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 “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah and Yeshua the Messiah

Genesis 22:13, A ram caught in a thicket by his horns. YHVH credited to Abraham’s spiritual account his willingness to sacrifice Isaac as if he had actually done so. In fact, there is an ancient rabbinical tradition that states Isaac actually died and was resurrected as the midrash comments on this passage: “As the knife reached his throat, Isaac’s soul flew away and left [e.g., he died]. But when a voice went forth from between the angels saying, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad’ (Genesis 22:12), his soul returned to his body” (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 31 as quoted in The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash Bamidbar, p. 1417) (bracketed comments are in the original). The Jewish sages also note that Scripture states that both Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, but that it is recorded that only Abraham descended (Gen 22:19). Isaac’s absence from the Genesis narrative until many years latter (Gen 24:62) has given rise to much speculation on the part of the sages as to Isaac’s whereabouts in the interim (The ArtScroll Bereishis Vol. 1a, pp. 812–813). 

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

Moreover, who was it that commanded Abraham to lay down the knife and slaughter the ram instead? It was the Messenger (Heb. malak) of YHVH (verses 11–12, 15), who was none other than the pre-incarnate YHVH-Yeshua, the Word or Messenger of Elohim (John 1:1, 14), whose audible voice Abraham heard some 1900 years before his appearance as the Messiah in human form on earth as the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth.

 The Messenger of YHVH at the Binding of Isaac

In Genesis 22:11, 15–17 we read the following,

11 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I … 15 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith YHVH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.

In this passage, there is no mention of the Messenger of YHVH visibly appearing to Abraham in some bodily form, but only his voice calling from heaven. What we want to emphasize in this passage is that the Messenger of YHVH is equating himself with YHVH (verse 16). The biblical passages where the Malak of YHVH equates himself with YHVH while appearing in human form have perennially defied reasonable explanation by the Jewish sages.

Notwithstanding, the ancient Targum Jerusalem (the pre-Christian Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) equates the Malak of YHVH with “the Word of Elohim” in verse eight implying that YHVH and the Word of YHVH are in some way different from each other:

And Abraham said, The Word of Elohim will prepare for me a lamb; and if not, then thou art the offering, my son! And they went both of them together with a contrite heart.

Some Jewish sages asserts that “the angel speaks in God’s name, in first person” while others maintain that it was “God Himself who opened the Continue reading

 

The blood of animals vs. the blood of Yeshua

Hebrews 9:13–14, Purifying the flesh…cleansing your conscience. The Levitical sacrificial system was never able to atone for sin in the full sense. These sacrifices were effective only temporarily in that they had to be continually repeated.

In reality, these sacrifices never mitigated YHVH’s judgment against sin. The Levitical sacrifices simply covered over sin, so that the sinner could stand before Elohim without being consumed by his righteous judgments. But only Yeshua’s death could satisfy Elohim’s judgment against sin permanently in the life of the believer. Only his atoning sacrifice can thoroughly wash away our sins, remove the death penalty, which is the wages or penalty of sin, and cleanse the sinner of the guilty conscience which resides in his personal spirit, so that one could “serve the living Elohim” with a clean slate.

Sin can contaminate the spirit of man, which houses the conscience of man (2 Cor 7:1; see notes at Col 3:10). Only the blood of Yeshua can miraculously cleanse our soul (the mind, will and emotions) and spirit of a person and bring us to perfect holiness in the fear of Elohim (ibid.) This Yeshua did in a spiritual sense in the spiritual temple in heaven, which is greater than the physical temple on earth, which was a mere copy or shadow of the one in heaven (Heb 8:3–6).

The cleansing that the Levitical sacrificial system offered was physical and external, while the one Yeshua offers through the heavenly temple gives internal cleansing.

 

Do you fully discern the Lord’s body?


 

Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made/cut a covenant with me by sacrifice. (Psalm 50:5

Psalms 50:5, Made/cut a covenant…by sacrifice. This refers to the method by which covenants were made in ancient times between two parties. This same ritual occurred when YHVH made (or cut) a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 except that YHVH took all the responsibilities for fulfilling the covenant upon himself, for Abraham was asleep when this covenant was cut (Gen 15:9–10, 12). All Abraham had to do was to have faith in YHVH and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would fall upon him (Gen 15:6). We know from Paul’s discussion in Romans chapter four that the Abrahamic Covenant is the original biblical model for how an individual can receive salvation from Elohim. We also know that when YHVH made his covenant with Abraham, the vision Abraham had while he was asleep prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s death on the cross and his initiating the new/renewed covenant as prophesied in the Tanakh (e.g. Jer 31:31–33; also see my discussion of Gen 15:12–21 at Abraham’s vision). Yeshua at his last supper and subsequent crucifixion fulfilled this ancient prophecy as well as the spiritual types and shadows discussed in Psalm 50:7 and Genesis 15:9–21. At his last supper, Yeshua made a new covenant with his disciples through his body (the bread) and blood (the wine), which redeemed believers now commemorate when they take communion. 

