What is “the lowest sheol”?

Deuteronomy 32:22, The lowest sheol. The Scriptures in numerous places mentions sheol (the grave), but in several  instances there are references to the lowest sheol (e.g. Ps 86:13; Isa 14:15, NKJV). What is the difference between the grave and the lowest grave?

It appears to me that sheol or the grave is where the bodies of mortal men go to await their resurrection either to immortality or to eternal death in the lake of fire.

The lowest sheol appears to be the place where the devil and evil spirits (that rebelled at Lucifer’s fall and or prior to Noah’s flood) are confined awaiting the white throne judgment and their fate in the lake of fire.

If this interpretation is correct, this may explain the enigmatic “spirits in prison” passage of 1 Peter 3:19. This is the pit or abyss into which Satan is cast and confined for 1000 years at Yeshua’s second coming (Rev 20:3). This may be what Isa 14:14–15 is referring to when it describes the fall of Lucifer and prophesies his being brought down into the lowest sheol, the pit or abyss.

This lowest sheol or level of the grave is likely the same place that YHVH cast the angels that rebelled in the time of Noah where they await in chains of darkness awaiting their judgment at the end of the Millennium. This is probably the same “prison” or pit (Gr. tartaroo, or tar-tar-ah-ohw, see notes at 2 Pet 2:4) that Satan will be cast into at the beginning of the Millennium and then briefly released from at the end of it to go forth and to deceive the nations (Rev 20:7–8).

After that, Satan (presumably along with his demons) will be cast into the lake of fire where they will be tormented for eternity (Rev 20:10).The lake of fire is a different place than the pit, sheol or tartarahoh, which is a temporary place of restraint or prison where YHVH places rebellious angelic beings to await their final judgment, which is the lake of fire. 

 

Who are the lost and scattered sheep of Israel?

But [Yeshua] answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt 15:24)

But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt 10:6)

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

Deuteronomy 32:21, I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people. I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. The term not a people is the Hebrew phrase lo-am. Curiously this same phrase occurs in several other references in the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) in reference to the Northern Kingdom or House of Israel (Ephraim) and is repeated by several apostolic writers in reference to the “Gentiles” or “peoples of the nations” (which is the meaning of the Greek word ethnos translated as gentiles). (See Isa 7:8; Hos 1:9; 1 Pet 1:1; 2:9–10.) In Romans 9:25, Paul equates the “Gentiles” with the same people-group to which Hosea makes reference in Hosea 2:23. To whom is Hosea referring in his prophecy? (Read Hos 1:4,6; 4:15–17, chapter 5; 6:10–11; 7:1–11; chapter 8; etc.). Remember that the nation of Israel split into two groups at the time of Jeroboam and Rehoboam: the Northern Kingdom comprised of the ten northern tribes of Israel and referred to in Scripture as Ephraim, House of Israel and Samaria while the Southern Kingdom was known as Judah, the House of Judah and Jerusalem. 

Where are these Ephraimites today? The answer can be found in Genesis 48:14 and 16 where the patriarch Jacob is prophesying over the two sons of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh. Can you find any clues in these two verses that may point to a religious people-group in existence today on earth? What sign does Jacob make with his arms when placing them on the heads of his two grandsons? Is it coincidental that it is the sign of the cross? Then in verse 16, Jacob recounts his experiences with the Angel or literally Heavenly Messenger who “redeemed me from evil.” This is a reference to Genesis 31:1–11 where, while fleeing from Laban, Jacob’s adversary, he had a dream where the Messenger of Elohim calls himself the El of Bethel (or the El/God of the House of El/God). Who is the Messenger of Elohim who is also a Redeemer? (See Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12.)

Finally, Jacob prophesies that his grandsons’ descendants would grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. The word grow is the Hebrew word dagah/VDS from which the Hebrew word dag/DS or fish derives. This is why the ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates this phrase as “may they proliferate abundantly like fish within the land.”

The question is then begged, what religious people-group on earth today can be associated with a cross, a Redeemer and a fish? Knowing this will give us a clue as to whom Paul and the other writers in the Testimony of Yeshua (NT) were referring when they equated the “Gentiles” with “a foolish nation” and “not a/my people.”

Deuteronomy 32:26, I will scatter them into the corners. How was this prophecy fulfilled to Israel? Who in Israel was scattered and forgotten? Certainly not the Jews. They were scattered, but not forgotten.

Verses 28–29 say of these people that they are void of counsel and Continue reading

 

Let it rain on the dry ground of our lives!

Deuteronomy 32:1–2, Note the phrases: “words of my mouth,” “my doctrine,” “rain,” “my speech shall distill as the dew,” “small rain” and “showers.” Now read compare these phrases with Eph 5:26. What is Scripture talking about here?

