Natan’s Commentary on Revelation 1–3

Revelation 1

Revelation 1:1, Must shortly take place/come to pass. John expected that the prophecies that followed were about to occur. This seems to be proof that the Book of Revelation (at least up to Rev 10:11) was written before A.D. 70. The second half of this book was John prophesying again (see Rev 10:11) and must have been written after the fall of Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans.

Revelation 1:2, Testimony. In the New Testament or Testimony (marturia) of Yeshua (as compared to the Old Testament, also known in the book of Revelation as the Word of Elohim), the word testimony (as found in many places) is either the Greek word marturia or marturion meaning “testimony, witness, or one who testifies.” Interestingly, our English word martyr comes from these Greek words. A martyr is one who testifies to their faith and is killed for it. These Greek words refer to both one who shares their testimony of the good news of Yeshua or the gospel message including their personal testimony. It can also refer to one who as a prophet testifies of future events, but the word is not confined to that meaning only. Consider this. One doesn’t have to be a prophet to testify to the future events that the Bible already tells us are coming such as the second coming, the establishment of Elohim’s kingdom on earth, punishment for the wicked and rewards for the righteous, the glorification of the saints as well as inclusion in the family of Elohim as his glorified and spiritual children. These are all future events and are part of the gospel message.

Marturia and marturian come from the root word martus which is “a witness in a legal or historical sense, a spectator to anything.” As born again believers in Yeshua, we are witnesses to the power of Yeshua in our lives and the validity of the gospel message. For example, Stephen was a martus or martyr (Acts 22:20) as he was preaching the gospel to those who stoned him (see also Rev 2:13 where Antipas was slain for his faith as well). In the Gospel of John, John the apostle writes (marturia) the record John the Baptist in John 1:19. In John 1:32, John the Baptist records or bears witness (martureo) of what he saw pertaining to Set-Apart Spirit coming down upon Yeshua. A little later, John the Gospel writer testifies (martureo) that Yeshua is the Son of Elohim (John 1:34). The word martureo is also used of those who viewed the miraculous resurrection of Lazaurs (John 12:17), and of John who was witness to or who bore record of (martureo) the death of Yeshua (John 19:35). Many more examples could be given, but you get the idea. Marturia and its cognates can have several meanings that include the gift of prophecy, but is not limited to that.

Revelation 1:7, Even they who pierced him. How will those who killed Yeshua see him at his second coming if they are dead? Only those alive on earth and the righteous dead will be resurrected at his second coming will see him. Perhaps, they will see him descending from the New Jerusalem in his power and glory at the end of the Millennium when he will resurrect all the unrighteous dead who then must appear before him on bent knew at the white throne judgment before being cast into the lake of fire. Or perhaps Yeshua is referring to the children of those who were responsible for his crucifixion, since their parents made the responsible for his death as well when they declared, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt 27:25).

Revelation 1:10, The Lord’s Day. This verse is one of the cliche biblical passages that mainstream church scholars use to “prove” Sunday’s replacement of the Sabbath. The problem with this position is that there’s no clear scriptural proof that the apostles ever changed the Sabbath to Sunday. What’s more, to view this passage as referring to Sunday is to take a phrase the early church fathers used as a euphemism for Sunday when pushing for Sunday in place of Sabbath observance and to retroactively apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase. Frankly, it is biased and dishonest scholarship to take the phrase “the Lord’s day” with its second century colloquial meaning and then to back-apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase when there’s no reason to believe this was John’s intended meaning.

Alternatively, the phrase, “the Lord’s day, can be a reference to the biblical term “the day of the Lord’s wrath” when YHVH, in the end times, will judge the nations for their wickedness. This is a point that several biblical scholars have made (see From Sabbath to Sunday, by Samuele Bacchiochi, p. 111; E. W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible footnote on Rev 1:10; The Jewish New Testament Commentary on this verse, p. 791, by David Sterns).

There is actually more scriptural proof that the phrase “the day of the Lord” is a reference to the seventh day Sabbath than to the first the week. In Isaiah 58:13, the prophet YHVH refers to the Sabbath as “my holy day…the holy day of the Lord.” So conceivably, it could have been on the Sabbath day itself that John received his vision on the island of Patmos about that great and terrible day of YHVH’s wrath that is to come on the earth just prior to the Messiah’s second coming. 

Revelation 2

Revelation 2:17, A white stone. The Romans of biblical times exchanged a token of friendship between friends that could be passed on down from one generation to another. The ritual consisted of two friends writing their names on a tile of wood or stone, which was then divided in half and each took the piece containing name of their friend. To produce the counterpart of the one of the pieces to the other friend (or his heirs) guaranteed friendship and hospitality. The white stone with a new name on it is likely a reference to this first century practice (Manners and Customs, p. 70).

