Rightly Dividing

Rightly Dividing vs. Wrongly Subtracting

How dedicated are you in your walk? In a world of compromises, many are willing to compromise the Word and their future by selling out to this shallow, transitory world.

Yahweh is a Mighty One of detail and He expects nothing short of total compliance. To demonstrate, consider the specifics He instructed for the design of the High Priest’s robe, down to its smallest embellishment. Consider the intricate design in the structure and furnishing of the tabernacle and temple. Note how He commanded the Ark of the Covenant to be transported, and even killed a man who unwittingly touched it.

Both the priest, temple, and ark were central to His worship and reveal the strictness Yahweh expects in His devotion.
When Yahshua said in Matthew 5:18 that not one yod or tittle would pass from Yahweh’s commands, He was conveying to us that compliance to even the smallest part of Yahweh’s mandate is a must.

Is Halfway Okay?
Let’s face facts. Humans are naturally lazy. We cut corners and do just enough to get by. We like to water down clear commands to make them more palatable, change worship to our liking – which is to be more like the world – and to bring in simpler substitutes to get around demanding requirements. That has been the well-walked path of churchianity all through the centuries.

Human nature consistently proves that once you crack open the door, the floodgates of compromise are not far behind. If you allow the camel to work its nose under the tent flap you will soon have a thousand pounds of dromedary in your lap.

The question is, how much devotion does Yahweh expect of His worshipers? If going halfway is okay with Him, then we can go halfway. If not, then our duty is to learn exactly what He wants. He is the One in charge. He decides our eternal future.

Why would we NOT want to be zealous in the way we honor Him? Yahweh is clear that he hates halfhearted, indifferent effort.
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” Revelation 3:16. He’ll reject anyone having a permissive attitude who accepts half-truths and compromise in their worship.

Not one of Yahweh’s inspired writers presented any part of Yahweh’s worship as optional. Yahweh never allows multiple choices when it comes to our worship and obedience. There is only one way to follow Him – and everything must go that way. Paul wrote, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Master, one faith, one baptism,” Ephesians 4:4-5.

In His wisdom, knowing clearly the nature of people, Yahshua pronounced that the way is narrow. That means it is exacting and restrictive. Because of it, few would find and maintain the Truth.

Attention to detail in faith and obedience reveals the heart and strength of personal resolve. In Matthew 5:19 Yahshua said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Does that mean practicing and teaching commandment breaking will still allow a place in the Kingdom, but only as a doorkeeper?

The Twenty Century New Testament in combination with Moffatt’s translation reads in verse 19 that such a person will be “least esteemed in the realm of heaven.” In other words, the commandment breaking, no-law advocate will have zero respect or honor among the heavenly hosts, which includes Yahweh and Yahshua.

Our salvation hinges on true understanding of the Bible and what is expected of us. Whether we walk in Truth depends on a correct grasp of that Truth as well as our resolve to follow it.

In 2Thessalonians 5:21 Paul wrote, “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.” Paul also told Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” 2Timothy 2:15.
That doesn’t mean running to the minister with every Bible question. It means studying it out yourself to learn the Truth.

One Path, Not Many
We cannot afford to be flippant or careless with the Scriptures. The Word, Paul said, is given for proper doctrine, correction, and instruction in righteous living, 2Timothy 3:16. It speaks to the ultimate goal of salvation. Why should Yahweh give us specific instruction about life and worship if we’re just going to toss it all out and follow our own plan?

Many Bible students approach the Word in a piecemeal way, yanking verses or parts of verses from their context and completely changing the meaning. Others ignore passages that don’t agree with their beliefs.

Paul told Timothy: “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine [proper teachings]; continue in them: for in doing this you shall save both yourself, and them that hear you,” 1Timothy 4:16.

For a variety of reasons some passages create difficulty in understanding. Doctrinal problems result when care is not taken to rightly divide the Word. Along with impure motives, rebellion led churchianity to purge from their teachings the law and obedience, including observance of the Sabbath and Feast days.

Our culture suffers profoundly from ignorance of the Scriptures. Clerics steeped in man-made tradition only compound the problem. In Job 38:2 Yahweh asks rhetorically of Job as well as us in our day, “Who [is] this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

Simply put, Yahweh asks who are these teachers who teach when they don’t know the truth themselves, and only make matters worse?

Not even a small percentage of churchgoers is aware of 2Timothy 2:15 and its command for individual study. The mandate is for each to “rightly divide the word of truth.” This phrase derives from the Greek orthotomeo. The Expository Dictionary says it does not mean dividing Scripture from Scripture, but teaching Scripture accurately.

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge says the reference “is not to dividing up Scripture into dispensations, and applying to ourselves only what is allegedly valid for this dispensation…The emphasis is not upon ‘right division’ (which in the practice of some is ‘wrong subtraction,’ but on correct interpretation)” p. 1432.

Another verse addressing proper discernment of teachings is Philippians 1:10, where, after Paul encourages us to abound in knowledge and in all judgment, he says, “That you may approve the things that are excellent…” “Are excellent” should have been rendered, set apart that which is better from what is not (Restoration Study Bible note).

Every teaching must harmonize with the Word. When it doesn’t the result is the error the church has promoted for the past 2,000 years.

If the Roman Church had eradicated unorthodox beliefs and practices instead of blending error with truth, churchianity would be completely different today. There would not be this stark contrast between what the apostles and Yahshua taught and practiced with today’s tangled mishmash of doctrines.

How then can we read Yahweh’s Word and know that we are properly understanding it? How can we make right interpretations? How should we go about rightly dividing the Word and testing doctrines that differ?

Bible study is serious business. Study of the Word should be systematic. It takes discipline and dedication to do it properly.
To get off on the right foot, start with good study Bibles like the Companion and Restoration Study Bible. Your understanding will increase exponentially when you dig down to the foundational languages of the text, which these Bibles do.

When you compare other parallel or contrasting verses, as typically provided in a good study Bible like the RSB, you get a more complete understanding.

Some Bible Study Basics
Both the Old and New testaments were written in Hebrew. That’s clear for several reasons, not the least of which is that most every writer writes in his native language, which for the writers of both testaments was Hebrew.

These were not Greeks or Greek-speaking Jews living in Galilee in the first century. They were native, blue-collar Jews who spoke Hebrew, the language of the nation. Even Paul who was a native Benjaminite-Jew wrote to Hebrew-speaking Jews in various assemblies of the dispersion.

Yet only Greek manuscripts of the New Testament survive today, of which there are some 5,400, not to mention thousands of Latin versions and other languages like Syriac, Coptic and Armenian.

Most of the existing manuscripts derive from the Middle Ages, from the 7th century onward. Of all the thousands of Greek manuscripts, no two are exactly alike. Some scholars put the differences at 200,000, others at 300,000, meaning there are more differences in manuscripts than there are words in the entire New Testament.

Realize also that the manuscripts were all hand written (which is what “manu-script” means). Sometimes scribes left out words, lines or even entire pages, especially when two lines ended with the same words. It didn’t help that they didn’t use paragraph divisions, lower case letters, or punctuation.

Complicating the process was the lack of spacing between words. Words were all run together in the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts.

Sometimes translators with insufficient understanding would introduce mistakes when they thought they were fixing a factual or doctrinal error.

Some of their changes are not critical but others are. For instance, the oldest and best manuscripts of John don’t have the story of the woman taken in adultery, where Yahshua says, “He that is without sin cast the first stone.” Think about that – if only sinless people could inflict such punishment, then the Old Testament law of stoning would not exist.
This account does not appear in any manuscript until the 12th century.

