New Covenant? Really?

Matthew 26:28, New testament. (Also see notes at Heb 8:8.) Where did the terms New Testament or New Covenant came from? You will find these phrases in your English versions of the Testimony of Yeshua in exactly nine places (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24), but does the English translation do justice to the Hebrew and Greek words behind them?

The confusion arises from the fact that English has one word for new, while Greek and Hebrew have more than one word. While English speakers are limited to one word, they nuance the meaning of new by adding qualifiers to the word new (e.g., brand new as opposed to used but it’s new to me) to differentiate between brand new versus new to me, or refurbished or repaired new. 

In the Testimony of Yeshua, there are two Greek for new: neos and kainos and each has a different connotation. Neos more often than not carries the idea of “brand new or numerically new,” while kainos means “renewed, refreshed or Continue reading

 

Who are the sheep and goats?

Goats and sheep together

Matthew 25:31–46, The nations will be gathered. 

The Sheep and Goat Nations Judgment

Matthew 25:31–46 describes Yeshua’s judgment of the sheep and goat nations. Some see this event as occurring at the beginning of the Millennium. Others see it as a process culminating at the end of the Millennium with the release of Satan from his bottomless pit prison after which he will tempt the nations to rebel against King Yeshua. The last scenario seems unlikely, since those who follow Satan’s rebellion will receive immediate judgment upon arriving at Jerusalem to confront Yeshua. They will be devoured by fire out of heaven (Rev 20:9). No mention is made in this passage of a judgment between the sheep and goat nations, there is only swift judgment upon Gog and Magog.

It seems likely, therefore, that one of first orders of Yeshua’s official business upon his return to the earth will be to judge between the sheep and goats. Here he will separate the wicked from the righteous who have survived the wrath of Elohim at the end of the age just prior to Yeshua’s second coming. This is like a mop-up operation after a great war. Those who have shown kindness to the saints will be allowed into the kingdom of Elohim during the Millennium, while those who didn’t will be cast into the lake of fire. This appears to be an initial purging of the spiritual wheat from the chaff at the beginning of Yeshua’s millennial reign. Those who are left of the nations (Zech 14:16) are presumably those who didn’t take the mark of the beast and hence won’t be destroyed with those who did (Rev 19:20). They showed their faith by their actions, and King Yeshua’s grace will be extended to them and he will give them an opportunity to receive eternal life. Perhaps these are those who are implied in Revelation 16:2 who refuse to take the mark of the beast and worship him during the wrath of Elohim period.

Some Bible teachers view the judgment of the nations not as a one-time event that occurs at the beginning of Yeshua’s millennial reign, but as an on-going process during his reign. This could be the case, since Yeshua may give the nations time to accept his rule and learn the truth of the gospel little-by-little.

Whether those of the goat nations will be cast immediately into the lake of fire isn’t clear. The lake of fire is mentioned in Revelation 20 at the end of the Millennium and in conjunction with the white throne judgment. Perhaps Yeshua will allow the goats to remain on the earth, and they will be those rebels he will be forced to rule over with his rod of iron, and who will refuse to come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem annually (Zech 14:16–21). Perhaps they’re the ones who will eventually be deceived into rebelling against Yeshua at the end of the Millennium when the devil is released from the pit (Rev 20:7–10).

 

Insights from Matthew 24—the Olivette Prophecy

The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

Matthew 24:29, 31, Immediately after the tribulation…gather the elect. If no other verse disproves the pre-trib rapture theory, this one does. Here Yeshua clearly states that the gathering of the saints to meet Yeshua as he is coming in the clouds occurs not only after the tribulation, but after the great tribulation (v. 21). The tribulation and great tribulation are separate events from the wrath of Elohim, which John describes as being part of the seven trumpet and seven bowl judgments (Rev 6:17; 11:18; 15:1; 16:1).