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26–28)

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:24)

Prior to his death on the cross, Yeshua’s predictively explained the significance of his broken body and spilled blood as it relates to covenantal agreement between him and those who would place their faith in him (as Abraham did in Gen 15).

35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.…47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.…50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.…58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:35, 47, 50, 53, 58)

In the context of the Passover service when the saints through the ritual of communion annually commemorate Yeshua’s “cutting” the new covenant with his saints and then ratifying that covenant through his death, Paul has the following to say about the significance of Yeshua’s body:

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor 11:26–29)

Those who carelessly take communion are literally disrespecting not only the high value of the covenant that was made (or cut), but the tremendous price of making a covenant with Elohim (i.e. it cost Yeshua his life, and the believer must also die to himself as he accepts, unconditionally, Yeshua as his Lord and Master). Moreover, careless partakers of communion are not only underestimating the cost of their salvation, but the value and the benefits of that salvation, which is spiritual rewards including eternal life. Elohim is not only not duty bound to give immortality to such people, but would be foolish to immortalize people who don’t sufficiently recognize and appreciate the cost and value of covenantal agreement. In doing so, he would risk having another rebellion on his hand at some point in the future.

An ancient relic of crucifixion.

So when Yeshua died on the cross, he become the sacrifice that was cut (i.e. his body was brutally mutilated prior to and during his crucifixion) to which this verse in this Psalm 50 makes allusion. 

Moreover, Abraham not only had faith in YHVH, but he had to walk out that faith the rest of his life, for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14–26). Similarly, those who place their faith in Yeshua must also back up that faith by doing his words (John 5:24), doing good (John 5:29; 3:21), loving him and keeping his commandments (John 14:15), coming to the light of Elohim’s truth (John 3:20–21), and showing that they are overcoming the word, the flesh and the devil resulting in eternal life and great spiritual rewards in the world to come (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). 

At the same time, those who don’t place their trust in Yeshua by accepting the covenant he “cut” through his death on the cross and then by backing that faith up with good deeds, or those who have “accepted” Yeshua, but lightly esteem him, will have a terrible price to pay.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29–30)

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28–29)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

 

Victoriously Overcoming the Wilderness’ “Fiery Serpents”

Numbers 21: The Process of Overcoming­—From Sin to Victory and Salvation!

  • 21:4–9, The bronze serpent on the pole is a prophetic picture of salvation at the cross of Yeshua from the sting of death brought on by sin (John 3:14–15; 1 Cor 15:55–57). This is a picture of the believer’s initial salvation.
  • 21:10–22:1, Here is a recounting of the Israelites’ wilderness trek before entering the Promised Land. It was a time of testing, refining, building of faith, and learning obedience for the Israelites. This is a picture of the spiritual walk of the believer through the wilderness of this physical life.
  • 21:14–35, While crossing the wilderness, the Israelites had to fight and overcome the enemy—that is, those who would keep them from fulfilling their YHVH-ordained destiny to possess the land and inheritance he had promised them. First came the fighting and overcoming, followed by the victories. The life of the believer is one of spiritual struggle, as well, against the world, the flesh and the devil. (See Rom 7:14–25; 2 Cor 10:3–5; Eph 6:10–18.)
  • 21:10, 14–18, Here we read how Israel was refreshed with water from the rock. Isaiah speaks about the wells of salvation (Isa 12:3). There is a springing up of joy and praise (verse 17) that comes as victory is experienced, and as YHVH makes rivers to flow out of seemingly dry and barren situations (verse 18). We, too, are called to come to the rivers of salvation, the river of life and to become a river of life ourselves to all those with whom we come into contact (John 7:37–39). Yeshua is the source of that living water; he is the spiritual Rock and source of water that never runs dry (John 4:10, 13–14; 1 Cor 10:4).

Numbers 21:4–9, Fiery serpent. The plague of fiery serpents was a righteous judgment Elohim brought upon Israel for murmuring and unbelief. Israel had “sharpened their tongues like a serpent” (Ps 140:3) and “their throat [was] an open sepulcher; with their tongues have … used deceit; the poison of asps [was] under their lips” (Rom 3:13). All this was directed at Elohim and Moses. As a result of their sin, they reaped what they had sown. Elohim loosed fiery serpents upon the Israelites to bite and sting to death the unbelieving murmurers.