The passage of 1John 5:7-8 is the only one in the entire Bible appearing to teach a trinity of father son and Holy Spirit. The passage, however, is missing in all except one of the 5,400 Greek manuscripts in existence, and then it doesn’t occur until after the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

Ironically, sometimes the more difficult a passage reads the more faithful is to the original translation when scribes didn’t try so hard to manipulate the text.

Error from Ignorance
All of this is to say that trying to understand Yahweh’s Word through a cloudy filter thousands of years old, and through several languages besides, can at times be like trying to create a gourmet meal in the kitchen of a storm-tossed ship. Simplistic explanations are not always sufficient.

This is just one more case for the importance of the Old Testament as the anchor for New Testament teachings. Sometimes it is the only authority we have to ascertain the truth of a New Testament passage.

Yahshua taught the Old Testament, often referred to it, and urged His followers to read it and follow its teachings. In a question about the fate of wives in the resurrection, the Sadducees in Matthew 22 tried to trip Yahshua up. He told them, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.”

He went to the foundation of Truth, the Old Testament, known as the Scriptures.

Modern clerics would rather Yahshua have said, “But soon when I die and am resurrected I will have put to rest that obsolete Old Testament and given you freedom to live as you wish. Rest assured that no matter how you conduct your life you will still be saved. So hang on a few decades longer until a fellow named Paul writes a new Bible that will free you from the need to obey the statutes Yahweh gave for salvation.”

If the Old Testament is defunct, then why did Yahshua quote the Old Testament to prove who He was? Why did Yahshua refer to the Old Testament as proof of His Messiahship? Why did Yahshua instruct in his sermons to live by every word that comes from Yahweh? Why did Yahshua take so much time and effort expounding the teachings of the Old Testament?

The Old Testament Scriptures are the foundation of Yahweh’s Word. They testify to His existence, His purpose, and the plan for Yahshua’s coming to this earth. They cannot be subtracted from the Bible without destroying the message, meaning, and design of the entire Word.

Gap Theory

Closing the Gap Theory

The gap theory of creation has gained popularity over the last century. It arose in response to geologists’ claim that the earth is billions of years old. Bible believers apply the theory to a supposed “gap” of time between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1.
But does the biblical evidence support this belief?

Before we analyze the gap theory, there are a few other theories we should review. (All quotations are from blueletterbible.org, an online Bible search and study tool.)

The first is often called the 24-Hour Interpretation. “The most traditional of interpretations, the 24-Hour Interpretation, holds that Elohim created all the universe in the space of six regular solar days.”

This is what YRM affirms, and the most traditional view. Many years ago I believed in the gap theory. My belief began in high school when I was taught that evolution was a fact and not a theory. Like so many impressionable young people, I wanted to fit evolution somewhere into the Bible, and the gap theory made the most sense. Since then, I’ve come back to the traditional view of creation.

Another popular theory is called Theistic Evolution. “Surrendering the historicity and honesty of Scripture beyond all other popular viewpoints, theories of theistic evolution force interpreters to mythologize the Genesis narrative. While maintaining that God did truly maintain control of all creative processes, the view strips Scripture of its accuracy by positing that Adam was not arrived at by fiat creation but through thousands of years of natural evolutionary process aided and directed by a divine touch.”

This theory is nothing more than a compromise for evolution. Those who espouse it maintain that Yahweh created everything through the process of evolution. In other words, evolution was the mechanism that our Creator used to form this universe, including mankind. As a result, those who hold this view believe that the Genesis account is nothing more than mythology. In other words it’s a great story, but it never happened.

A third theory that has gained some acceptance is called the Day-Age Theory. “Easily one of the most popular of current theories to reconcile scientific evidence with God’s Word, the Day-Age Theory takes aim on the Hebrew word for “day”: yom. Stating that the word, while often meaning a 24-hour period, can also refer to an indeterminate duration, these theorists proclaim that a valid (and moreover, proper) literal understanding of the Creation account will interpret each day as an era, or age, lasting a great length of time.”

As with Theistic Evolution, this belief arose to reconcile evolution with the Bible. It does so by reinterpreting the meaning of the word “yom,” which is the Hebrew word for day. Instead of representing a literal 24-hour day, this belief says that yom represents a long duration of time, even billions of years, making room for evolution.

This belief not only contradicts Hebrew grammar, but also defies the laws of nature. For example, the Bible says that plants were created on the third day and the sun and moon on the fourth day. How it is possible that plants existed a billion years without sunlight? Plants require sun for life and photosynthesis, which is how they produce energy. Based on this single example, there’s nothing logical about this belief.

Breaching the Gap Theory
The last theory to review is the gap theory. Once more we refer to the blueletterbible.org for an explanation.

“When the scientific community began discovering evidence to support long geological eras in the 18th century, a segment of Christendom felt compelled to syncretize their interpretation of Scripture with this newfound empirical data. Motive askew, they postulated that the universe was already in existence for an indeterminate duration before the Creation Week began (and hence allow for a very old earth, but are able still to maintain God’s recent fiat creation of mankind). A once-popular revision of this theme is the Restoration Theory. Proponents of this version of Gap Theory believed that the universe was created full-form and populated only to be decimated by a cataclysmic war led between God and Satan. This war left the earth a wasteland, ‘formless and void’ (and explains why we find fossilized dinosaur bones that seem to be millions of years old). So then, by theory, the recent Creation Week would be a re-Creation or restoration of a world that was once destroyed.”

There are actually two theories connected with the gap theory: the traditional view and the Restoration Theory (no relation to Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry). The traditional gap theory provides a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. In this gap proponents believe that billions of years existed.

Generally, it’s also believed that there was a first earth and second earth and the second earth is what we live on now. Now the Restoration theory goes on to say that Yahweh created humans without souls along with animals, including dinosaurs, on this first earth.

Weston W. Fields further explains this in his book, Unformed and Unfilled. “In the far distant dateless past God created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of the earth which was peopled by a race of ‘men’ without any souls.

Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a garden of Eden composed of minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the water of 1:2), and then a global Ice Age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this ‘Lucifer’s flood’ and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the earth today….”

The restoration theory maintains that Satan’s rebellion destroyed the first earth, including dinosaurs, with a global flood. It goes on to say that the plants and animals of today do not resemble those from this first earth. Now the obvious problem with this belief, which again is part of the Gap Theory, is that there’s no biblical support for two separate creations, including two worldwide floods and a creation prior to Adam and Eve.

Motivating Factors
According to wikipedia.org, “From 1814, gap creationism was popularized by Thomas Chalmers, who attributed the concept to the 17th century Dutch Arminian theologian Simon Episcopius. Chalmers became a divinity professor at the University of Edinburgh, founder of the Free Church of Scotland, and author of one of the Bridgewater Treatises. Other early proponents included Oxford University geology professor and fellow Bridgewater author William Buckland, Sharon Turner and Edward Hitchcock. It gained widespread attention when a ‘second creative act’ was discussed prominently in the reference notes for Genesis in the influential 1917 Scofield Reference Bible.”

The gap theory attempts to reconcile with the Bible the claim that the geological record proves that the earth is billions of years old. This is like many other creation theories attempting to merge the Bible with pseudo-science.
The problem is, not all scientific theories are based on good science and evolution is an example. Just because science may say that something is a certain way doesn’t make it true. For example, if nothing was known about Mount Saint Helens, geologists might date the layers created by the explosion by millions of years, when we know it took only a short period of time.