Israel spent 40 years in a dry wilderness. By contrast, the Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey and was well-watered. Immediately before and after the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (Exod 20), there are references to human thirst and YHVH providing water for his people (Exod 15:22–27; 17:1–7 Num 20:2–1

3). During the Messianic Age (the Millennium), living waters will flow from Jerusalem (Zech 14:8) and those who refuse to come up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will receive no rain on their land (Zech 14:16–19).

As you relate all these scriptures together, what is the bigger lesson YHVH is trying to teach us here pertaining to water and the word of YHVH?

 

Double-Speak and Double-Think in Christian Theology

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, Christian commentator Matthew Henry on this verse writes about the need to read the Word of Elohim and that doing so will “help us to keep his commandments.” Yet elsewhere he says in the same commentary about the same laws that the commandments or laws of YHVH “are done away with.”

Statements like these are representative of a split and incongruous, double-speak and double-think on the part of many mainstream church teachers and people 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, etc.), but other laws we can disobey (e.g. the Sabbath, dietary laws, and biblical feasts).

Is it possible to have it both ways: to believe that we need to keep his commandments, yet 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?

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, to 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)? Have we 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)?

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 we as redeemed Israelites need to ponder seriously. 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.”

The bottom line as to 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.

 

Heaven and Earth Bear Witness Against Man’s Sinfulness

Deuteronomy 30:19, Heaven and earth to bear witness against you. We find this phrase used elsewhere in the Scriptures to denote a lack of obedience or awareness to the plans and purposes of YHVH on the part of his people (Deut 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1; Luke 19:40).

The Scriptures say that in any legal matter a word is to be established only in the mouth of two or three witnesses (Num 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt 18:16). Heaven and earth are two witnesses against the people of YHVH for their disobedience to his covenants.

What happens to these two witnesses after the Millennium (or Messianic Era) who (anthropomorphically speaking) have seen and heard all the sins of YHVH’s people and when sin (after the white throne judgment of Rev 20:11–15) is once and for all expunged from the earth via the cleansing flames of the lake of fire? They are destroyed (Rev 21:1)! Elohim will mercifully remove the indicting evidence against man’s sinful rebellion. HalleluYah!

Hirsch in his commentary on this verse states that Elohim sends the warning first by means of heaven and earth, and if no notice be taken, uses them as his instruments for the ruin of the guilty ones, even as they are the agents of his blessings when we have made ourselves deserving of them by devotion to our duty (The Pentateuch/Devarim, p. 605).

Recognizing that heaven and earth are agents of both YHVH’s blessings and curses upon his people, it behooves us to take notice of the hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, droughts and other natural calamities that are striking our nation as we are increasingly heading down the path of moral and spiritual decay and perversion toward outright rebellion and wickedness.

 

Is Torah obedience too difficult?

Deuteronomy 30:11–14, Is the Torah too difficult to obey? Does YHVH’s Torah set an impossible standard by which we are to live?

If so, we are logically compelled to ask ourselves this question: Would a righteous and just Creator who is a loving Heavenly Father give to his chosen people and children a set of standards that were humanly impossible to perform, then curse them for their inability to meet these standards?

If so, then we must face the fact that Elohim is an unjust and a wicked tyrant! If Torah isn’t an impossible standard to follow, then what is the Torah’s purpose in our lives, and why does the Creator impose the Torah upon his people?

We believe that the Torah sets a standard of faith, trusting in Elohim, and that if followed it provides a system of repentance and sacrifice for obtaining forgiveness from Elohim and restoring a condition of being considered righteous in his sight. The Torah also teaches man how to achieve peace on earth and good will toward men by showing humans how to love Elohim with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves.

Paul quotes this same Deuteronomy passage in Romans 10:6–8 where he relates the Written Torah to Yeshua, the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate (in the flesh). (Compare with John 1:1, 14.) He shows that they are one in the same and that Messiah Yeshua, through his life, came to reveal to man the righteousness of the Torah-law. This righteousness is available to us if we will but have a heartfelt faith in him (Rom 10:4, 9–10) and allow him to live out his righteousness in us through the empowering work of the Spirit of Elohim.

In verses 11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.

Furthermore, in Romans 10:4 Paul reveals that Yeshua is the end goal, target of or the full flowering or embodiment of the Written Torah in human form.

 

What Is the Purpose of the Torah?

Deuteronomy 28:1, Commandments.

Most people with whom I have engaged in discussion about the Torah-law of Elohim have a limited understanding of the breadth, scope and purpose of Elohim’s law. If they understand the full ramifications of the Torah, they would likely be less inclined to dismiss its validity in their lives. When discussing the Torah with people who have a traditional Christian view of  “the law,” it might be helpful to keep the following truths in mind; they help to “blow the lid” off of people’s theological boxes!

