A cross or a stake?

Matthew 27:32, Cross. (Gr. stauros.) As in English, a Greek word can have more than one definition. If we take only one definition for a word that may in fact have several definitions, we’re risking not furthering the cause of the discovery of truth as much as furthering own biases.

Cross at St. Augustine

This is the case with the Greek word stauros  typically translated as cross in the NT. According to the Theological Dictionary of the NT, vol 7, p. 572, stauros can have several definitions.

It’s primary definition is “an upright stake” like a fence stake. But the ancients used it as a torture instrument as well, and as such, it took on several additional definitions or forms including the following: “The cross was a vertical, pointed stake, or it consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it, or it consisted of two intersecting beams of equal length” (ibid).

Other places in the Bible prove that Yeshua suffered and died on a t-shaped stake, but that’s another discussion for another time .

 

The End Times Prophetic Subtext of Matthew Chapters 16 to 25

The Surrounding Context of the Matthew 24–25 Olivet Prophecy

The Bible is full of spiritual blueprints; Yeshua’s prophecy in Matthew 24 and 25, commonly called the Olivet Prophecy is an example of another one..

Having a working knowledge of all these “blueprints” will help us to discover who we are as a people in the eyes of YHVH, where we have come from, where we are presently, and where we are going—that is, what the future holds for us, and what our spiritual destiny or divine inheritance is. Only then will we understand the end-time prophetic events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, and we will learn what our role will be to play in them.

To understand Matthew 24 and 25, it is important first to note the chronological positioning of this prophecy in the context of the passages before and after this pivotal chapter. The chapters that precede Matthew 24 prophetically speak of precursory events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, while those that follow Matthew 24 prophetically delineate events that occur after his return.

Matthew 24 sits like a diamond in the midst of a brilliant gold setting. It speaks of the order of end time events pertaining to the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah, our beloved King, Redeemer and Savior. Listed below is a chronology of events as Matthew lays them out, more or less, in the order in which they will occur prophetically. Many of these passages will be elucidated upon later in this book. It is important that we present the Continue reading

 

What Is the Greater or Higher Torah?

Matthew 23:23, Weightier matters of the Torah. What are the weightier matters of the Torah? Torah is not an end-all. It is a vehicle that leads us to something. What is that? What really matters to YHVH when all is said and done???? It is the greater Torah or the higher Torah. The Gospel of Matthew (23:23) records that Yeshua rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their not following the higher Torah. What did Yeshua really mean by “the weightier matters of the Torah”?

The Deeper Meaning of the Word “Torah”

Almost every place where you see the word “law” in the Tankah, it is the Hebrew word “Torah.” This word is used 219 times in the Tanakh or Hebrew Scriptures, and in almost every case it is translated in the KJV and in most other English Bibles as “the law.” Is this all the word law (or Torah) means? Is “law” even Torah’s main meaning?

Torah reading in a synagogue with a hand holding a silver pointer

As a test of your understanding (or, perhaps, your preconditioned biases), when you think of the term “the laws” what comes into our mind: good thoughts or bad thoughts? Do you think of a list of dos and don’ts—what you can do and cannot do? Do you think of red and blue lights flashing and a siren? Do you think of a man in a blue uniform with a badge and a gun, or judge in a black robe with a gavel, or a prison? These can be scary thoughts!

Let’s see what the word Torah really means according to the Scriptures.

Let’s start understanding the full scope of this word by first reading Proverbs 13:14. There we read that the Torah is the foundation of life.

Next start reading in Proverbs 1:7 where we read that the fear of YHVH is the beginning of Continue reading

 

The “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah & Yeshua

Discussing the Prophetic Implications of the Akeidah or Binding of Isaac
i
n Genesis 22

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).

Akediah 5-20357391

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 Continue reading

 

Did Yeshua Advocate Eating Pork and Other Unclean Meats?

Matthew 15:11, see Mark 7:19, Thus He declared all foods clean. This phrase is excluded from the KJV, but is included in the NAS, NIV and some other modern translations. Some Bible teachers see this phrase as Yeshua’s endorsement for eating unclean meats such as pork. Even if this phrase were in the original  language, Yeshua would never have considered swine to be food—a very non-Jewish concept and out of context with a Torah-adherent society. Furthermore, the Jews in his audience would have strongly reacted against Yeshua saying such a thing. What’s more, earlier in this passage Yeshua upholds the Torah over men’s tradition (Mark 7:6–13), and so Yeshua wouldn’t be teaching anything against the Torah by saying we can eat swine!

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The Hebrew Roots Version, which is a translation from the Aramaic, confirms the KJV rendering of this verse. However, some of the modern texts (e.g., the NIV and NAS) add the phrase to the end of this verse, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” This variant phrase in the newer English translations is the source of the confusion in the minds of many who read this.

The KJV is translated from the Greek family of manuscripts called the Textus Receptus or Received Text, which until the end of the nineteenth century was accepted as the most authoritative and purest manuscripts by the Protestant church. On the other hand, the newer (e.g., the NAS and NIV) translations derive from another family of Greek manuscripts that were rejected by early Protestant scholars as being inferior to the Textus Receptus, but liberal scholars from England challenged these beliefs of earlier scholars and were instrumental in popularizing the variant and previously rejected family of Greek manuscripts (called the Western family of texts).