  • The “proof” for billions of years of development can be explained by the account of Noah’s flood. Two things happened at that time:
  • the earth was ripped open, Genesis 7:11 flood waters covered the entire earth. This catastrophic event explains many of the geological sediment and rock layers today. We can see how something like the gouging of the Grand Canyon could have occurred very quickly and not over billions of years.

So we find at least three problematic issues with the Gap Theory:

  • It presupposes life and death existed before Adam and Eve;
  •  It was formulated in response to the unproven belief that the earth is billions of years old and It contradicts the Bible as well as its Hebrew grammar.

Scriptural Evidence
Let’s now consider the evidence from Scripture. Our investigation begins in Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Elohim moved upon the face of the waters.”

The traditional view says that Yahweh created both the heavens, i.e., universe, and earth and that in the very beginning the earth was formless and empty.

The gap theory interprets this passage this way: “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth [insert in billions of years]. And the earth was [had become] without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Elohim moved upon the face of the waters.”

By inserting billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 they reconcile the theory that the earth is billions of years old. The gap theory also assumes that the earth was not without form and void, but had become that way. According to Hebrew grammarians, this assumption is not supported by the Hebrew grammar.

First, we must understand the word “created,” which comes from the Hebrew bara’. We must also understand the use of the “And” at the beginning of verse 1, which comes from the Hebrew letter waw. Another word to consider is “was,” which is from the Hebrew hayah. Finally, we will review the phrase “without form and void,” which is from the Hebrew tohu wa bohu.

Created (Bara’)
We begin with the Hebrew bara’. Strong’s defines this term as, “…a primitive root; (absolutely) to create…” The Brown- Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon states “…to create, to shape, to form.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words provides a more exhaustive definition: “…This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can ‘create’ in the sense implied by bara’. The verb expresses creation out of nothing…All other verbs for ‘creating’ allow a much broader range of meaning; they have both divine and human subjects, and are used in contexts where bringing something or someone into existence is not the issue.”

According to Hebrew linguistics, bara’ refers to original creation. Why is this important? It means that the creation in Genesis 1:1 is part of an original creation and not a re-creation as believed by the gap theorists. This is why it’s important that we understand the Hebrew in Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
And (Waw)

Now the most critical word is the word “And,” as we find in Genesis 1:2. This word comes from the Hebrew letter “waw,” which corresponds to our “w.” In the Hebrew language you have what’s called the waw consecutive and the waw disjunctive, also called the waw copulative.

What is the differences between the two? The waw consecutive expresses a sequence of time or continuation of a new thought, while the waw disjunctive is an explanatory thought for the previous phrase.

Do we know which waw is used in Genesis 1:2? Based on the Hebrew grammar, it’s the waw disjunctive or copulative because it is not fixed to a verb, but to a noun. As support, here’s what W. Fields states, “Genesis 1:2 begins with ‘and’ (Hebrew waw, a copulative) which argues against a long time span between these verses. The Hebrew grammars and lexicons consider 1:2 to be an explanatory noun clause which describes a state contemporaneous with that of the main verb in verse 1” (Unformed and Unfilled, Weston Fields, pp. 75-86).

We find a similar statement from Dr. Robert McCabe, Professor of Old Testament from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, “The waw disjunctive appears at the beginning of v. 2. This type of waw is also easily identifiable. It is always attached to a non-verbal form, such as a substantive, pronoun, or participle; and it stands at the beginning of a clause…As a waw disjunctive relates to its preceding clause, it can be used in a number of different ways, such as introducing a clause of contrast, reason, etc. In this context, the waw disjunctive is best seen as introducing an explanatory clause, and could be translated as “now” (meaning, “at the time” of its creation in v. 1), or in some similar way” (oldtestamentstudies.org).

Based on these sources, the waw in Genesis 1:2 is waw disjunctive because the waw is connected to a noun and not a verb. What this means is that Genesis 1:2 is an explanatory verse of Genesis 1:1. It also confirms that there’s no possibility of a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. For a gap to exist this would require a waw consecutive, of which we don’t find evidence here.

According to author W. Fields, we also find evidence for the waw disjunctive from the Greek Septuagint. “The Septuagint translation – As previously stated, the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek by Jews in Alexandria (traditionally by 70 scholars, hence the name) about 250 B.C. is known as the Septuagint, and generally abbreviated LXX. While it is a translation, and therefore subject to all the problems of such, it nevertheless gives a very ancient opinion about how the Hebrew should be rendered. The work of the Septuagint in the Pentateuch has generally been recognized as some of its best, and it appears that in Genesis 1 and 2 the translators were especially careful, for they were remarkably precise in distinguishing the waw disjunctive from other uses of the waw. The only waw disjunctive in Genesis 1 is the one in verse 2.

“This is also the only occurrence of the Greek word de. The second waw disjunctive is found in 2:6 along with the second de; the third waw disjunctive is in 2:10 together with the third de. The fourth waw disjunctive is in 2:12 and so is the fourth de.  Now this is not really surprising. On the contrary, it is exactly what one might predict from Gesenius’ statement that a waw copulative (disjunctive) which connects a noun clause to the main thought of the sentence, and which describes a state or circumstance, corresponds to the Greek de, used to interpose an explanation” (Unformed and Unfilled, pp. 83).

As W. Fields explains, the Greek word “de” corresponds to the waw disjunctive and is found only once in Genesis 1 and that is in verse 2. Both the Hebrew and Greek confirms the use of the waw conjunctive. This removes the possibility of a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

Was (Hayah)
We transition to the English word “was” in verse 2. This word comes from the Hebrew hayah. For those who may not know, hayah is the primitive root of Yahweh’s Name. Every Hebrew word goes back to a primitive or trilateral root.

So what is the meaning of hayah within the context of Genesis 1:2? Here’s how it’s defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew Dictionary and Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, respectively.

“…a primitive root; to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass….”
“…to be, to become, to come to pass, to exist, to happen, to fall out.”

As we see from these definitions, “become” or “came to pass” is a possibility based on the Hebrew. However, as we saw from the waw disjunctive, we must also understand the Hebrew grammar. And based on the Hebrew grammar of verse 2, hayah cannot be rendered “to become.”

Dr. McCabe explains, “The only translation that can be consistently justified is the translation ‘was.’ This translation can be supported in three ways. First, as I noted above, ‘was’ is in an explanatory clause introduced by a waw disjunctive, connecting this verse with v. 1…. Second, the translation of hayetah as ‘was’ finds early support from the Septuagint…the Septuagint translators of the Pentateuch rendered this Hebrew verb as ‘was,’ the imperfect form of eimi (to “be”)…Because of the semantic distinctives of the verbs eimi (to “be”) and ginomai (to “become”), the Septuagint provides early support for the rendering ‘was.’ Third, the vast majority of lexicons and grammars support the rendering as ‘was’ …. Whitcomb and Smith have appropriately summarized this evidence: ‘Hebrew grammars could be cited in abundance to the effect that a nominal clause (with no verb or else with a form hayah) as in Genesis 1:2…is the normal way to describe a state of being without any verbal activity or change of state’ (p. 134). Therefore, the traditional translation of hayetah as ‘was’ is the most accurate translation.”

As we saw from the waw disjunctive, both the Hebrew and Greek indicate that the best rendering of hayah in Genesis 1:2 is “was.” As Dr. McCabe confirms, this is overwhelmingly the opinion of many Hebrew grammarians.

We also see this in nearly every historical English translation of Genesis 1:2. Here are a few examples:
“The erth was voyde and emptie ad darcknesse was vpon the depe and the spirite of god moved vpon the water.” (William Tyndale Bible, 1530).

