the centre of faith. The Jewish Christians would very naturally from the beginning continue to celebrate the legal Passover, but in the light of its fulfillment by the sacrifice of Christ, and would dwell chiefly on the aspect of the crucifixion. The Gentile Christians, for whom the Jewish Passover had no meaning except through reflection on the cross, would chiefly celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as they did on every Sunday of the week.” He notes that the early Christians commemorated the entire period between the death and resurrection of Yeshua with vigils, fasting, special devotions, meetings culminating in a resurrection feast celebrating the whole work of redemption. The feast of the resurrection gradually became the most prominent aspect of the Christian Passover (Easter celebration), but the crucifixion continued to be celebrated on Good Friday” (ibid., pp. 207–208).

Christians universally kept the Passover on the biblical date of Abib (also known as Nisan) 14/15, irrespective of the day of the week until A.D. 135 according to leading Sabbath scholar Prof. Samuele Bacchiocchi quoting the fourth century Christian historian Ephiphanius (From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 81). “This conclusion,” continues Bacchiocchi, “is supported indirectly by the two earliest documents mentioning the Passover celebration, since both emphasize the commemoration of the death rather than the resurrection of Christ. The Ethiopic version of the apocryphal Epistle of the Apostles [or Didache] says, ‘and you therefore celebrate the remembrance of my death, i.e., the Passover’ (ch. 15). In the Coptic version the passage is basically the same, ‘And you remember my death. If now the Passover takes place …’ (chap. 15)’ (ibid., p. 82). 

The second document that attests to the early church’s emphasis on the death rather than the resurrection of Yeshua is the Sermon on the Passover, by Melito, Bishop of Sardis (died ca. A.D. 190). According to Bacchiocchi, Melito provides a most extensive theological interpretations of the meaning of the Passover for early Christians. “Though Melito makes a few passing references to the resurrection, it is clear from the context that these function as the epilogue of the passion drama of the Passover. The emphasis is indeed on the suffering and death of Jesus which constitute the recurring theme of the sermon and of the celebration” (ibid., p. 83).

“The resurrection,” Bacchiocchi admits, “however, did emerge in time as the dominant reason for the celebration not only of the annual Easter-Sunday, but also of the weekly Sunday. The two festivities, in fact,… came to be regarded as one basic feast commemorating at different times the same event of the resurrection.” Bacchiocchi concludes,

It would seem therefore that though the resurrection is frequently mentioned both in the New Testament and in the early patristic literature, no suggestion is given that primitive Christians commemorated the event by a weekly or yearly Sunday service. The very fact that Passover, which later become the annual commemoration of the resurrection held on Easter-Sunday, initially celebrated primarily Christ’s passion [death] and was observed on the fixed date of Nisan [Abib] 15 rather than on Sunday, makes it untenable to claim that Christ’s resurrection determined the origin of Sunday worship during the lifetime of the Apostles. (ibid. p. 84)

 

Jacob’s Wrestling and the Jewish Sages Twistings

With whom did Jacob wrestle—a man or Elohim? If with Elohim, the Father or the Son? The Jewish sages say one thing, while Christian biblical experts say something else. What does Scripture actually say? This will be a faith-confirming, gospel supporting read!

Genesis 32:24–32, Jacob Wrestling With the Messenger of YHVH. In verse 24 we read,

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled with a man [Heb. iysh] or heavenly messenger [i.e. Heb malak]. (KJV, see Hosea 12:4)

In the following passages, we see that this man was Elohim. 

You have power with Elohim and with men, and have prevailed. (verse 28, based on the KJV)

… for you have striven with the Divine [Elohim] and with man and have overcome. (verse  28, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach and Chumash)

Then Jacob says that he has “seen [Elohim] face to face” (KJV, CJB and The Soncino Edition Pentateuch, Second Edition). The two standard Orthodox Jewish versions of the Torah, The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach and The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, and Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Torah commentary The Pentateuch (by Judaica Press) all read, “For I have seen the Divine face to face.” Here they have translated the Hebrew word Elohim as the Divine (Heb. Elohim panim).