(This is excerpted from a larger work by Ya’acov Natan Lawrence entitled, YHVH’s Instructions In Righteousness—A Messianic Believer’s Introduction to the Torah available online at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/torahprimer.pdf)

The purpose of the Torah is to show man how to walk in right relationship (or righteousness) with his Creator. To do this, we must love YHVH with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30) and love our neighbor as ourself (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30). Once one is saved by grace through faith (See my teaching article entitled: The Abrahamic Covenant: The Covenant of Salvation, available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/abracov.pdf.), Torah helps show man how to walk in the straight and narrow path that leads to blessings and life and avoids the curses of the law (Deut 30:15; 32:47). The Torah shows man how to avoid sin (which is the violation of YHVH’s Torah-commandments, 1 John 3:4), which is walking contrary to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness that are for our blessing and benefit.

The Torah does not set an impossible standard by which to live. We must ask ourselves, would a righteous and just Creator and a loving Heavenly Father give to his chosen people and children a set of standards that were humanly impossible to perform, and then curse them for their inability to meet these standards? Of course not! Rather, the Torah (including both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants) sets a standard of faith, trusting in Elohim, and of following its system of repentance and sacrifice for obtaining forgiveness from Elohim and restoring a condition of being considered righteous in his sight. After all, Moses, the human instrument through whom YHVH revealed the Torah to the Children of Israel, states in Deuteronomy 30:11–14:

For this [Torah] commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” But the word is very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

Paul quotes this very passage in Romans 10:6–8 where he relates the written Torah to Yeshua, the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate (in the flesh, see John 1:1, 14). He shows that they are one in the same and that Messiah Yeshua came to live and reveal to us the righteousness of the Torah-law (verse 4) that is available to us if we will but have a heartfelt faith in him (verses 4, 9–10) and allow him to live out his righteousness in us through the empowering work of the Spirit of Elohim. In verses 11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.

It might be said that in a sense that the Torah itself is neutral; neither positive nor negative, for it is like a mirror simply reflecting the image portrayed in it. Torah reacts according to human action. Those who obey it are blessed and those who disobey it are cursed. David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary lists both some of the “negative” and some of the positive functions of the Torah. On the “negative” side:

1) The Torah has the capacity to stir up sin in an individual. This capacity of the Torah to make us sin is not a fault in the Torah but a fault in ourselves. A healthy person thrives in an environment deadly to someone who is ill; likewise, the Torah, beneficial to a believer living by faith, is an instrument of death to these controlled by their sinful nature (p. 375).

2) The Torah can still produce guilt feelings in a believer—as it rightly should whenever he contemplates how his behavior falls short of the standard Elohim sets in the Torah. But these feelings are not irremediable. The remedy is once-and-for-all trust in Yeshua the Messiah’s final atonement for sin (Rom 3:21–26), followed by ongoing confession of and repentance from sins (1 John 1:9) (Ibid.).

3) The Torah also provides a framework of justice by which Elohim, the Just Judge of the universe, will judge the actions of men to determine both their level of punishment for its violation and their level of reward for obedience to it.

4) Because of the righteous standards the Torah sets out, for the sinner it points out the fact that they have sinned and how far they have fallen short of the glory of YHVH (Rom 3:23) and hence their need for a Savior or Redeemer. The Torah actually points the way to Yeshua as Paul points out in the book of Galatians (3:25).

On the positive side:

1) The Torah provides a framework of grace in which one can live. As David Stern points out, YHVH’s people are to live “within the framework of” Torah, but they are not to be “in subjection to” [or under] the Torah in a legalistic fashion. YHVH’s giving of the Torah was in itself an act of grace that the New Covenant (NT) compares with his sending Yeshua (John 1:17) (Ibid., p. 374). Ariel Berkowitz, in his book, Torah Rediscovered, states it this way, “[Torah] function[s] as a protective border for the people of [Elohim].” He goes on to show that there are two opposing spiritual realities in the universe: the kingdom of light (YHVH’s kingdom) and the kingdom of darkness (Satan’s kingdom). Torah acts as a protective border to keep those wanting to abide in the kingdom of light/life/blessing/relationship with YHVH safe and secure. The Torah tells us what is truth as opposed to error, light as opposed to darkness, clean as opposed to unclean, holy (kadosh or set-apart) as opposed to profane or polluted, life as opposed to death (pp. 26–27).

2) The Torah, as understood and applied through the Spirit, thereby gives life in union with Messiah (Stern, p. 381).

3) Obeying the Torah brings us eternal rewards (not eternal life, which is by grace through faith alone, see Eph 2:8) in the world to come (Matt 5:19).

4) Obeying the Torah helps deepen a loving and intimate relationship with YHVH-Yeshua and helps us to abide in Yeshua (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6).

5) Obeying the Torah helps us to stay spiritually pure (1 John 3:3–6).

6) Obeying the Torah protects us from the influence of the devil (1 John 3:8).

7) Obeying the Torah-Word of YHVH helps to perfect YHVH-Yeshua’s love in us (1 John 3:6).