“And ye earth was voyde and emptie, and darcknes was vpon the depe, & ye sprete of God moued vpo the water” (Myles Coverdale Bible, 1535).

“And the earth was without fourme, and was voyde: & darknes [was] vpon the face of the deepe, and the spirite of God moued vpon the face of the waters” (Bishops Bible, 1568).

“And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the waters” (Geneva Bible, 1599).

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (RSV, 1952).

“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (NAS, 1963).

From old to new translations hayah is translated as “was.” Abundant evidence shows that the rendering of “had become” in Genesis 1:2 is simply not supported.

Without Form and Void (Tohu WaBohu)
Let’s consider the phrase “without form and void.” The phrase comes from the Hebrew tohu wabohu and generally refers to a state that is formless and empty. According to the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, “‘And the earth was (not became) waste and void.’ The alliterative nouns tohu vabohu, the etymology of which is lost, signify waste and empty (barren), but not laying waste and desolating.”

This commentary confirms again that the Hebrew hayah should be rendered “was” and not “became.” It also states that tohu wabohu refers to a state that is waste and empty or barren.

Let’s now examine the evidence for these words separately. The first is tohu:

“…from an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. desert; figuratively, a worthless thing,” Strong’s

“…formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness,” BDB.

The second is bohu:

“…from an unused root (meaning to be empty),” Strong’s.

“…emptiness, void, waste,” BDB.

Based on these definitions, tohu wabohu describes a state that is formless, empty, waste, chaotic, or void.

In a desire to be balanced in our study, this phrase can also refer to a void or emptiness from previous destruction. Examples of this usage are found in Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Let’s first consider Isaiah 43, “But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness. They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls,” verses 11-43.

This passage is a prophecy of Yahweh’s wrath that will befall the nations of this earth. We know from eschatology that the day of Yahweh, representing Yahshua’s Second Coming, is going to be one of destruction and judgment. According to Isaiah 24, few men will be left.

Now we see the words tohu and bohu both used here to convey destruction upon the earth. So in this instance, tohu wabohu is used to describe a state of ruin and devastation that was caused by a previous destruction.

We find a similar usage in Jeremiah 4:23-26: “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of Yahweh, and by his fierce anger.”

This prophecy is again speaking about destruction. But here it is focused on the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. And as we saw in Isaiah, tohu wabohu is used here to covey this devastation.

Now why are these examples important? Those who advocate the gap theory will often use them to prove that tohu wabohu refers to an emptiness or void caused by previous destruction. The problem with using this to support the gap theory is that tohu wabohu doesn’t always describe a previous destruction. And as we’ve already seen, the grammar of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 doesn’t allow for a gap in time.

Meaning of Replenish
In addition to Isaiah and Jeremiah, Gap Theorists will also point to Genesis 1:28 as proof for their belief: “And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Those who believe in the gap theory will focus on the word “replenish” as evidence for this doctrine. In this case, this is an easy passage to explain. The word “replenish” is from the Hebrew male, which is a primitive root, meaning “to fill or be full of, in a wide application,” Strong’s.

There is nothing within the definition of male denoting the concept of replenishing or refilling, as often defined in English. The word “replenish” in Genesis 1:28 simply means to fill.

For in Six Days
Another common argument in defense of the gap theory comes from Genesis 20:8-11: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of Yahweh thy Elohim: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yahweh blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Notice that it says that Yahweh made the heavens and the earth in six days. Exodus also states that both the heavens, i.e., universe, and the earth were made in six days. According to Hebrew grammar, when the Hebrew yom (English, “day”) is connected with a numeral, as found here, it refers to a 24-hour day.

Now some will point that the word “made” found in Exodus 20:11 is not from bara’, but from the Hebrew asah. They will then claim that asah refers to a re-creation and not to an original creation. According to Strong’s asah literally means, “to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application.”

So what’s the difference between bara’ and asah? Bara’ specifically means original creation from nothing, while asah is a general or broad word referring to any act of creation. What’s important is that bara’ and asah are not contradictory as it pertains to creation. While bara’ is limited to original creation, there is nothing within the definition of asah that would prohibit this interpretation. In other words, since asah is broad in meaning, it can be used synonymously with bara’. Matter of fact, both bara’ and asah are used interchangeably in the first chapter of Genesis.

Adam’s Sin
One of the most significant challenges against the gap theory is that death was introduced through the sin of Adam. Paul in Romans 5:12-14 writes,  “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”

If death did not exist until Adam’s sin, what about those who died on the “first earth” as a result of Satan’s flood? Paul provides the final nail in the coffin of the gap theory.

Just why is it important that we understand the error behind this popular theory? Because the gap theory contradicts the Bible and it undermines the authority of Yahweh’s Word. It places more emphasis on pseudo-science than on Scripture.
As believers we must never allow our personal beliefs, pseudo-science, or man-made doctrines to contradict what our Heavenly Father says within His Word.

The Bible has never been proven wrong and never will be. Let us not be remiss to remember that Yahweh’s ways are greater than man’s ways. He thunders, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding,” Job 38:3.

Lesson 18- Christmas: 4,000 Years of Tradition

The biggest Christian holiday of the year, the gold standard against which all secular holidays are measured, should have overwhelming
biblical approval and support. But where is it?

What is incorrect about the following statement: “Three wise men visited the infant Messiah in a manger to honor the day of His birth.”

d. Scripture mentions no specific number of wise men. Yahshua was in a house when the wise men came (Matt. 2:11). Herod’s edict to murder all children two years and under indicates that the Messiah could have been as much as two years old (Matt 2:16). The wise men came to honor the King of the Jews, not celebrate His birthday (Matt. 2:2).

Christmas is found in the New Testament and is mentioned by all early Church fathers.

b. Christmas is absent from the New Testament and from the writings of the early fathers. “The observance of Christmas is not of divine appointment, nor is it of N.T. origin. The day of [Messiah’s] birth cannot be ascertained from the N.T., or, indeed, from any other source. The fathers of the first three centuries do not speak of any special observance of the nativity” (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, 1981, Vol. 2, p. 276).

The date for Christmas was derived from the winter solstice and beliefs surrounding it.

a. The date of Christmas was derived from dates honoring the birth of the sun. Long before Christmas, pagans honored the birthday of a well-known Iranian or Persian deity, “December 25...was adopted by the church as Christmas, the nativity of [Yahshua], to counteract the effects of these [pagan] festivals” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. 7, p. 202). German and Celtic tribes commemorated the return of the sun by a festival of yule, which, like other pagan celebrations, became adopted into Christmas (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1959, Vol. 6, p. 622, Christmas).

The adoption of many traditions now associated with Christmas relate directly to pagan converts and church tolerance.

a. The early church synchronized many idolatrous doctrines of foreign neighbors still practiced today, including Christmas rituals. “The influx of pagans into the church through the mass conversion movements of the era contributed to the paganization of worship as the church tried to make these Barbarian converts feel at home within its fold…” Christianity Through the Centuries, 3rd edition, pp. 152-153)

According to Persian custom, what similarity (ies) did Mithra share with the New Testament Messiah?

d. In Mystery Religions in the Ancient World, Mithra was believed to be “the creator and orderer of the universe, hence a manifestation of the creative Logos or Word. Seeing mankind afflicted by Ahriman, the cosmic power of darkness, he incarnated on earth. His birth on 25 December was witnessed by shepherds. After many deeds he held a last supper with his disciples and returned to heaven. At the end of the world he will come again to judge resurrected mankind…” (p. 99). It is easy to see how the early Church was able to meld Mithraic rites into its own theology to attract everyone.