Matthew 24:29, 30, Sun will be darkened…sign of the Son of Man. Here Yeshua tells us that certain harbingers of his second coming will occur first. These include phenomenon occurring in the heavens involving the sun, moon and the stars. After this, a miraculous sign in the heavens will occur, and then Yeshua will come. Between the signs of the sun, moon and stars and the final miraculous sign of his coming there’s a gap in time. Yeshua later revealed to John the cosmic disturbances involving the sun, moon and stars would correspond with the sixth seal (as part of the of the great tribulation that occurs before Elohim pours out his wrath on the earth) of Revelation 6:12–17. After this, Elohim pours out his wrath upon the earth (Rev 6:17; 11:18; 15:1; 16:1), and then the second advent of Yeshua occurs.

Does the sign of the Son of Man coming (Matt 24:30lp) occur before or after the wrath of Elohim? That’s hard to say, but since Yeshua states that between the two events that all men will mourn, perhaps this is a veiled reference to the wrath of Elohim that is to be poured out on unregenerate men during the seven trumpets, seven thunders and seven bowl judgments described in the Book of Revelation. Why else would men be mourning? The intervening time between the Continue reading

 

The Eight Beatitudes Versus the Eight Woes

Matthew 23:13–33, The Eight Woes. There is a one-to-one correlation between the eight benediction of the beatitudes of Matthew 5:3–12 and the eight maledictions or woes Yeshua pronounces on the hypocritical religious leaders of his day in Matthew 23:13–33.

The kingdom of heaven is opened to the poor, humble or contrite in spirit (Matt 5:3), while the door to kingdom of heaven is shut by and to prideful and exclusive religious hypocrites (Matt 23:13).

Those who mourn will be comforted (Matt 5:4), while greedy and pretentious religious hypocrites bring grief and sorrow to those they rule over (Matt 23:14).

The meek will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5) versus religious zealots who compass the earth to expand their kingdoms to make new converts, all of whom are shut out of the kingdom of Elohim and will inherit hell (Matt 23:15).

Those who hunger and thirst for true righteousness will be filled (Matt 5:6) versus those who pursue a false, man-made religious system righteousness that involves twisting YHVH’s word for their own carnal purposes (Matt 23:16–22).

The merciful will obtain mercy (Matt 5:7), while the religious hypocrites major in spiritually minor things and overlook mercy and the weightier matters of the Torah (Matt 23:23–24).

The pure in heart will see (the heart of) Elohim (Matt 23:8), while hypocritical religionists put on an outward or superficial show of “purity,” but in reality, they overlook and neglect the inward purity of the heart. This equates to Torahlessness, which equates to spiritual blindness and misses the heart of Elohim (Matt 23:25–26).

Peacemakers will be called the sons of Elohim (Matt 5:9) versus Torahless religious hypocrites whose actions cause strife, confusion leading to spiritual uncleanness and death, which is the opposite of peace or shalom,which is physical and spiritual well-being in all areas of life (Matt 23:27–28).

Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will inherit the kingdom of Elohim (Matt 5:10–12) versus religious hypocrites, while claiming to be followers of Elohim, are themselves the persecutors of YHVH’s righteous saints (Matt 23:29–33).

 

“Outer Darkness” Versus the Lake of Fire

man in forest spooky halloween mood

Matthew 22:13, Outer [or exterior] darkness. This is likely not a reference to destruction in the lake of fire, which is the fate of the wicked, but rather the place where those who will be least in the kingdom (Matt 5:19) will reside.

In this same parable, Yeshua alludes to the lake of fire in verse seven where he mentions the fate of the wicked who refused the invitation to the wedding of the king’s son. This refers to those who refuse to respond favorably to the gospel message.

Those who are invited guests to the son’s wedding, but who weren’t properly attired, are those saints who will be in the kingdom of Elohim, but who will not have attained the higher reward of being the bride of the king’s son (i.e. the bride of Yeshua). They will not be living in close proximity to Yeshua as his bride in the New Jerusalem, which is a place where there is no darkness or night, for Yeshua who is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2) and whose face shines like the suns (Rev 1:16) will be the light of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23; 22:5). Rather, the place of reward for those who weren’t properly attired in robes of righteousness (Matt 22:11) will be to live further away from the New Jerusalem somewhere on the New Earth. These  appear to the those who refers to in Matt 5:19 as “the least in the kingdom.”