Revelation 2:27, A rod of iron. Yeshua’s rod of iron is similar to the scepter of a king, which was taken from the shepherds rod, since a king was viewed as the shepherd of his people. The scepter was not only a symbol of protection, but of power and authority.

Revelation 2:28, The morning star. In the Latin Vulgate Bible (translated by Jerome in about A.D. 400 for the Roman Catholic Church) is the official Latin Bible of the Catholic Church the biblical term morning start is translated into Latin as lucifer. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, when morning star is translated as lucifer, it is not referring to the devil, but rather denotes the exalted state from which he fell. That exalted state refers to the glory of heaven or the morning star (Rev 2:28), and to Yeshua himself who Peter and John refer to as the Morning Star (2 Pet 1:19; Rev 22:16) (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09410a.htm). The name Lucifer appears in some Catholic liturgy. It would seem that this is not a reference to the devil, but to Elohim or to Yeshua.

Revelation 3

Revelation 3:9, Worship/bow down before your feet. This scripture has puzzled many. Who are these saints before which those who are of the synagogue of Satan will at some time in the future bow down in worship? Who are those who are of the synagogue of Satan? First, the saints are wearing crowns (verse 11) and they have the name of Elohim written upon them (verse 12). We know that a group of saints will be ruling with Yeshua in his millennial kingdom (Rev 1:6; 5:10). These same saints will be part of the first resurrection (Rev 20:6), which occurs at Yeshua’s second coming. Not all saints will be kings and priests. There are levels of rewards (and responsibilities) in YHVH’s kingdom depending on how obedient one has been to his Torah-commandments. This Yeshua teaches in Matthew 5:19. Some saints will be the least in his eternal kingdom, while some will be the greatest depending on their level of Torah-obedience. Similarly, Yeshua identifies two groups of saints in his Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1–13)—the wise saints and the foolish saints. The wise virgins will go into the wedding supper of Yeshua, and presumably will become his bride, while the foolish ones will be left outside. In Revelation chapter three, Yeshua further identifies two groups of believers: those who are spiritually lukewarm and those who are spiritually hot (Rev 3:14–22). It is not a stretch to connect those who are spiritually on fire in Laodicea with those in Philadelphia who have been faithful to his commands, who will be given a crown and who will be worshipped.

Can we further identify these faithful saints who will be worshipped (or before whom the knees of lower order saints will bend, which is the actual meaning in the Greek of the word worship) in Yeshua’s kingdom? They have crowns and are thus ruling as kings and have the name of Elohim written on them. Similarly, the 144 thousand have the seal of YHVH’s name on them (Rev 7:3–4 and 14:1), and they keep his Torah commandments and have the testimony or faith of Yeshua (Rev 14:12). These are the likely candidates for being those Yeshua describes in Matthew 5:19 who will be the greatest in the kingdom of Elohim, and who others will worship (Rev 3:9). 

Why would people be worshipping (or bending the knee before) these glorified, resurrected and kingly saints? There are several possible explanations here for this. First, the bride of Yeshua will be ruling and reigning with Yeshua as a queen (in ancient Jewish thought) or like a king (under Yeshua, who is the King of kings, as presented in the book of Revelation). Second, Paul teaches us that those saints who will be resurrected will be literally adopted (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5) into the family of Elohim as sons or children of YHVH Elohim. 

In Galatians, Paul speaks of redeemed believers being both Abraham’s seed and being adopted as sons of Elohim (Gal 3:29; 4:5). Elsewhere where the term adoption is used in the Testimony of Yeshua, it is in reference to our relationship with our Heavenly Father, not with our earthly father, Abraham. The redeemed are therefore, sons or the seed of Abraham, yet adopted into the family of Elohim as spiritual sons (Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:5). In other words, the saints are literal sons or seed (physically) of Abraham, yet adopted sons (spiritually) of YHVH. This adoption will be finalized or completed at the resurrection when the saints receive their spiritual bodies (Rom 8:23), for then they will be like him for they shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

Elohim is a plural word in Hebrew and can mean many things, and has many usages in the Scriptures. It is used to refer to the Creator, YHVH Elohim, as well as to angels, kings, judges and humans in authoritative capacities. When the saints are resurrected, they will be as Elohim and will be part of the family of Elohim, though they will not be Elohim, who has existed forever and is the Creator of all things. It appears that these saints will be worshipped, not as YHVH Elohim, but as his created sons who have been elevated through the process of redemption, sanctification, glorification and adoption into members of the family of Elohim.