What similarity (ies) did the Roman festival of Saturnalia share with today’s Christmas observance?

d. Many of today’s Christmas traditions are rooted in a 2000-year old Roman celebration known as Saturnalia. According to The Encyclopedia Americana, “Saturnalia, a Roman feast celebrated in Mid-December, provided the model for many of the merry-making customs of Christmas. From this celebration, for example were derived the elaborate feasting, the giving of gifts, and the burning of candles. Lights also played na important part in most winter solstice festivals…” (1959, Vol. 6, Christmas, p. 622-623).

From evidence in the New Testament, Yahshua was likely born during what season?

c. Yahshua was likely born in the fall. Luke’s account says shepherds were watching over their flocks by night. Scholars have expressed doubt that shepherds would have been watching over their flocks in the cold winter, including Adam Clarke’s Commentary, “...our [Savior] was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night,” (note on Luke 2:8). Luke 2:1-7 states that Joseph was returning to Bethlehem from a required Roman census at the time of the Messiah’s birth. December is not conducive to travel. John the Baptist was six months older than Yahshua (Luke 1:26). According to the Companion Bible, John was likely conceived in the third Hebrew month, June 13-19 (Luke 1:5, 1Chron. 24:10). (Appendix 179, Section III). If John the Baptist was conceived in the month of Sivan, Yahshua was likely born in the seventh month (September/October), possibly during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Which Christian sect opposed the observance of Christmas?

a. The Puritans were so ardently against Christmas that with their influence the English Parliament in 1643 outlawed Christmas altogether, along with the saints’ days (Celebrations, p. 312).

Which Christian sect(s) do not observe Christmas on December 25?

b., c. One might assume that Christianity would be united on the date for one of its most sacred observances; however, because of the lack of evidence to support the actual date of the Messiah’s birth there are numerous dates observed by different sects. “While Roman Catholics and Protestants generally observe Christmas on December 25, Orthodox Greek Catholics observe it on January 6 and the Armenian church on January 19” (A Book About the Bible, 1945, p. 23).

Which prophet warned of a heathen custom with striking resemblance to today’s Christmas tree?

b. The prophet Jeremiah admonished Israel not to learn the ways of the heathen, which included a warning against tree worship, which has striking resemblance to today’s Christmas tree (Jer. 10:2-5). Tree worship has a long and ancient history, which can be found in almost every part of the world. “...tree worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to everyone. Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree -worship is hardly extinct among their descendants at the present day” (James Frazer, The Golden Bough, p. 58).

The tradition of Santa Claus is derived from what patron saint?

c. According to the Encyclopedia Americana, the tradition of Santa Claus is a “corruption of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Under this name he is especially associated with the giving of presents at the Christmas season” (1959, Vol. 24, p. 278, Santa Claus).

While Christmas is absent from the New Testament, what days of worship are clearly found?

d. While Christmas is completely absent from the New Testament, there are numerous passages showing that the Messiah and His Apostles observed the Holy Days that were originally ordained by Yahweh in the Old Testament (Mark 14:1; Acts 20:6; 1Cor. 5:8; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 20:16; John 7:2, 10). Observing the days actually in the Bible offers blessings for obedience, while man’s days lack anointing.

Lesson 17 – The Kingdom

Where is the Kingdom of Yahweh? Many believe it is already here in the form of the “church.” Others believe that it has not yet
been established. Let us discover what the Bible means by the “Kingdom” and its significance for the True Worshiper.

The Kingdom is here on earth right now

b. In His model prayer Yahshua prayed that the Kingdom would come, not “thy kingdom is here.” In speaking to Pilate Yahshua said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence,” John 18:36. Some have misunderstood Luke 17:21: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of Elohim is within you.” Here Yahshua was speaking to His perennial nemesis, the Pharisees, of whom He would never have said the Kingdom is within them (Matt. 5:20). “Within” is the Greek entos and should have been translated among or in the midst of you, as it was translated 115 times elsewhere in the New Testament. Yahshua in their midst was the representative of the Kingdom who will return as King

What will be the capital of the Kingdom?

c. The capital of the millennial Kingdom will be Jerusalem: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem,” Isaiah 2:3. Jeremiah 3:17 says that in the millennium “they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Yahweh; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Yahweh, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.” In Isaiah 60:18 we learn that in the millennial Kingdom that Jerusalem will be called salvation, and that the people will all be righteous and inherit the land forever, verse 21. A new heaven and new earth are described in Isaiah 65:17-25 and 66:22. Ezekiel 37 speaks of a resurrection of dry bones, when the dead will be brought back to life while David as king rules under Yahshua, vv. 24-25. In Matt. 5:3 when Yahshua said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” He didn’t say “kingdom in heaven.” The promise is to live and reign on the earth, not in heaven, Rev. 5:10; 2:26, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Luke 22:29-30.

Who grants Kingdom salvation?

b. Our salvation is the sole prerogative of Yahweh the Father. Jeremiah 3:23 is plain that in Yahweh Elohim is salvation found. Jonah 2:9 confirms that salvation is from Yahweh. David wrote in Psalm 27:1 that Yahweh is his light and salvation. Psalm 3:8 tells us that salvation belongs to Yahweh. See Psalm 37:39. The Son’s Name Yahshua means, “Yahweh is salvation.”

Salvation is...

c. Ephesians 2:8 tells us there is nothing we can do to “earn” salvation; it is a gift Yahweh grants those He finds “worthy,” Luke 20:35; 21:36; 2Thess. 1:5; Rev. 3:4. Those who meet this criterion of worthiness walk in good works. Good works are those “which Yahweh had before ordained: for us to walk in, Ephesians 2:10. In other words, keeping His laws that were before commanded renders us worthy as Yahweh’s grace saves us, Heb. 10:36; 2Pet. 1:10-11. Yahshua affirmed this in Matthew 7:21. He also said in Matthew 19:17, “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” Although salvation cannot be earned, Yahweh won’t save an unrepentant lawbreaker, Ezek. 18:20; Gal. 5:19-21; 1cor. 6:9; Eph. 5:3-5; 1John 3:15. Sin is the breaking of His laws, 1John 3:4. He rewards each according to his or her deeds, Rom. 2:6-12; 8:4-6; 1Cor. 3:8; Rev. 2:17, 23, 26; 22:12; Isa. 3:10-11; Gal. 6:7-8. Salvation is entirely Yahweh’s, and He judges by the standard of His laws, James 2:12; 1Pet. 1:17.

Upon repentance you...

d. Paul said in 1Thes. 5:8 that there is a “hope” of salvation. He wasn’t even sure of his own salvation, Philippians 3:11. Hebrews 3:14 says, “We are made partakers of Messiah if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” See also Rev. 2:10. Hebrews 6:4-6 says that for those who know but reject the truth that it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. A dreadful end awaits them, 2Pet. 2:20; Heb. 10:26-30; 12:25.

What will the saved do in the Kingdom?

a. Revelation 5:10 says the saints will make up a kingdom of priests who will reign on the earth (1:6) for a thousand years (20:6) and reign forever (22:5). See also Daniel 7:18; 1Pet. 2:5-9. Those who overcome and keep His works will reign over the nations with a rod of iron under the authority of Yahshua, Rev. 12:5. This rulership was promised in Exodus 19:6. Yahshua will assign each of the Apostles to a kingdom, to judge the 12 tribes of Israel, Luke 22:29-30. Access to New Jerusalem is through one of the tribes of Israel, Rev. 21:12-13. Isaiah 30:20-21 says millennial teachers (the saved) will correct those who stray from Truth.