The wilderness Elohim led the Israelites through was full of fiery serpents and scorpions (Deut 8:15), yet this is the only account in the Torah of these creatures ever attacking Israel. YHVH had protected them to this point, but this one time he pulled back his hand of providential protection and grace allowing them to experience the due recompense of their sinful actions. How often has our merciful Father withheld the just desserts of our faithless, rebellious and abominable action against him and graciously protected us from the full consequences of our sin? If we fail to hear his soft voice of correction he will deal more harshly with us until our attention is gained (Ps 32:8–9). All he has to do is withdraw his hand of protection that restrains the judgments we all deserve and the “fiery serpents” will likewise attack us. Remember what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts is an example of this (Acts 5:1–11). Job experienced a similar situation as well.

Israel’s Murmuring. Israel complained for lack of food and water. In unbelief they concluded and confessed (literally prophesied upon themselves a curse) that they would die in the wilderness. Elohim gave them the fulfillment of their faithless delusions—serpents to sting them and leave them physiologically in a parched and burning condition. (The poison of these snakes actually leaves the victim burning with a fiery pain in his body and a desperately dry and thirsty condition [See Adam Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 1, p. 684]). This occurred with the quail also. They complained with their mouths and lusted for meat and Elohim gave them so much quail that it “came out of their nostrils” (Num 11:20). Many were struck dead in judgment. What is the lesson of this story? That for which we lust or that which we fear will come upon us, for Elohim allows those very things to rise up, attack us and judge us. Why? So that the false gods of our hearts will be exposed and we will, as a result, see the error of our ways, repent and turn back to obedient faith to the one true Elohim. Few understand this method of operation of Elohim, but the Scriptures reveals this as one of the ways he deals with his people to help them to grow up spiritually.

Salvation. Israel repented and received salvation from the sting of death by looking upward toward the brass or bronze (bronze representing judgment) serpent on the pole. Of course, no less than Yeshua himself reveals to us that this serpent is a pictures himself dying on the tree as a sin offering and source of our salvation (John 3:14–15 and 12:32).

Even the Jewish sages admit that the serpent did not heal the afflicted Israelites, but looking upward unto heaven granted them salvation and healing. (See Wisdom 16:4–12)

Parallels between the bronze serpent and Yeshua 

Yeshua likened his death on the cross to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness (John 3:14–15). Let’s explore the spiritual implications of the bronze serpent as it prophetically pointed to Yeshua the Messiah.

  • Both the serpent and Messiah were lifted up on a pole.
  • Israel was to look up to the brass serpent to be healed physically; sinners are to look up to Messiah to be saved.
  • YHVH provided salvation from the sting of death from no other source but the serpent. Similarly, there is salvation in no other name but Yeshua (Acts 4:12).
  • If the Israelites looked at bronze serpent they were healed and lived; if sinful man looks at Messiah he will live.
  • Both the serpent and the cross are merely symbols of Elohim’s grace and mercy. They simply point one to YHVH in heaven who heals those who believe him and have faith in him.

A Type of the Devil. The Bible calls the devil a great red dragon or serpent (Rev 12:3) whose venom inflames men’s sinful passions through his fiery darts aimed at humans (Eph 6:16). Fiery serpent is the Hebrew word saraph the plural of which is seraphim, which is a type of an angelic, flaming spirit (Heb 1:7). Though physical snakes bit the Israelites, this is nevertheless a picture of Satan, the fallen angelic being who is now the serpent and enemy of both YHVH and man.

For Our Example. Israel experienced these things for our examples (1 Cor 10:1–12). What they went through and how they reacted to various situations is literally a mirror held up for our benefit for us to see ourselves as we really are, so that we will not repeat their mistakes. We owe them a debt of gratitude, for we are able to gain spiritually by their experience if we will lean from their mistakes by not repeating them.

 

Are you a budding rod?

Numbers 17:1–13, Aaron’s rod. Aaron’s rod that budded is a picture of what? Who was the rod or Branch from the stem of Jesse that budded forth with spiritual life for all those who will place their faith in him? Spiritual life for you and me came from what dead tree? Can we not see that Yeshua and the message of the gospel is at the center of everything in the Bible from the beginning to the end? Can there be any doubt that Yeshua is the Messiah? Only he fulfilled all the prophetic types and shadows that we find in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Aaron’s ministry was anointed of YHVH. The rod represented his authority and its budding represented the fruitfulness of his ministry. It points to the ministry of Yeshua. If we are disciples and imitators of Yeshua, aren’t we to be doing what Yeshua did—bearing fruit as he did? 

Is your ministry anointed of YHVH? What are the spiritual fruits being born from it? Are people’s lives being changed for the good because of your spiritual example, or are you living in delusion of your self-promoting ministry thinking that you are called and anointed of YHVH when in reality you are self appointed like the rebels who challenged Aaron? 

If we are to be pleasing to YHVH we must periodically ask ourselves these hard questions and stay accountable before YHVH.