Revelation 3:14, The church at Laodicea.

Laodicean Church: Awaken!
Will you pass the test and make the grade?

Life is a series of tests. We either pass or fail them. YHVH is the school teacher who determines whether we will pass or fail, not us. His Word is our text book that tells us how to pass. If we learn the lessons and put to practice the things we have learned, we will pass. If not, we will fail. 

The problem is that we’re not just in a regular school classroom where if we fail, it’s really not a big deal in the bigger scope of life. No. Our “classroom” is this life. Whether we pass or fail will determine not only whether we will obtain eternal life or eternal damnation, but if we pass, the grade we get will determine our level of rewards in YHVH’s eternal kingdom. As should be obvious, there are a couple of important things going on here: there is not only the issue of life after death, but if we pass the test of life and are granted eternal life, where will we be, what will we be doing and, most importantly, how close will we be to the Creator. Some people will be existing in close proximity to YHVH Elohim, while others will be living further away.

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Deuteronomy 31—Will YOU be faithful to YHVH’s commandments?

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31:3, YHVH your Elohim … will go over before, and he will destroy these nations. YHVH promised to destroy Israel’s enemies before them. Who or what are your enemies? Do you believe YHVH’s promises here? Some of the enemies we have are a result of our own sinning and our repentance will bring our deliverance from them. But what about attacks that come against us through no fault of our own? What do you do about them? Do you realize who you are in Yeshua, and are you aware of the spiritual power you have as a victorious overcomer by the name and through the blood of Yeshua? (Read Ps 91; Luke 9:1; 10:19; Rom 8:37; Eph 6:10-18; Jas 4:7–10; 1 Pet 5:6–10; 1 John 4:4; Rev 12:11.)

Deuteronomy 31:10–13, You shall read this Torah before all Israel. Verses like this tend to expose the theological confusion that occurs in the minds of many Christian Bible teachers. For example, about this verse, Christian commentator Matthew Henry writes about the need to read the Word of Elohim and that doing so will “help us to keep his commandments.” Yet elsewhere in the same commentary he says that the commandments or laws of YHVH “are done away with.” 

Statements like these are representative of a split and incongruous, “double-speak” thinking on the part of many Christians when it comes to the commandments or laws of Elohim. Some laws, they say, we are to keep (e.g. thou shalt not murder, lie, commit adultery, which they refer to as “the moral law”—a non-biblical term), but other laws we can disobey (e.g. the Sabbath, dietary laws, and biblical feasts, which they refer to as “the ceremonial law”—another non-biblical term). 

Is it possible to have it both ways: to believe that we need to keep the Creator’s commandments, yet, at the same time, teach they are done away with? If so, then what is the meaning of such biblical phrases pertaining to YHVH’s Torah or Word as “forever,” “for a thousand generations,” “the same yesterday today and forever,” “till heaven and earth pass away,” “I change not,” and “think not that I came to destroy the Torah-law?” Is ­YHVH’s Word inconsistent and contradictory, or is this, instead, the case with the thinking of men? Is YHVH’s immutable character flawed with regard to keeping his Word, promises and standards or is man the one at fault?

In reality, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Do we have a high enough view of YHVH Elohim and fear him and tremble at his Word (Isa 66:2), or have we, in reality, demoted the veracity of his Word by contorting YHVH and his Word to fit the mindset of changeable and inconsistent man (which the Scriptures define as idolatry)? 

Moreover, have we, by denying the validity of some aspects of YHVH’s Word, bought into the lie that the serpent proffered at the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden when he told the man and the woman that YHVH really did not mean what he said and that humans can take the “have it your own way” and “pick and choose” approach when it comes to obeying the Word of YHVH (a philosophy that forms the basis for the religious movement called secular humanism, which is at the heart of all the religions of the world—including much of Christianity—except the true religion of the Bible)?

In reality, how many aspects of Christian theology are no more than a thinly veiled version of the religion of humanism in disguise? 

These are tough questions that the saints who are citizens of the nation of Israel (Eph 2:11–19) need to ponder seriously. At the same time, let’s not forget the words of Yeshua in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my [Torah] commandments” and the words of the apostle in 1 John 2:5–5, “He that says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his [Torah] commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keeps his Word in him truly is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The bottom line reason why man has a hard time submitting to all of YHVH’s commandments is nowhere stated more concisely in the Bible than in Romans 8:7,

[T]he carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.