What happens to those who die without knowledge of the Truth?

d. Ezekiel 36:36 tells us that the ignorant who live on into the Millennial reign of Yahshua will be given opportunity to learn of Yahweh and repent, as will the dead who were unconverted, rising to physical life in the second resurrection, Ezekiel 37:12-14. Those who reject Him and His laws will be cast into the lake of fire to be destroyed, Rev. 20:11-15. Neither Satan nor any unrepentant sinner will be in the Kingdom, Rev. 21:27.

Yahshua promised the thief on the stake that he would be with Him in the Kingdom that day.

b. Luke 23:43 has been misconstrued. Yahshua never went to paradise that day, but to the grave for three days and nights. He said in essence, “I’m telling you this day, you shall be with me in paradise.” This Hebrew expression is found in many places like Deuteronomy 4:26 (“this day”). As the Companion Bible shows, “The interpretation of this verse depends entirely on punctuation, which rests wholly on human authority” (Appendix 173). Greek manuscripts had no punctuation until the 9th century, and even then had only dots between words.

Who in the Bible has gone to the Kingdom?

d. John 3:13 reads, “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.” Yahshua said, “Whither I go you cannot come,” John 13:33. Not even David went to heaven, Acts 2:34.

In the Kingdom...

d. Isaiah 2:3 says of the Kingdom: “And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” See also Daniel 7:27.

Judgment occurs when the Kingdom comes.

a. “I charge you therefore before Elohim, and Yahshua the Messiah, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom,” 2Tim. 4:1.

The lifestyle in the Kingdom will be agrarian.

a. See Isa. 61:5; 65:21-22; 66:20.

Lesson 16 –  True Repentance

A recent survey found that half of all who claim to have been “saved” go back on their conversion within a year. Clearly they did
not understand repentance, let alone when and how salvation is granted. Does true biblical repentance simply mean to be sorry
for sin, or is there much more to this essential act in a Believer’s life?

Can an unrepentant person enter the Kingdom of Yahweh?

b. Repenting of sin is necessary for salvation. Sin stands in the way of salvation, Isaiah 59:2; 64:7; Luke 13:27. Yahweh will not allow an unrepentant sinner to sit on one of His thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). Yahshua instructed in Matthew 18:3, “Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Conversion or change begins with repentance. Sin leads only to death. James 5:20 explains,, “Let him know, that he which converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” In Luke 13:3 Yahshua said, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”

True repentance means...

e. Repentance in the New Testament comes from a couple of Greek words: The verb metanoeo means not just to forsake sin but to change one’s entire apprehension regarding it. The noun metanoia means a dynamic change in attitude toward sin itself and its cause—not just its consequences. Constant, deliberate vigilance must be taken to steer clear of all sinful influences and temptations (see Job 31:1). Read Col. 3:1-11 and 2Cor. 7:8-12. Note carefully: It is not simply “sorrow” that leads to repentance, but sorrow that is “righteous,” for there is a sorrow that is “of the world,” Ezekiel 18:21-23, 30-31.

The natural individual automatically resists repentance because

d. Yahshua said that those who love the world, and specifically its riches, cannot serve Yahweh, Luke 16:13; 1John 2:15. Their hearts are not in harmony with Him, but are in sync with the desires of the natural man, John 15:19. Like oil and water, the two cannot mix, Philippians 3:18-19; James 4:4. And Proverbs 12:14 explains that the ways of the world lead to death.

Repentance is just for those who have committed serious sin.

b. Acts 17:30 tells us, “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” In Luke 5:32 Yahshua said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” See also 1John 1:9. Because everyone has sinned, all need to repent and turn from sin, Romans 3:23. Note also that Yahweh has patience for the ignorant, but once they begin to understand the Truth, they must follow His command to repent and change.

What leads to true repentance?

a. Many claiming to be religious only apologize for their sins at best. Telling Yahweh you are sorry for your sin but not turning away from your sinful behavior is not repentance. Paul reveals the consequences of such: “For righteous sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death,” 2Cor. 7:10. The sincerely repentant man of Yahweh loathes his sins and resolves never to repeat them (see Luke 15:11-32). The prodigal son in Yahshua’s parable truly repented and returned to seek his father’s mercy, ways, and rules. Paul’s “sorrow of the world” terminology is a selfish sorrow of him who is sorry because he got caught or because his actions made him look bad. In contrast, “righteous sorrow” is sorrow directed toward Yahweh. In righteous sorrow one is devastated because one’s sins violated a holy Elohim (Ps. 51:4). Additionally, one is devastated because of the price Yahshua had to pay to remove our sins. In “righteous sorrow” one is more concerned with Yahweh than with self

Genuine repentance results in...

c. Yahweh promises that all the sins of the truly repentant person will be forgiven and forgotten. “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says Yahweh Elohim: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:22-23; Acts 3:19).

Yahweh’s offers of mercy accompany His calls to repentance.

a. Yahweh’s mercy comes with a requirement—our genuine contrition. Joel 2:12-13 is clear that Yahweh has abundant mercy for the truly repentant., “Therefore also now, says Yahweh, turn even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto Yahweh your Elohim: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” Isaiah 55:7 substantiates this, saying, “He will abundantly pardon.” See Jeremiah 3:12-14. True repentance has a wonderfully cleansing and healing effect.

Once we repent, nothing we do afterward has a bearing on our salvation.

b. Hebrews 4:6 tells us that once one has been enlightened with truth and has received the Holy Spirit, and then falls away (completely rejecting everything), it is impossible to be renewed again unto repentance. This teaching is echoed in 2Peter 2:20. Repentance deals with sins that are past, Romans 3:23-25.

Select the individual(s) who demonstrated true repentance.

c., d. David’s heart-rending confession and his Psalm 51 masterpiece of repentance is a tribute to the person the Bible calls a man after Yahweh’s own heart. David’s sincerity is clear from his immediate and open confession when approached about his sins by Nathan the prophet. He did not shift blame or offer excuses, but just confessed an open honest, “I have sinned.” In Psalm 51 he says his sin was against Yahweh. Paul’s true repentance is evident by the fact that he sought Yahweh’s will once his sins of persecuting believers were dramatically pointed out to him. He fasted for three days, Acts 9:6, then was immersed, 9:18. Contrast this with the “repentance” of King Saul (1Sam 24:16-22); of King Ahab (1Kings 21:25-29), and of Judas (Matt. 27:3-5), where we see a false “sorrow of the world” (2Cor. 7:8-11).

Subsequent actions confirm true repentance.

a. In Acts 26:20 is the admonishment to turn to Yahweh and do works worthy of repentance. This means a repentant and baptized person is obedient to His laws, including the Sabbath and Feast commands, Prov. 10:8; see also Matthew 3:8. Repentance is followed by a dramatic and permanent change in behavior. In false repentance a person may attempt to turn from sin but not toward Yahweh. In false repentance the sinner is still alive to the world but dead to Messiah (Eph. 2:1-3; 1Jn.2:15-17). The sincere individual puts Yahweh before all things.

Repentance is preparation for

c. Acts 2:38 says sins are remitted and the Holy Spirit is given upon repentance and immersion. A life in Messiah that looks forward to an everlasting life is what all can have who sincerely repent, Acts 11:18.

A repentant individual (choose all that apply):

e. The converted believer has a spiritual mind and heart that reflect the character and qualities of Yahweh. Romans 12:2 instructs, “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of Elohim.”

