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

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

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

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

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

 

The Science of the Crucifixion

Matthew 27:35, Crucified him. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Deity of Yeshua

The Preeminence and Deity of Yeshua

Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron the high priest, thrust a spear through Zimri the Israelite man and Cozbi the Midianite woman as they were bringing the curse of YHVH upon the nation of Israel by fornicating with each other within the camp of Israel. With the same righteous zeal as Phinehas, today’s righteous spiritual leaders must rise up and stand against secular philosophies that threaten to bring YHVH’s judgment upon redeemed Israel. In the face of evil in his day, David asked, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers, or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Ps 94:16) The present issue relates to the dangerous and damnable trend within the body of redeemed Israelites believers to question and even deny the deity of Yeshua.

You’ve all heard the Christian axiom, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in everything else, charity.” What are the essentials of our faith that we must unite in, and around which we must draw the line in the sand and defend that turf until death?

As one who has been walking in the Torah for more than 40 years, who has spent time fellowshipping and ministering in both traditional Sunday Christian as well as Sabbatarian churches, and then pastoring and teaching in pro-Torah/Hebrew roots congregation for many years, it has become clear to me which issues are essential, and which are not. Those biblical truths that are salvational in nature are the essentials. These are the hills on which we must plant the flag of truth and be willing to defend at all costs! What are these immutable essentials?

  • YHVH Elohim (in Hebrew a plural word) is the Sovereign of the universe and the God of the Bible. He is one (Heb. echad, i.e. a compound unity), yet the Bible reveals the Godhead is comprised of three spiritual entities: the Father, the Spirit and the Son.
  • The Bible is the Word of Elohim from Genesis to Revelation.
  • The Torah is for all believers for all time.
  • Yeshua the Messiah, the Word of Elohim, is Elohim and is the Son of Elohim who was manifested incarnate on this earth being born of the virgin Mary. 
  • Yeshua lived a sinless life, died on the cross as an atonement for the sins of man, was buried and resurrected on the third day where he is now at the right hand of Elohim, and at the same time is on the throne of Elohim as Elohim.
  • Salvation is by the grace of Elohim through faith in Yeshua the Son of Elohim. As a result of one’s salvation, one will love Yeshua by keeping his commandments or word (the Torah), which will produce in his life the fruits of righteousness as defined by the Torah.

These are the essentials of our faith on which there can be no compromise. To take a weakened position on any of these issues is to begin down a spiritually slippery slope that can only lead to eternal separation from YHVH Elohim! Leaders must be quick to lift up the spiritual sword of the Word of Elohim against those who teach otherwise. In this brief treatise, I will deal with the major issues raised by those who want to diminish or eliminate the deity status of Yeshua the Messiah.

“The Earth Did Quake”

When the life of Yeshua, the divine Light of Elohim that pierced the spiritual darkness of this world, was being poured out while he was hanging dying on the cross, the earth was plunged into darkness (Matt 27:47). After Yeshua yielded up his spirit and died, the veil in Continue reading

 

Torah Central—A New Paradigm From Which to View the Bible

The Living and the Written Torah Is the Central Theme of the Bible

The Living and Written Torah is the dominant theme of the Bible. They are one in the same thing—totally unified and absolutely indivisible, which is why I used the singular verb is and not the plural are in the previous sentence. Another way to say this is that whole Bible is about Yeshua the Torah-Word of Elohim who was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). 

To illustrate this point, as we shall discuss later, we find this dominant theme prominently highlighted at the beginning, middle and end of the Scriptures. 

In this study, we will focus more heavily on the Written Torah, as opposed to Yeshua the Living Torah, although in our minds, without Yeshua, it’s impossible to fully understand, much less obey the Written Torah. Furthermore, it is only Yeshua, the Living Torah and not the Written Torah who is capable of saving us from our sins and giving us eternal life.