Deuteronomy 31:12, Gather together the people. … and the small children. A fundamental aspect of Hebrew culture is the teaching of the children. This is the primary responsibility of the parents as stated in the Shema (Deut 6:7) and secondarily that of the community of faith. Many parents have all but handed their YHVH-ordained charge in this area over to others: the church and the government educational system, day care, the baby sitter, etc. Additionally, often the children take the backseat in the education in many churches and Messianic congregations. Often pastors struggle to find volunteers to help in the children’s ministry. Is this right? Is this the heart of the Father? It certainly is not the heart of Yeshua who went out of his way to minister to the little children (Mark 10:13–16; see also Matt 18:1–5 and Mark 9:33–37).

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Natan’s Notes on Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27:2–10, Set up for yourselves. Immediately upon crossing the Jordan and upon entering the Promised Land, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set up a stone monument containing the Torah and to construct an altar for burnt sacrifices. What is the significance of these and why was it so important that this be Israel’s first order of business upon entering the Land of Promise? Matthew Henry states in his commentary that the Word of YHVH (the Torah) and prayer (the altar) must always accompany each other. Discuss this and relate it to Psalms 51:16–19 and Hosea 6:6 and the believer’s spiritual walk. Also, why did YHVH command the Israelites to construct the altar of uncut and whole stones? To whom does this prophetically point? (Read Dan 2:35, 45; Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Luke 20:17.) The stones of the altar were rough and uncut. To whom does this point who became our Living (spiritual) Altar and Sacrifice? (See Isa 53:2.)

Deuteronomy 27:2, 4, 8, Set up great stones. On Mount Ebal on whole, uncut stones, the Israelites were to write the Torah-law and then coat these stones with lime plaster. Elohim also told them to build an altar there where they were to make burnt and peace offerings. Why was the Torah written on stones on Mount Ebal—the mountain of the curses? Why not on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessing? Certainly this cannot mean that the Torah is a curse, for Paul calls it kadosh (holy), just and good in Romans 7:12. What could these stones represent symbolically? 

First, this symbology tells us that those who don’t follow the Torah will come under a curse, for to violate it is sin (1 John 3:4), and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and every person has sinned (Rom 3:23). 

Second, Who is the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone the builders rejected (Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20), and the stone cut without hands (Dan 2:34)? What was the purpose of these offerings and to whom do the burnt and peace offerings point? Could white lime plaster symbolically represent the saints, the bride of Messiah, being clothed in robes of righteousness (see Rev 19:7–8)? Who is the King of Righteousness through whom redeemed sinners become righteous? Who is clothed in robes of righteousness once their sins have been atoned for? (Read Heb 7:2, 20–28 cp. Rev 19:7–8 cp. 3:5, 18; Isa 61:10.) Who was wounded for our ­transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, had laid on him the iniquities of us all, and was made an offering for sin (Isa 53:5, 6, 10)? Who was the Living Torah, the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1, 14)? Who redeemed us from the curses of the law (Gal 3:13), which came upon us as a result of our sinning (sin is the violation of YHVH’s law, 1 John 3:4), and thus bringing a death penalty upon us (the wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23)? 

Mount Ebal

Is it now making sense why the Torah and the altar were placed on Mount Ebal? This is another one of the many prophetic shadow pictures in the Torah pointing to the redemptive work of Yeshua at the cross. Let us give glory to Elohim who knows the beginning from the end and to Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who was slain from the foundation of the world for our salvation! 

Does this strengthen your faith that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth? Who else could have fulfilled these prophecies?

Deuteronomy 27:11–28:68, Moses commanded the people.YHVH required the Israelites to recite a “pledge of allegiance” affirming their commitment to him before entering the Land. What can we learn from this? Is this something we should do from time to time in our own spiritual walk: recite pledges of commitment to YHVH and set up spiritual markers or reference points in our lives as tokens of our allegiance to him to which we can harken back when the going gets tough? These are acts of the will that when done can engage the heart and stir up feelings of love, devotion and remembrance.

Deuteronomy 27:11–16, Freedom versus bondage. Christian author Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse points out something very interesting that none of the Jewish Torah commentaries I have read mention: The six tribes appointed to read the blessings from Mount Gerizim were all children of free women (Leah and Rachel). What are the spiritual implications of this? (Compare this with Paul’s discussion of the free and bondwoman pertaining to Isaac and Ishmael in Galatians 4:21–31.) To which children do the promises of YHVH’s material and spiritual blessing (namely, eternal life through Yeshua the Messiah) belong: those who are in bondage to or under the curses of the Torah-law because they walk in sin (which is the transgression of the law, see 1 John 3:4), or to those who walk in obedience to the Torah (i.e. in sinlessness or who walk in YHVH’s instructions and teachings in righteousness)? This brings up yet another issue. Is the purpose of the Torah simply to condemn people, as is taught in the mainstream church, and to bring people into spiritual bondage, and beyond that, the Torah’s only purpose is to point people to the cross after which it is to be discarded like a dirty old rag? This may be what men’s traditions and doctrines teach, but this is not what the Word of Elohim declares. Selah.