The debate has raged on for more than 100 years as to which family of manuscripts is the oldest and most reliable and in accordance with the actual autographs (which no longer exist). But since no one knows for sure, can we approach the issue of determining whether the added words in the newer English translations, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean” are accurate or not per the original language? Was Yeshua saying here that the dietary laws delineated in the Torah are now nullified? If so, would this be consistent with the rest Yeshua’s teachings?

Briefly, what was Yeshua’s stand on the Torah? In Matthew 5:17–19 he said,

Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah-law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Yeshua here instructed his followers to not think that he had come to annul the Torah-law.

Then in Mark 7:9 Yeshua rebukes the religious folks of his day for nullifying the Word of Elohim by their man-made traditions. What did he mean by the phrase Word of Elohim? When he made this statement there was no “New Testament,” but only the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”). He was rebuking the Jews for changing YHVH’s Word of which the biblical dietary laws in the Torah were a part. So for him to rebuke the Jews for changing the Word of Elohim, and then a few verses later to be advocating the annulment of the dietary laws found in that Word would have made Yeshua not only a hypocrite, but a Torah-law breaker and thus a sinner (1 John 3:4). To suggest that Yeshua was a law-breaker is utter blasphemy(!) and nullifies the entire gospel message and the rest of the Testimony of Yeshua. Therefore, he could not have been advocating the violation of the Torah-law, and at the same time be the Word of Elohim made flesh and be YHVH’s sinless redemptive Lamb, as the newer translations imply by the addition of the phrase, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” Therefore, we utterly reject this phrase as it appears in our modern Bibles as a corruption of the original text.

By looking at the context, we see that the issue in these passages in Matthew and Mark was not about eating kosher versus not eating kosher, but whether it was allowable to eat with unwashed hands or not. According to Jewish non-biblical oral tradition, it was imperative for one to go through an elaborate hand washing ceremony for mystical reasons before partaking of food. These commandments were rooted in traditions of men, not in the Torah-law of YHVH. Yeshua is taking the Jews to task for placing more emphasis on man-made traditions rather than on the pure and firm Word of Elohim. This seems to be a chronic problem in many religious circles even in our day. Sunday worship replaced the seventh day Sabbath. Christmas and Easter replaced the appointed feasts of YHVH such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. And the list goes on.

Even beyond the issue of Jewish handwashing traditions, Yeshua was using this as a teaching opportunity to instruct the Jews on the issues of the heart. Whether one eats with unwashed hands or not is of less importance to Elohim than the unwashed condition of the carnal human heart. Religion has made a fine art of addressing surface issues or gilding the proverbial “garbage can,” while overlooking the contents therein. This is what Yeshua was really addressing in this passage.

 

Are You A Commissioned Officer of Yeshua?

As in the military, you don’t make yourself an officer. You can desire to be an officer, and even go to officers’ training school. But you have to first go through training and then those above you in authority elevate you to the status of an officer. 

The same is true in Yeshua’s spiritual army. 

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In the church system, many have the desire to become officers in Yeshua’s army, but are really self-appointed hirelings who haven’t gone through Yeshua’s discipleship training school and haven’t been commissioned as officers.

In the scripture passage below, we see how Yeshua’s training and commissioning program works.

Matthew 10:5ff, Yeshua sent out. The Commissioning of the Twelve Disciples.

There are several notable aspects to consider when Yeshua commissioned his disciples. As modern-day disciples of Yeshua, we need to take these into consideration when assuming a ministry role. These are the requirements of his laborers who will work in his harvest field (see Matt 9:37 for context).

Yeshua calls one into the ministry (Matt 10:1). Some people go into the ministry as a career like any other job by their own choice. This is unbiblical. Involvement in Yeshua’s ministry is by his invitation only.

After calling one into the ministry, there is a time of training. This is the biblical norm. For some, it was five years (e.g., the Levites), or forty years (Moses and Joshua). David had a period of training before becoming king, as did Paul the apostle and Elisha. For Yeshua’s disciples, it was three-and-one-half years. The Matthew ten account is part of the disciples’ training program.

After calling them, Yeshua gives his disciples their marching orders by telling them where to go and not to go (Matt 10:5–6). They were to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, although, later on Yeshua instructed them to go the Gentiles. Paul even taught in several places that the lost sheep of Israel were to be found among the Gentiles, as the ancient biblical prophets predicted they would be.

Yeshua then instructs them what their ministry was to be (Matt 10:7–8). They were to do exactly as Yeshua himself did: preach the gospel of repentance and the kingdom of Elohim, and to heal the sick.

He then gives them instructions pertaining to travel arrangements — what they were to take on their journey, where they were to stay, and how to act when encountering resistance (Matt 10:9–15). This includes lodging, food and financial remuneration. On the latter point, today many itinerant  evangelists flagrantly violate Yeshua’s strictures in this regard and have become nothing more than travelling salesmen and peddlers always with their hands out for financial gain. They have simply become merchandisers of the gospel, sadly.