The Written Torah Defined

Let’s first define our terms. What does the word Torah mean as defined in the Bible? The primary meaning of the Hebrew word Torah, VRU< (Strong’s H8451, TWOT 910b) is “teaching, precept, instruction” and not law, although it is translated as such some 219 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament). What is the fuller meaning of the word Torah?

According to Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Torah, as already noted, signifies primarily direction, teaching, instruction (Prov 13:14). It is derived from the verb yarah/VRh meaning “to project, point out” (Strong’s H3384) and hence to point out or teach. The law of Elohim is that which points out or indicates His will to man…Seen against its background of the verb yarah, it becomes clear that Torah is much more than law or a set of rules. Torah is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal.

Similarly, The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that the word Torah means “teaching” whether it is the wise man instructing his son or Elohim instructing Israel. The wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life (Prov 3:1f). So too Elohim, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insights into how to live with each other and how to approach Elohim. Through the Torah, Elohim, shows his interest in all aspects of man’s life which is to be lived under his direction and care. The Torah of Elohim stands parallel to the word of YHVH. 

As already noted, the word Torah originates from the root word yarah vRH (Strong’s H3384), which also means “to flow as water, to lay or throw as in shooting an arrow; to point out as if aiming the finger to make a point, to teach.” Another cognate (related word) of the word Torah is the Hebrew word moreh (Strong’s H4175) which means “teacher or archer (as in one who shoots at a target).” Moreh vRun derives from the same Hebrew root word, yarah, as does the word Torah and signifies that law is the revelation of Elohim’s will (e.g. Isa 1:10). Therefore, when one is walking according to the Torah of YHVH Elohim, one is walking in the light of YHVH’s truth, which is hitting the mark of righteousness. Likewise, YHVH’s teachings or instructions are a river of life flowing from his throne aimed at hitting the mark of truth and righteousness. By contrast, the Hebrew word for sin is chata (Strong’s H2298) which means “to miss the mark,” i.e. transgressing the Torah as 1 John 3:4 states, Sin is the transgression of the Torah.

The meaning of word Torah when analyzed through its Paleo-Hebrew pictographic letters yields some interesting insights from yet another perspective that are worth noting. The definition of the word Torah VRu< from the Paleo-Hebrew is as follows:

  • Tav means “sign, seal, covenant.”
  • Vav means “nail, peg, secure, add.” 
  • Resh means “head, person, highest.” 
  • Hey means “behold, reveal.”

The meanings of the individual picture-letters when combined give us the following expanded understanding: 

  • The Torah is “the highest secure covenant revealed.”
  • The Torah is “the covenant or sign that reveals the secure head or highest person” (i.e. YHVH-Yeshua).

The Origin of Torah and Its Introduction into the World

The Torah predates Moses who gave the law to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. There are many examples in both the books of Genesis and Exodus before Mount Sinai that YHVH’s servants both knew of and followed the Torah. That is another study and beyond Continue reading

 

An important word about the Word of Elohim

In the following short article, we’ll answer the following questions: Who is Elohim? Who is the Word of Elohim?Who’s was Yeshua? What did the apostles believe about the deity of Yeshua,? Who was the God of the Tanakh (OT)?

John 1:1, The Word was Elohim. Is Yeshua or the Father the God (Elohim) of the Old Testament (Tanakh)? For many believers in Yeshua, there is confusion as to who it was in the Godhead who interacted with the Israelites in the Tankah. Was it the Father or the Son? In the minds of the apostolic writers, there was no confusion about this. Yeshua, in his preincarnate state, was the One that YHVH Elohim the Father used to both create (John 1:3; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3), and then to interact with mankind. He was the Word of YHVH Elohim, the Father, who become flesh and dwelt among men (verse 14). This truth is easily confirmed in several passages in the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament).