Moreover, light is a biblical metaphor for a knowledge of YHVH’s truth or being able to see spiritually, while darkness is a metaphor for ignorance or spiritual blindness. It is possible that these who will be least in the kingdom, though possessing eternal life, will be living in a state of not possessing as much divine revelation or spiritual light because their reward. This is because they failed to properly prepare their robes of righteousness to be the bride of Yeshua as the lesson of the previous parable teaches us. The reward of these people who will be least in the kingdom will be to abide in a place on the new earth that is further away from the New Jerusalem and that has less spiritual light shining on it.

Outer darkness being a lower position in the kingdom of Elohim as opposed to being cast into the lake of fire seems to be more consistent with Yeshua’s other usages of this phrase elsewhere (e.g. Matt 8:12; 25:30). In the verbal imagery of Yeshua, being cast into outer darkness seems to be in direct contrast to being cast into a fiery furnace, which is a reference to the fate of the wicked. This fate is final and refers to eternal damnation in the lake of fire (Matt 13:42, 50 cp. 3:12; 25:41; Mark 9:43–49; Rev 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8).

 

The prophetic-gospel implication of Isaac’s “sacrifice”

akeidah-6-21408719

Genesis 22:13, A ram caught in a thicket by his horns. See the study below on the prophetic implications of the two horns of the ram and on how the binding of Isaac (called in Hebrew, the Akeidah) pointed prophetically to Yeshua.

The “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah. 

YHVH credited to Abraham’s spiritual account his willingness to sacrifice Isaac as if he had actually done so. In fact, there is an ancient rabbinical tradition that states Isaac actually died and was resurrected as the midrash comments on this passage: “As the knife reached his throat, Isaac’s soul flew away and left [e.g., he died]. But when a voice went forth from between the angels saying, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad’ (Genesis 22:12), his soul returned to his body” (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 31 as quoted in The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash Bamidbar, p. 1417) (bracketed comments are in the original).

The Jewish sages also note that Scripture states that both Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, but that it is recorded that only Abraham descended (22:19). Isaac’s absence from the Genesis narrative until many years latter (Gen 24:62) has given rise to much speculation on the part of the sages as to Isaac’s whereabouts in the interim (The ArtScroll Bereishis Vol. 1a, pp. 812–813).

Regardless of the rabbinic interpretations, does Scripture leave Isaac out of the narrative as if to highlight his absence, and to give the impression (albeit a prophetic allegorical one) that he was actually sacrificed? After all, what was the ram caught in the thorn bush thicket (wearing a crown of thorns) by its two horns all about? That ram was a substitute sacrifice picturing Yeshua the Messiah dying on the cross while wearing a crown of Continue reading

 

Why did Yeshua allow Moses to permit divorce?

Marriage - Divorce signpost in a beach background

In the study below, we will discuss why Moses added the divorce clause to the Torah, and why Yeshua permitted it and what he had to say about it. (For the record, I am not divorced and thus have no dog in the fight. I am simply analyzing what the Bible has to say to say on the subject and attempting to accurately report my findings. — Natan)

Matthew 19:8, Moses permitted. From Yeshua’s statement here, it would seem that Elohim gave Moses certain freedom and latitude to redefine certain Torah principles to accommodate the needs and realities of fallen and sinful man.

In the case of marriage, even though it was Elohim’s highest ideal for a man to leave his parents and cleave to one wife for the rest of his life or until she died (Gen 2:24), the reality is that man too often is incapable of living up to the Creator’s highest ideal because of the hardness or sinfulness of his heart. It is important to note that YHVH gave the marriage command before the fall of man had occurred (Gen 2:24 cp. Gen 3:1–6). In light of the fact of the fall of man when sin entered the world thus negatively affecting the marriage relationship, YHVH allowed Moses to permit divorce under certain circumstances (see Deut 24:1–4).

Had Moses not made allowances for the sinfulness and hardness of the human heart and forbad all divorce in Israel in an effort to strictly adhere to YHVH’s highest letter-of-the-law ideal for marriage, then the societal results might have been unimaginably chaotic. For example, people would Continue reading