Next, Yeshua warns his disciples against persecution (Matt 10:16–26). He assumes that persecution would be a natural result of preaching the gospel. Conversely, it could be assumed that something is out of spiritual order when one preaches the gospel and persecution doesn’t occur.

Yeshua then instructs his disciples about fear — who to fear and not to fear. They are to fear YHVH, not men (Matt 10:27–31). This is an important point, since preaching the gospel to the lost can be intimidating, which is why so few do it. Yeshua promises divine protection for his disciples who preach the gospel as he has instructed (Matt 10:29–30).

The workman is worthy of his hire. Yeshua promises spiritual rewards to those who preach the gospel (Matt 10:32–33).

For those who are called into Yeshua’s ministry, he demands total commitment. One must put Yeshua first above all other human relationships. For this, expect rejection from family and friends (Matt 10:34–39).

Again, Yeshua holds out the promise of spiritual rewards for those who heed his call to become a disciple who works in his spiritual harvest field (Matt 10:39 cp. Matt 9:37).

Matthew 10:6, 23, You will not have gone through all the cities of Israel regathering all the lost sheep before the son of man comes. The sheep of Israel will not be totally regathered before the return of Yeshua. John 11:52 says that this is where the lost sheep of Israel were—abroad in that nations. Only recently, thanks to modern communications and travel, has Yeshua’s prophecy been fulfilled that the gospel would be preached to all nations before his coming (Matt 24:14).

 

What did Yeshua talk about the most?

The Words and Actions of Yeshua Categorized Topically

The purpose of this study was to as objectively as possible ascertain from the raw data of scripture alone what Yeshua preached about, what he taught and what he did during his early ministry. What subjects did he touch most frequently in his ministry involvements as we went about advancing the kingdom of Elohim? The implications of knowing this should be obvious. If we are to be followers or disciples of the Master, we should be doing what he did. We would do well to study his life and ministry and to model ours after his. His priorities should be ours, his message ours, his methods ours. We should stress the issues he stressed, and not stress what he didn’t stress. Conversely, wouldn’t emphasizing issues that he didn’t emphasize, reprioritizing his priorities be an affront to him an act of disobedience? It seems that the application of situational ethics to the gospel message so that its heart and core is altered in an attempt to make it “more relevant to our modern generation,” to make it more appealing and less offensive, or to make it more “seeker-sensitive” when preaching, teaching or evangelizing an insult to YHVH and to his Word. It’s as if we’re saying, “we know better than Elohim.” How absurd! Deciding what we think what we think the gospel message should be without fully understanding what it was is dangerous. If we base what we do and say on the former rather than the latter, we are feeding from the tree of knowledge and usurping Elohim’s authority to determine his Word, and, again, asserting, unwittingly or not, that we know better than Elohim. This is humanism — the enthronement of the human mind, desires and will over that of the Creator’s. To do this is to become a partner in Satan’s rebellion against the Almighty Creator.

In the data that follows, only the verses in Gospels of Matthew and John were analyzed and tabulated and not Mark and Luke, since they closely parallel and often repeat what Matthew records in his Gospel. Matthew and John are complimentary, since they more or less cover different episodes in the life of Yeshua. The following is the summary of my findings. Of the 136 subjects that Yeshua dealt with, these are the top winners.

  • Yeshua speaking about himself: 316 references
  • Elohim the Father: 184 references
  • Hypocritical religious leaders: 177 references
  • The kingdom of Elohim: 71 references (or 144 references when combined with Righteousness)
  • The death, burial, resurrection, and suffering of the Messiah: 54 references
  • Elohim’s Judgment: 53 references
  • Obedience and faithfulness (to the Word or Torah of Elohim): 44 references
  • Spiritual rewards: 43 references
  • Healing: 42 references
  • Worldliness (the cares of this world and carnal mindedness): 37 references
  • Persecution and trials: 34 references
  • Faith/belief in Yeshua: 32 references
  • Faithlessness and unbelief: 24 references

From these data, we can see what subjects were most important to Yeshua. Let’s now ask ourselves how modern Christianity presents the gospel message? How much teaching exists about the Father or about the kingdom of Elohim? How about on Elohim’s judgment against sin (by biblical definition, Torahlessness; see 1 John 3:4), or on obedience to the Torah?

Interestingly, in my analysis of Yeshua’s words and actions, several popular subjects in Christianity ranked low on the bottom of the list.

  • Money: 3 references (although “the perils of materialism” had 19 references)
  • Blessings: 4 references
  • Miracles and signs: 25 references
  • Physical needs: 2 references
  • Love (brotherly): 10 references
  • Love (of Elohim for man and vice versa): 19 references

There were no references for the following popular subjects within Christian circles (go to any Christian book store and see what the subjects of the best selling Christian books are!).

  • Financial security
  • Pleasure and entertainment
  • Retirement
  • Sexual pleasure and fulfillment
  • Self esteem
  • Psychology