Which translation of the word Elohim is the correct one? Before resorting to human sources to solve this dilemma, does the Word of Elohim itself interpret this passage for us giving it clear light? Most assuredly so. In Hosea 12:2-5 we read,

[YHVH] hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he reward him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had strove with [Elohim]. He strove with an angel [Heb malak or heavenly messenger in many instances referring to YHVH himself, as noted elsewhere in this work] and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication to him; he found him in Beth-El, and there he spoke with us; and [YHVH Elohim] of hosts; [YHVH] is his name. (based on the KJV)

The Stone Edition Tanach renders this passage as follows (starting in verse four):

In the womb he seized his brother’s heal, and with his strength he struggled with [an angel of] God; he struggled with an angel and prevailed; [the angel] wept and beseeched him: ‘In Beth-el He will find us and there He will speak with us.’ HASHEM is the God of Legions; HASHEM is His remembrance. (bracketed supplied word are in the original)

So which translation is correct? The first one indicates Jacob was wrestling with a Heavenly Messenger who was none other than YHVH Elohim, while the second translation is cast in such a light as to imply that Jacob was wrestling with merely an angel. 

Does the word Elohim mean the Divine? It is interesting to note that in the Authorised Version the word Elohim appears 2606 times in the Tanakh. It is translated as God 2346 times, god 244 times and several other words less than five times each (e.g. judge, goddess, great, mighty, angels). As in all cases with a word which can have several meanings, the context of the Scripture passage will determine its meaning and its subsequent translation from the original language into English. The word divine was not Continue reading

 

A t-Shaped Cross Vs. an I-Shaped Cross Discussed

Matthew 27:40, The cross. Stauros, the Koine Greek word for cross, like most words in all languages, has several meanings. To arrive at the true meaning of a word, we can’t just look at the first meaning in a list of dictionary definitions or choose the meaning that best suits our personal biases or theologies.

Too determine which dictionary definition of a word best applies to a particular word in a literary situation, we must consider all the meanings of a word and then look at the context of the literature in which the word is found, and then choose the meaning that best fits.

Even then, well meaning people will have differences of opinions on this (e.g. The Companion Bible, by E.W. Bullinger, appendix 162). This is the dilemma that scholars who translate literary documents from one language to another face. This is the case with the Koine Greek word, cross, which is found in the NT some 32 times.

Stauros literally refers to “an upright, pointed stake used for fencing or in the construction of a stockade.” It can also refer to a torture instrument, or a cross on which the Roman’s executed criminals. A stauros came in several basic forms: a vertical upright, pointed stake, or an upright stake with a crossbeam resembling our capital letter “T” or our small Continue reading

 

The Science of the Crucifixion

Matthew 27:35, Crucified him. 

By Cahleen Shrier, Ph.D. (originally posted at http://www.apu.edu/articles/15657/)

Each year, Cahleen Shrier, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biology and Chemistry [at Azuza Pacific University in California], presents a special lecture on the science of Christ’s crucifixion. She details the physiological processes a typical crucified victim underwent and teaches her students to see Christ’s death on the cross with new understanding. The exact events in this scenario may not have happened in Jesus’ specific case, but the account is based on historical documentation of crucifixion procedures used during that time period. Please be aware that the following is of a realistic and graphic nature.

It is important to understand from the beginning that Jesus would have been in excellent physical condition. As a carpenter by trade, He participated in physical labor. In addition, He spent much of His ministry traveling on foot across the countryside. His stamina and strength were, most likely, very well developed. With that in mind, it is clear just how much He suffered: If this torture could break a man in such good shape, it must have been a horrific experience.

Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:37-42, Luke 22:39-44

After the Passover celebration, Jesus takes His disciples to Gethsemene to pray. During His anxious prayer about the events to come, Jesus sweats drops of blood. There is a rare medical condition called hemohedrosis, during which the capillary blood vessels that feed Continue reading

 

Jacob Versus Laban = YHVH’s Saints Versus End Times Babylon

Is the greedy, idolatrous and enslaving grasp of modern Babylon holding you back from your spiritual destiny? It’s time to begin breaking free!

Genesis 31:43, These daughters are my daughters. Laban claims that Jacob’s wives and children belonged to him. Laban was also steeped in the idolatry of Babylon having in his possession idols or images called teraphim (Gen 31:19, 34–35), which legal symbols of his wealth, since they were actual title deeds to his property. These gods of one’s property also acted as good luck charms insuring the land’s prosperity. 

Is there a modern-day counterpart to this? Yes. Doesn’t modern Babylon want to control and possess the wives and children of redeemed Israel, indoctrinate them in its pagan religious system, and then keep Jacob’s modern descendants (Christians and Jews) from returning to their spiritual and physical homeland and birthright inheritance, and from returning to the Torah-faith of their fathers? Are governmental institutions (e.g. public educational institutions and state and federal Child Protective Services agencies, social welfare programs, various government regulations that have greatly diminished or eliminated many of our personal freedoms along with Elohim-given parental rights), socio-political organizations (e.g. ACLU, UN) and greedy corporate systems (banking systems that enslave people through debt, corrupters of our food supplies that destroy people’s health, pharmaceutical companies and the mainstream medical establishment that enslaves and destroys people’s minds and bodies through drugs) modern-day Labans who want to kill, steal and destroy for the benefit of money, power and control? Again, yes. 