Deuteronomy 27:11–26, Cursed. What are the broader principles or remez understanding behind each of these curses? Imagine how much better the world be if people obeyed these commandments and what they imply. The Creator gave man these laws to keep the civil peace and order in society. When violated, they result in social upheaval, wars, strife,  conflicts, destruction and all sorts of evil consequences between individuals and people-groups.

  • Verse 16—Do not treat your father or mother with contempt: Respect your elders and older people in general.
  • Verse 17—Do not move your neighbor’s property line: Respect the property rights of others, and do not steal anything from your neighbor.
  • Verse 18—Do not make the blind to wander off the road: Take care of the handicapped, disabled and sick among you. Do not take advantage of them.
  • Verse 19—Do not take legal advantage of the stranger, fatherless or widow: Do not take advantage of the underprivileged, poor or the helpless people in society.
  • Verse 20—Do not have sexual relations with your step-mother: Do not have sexual involvements with any non-blood related family member.
  • Verse 21—Do not have sexual relations with animals: What more can be added to this command?
  • Verse 22—Do not have sexual relations with your sister: All incest is forbidden.
  • Verse 23—Do not have sexual relations with your mother-in-law: Again, do not have sexual involvements with any non-blood related family member.
  • Verse 24—Do not attack your neighbor secretly: Have open and honest dealings with everyone around you including your enemies.
  • Verse 25—Do not take a bribe to slay an innocent person: Do not pervert justice, lie or twist the truth to your advantage.
  • Verse 26—Do not violate YHVH’s Torah-law: All of YHVH’s commandments are to be followed.

Deuteronomy 27:11–28, Blessing and curses for obedience. In these verses we find listed some of the blessings and cures for Torah obedience. Do you believe the Torah principles (spiritual truths) of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience to YHVH’s Word are for us today? If not why not? Is it because you are listening to Bible preachers and teachers who claim to know and teach the Word of Elohim, but who are instead teaching the doctrines and traditions of men by which the Word of Elohim has been made of none effect (see Mark 7:13)?

The following are some questions to ask yourself when considering Elohim’s Torah and the blessings and curses that come upon us as a result of our response to these instructions in righteousness, which are a reflection of the character and nature of the Creator: Does YHVH’s character, Truth or Word change? If the blessings listed in these verses are not being manifested in your life why might that be? Could it relate possibly to your level of Torah obedience and faith or trust level vis-à-vis YHVH and his Word? What changes could you make in your life that might place you in a more favorable position to receive his blessings rather than the curses?

Deuteronomy 27:15–18, The commandments are all inter-connected. To the casual reader, the admonitions contained in these verses may seem to be arranged in a random order, but this is not the case. Let’s discuss the purposeful design of the order in which Elohim gives this commandments.

Consider the following: The prohibition against idolatry (verse 15) is juxtaposed with that of degrading one’s parents (i.e. not honoring one’s parents, or as S. R. Hirsch states in his commentary, “who outwardly is respectful to his parents but inwardly considers himself vastly superior to them”) along with trespassing against one’s neighbor’s property by removing his neighbor’s boundary markers or landmarks. 

Now consider this: One who does not honor and fear YHVH but turns to idolatry (the second commandments) will not honor one’s parents (the fifth commandment) (and vice versa) will likewise not honor the property of one’s neighbor (including his neighbor’s wife). 

Juxtaposed next to these commands is the prohibition against misleading a blind person (verse 18). This means that we should not take advantage of one’s blindness by advising a blind person in a way beneficial to us and detrimental to him. 

Following this commandment is the principle about one who steals justice from another by perverting judgment against one who is weaker socially or financially or who is less informed at law than another thereby giving the advantage to the stronger (The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash/Devarim, pp. 2126–2127). 

Can you see how each command is interrelated with all the others? Does this not give one insight into the curious statement found in James 2:10, which declares that if you have broken one commandment you have broken them all? This should help us to see that in one way or the other, all of YHVH’s commandments are inter-related, all depend on each other, and they all stand or fall together. 

Now relate James 2:10 back to verse eight of the same chapter where James notes that the entire Torah-law can be summarized as the “royal law of love.” 

As you review YHVH’s list of prohibitions in Deuteronomy 27 can you see any other relationships between these juxtaposed concepts? Learning to exegete (draw truth out of) Scripture in this manner will yield a whole new level of spiritual revelation to the reader.