Lesson 15 – Hell

Does the Bible teach that a merciful Father in heaven will torture the ignorant or even the rebellious in an eternity of unspeakable
agony — to roast alive forever in horrendous pain from sulfurous flames of hellfire with no possibility of relief and no hope for parole?
Where did this teaching originate and what does the Bible really say about the fate of the wicked?

What was the first lie ever told in the Scriptures?

c. The first lie recorded in the Bible is Satan’s in Gen. 3:4. Yahweh’s promise of a death penalty for sin took effect after our original parents disobeyed Him — the death process was set in motion and Adam and Eve ultimately died. Before this they had the potential to continue living indefinitely.

Immortal in the Bible refers to man’s soul.

b. The word immortal occurs only once in Scripture, 1Timothy 1:17, and refers only to Almighty Yahweh (1Tim. 6:16), and which He gave to His Son. “Immortality” must be “put on,” as we naturally lack it, 1Cor. 15:53; Matt. 19:29. Yahshua said those who believe in Him would never die, contrasting with the unbeliever who will die, John 11:26. Nowhere are the words “immortal” and “soul” found together in the Scriptures. The word “immortality” is found in three other passages and refers either to Yahweh Himself or to a state man must seek, not a condition he already possesses (Rom. 2:7; 1Cor. 15:54; 2Tim. 1:10). Soul derives from the Hebrew nephesh and means the living, breathing being. Yahweh says the soul that sins shall die, Ezek. 18:20.

Death means...

d. “Death” and “die” derive from the Hebrew muwth and mean to die, kill, have one executed. No nuance of muwth means to continue living, to exist in some other form, or to retain conscious awareness. The Scriptures sometimes talk of death as a sleep, as in John 11:11-14 where Yahshua raised the “sleeping” Lazarus from the dead. Also Dan. 12:2; 1Thess. 4:13-16. In sleep one is unaware of anything. The same is true of death and the Bible makes no distinction between the good and bad individual—both sleep in death, 2Kings 21:17-18; Psalm 146:4; Dan. 12:3; John 11:11; 1Thes. 4:13-16. All sleep in the grave, Deut. 31:16; Psalm 9:17; 139:8; John 5:28-29; Acts 2:34; Heb. 9:27; Revelation 20:13. The resurrection is of those asleep in graves, not those alive in heaven or hell, Hosea 13:14; 1Cor. 15:51-52.

Hell is an underground of Satan where white-hot flames from sulfurous rocks horrifically torture sinners forever.

b. The universal concept of hell is a mixture of misconstrued Scriptures, Teutonic mythology, and pagan Greek belief about immortality. Helping to formulate the modern notion of hell was Dante Alighieri’s 13th century epic poem, The Divine Comedy, in which Dante advances Teutonic legends of hell as a place where the damned suffer endlessly in a variety of ways. The actual root of our word hell is kel, meaning to cover, conceal, save. From kel came Hel, an Old Norse name of the underworld goddess of the dead who was in charge of torture and punishment. She was the daughter of Loki, an evil god of fire. The belief that hell is a place of fiery torture was strengthened by the Hebrew Gehenna, which was the name of a valley (Ge-hinnom) near Jerusalem where apostate Israel once sacrificed children to the Canaanite sun god Moloch (1Ki. 11:7) and later where city garbage was incinerated. Translators rendered Gehenna “hell” in the KJV and others. Thus the idea of burning flames became associated with notions about eternal torture in hellfire. In fact, Gehenna is the ultimate punishment of total annihilation of the wicked and is the lake of fire spoken of in Rev. 20. Hell, on the other hand, is simply a concealed place, a covered pit or grave. The stomach of the great fish that swallowed Jonah is even called hell (sheol), Jonah 2:2.

The four Hebrew and Greek words translated hell are:

a. Translators did a great disservice by using one word— hell—for three different biblical concepts. The word translated hell in the Old Testament is the Hebrew sheol and means pit or grave. In the King James it is translated grave 31 times, hell 31 times, and pit 3 times. The Greek word from which hell is derived in the New Testament is hades, which has the same meaning as sheol. The other words translated hell are gehenna (see question 4) and tartaroo, a term found only once, 2Pet. 2:4, and means a place of restraint for fallen angels. None of these words refers to a place or condition of eternal, torturous agony for wicked humans. In the grave (hell) all awareness ceases: “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol] whither you go,” Eccl. 9:10.

The lake of fire spoken of in Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15, and 21:8 is...

d. The lake of fire is called the second death. Into it the beast and his worshipers (Rev. 14:9) and the false prophet will be thrown, Rev. 19:20, and Satan as well, Rev. 20:10, 15. Others sharing this fate will be the lawless who are not written in the book of life, Rev. 20:14, a description of whom is found in Rev. 21:8. The word “tormented” in Rev. 20:10 (Gk. Basanizo) is linked to the Greek marturion in Luke 9:5, according to Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. Marturion means testimony or witness. The smoke of their destruction rises forever as a permanent witness to their rebellion against Yahweh. Those thrown into the lake of fire are destroyed, 2Thes. 1:8-9 (“everlasting destruction”); the wicked are reduced to ashes, Mal 4:1-3 (wicked will be “stubble,” “burned up,” “ashes”). Psalm 37:20 says, “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of Yahweh shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” The fat refers to the fat that was completely consumed by fire on the sacrificial altar.

Yahshua’s account of Lazarus and the rich man proves that eternal suffering in flames is the destiny of the wicked.

b. This parable in Luke 16 is employed to teach a greater lesson and therefore is symbolic in meaning: that the arrogant and selfish rich man (i.e. Pharisees) was aghast to realize he had missed out on the first resurrection. From his dry mouth we see his distress. If he were engulfed in hellfire he would beg for a lot more water than a wetted fingertip to cool his tongue! “Tormented” is the Greek odunamai and means grief, sorrow, distress. “Flame” derives from phlox which refers to a flame’s brightness or flash, not the fire itself (which would be puros). His past life is now revealed in the light (phlox) of truth. The “gulf between” refers to his rejection from the kingdom (Pharisees had no promise of everlasting life, Matt. 5:20). He asks (figuratively) that Abraham, who is dead (Heb. 11:13) send Lazarus “from the dead” to warn his five brothers to repent. Far from teaching eternal hellfire, Yahshua was warning the Jewish leadership who lived the high life and disdained others not to shut out the Gentiles from truth by their actions and traditions, as they themselves were shut out.

Other biblical references to everlasting fire show that hellfire will endlessly torture the wicked.

b. Passages like Matt.18:8 and 25:41 are understood in the context of Isa. 33:12 and 14, showing that the wicked will be destroyed by fire, not just tortured. In Matt. 18:8-9 everlasting fire and hellfire refer to gehenna fire that will completely consume. Matt. 25:41 shows that everlasting fire is prepared for the devil and his angels, which will be a fire that destroys them, Ezek. 28:18; Mal. 4:1; Heb. 2:14; Rom. 16:20 (where bruise means to utterly crush). Matt. 25:46 refers to everlasting punishment, not punishing, and is the Greek kolasis meaning a cutting off. (Notice the wicked “go away” into everlasting punishment.) In Jude 1:7 we learn that Sodom and Gomorrah also suffered the vengeance of “eternal fire,” but they are not still burning today. It is the results that are eternal, not the fire (in Matt. 25:41, 46 everlasting means enduring. TCNT). When the Bible speaks of an “unquenchable” fire it means a fire that will not be extinguished before it consumes what it burns. In Jer. 17:27 Yahweh promises that unless Israel obeys Him, the palaces of Jerusalem shall be destroyed with a fire that “shall not be quenched.” This was fulfilled in Jer. 52:13, when all the homes were destroyed in fire. Yet that fire is not still burning. An unquenchable fire will also completely burn up the wicked, Mal. 4:1.