First, Yeshua himself claims to be YHVH or the I Am of the burning bush (see John 8:58 cp. Exod 3:14). The Jews viewed Yeshua’s claim to be deity as blasphemous, which is why they picked up stones to kill him (John 8:59). Next, Yeshua in declaring to the Jewish religious leaders that “I send you prophets, wise men and scribes: some you will kill…” (Matt 23:34), he is claiming the rights and prerogatives of YHVH — a right and role that solely belonged to YHVH in the Tanakh.

Yeshua also declared that no man has seen the face of Elohim the Father (John 5:37). Yet in the Torah, we have several instances of men seeing YHVH (e.g. Gen 17:1; 18:1; 26:2; 48:3). If we are to take what these scriptures say literally, then it could not have been YHVH the Father these individuals saw, but rather YHVH the Son who later become Yeshua. Not only that, Yeshua even goes so far as to say that the Israelites of old not only never saw the Father’s face, but neither at anytime even saw his form nor heard his voice (John 5:37). Therefore, it becomes evident that while on Mount Sinai, Moses didn’t see the backside of the Father, but rather that of the pre-incarnate Yeshua (Exod 33:18–23).

What’s more, in John 14:15, Yeshua, speaking to his disciples, declares, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” When Yeshua says commandments here, we know from Luke 18:20 that he has the Torah in mind. In this statement, Yeshua is actually quoting himself when he made the same statement to the children of Israel while he was delivering to them the Oracles or Torah of Elohim at Mount Sinai (Exod 20:6; Deut 11:1).

Stephen, in agreement with John, clearly demonstrates that Yeshua was the prophesied “prophet like Moses” who was to come (see Deut 18:15), and who was the Angel, or more correctly, the Divine Messenger from Elohim, who gave the Torah to the Israelites (Acts 7:37–38). Paul goes on to say in enigmatic terms that Yeshua was the spiritual rock from which the Israelites drank and that followed them (1 Cor 10:4). And finally, Paul equates Yeshua, “the Word of Elohim made flesh and that dwelt among us” (John 1:14) with the Written Torah which YHVH gave through Moses to the Israelites. This he does when he quotes Deuteronomy 30:11–14 and substitutes the word Torah for Yeshua (see Rom 10:5–13). In Paul’s mind, Yeshua was not only synonymous with the Torah, but he was very much present with the children of Israel.

The Word was Elohim. Numerous scriptures in the Testimony of Yeshua clearly show that the apostolic writers believed in the deity of Yeshua (see Matt 1:23; Luke 24:52; John 5:18; 8:58–59; 9:38; 10:33; 19:7; 20:28; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9; 1 Tim 3:16; Tit 2:13; Rev 21:3, 6, 23; 22:1–5). Amazingly, even James (Heb. Ya’acov), the writer of the epistle that bears his name and believed to be the biological half brother of Yeshua equates Yeshua with YHVH of the Tanakh (Jas 5:7, 8, 10, 11 cp. 1:1). This is evident in his usage of the word “Lord” where he equates the Lord Yeshua (verses 8 and 10) with the LORD (or YHVH) of the Tanakh (verses 10 and 11).

The Word was Elohim. The Greek grammar of this statement is very specific. It says, “and the Word was God/Elohim.” It doesn’t say, “And the Word was the God,” which is Sabellianism or modalism, which is the belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one monadic Elohim. It also doesn’t say, “and the Word was a god,” which is Arianism, which is the belief that Yeshua the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by and is therefore distinct from and inferior to Elohim the Father (Basics of Biblical Greek, pp. 27–28, by William Mounce).

What Is the Word/word of Elohim from a Hebraic Perspective?

The Word of Elohim is my best friend. The word of Elohim is not my best friend. Notice the difference between these two sentences? In the first sentence, Word is capitalized; in the second, it is not. In my post, I capitalized the word Word for a reason. There is a big difference between the two. People can religiously worship words on a page or a book. I worship him who wrote those words and recognize them to be a his words, and a reflection of his very heart, mind, will and character.