 

Deuteronomy 26 on the Joys of Charitable Giving

Deuteronomy 26

Deuteronomy chapter 26 discusses the joy of giving financially to those who are called and ordained of YHVH to do his spiritual work on earth as well as to the poor among you and the blessings that come on the giver as a result (vv. 1–15, 19). Giving is a holy activity (v. 13), and when YHVH’s people obey him in this area and observe his other commandments as well, he proclaims them to be his special people and promises to promote them high above the nations of the world as his holy people (vv. 17–20). This YHVH did for ancient Israel when they obeyed him, and he promises to do the same for those who obey him now (2 Cor 1:20). These eternal and immutable principles of the Torah are for all people for all time and have not changed over time regardless of men’s traditions and religious doctrines that say otherwise. 

You may not feel like YHVH has presently exalted you above all those around you, but consider this: What is your salvation worth and what will your status be after you’ve received your glorified body and are ruling and reigning with King Yeshua over this earth after his return?

Deuteronomy 26:4–11, You shall answer.This was the prayer that one was to make when one brought their tithe to YHVH. Bringing one’s tithe to YHVH was an act of gratefulness and worship and was brought with a joyful heart for the blessing the Almighty had bestowed upon the tithe-giver.

Deuteronomy 26:11, You shall rejoice.Bringing one’s tithes and offerings to YHVH is to be a joyful event since it is a reflection of our gratitude to him for abundantly blessing us. (Compare this verse with 2 Corinthians 9:6–11.) Giving to YHVH is a form of worship since it allows us to put our treasure where our heart is (Luke 12:34). Please join me in praying this prayer: 

Father, help us to give to you out of the abundance of our hearts joyfully and with gratitude for your blessings and bounty in our lives. Help me not to be a fair-weather giver only, but to give out of obedience, even sacrificially, that we may learn to have faith in your promises of provision and to obey you no matter the circumstances. Amein.

(For a brief study on tithing and giving, please see my teaching entitled, “Is Tithing for Us Today?” which is available on our ministry website at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/tithing.pdf.)

Deuteronomy 26:12, You shall give to the Levite, to the proselyte, to the orphan, and to the widow.Throughout the Tanakh, YHVH has a special place in his heart for the “underdogs” of society, as did Yeshua in his ministry. There are those, who through no fault of their own, and some due to their own faults, need help and extra grace and mercy. What is your attitude toward those who fall into this camp? What are you doing to help them?

Deuteronomy 26:13–15, Prayer offered when giving. This is the prayer that the tithe-payer is to pray upon bringing his tithe to YHVH. Tithing leads to prosperity, but for whom? Just the individual? Notice in verse 15 the wording: “bless your people Israel…” The tithe-payer is praying for blessings not just upon himself, but upon the entire nation. What can we draw from this? Is there room for selfish prayers here? What happens when the whole community is tithing and everyone is praying for everyone else’s well-being and blessing?

Deuteronomy 26:17–19, You have distinguished YHVH…YHVH has distinguished you.What does this mean? What is YHVH’s attitude toward Israel? What does the word avouched or distinguished (some translations read: proclaimed or agreeing) mean here? What is transpiring here with the people distinguishing YHVH and YHVH returning the action in verse 18? The resulting action is in verse 19.

 

Deuteronomy 23 and 25—Natan’s Commentary Notes

More from Deuteronomy 23

Deuteronomy 23:9, Keep yourself from every wicked thing. An aspect of physical warfare or, more importantly as it pertains to the saint, in spiritual warfare that many Bible teachers who teach on the subject fail to cover is the spiritual state of the warrior.  The focus is usually on the enemy or the battle tactics employed, but, again, not on the condition of soldier who is going up against the enemy of the people of Elohim. This section of the Torah covers this oft-overlooked subject (vv. 9–14). 

The word wicked as found in this verse is the generic Hebrew word ra or ra’ah meaning in its most basic sense “evil, bad or distress.” So what does the Torah state in this passage that makes a person evil or bad and unclean and is thus offensive to Elohim? Simply this: bodily emissions that happen to naturally emanate from the human body whether it be human waste or seminal emissions. Such occurrences take a man from a state of ritually purity or being clean (Heb. tahor) to being unclean (Heb. tamay). The solution to the problem is, in the case of nocturnal emissions, cleansing by water, and in the case of the eliminations of bodily waste, burying the waste. What this teaches us it that if one goes into battle in an unclean state, this is offensive to Elohim, and the soldier may not have the favor of Elohim while he is engaging the enemy in battle. This is not a good thing for the warrior!