Ministry News for April 13th, 2018

Major YouTube Milestone

As an outreach ministry, our main focus has always been evangelism. One of our main sources of outreach is YouTube. Recently we hit a major milestone. On April 1st we surpassed 50,000 subscribers. The number of subscribers helps to increase the number of views. Since our inception in 2013, we’ve had over 7.6 million views with a total watch time of over 26 continual years. This platform has been a blessing in reaching millions with the truth of Yahweh’s Word. In addition to YouTube, you can also find YRM’s videos on the following video-on-demand platforms: Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire. YouTube channel >>

 

FOT Lodging

YRM will have 26 new dorm rooms available in our activities building this year for the Feast of Tabernacles. Registration officially opened last Monday and since then half the rooms have already been reserved. If you are interested in staying in a dorm room, we encourage you to register quickly, as the rooms are first come, first served. All RV sites have already been spoken for. We still have plenty of tent sites available and rooms remaining at the local hotel, America’s Best Value Inn. Hotel Reservations can be made at 573-896-8787. You can receive a discounted rate of $60 per night if you inform the hotel that you are here for the Feast of Tabernacles.

Along with daily worship services and several Bible workshops, we have many activities planned, including: roller skating, volleyball, bingo, yogurt making, Hebrew dancing, puppet show, and a bounce house for the children. In addition, we are bringing back two traditional activities. The first we call the “Ultimate Feast Challenge.” This group event contains ten activities and ten biblical questions and is open to all ages. The first team to complete all activities and questions will be deemed the victor! The second activity we call “Pioneer Day.” This is a themed activity day where Feastgoers dress in their favorite western duds and have the opportunity to compete in various challenges, like a watermelon eating contest, tug-of-war, and much more. To learn more, including how to register, visit https://yrm.org/tabernacles-2018.

 

Donation Receipts

First quarter, January – March, donation receipts have been mailed. We sincerely thank all those who generously support this Ministry. Our efforts are made possible only through your assistance. As we find in the third chapter of Malachi, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Yahweh of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it,” verse 10.

 

Prayer List

View prayer list >>

 

TEST YOUR TUTELAGE

What is NOT true regarding the millennial Kingdom?

A. The saints will rule with Yahshua as a kingdom of priests
B. The earth will be consumed and the saints will rule from heaven
C. The laws will go out from Zion to all the earth
D. Yahweh’s Name will be one

 

According to one Sabbath keeping organization, the millennial reign will occur in heaven. They base this on the 24th chapter of Isaiah. Verses 3-4 reads, “The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for Yahweh hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.” Based in these verses and others like it, this organization believes the earth will be consumed with fire and Yahshua along with the saints will dwell in heaven. However, according to verse six of this prophecy, few men will remain. Revelation 5:10 also states, “And hast made us unto our Elohim kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Clearly, Isaiah 24:6 and Revelation 5:10 confirm that there will be people remaining after the Great Tribulation and the saints will dwell on earth during the Messiah’s 1000-year reign.

 

Correct: B

What is the Textus Receptus?

Q.   I recently received my RSB and I’m very pleased with it. However, I have a friend that I frequently study with that refuses to even look at my RSB because he only studies Bibles that are translated from the Textus Receptus. My question to you is, is this important? My friend is pretty knowledgeable and is a wealth of information for me in my Messianic studies, but he sometimes seems to get hung up on trivial things. Yet he doesn’t seem to see a problem with referring to our Father and Messiah as God and Jesus. Can you please shed any light on the Textus Receptus, what it actually is, and what impact it has on modern Bibles and study resources?

A.   The Textus Receptus, also called the Received Text, is a collection of Greek texts that were used by those who translated the KJV and other English translations. Since the Restoration Study Bible is largely the KJV with the correct names/titles restored, it too would be based on the Textus Receptus. The other major collection of Greek texts is the Alexandrian texts. The Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are the two most well-known and date approx. to the 4th century. The two main differences between these texts is the Textus Receptus is greater in number, but newer, while the Alexandrian texts are fewer, but older.

Since the KJV and most early English translations of the Bible were based on the Textus Receptus, many favor this text. We take more of a neutral position and study from translations based on both texts. The fact is, since we do not have the original copies of the New Testament, which we believe were likely Hebrew or Aramaic, it’s impossible to know which text is more accurate. However in our studies we have not seen where either text drastically changes the meaning of Scripture. There are differences, but minor.

For additional study, we would suggest reviewing the following Q&A: https://yrm.org/is-kjv-infallible.

Is the one you call Yahshua a lesser God to the Father? If so, doesn’t this mean you worship two Gods?

Q.   Is the one you call Yahshua a lesser God to the Father? If so, doesn’t this mean you worship two Gods?

A.   To explain your question, we must first begin by explaining the Hebrew word Elohim, from where “God” is derived. Unlike the connotation that many connect with God, the term Elohim is broad and is used in several different ways, including to Yahweh (the Father), to angels, and to mankind. It’s also likely used in reference to the Son in the New Testament.

The Strong’s Concordance defines Elohim as, “…gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.”

When we understand that Elohim refers not only to a singular deity, but to any exalted beings or positions, including human magistrates, the question of whether Yahshua is a lesser Elohim becomes easier to answer. Since Elohim refers to any position of rank, we can include Yahshua among this group. However, the Bible is quite clear that the Son is inferior to the Father, John 10:29; 14:28; and 1Corinthians 11:3.

Consequently, we make a distinction between the Father and Son in worship. While we reverence the Son, we worship Yahweh alone. For this reason, we do not worship multiple “Gods.”

While some may view this position as illogical or paradoxical, it is no more illogical than those who believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same “God,” but distinct persons. Our position gives admiration to the Son, while maintaining the scriptural relationship between the Father and Son.

As a side note, the term “god” may contain pagan etymology. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., “god” may derive from a root meaning, “…to pour as a molten image.” Some scholars also note that “God” was the proper name of the supreme deity of the ancient Teutons. For these reasons, we refrain from using this term.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Ministry News for April 6, 2018

Passover / Feast Review
While we still have a few days remaining of this year’s Feast of Unleavened Bread, we can report that this year’s Passover and Feast has been exceptional. Here are a few highlights: Elder Randy Folliard presented a memorable and moving Passover service. Elder Alan Mansager provided many insights in his message on the first High Day of Unleavened Bread. We’ve also been blessed through the Bible workshops. A special thanks to Brothers Gary Hornickel and Michael Banak who presented workshops on Covenants of the Bible and the Bible’s Hall of Fame. We were also blessed with Hebrew dancing and a special performance from Praises for Yahweh (aka, the Avalos ladies). The brethren also thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Middle Eastern Dinner. Also, the visit to the National Churchill Museum was informative and enlightening. Several brethren got to see the longest portion of the Berlin Wall in the United States. Moving ahead, we anticipate hearing an inspiring message from Brother Harold Ballew this Sabbath along with a stirring message on the last High Day, scheduled for Sunday. Both messages will be available live online at 1:30 pm, Central, from yrm.org/live.

 

Prayer List
View prayer list >>

 

TEST YOUR TUTELAGE

In what book does Paul state, “Therefore let us keep the Feast.”

A. Romans
B. 1Corinthians
C. Ephesians
D. Colossians

 

Paul in 1Corinthians 5:8 states, “Therefore let us keep the feast….” Correct: B