Yeshua is the Word of Elohim. John 1:1–2, 14 says,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Yeshua and his word are indivisible. To love his word is to love him. He is his word. This is Hebraic thought.

Hebraically, a person and their character and reputation are inseparable. They are who and what they are.

In our Western Greek mindset, we tend to separate a person’s word from them. This is not a biblical, Hebraic approach.

For example, the Hebrew word debar not only means “a word” but also “a thing.” Here there is no separation between form and substance. If there is no substance, there is no form.

In Greek thought, we tend to look at the outward appearance of something and separate it out from its substance or essence. For example, we look at a building and declare how beautiful it looks on the outside, or how handsome someone looks, or how good that cup or cave looks on the outside.

In Hebraic thought, we are told not to judge according to appearance, but according to righteousness (John 7:24)—to judge something by its fruit (Matt 7:16–20). We have to look at the heart of the matter, or the person, and make our judgments based on that. That is the real essence of what something is—not what it merely appears to be on its surface. For example, Samuel saw how lovely David looked, but YHVH was looking at David’s heart, not at his handsome appearance when he chose him to be king over Israel (1 Sam 13:14). Interestingly, when the heart is right, the outward appearances will be beautiful as well. It kind of follows!

Yeshua rebuked the religious hypocrites of his day for looking good on the outside, but actually being hideous on the inside (for being a dirty cup or a whitewashed tomb). He also said that the words that come out of one’s mouth,  in reality, reflect the true condition of one’s heart (Luke 6:45).

So word and thing have the same equivalence in Hebraic thought.

In Hebrew thought, vanity is defined as one’s words and actions not lining up with each other. If a person says one thing, and does another thing, then it’s considered to be emptiness or vanity. It’s nothing—only hot air or wind.

So to bring this discussion back full circle, Yeshua is his word and his word is him because Hebraically a thing and a word are the same thing. That’s why the Word of Elohim is my best friend. It’s a whole lot more than words on a page to me—it’s the reflection of the mind, heart, character and will of the Author of the Bible which who he is. He and his words are inseparable.

We have a saying, “A man is only as good as his word.” This is a step in the right direction to understanding better the Hebraic approach in regards to someone and their words. In the Bible, Elohim IS the/His W/word!

 

A Feeding Trough, Manger or Sukkah?

Luke 2:7, Manger. (Gr. phatne) The Greek word phatne literally means “feeding trough” and according to the word’s etymology and lexicology as stated in The TDNT, there is no indication that this manger is anything but a standard feeding trough or manger.

Nevertheless, this manger may have been a sukkah or tabernacle, which is the flimsy little hut that Israelites build during the biblical Feast of Tabernacles (Heb. Chag Sukkot) as commanded in the Torah (Lev 23:33–43). We see the connection between a manger and a sukkah in Genesis 33:17 where Jacob built booths (or tabernacles; Heb. succot or sukkot is the plural form of sukkah) for his livestock showing us that the Hebrew word sukkah (pl. sukkot) can also mean “livestock barn or manger” as well as a temporary habitation where Israelites dwell during the biblically commanded festival of Sukkot.

This raises the possibility that Yeshua was born in a festival sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot and not just in an animal barn as Christian folklore would have us believe.

The LXX Greek word for sukkah in Gen 33:17 is skenas meaning “habitation, dwelling or tabernacle” and is the same word used in John 1:14 and Rev 21:1–3 in reference to Yeshua tabernacling with his people.

Putting all the pieces together, Yeshua may have been born in a sukkah-manger prior to or during the Feast of Tabernacles with a human sukkah (or body, of which the physical sukkah during Sukkot is a metaphorical picture) in order to redeem man from sin, so that Yeshua might tabernacle with redeemed men forever in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:3).