When it comes specifically to spiritual warfare (as outlined in 1 Cor 10:4–6 and Eph 6:10–18), the drash or homiletical level understanding of this passage teaches us that when engaging the enemy in spiritual battle, the saint must be as clean as possible spiritually. That means that all unconfessed sins need to be repented of and that all illicit behavior must be eliminated from one’s life if one expects the benefits of YHVH’s miraculous aid. One be continually washed clean of sin by the blood of Yeshua the Messiah and by the water of the Word and the Spirit of Elohim.

Because these principles of ritual and spiritual purity are usually not taught to the saints, it is no wonder that many times our prayers are not answered and that the enemy trounces Christians on the streets, in the courts, in the political arena and many other battlefields in various venues in our society. 

All this is to say that the saint must clean up his own act and house first before confronting the enemies of Elohim to do the same. Both Yeshua and Paul address the hypocrisy of those who point the fingers at others while guilty of the same or similar sins.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:1–5)

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of Elohim is according to truth against those who practice such things. (Rom 2:1–2)

Deuteronomy 25

Deuteronomy 25:4, You shall not muzzle. According to Hirsch, this law applies not only to animals, but to workmen as well. It stands to reason logically, if YHVH cares about feeding animals while working, how much more should employers be concerned for their workmen? Rashi disagrees and says it refers only to animals (and not to workmen) and specifically to those animals that are involved in the production of food as would be the case with an ox that was used in treading out grain (to separate the kernel from the chaff). Paul disagrees with Rashi and views this Torah command as a more broadly applicable proverb implying that an employer should not deprive his employees of their wages. He specifically applies this principle to individuals who minster the gospel (1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim 5:19). Those who work in YHVH spiritual field (the church), Paul reasons, should be supported by those they serve.

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19 Tips to Surviving Evil’s Onslaught Against Us

2 Timothy 3:1, Last days…perilous times.

Standing Like a Rock in the End Times! 

In these increasingly dark and evil days in which we are now living where evil is made to appear to be good, down is up and black is white, and where YHVH’s people are being increasingly marginalized, persecuted and even killed, what can and should we be doing in the face of evil’s onslaught against us? The following list provides the answers from the Scriptures.

Watch and pray (Matt 26:41; Mark 13:33; 14:38; Luke 21:36).

  • Pray that you might be counted worthy to escape YHVH’s judgments that will be coming on the earth because of wickedness (Luke 21:36).
  • Endure to the end (Matt 24:13; Mark 13:13).
  • Keep your eyes on Yeshua the Lamb and follow him wherever he goes (Rev 14:4).
  • Occupy until Yeshua comes (Luke 19:13). Be busy doing what Yeshua has called you to do to help advance his kingdom on earth.
  • Engage in intercessory prayer, though at this time, it may not do much good, since biblical prophecy has to be fulfilled as end time events occur. This means that things will be getting worse and worse until Yeshua returns and destroys Babylon the Great New World Order. We can still intercede for individuals however.
  • Be an overcomer in every way possible. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21). Those who overcome spiritual evil will experience great rewards (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21)
  • Be prepared to engage in civil disobedience as a last resort, if necessary. If civil laws violate YHVH’s laws, the Bible tells us to obey YHVH’s laws over men’s laws (Acts 4:19; 5:29; Ps 94:16).
  • Be prepared to help persecuted brothers and sisters in any way possible. You might be next the next one to be persecuted and may find yourself needing help from others, so pay it forward! If you sow, you will reap.
  • Continue to be salt and light to those around you in every way possible (Matt 5:13–16).
  • Don’t expect things on earth to get better. Yeshua never said it would get better, but only darker before his return. He’s coming at the midnight hour when evil will be the most pervasive and rampant on the earth.
  • Expect intense persecution of Bible believers (2 Tim 3:12; Matt 5:10–12; 10:22–25; 23:34; Mark 10:30; John 15:19–21; 16:2, 33; 17:14; 1 Thess 3:3–4; 1 Pet 4:12–16; Rev 7:14). Yeshua in the book of Revelation prophesies that this will occur in the end times.
  • Be wise as serpents (Matt 10:16). Find ingenious ways to circumvent Caesar’s evil and unbiblical mandates without getting caught, while at the same time being obedient to YHVH’s higher laws.
  • Love not your lives unto death (Rev 12:11). Be willing to lose some or all of yourself for Yeshua including your material possessions. Greater rewards await you for your faithful obedience to Yeshua (Matt 10:39; 16:25).
  • Be inspired by the great faith of the biblical and Christian heros who have gone before us (Heb 11).
  • Come out of the end times Babylon the Great world system more completely (Rev 18:4) starting with the spiritual aspects of this evil and ungodly worldwide system.  Eventually, this may mean leaving the cities and going into communal situations into the wilderness with other like-minded believers. Some of the Roman Catholic monasteries were started by those fleeing the corruption of Rome.
  • The more evil intensifies against you, love the light of YHVH’s truth, love Yeshua more and run to him and hold on to him—the Rock of your salvation—more tightly.
  • Love your enemies, do good to those who despitefully use you and pray for them (Matt 5:44).
  • And finally…