Revelation 18:13 says that end times Babylon the Great will traffic in the bodies and souls of men. This is likely a reference to the trafficking in human body parts (for medical purposes, no doubt) and the enslavement of men’s hearts and minds. This speaks at some level of the modern day enslavement of people—of their religious expression, freedom of thought and action. In these end times, the saints of Elohim must protect themselves and their loved ones from the idols and the evil machinations of the Elohim-hating, devil worshiping idolators. 

Let us not forget John’s closing words in his first epistle: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). An idol is anything that gets between us and Elohim, and which moves us downward and away from him on our spiritual path instead of upward and closer to him.

Laban and Balaam. It is quite possible that the false prophet Balaam, who heard from YHVH and had a sense of righteousness, though was still steeped in paganism, was a descendant of Laban. Both Laban and Balaam were from Aram (part of greater Babylon) and only 280 years separated them. One of the Aramaic Targums (Targum Jonathan) equates Balaam with Laban, while other scholars view Balaam as Laban’s grandson. Both were involved in a mixed-religious system—some truth and some error, some good and some evil. This is the nature of religious Babylon (meaning “mixture” or “confusion”). A mixture of what? Of good and evil. Remember the tree by that name in the Garden of Eden? Who was the one who enticed man to indulge in that fruit in rebellion to YHVH’s commands? 

Even today, Satan the serpent is at the helm of spiritual Babylon trying to lure people into his system of good and evil. Like the tree of knowledge, the religious Babylon of today, out of which YHVH is calling his people (Rev 18:4), is just that—a mixture of truth and pagan lies. How else, for example, do we account for the name of the Christian festival called Easter or Ishtar named after the Babylonian sex goddess of fertility? Or how else do we account for the Christmas tree phallus symbol that also originated from Babylonian sex worship? Or how about the Easter egg (an ancient Babylonian fertility or sex symbol) or the egg on the Jewish Passover Seder plate? All these are symbols of pagan sex worship. 

As YHVH called Jacob away from Babylon back to Beth-el (the House of El), and as YHVH turned Jacob’s heart back to the ways of his fathers, is not the same YHVH likewise now calling his people to come out of religious Babylon (Rev 18:4), to separate themselves from that which is unclean or not kosher (2 Cor 6:17)? 

Yes, YHVH is pleading for the modern descendants of Jacob (redeemed Israelites or the Israel of Elohim, Gal 6:16) to not succumb to the lying forked-tongued Labans and Balaams of today who always over-promise and underdeliver—who would through deceptive lies pull Elohim’s back into their religious systems that are a mixture of truth and error. Elohim is urging his people to remember the good, ancient and blessed paths of the Torah of Moses his servant and to listen to the spirit of Elijah as the children’s hearts re turned back to the Hebraic fathers of their faith (Jer 6:16, 19; Mal 4:4–6).

 

The Spirit of Judas is alive and well today!

Matthew 26:14–15, Then Judas. When Yeshua plainly stated that he’d be crucified soon, Judas evidently became disillusioned, since he was expecting a Conquering King Messiah, not a Suffering Servant Messiah. With Yeshua as a conquering king, Judas could have expected a prominent position in Yeshua’s government.

The lust for money and power were likely the motives behind Judas’ following Yeshua (after all, Judas carried the money bag for Yeshua’s ministry). When Yeshua predicted his crucifixion, Judas’ incentives for following him suddenly vanished. Judas figured he’d salvage what he could of his unfulfilled expectations and enrich himself, even if it meant betraying Yeshua for money. Judas had come to the conclusion that Yeshua was a false Messiah faker and that he had wasted several years of his life following him, so, in his mind, giving Yeshua over to the Jewish authorities wasn’t an act of betrayal at all, but was an act of civil service to expose Yeshua as a trouble-making fraud.

To Judas, the Jewish leaders had been right after all to reject Yeshua as the Messiah. To them, he was merely a pretender, a deceiver, an agitator and a troubler, and Judas had come to the same conclusion. When Judas came to this realization, he now found it advantageous to his personal well-being to cast his lot in with the Jewish religious establishment and to make some money from it as well.

In our day, there many Judas-type people who turn away from following Yeshua. Many reasons can be given for this, but it boils down to three things: the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Selah!