 

A Gift for Yeshua: Why I Love Him—Reflections on His Nativity

In December, many people think of the birth of Jesus (Yeshua). Most people who are knowledgable know that he wasn’t born in December, but in the early fall. But nine months before the actual time of his birth puts us at the end of December when Yeshua was conceived—when the life of our Savior began in Mary’s womb. It was at this time that the heaven-sent Yeshua, miraculously pierced the spiritual darkness of the this world at the darkest time of the year. This divine spark of life in the womb of a woman would become the spiritual light of this world to lead men out of the darkness of sin and evil and to the supernal light of his Father, Elohim, and to eternal life.

Whether you celebrate the birth of the babe in the manger in December or in the fall, Yeshua’s arrival is still heaven’s ultimate love gift to humanity as John 3:16 says. “For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Please stop for a moment and quiet your heart and mind to reflect on the significance of this momentous event that occurred in the tiny town of Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.

For years since I was a child, my mind fully believed what the Bible tells us about the birth of Yeshua. But it wasn’t until much later, as an adult, that, while I was alone one night and quietly seeking Elohim, that the revelation of the priceless nature of Elohim’s love gift to me literally pierced my heart like a lightening bolt from heaven. As a result of this supernatural revelation and an overwhelming sense of Elohim’s love that accompanied it flowing through me like warm oil, I fell to my knees in worshipful and reverential awe as my heart came alive to just how much Elohim loved me personally—a sinner who deserved death. That night changed my life forever. They say that the eighteen inches between the head and the heart is the greatest distance in existence. My head and heart know this is to be true. Now they were united!

The thought of the baby Yeshua in the manger ignites my heart in ways too deep to explain. I know that I know that Elohim sent him to the world to redeem me from my sins and to show me the path to an eternity in the presence of my Father in heaven. They say that if you have nothing worth dying for, then you have nothing worth living for. I believe that I would give up anything on this earth including my life on account of my love for and devotion to Yeshua, so help me God!

But my love for Yeshua is predicated on more than just emotions. On that night years ago alone in my living room, my heart and mind united indivisibly in love and worship for Yeshua the Messiah, and they have remained the same to this day. Why do I continue to love Yeshua? Let me tell you.

If there were other reason, this one alone would be sufficient: I love him because he’s the Supreme Creator and Law-Giver in the universe. I as a created being owe him my total love, allegiance, and obedience. I owe him my life. Therefore, he is worthy of my total worship and adoration.

I love Yeshua for his beauty and loveliness. When I look at the ugliness of the world around me, I love him all the more.

I love him for the liberating truth that he is and that he shares with me. This is in stark contrast to the bondage of the damning lies masquerading as the truth that fill and permeate the world around me.

I love him because he and his word is (this is not a typo, since he and his word are indivisible, for he is the Word of Elohim incarnate) the light of truth that illuminates my path through the darkness of this world.

I love him because he paid the price for my sins and cleansed me of sin’s stain and guilt and delivered me from the empty darkness and despair of the walking damned.

I love him because he is the strength, joy, peace and hope of my life.

I love him because he is the light and hope of eternal life at the end of this dark tunnel called the wilderness of life.

I love him because he is the way to my Father in heaven, and because he made me in his image because he wants me to be part of his eternal spiritual family.

I love him because he comforts me when I’m down, heals me when I’m sick, feeds me when I’m hungry, clothes me when I’m naked, speaks to me when I need to hear from him, and teaches me his ways through his Holy Word, the Bible.

Elohim gave the gift of his Son to me because he loves me. Because of my love for him, how can I show him (and others) that love? What can I possibly give as an expression of my love and devotion to the one who already possesses everything in the universe? There is nothing that I have that he needs or wants that he doesn’t already have—except my heart.

We’re all familiar with the words of our Father in heaven that like a priceless diamond express his quintessential love for humanity, “For Elohim so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life.” As an expression of my love for him, like a mirror, I would reflect back to Elohim his adoring words in the following way,

For I so love Elohim that I have given him the only thing that I could that was not already his—the affection of my heart, and because he believes in my love for him, our spiritual relationship will not perish, and we shall live together forever in his everlasting kingdom.