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love (1 Cor 16:13).  Let the following scriptures admonish you:

“Put on the whole armor of Elohim, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of Elohim, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Elohim; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….” (Eph 6:11–18)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in Elohim for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Cor 10:3–6)

 

Natan’s Notes on 2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 1:6, Stir up. What in us needs stirring up from time to time? Simply this: boldness to share the gospel with those around us as we discuss in the next verse. 

2 Timothy 1:7, Spirit of fear [Gr. deilia]. Deilia denotes “timidity or cowardice.” The opposite of deilia is shame (v. 8), but shame of what? The context is clear here. It shame of the testimony or gospel of Yeshua and of standing up for those who are being persecuted for preaching the gospel (v. 8). For fear of what others will think, too many believers fail to share the gospel with those around them. Yeshua referred to this as putting one’s lamp under a bushel basket when, instead, he called his disciples to be like light on a hill (Matt 5:13–15) and commissioned them to take the gospel to the world (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:14–18). For too many saints, the great commission has become the great omission!

For the sons of Elohim, there is nothing to fear!

What have the saints to fear when Yeshua has given them the victory over sin and death (1 Cor 15:54–56)? Nay, through Yeshua the Messiah, the saint can do all things (Phil 4:13), and has become more than a conqueror (Rom 8:37), for greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). After all, if Elohim is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31)? This means that YHVH will give us the boldness to share the gospel message with those around us, even as he gave the early disciples the boldness to do so when they asked him for it in the face of life threatening persecution (Acts 4:23–31).

Power [Gr. dunamis]…love [Gr. agapē]…sound mind [Gr. sōphronismos]. Dunamis refers to miraculous power or strength. Agape denotes “affection or benevolence” and, in Scripture, refers to the love of Elohim for his Son, for the human race, believers for Yeshua, the saints for one another, and is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Sōphronismos denotes “a well-balanced, self-controlled or disciplined mind.” In other words, YHVH has equipped the saint with everything he needs to counteract the natural tendency toward fear in difficult situations. We have the miraculous power of the Spirit of Elohim working within us, the fruit of the Spirit of love, and a well-balanced and self disciplined mental state that will give in neither to irrational nor to naturally occurring human fear in the face of difficult situations. 

What is Paul saying here in contrast to the spirit of fear or timidity and being ashamed of the testimony of Yeshua (v. 8)? He is declaring that Elohim has given his saints the means, power and ability to share the gospel with those around them and to stand up for the testimony of Yeshua in the face of persecution rather than succumbing to the natural tendency to pull away in timidity or cowardice. 

Elsewhere, John declare that there is no fear in love, that perfect love casts out fear, and that the saint’s source of love is from the Father in heaven (1 John 4:18–19). If we are full of the love of Yeshua for others, then we will neither be afraid of what they think nor will we be ashamed to share the gospel with them, for our desire to see them saved will override all fear including that of criticism, mocking or rejection by others. The example of this can be illustrated by a house that is on fire and that contains sleeping occupants who are unaware of the fire that is about to kill them. Without thinking and in total boldness, a good Samaritan will break into the house, rush in yelling and screaming for the people to wake up and escape. He will do so boldly and without concern for what those in the house may think. In a sense, this should be our approach to those around us who are spiritually lost and in danger of being cast into the lake of fire.

2 Timothy 1:9, Before time began.YHVH Elohim established his plan of salvation for mankind through the redemptive life and death of Yeshua the Messiah before the world began (Rev 17:8; Acts 15:18; Rom 16:25; Tit 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20). Additionally, YHVH has chosen each saint through Yeshua before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:14; Rom 87:29–30; 11:2; Acts 18:38). That is, he knew each person by name who would accept his gift of salvation (Rev 13:8; 17:8) and, by implication, he also knew those who wouldn’t. Moreover, the kingdom of Elohim or heaven has been prepared for the saints from or before the foundation of the world (Matt 25:35).

2 Timothy 1:10, Life [Gr. zoe] and immortality [Gr. aphtharsia]. Zoe refers to life in it all of its aspects both in physical and spiritual dimensions. Aphtharsia denotes “incorruptibility or generally unending existence.” Through Yeshua, the saint has both physical and spiritual life that will extend past the final curtain of physical death and will continue unendingly into eternity. This is the message and power of the gospel in a person’s life through a relationship with Yeshua.