Science is discovering that resting one day out of seven is key to physical and mental rejuvenation, good health, and productivity. A cyclical rhythm of sevens is embedded in physical creation, clearly linking Yahweh as the Creator through the significance He places on the sequence of sevens.
As science is learning, living cells operate by a rhythmic clock. This regularity keeps the cell synchronized with other cells, just as it was designed at creation. Scientists in this discipline called chronobiology say seven is the major rhythm in human biology. Many plants, insects, and animals also have biological cycles based on seven.
We humans have at the cellular level internal seven-day clocks regulating and orchestrating our biotic activities like metabolism, maintenance, growth, and reproduction. These sevens, or “septans” lie deep in our neural, metabolic, and hormonal systems.
A seven-day factor is also at work in our immune systems. Polio, small pox, and tetanus each begin to show symptoms after seven days. Chickenpox symptoms typically appear 14 days after exposure to the virus, the same with mumps. Ebola has a three-week, 21-day incubation time. All of these immune-defense clocks are built on a time element of seven.
And there’s more. The defense response to malaria infection and pneumonia peaks at seven days. In organ transplants like kidneys there is a span of about seven days when the body’s immune system may reject the new kidney. It takes seven days for a newborn to fully develop the blood clotting mechanism, and that’s why biblical circumcision is practiced on the eighth day (Philippians 3:5).
The sequence of seven is embedded in the very building blocks of life. Almighty Yahweh wound up the clock of creation and by the time He rested on the seventh day He had left His divine imprint, including the Sabbath, on living systems everywhere. It’s powerful proof of an intelligent Creator.
From the seven days of creation in Genesis to the seven seals of Revelation, the number seven also permeates Scripture.
The Apostle Paul’s observation in Romans 1:20 of the miracle of creation is confirmed. For those who deny a Creator, all they need to do is look at the complex design of creation itself.
Paul writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and majesty; so that they are without excuse.” King David wrote, “Only the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no Elohim’” (Psalm 14:1).
Seventh Day Reigns Supreme
The number seven is, hands down, the most significant number in the Bible. The seventh day is the grand finale of the creation week. Seven is at the center of the weekly Sabbath and annual Feasts. These observances will be celebrated in the coming Kingdom.
But that isn’t all. There are Sabbath years called Sabbatical years in the Scripture, and they are key to knowing when the Messiah Yahshua will return in the not-too-distant future.
Yahshua said in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made FOR man. Does that mean we can ignore it or change it? If I say, here, this gift is for you, do I expect you to throw it in the trash?
The Sabbath commandment is the only one of the Ten that says to “remember.” It’s a throwback to creation week and the special status Yahweh endowed the seventh day with from the beginning of creation.
Beyond telling us that Sabbath rest is an obligation, the Greek indicates that it is also something imprinted in our being. In the next verse, 28, we read, “Therefore the Son of man is Master also of the Sabbath.” John 1:3 says all things were made by Him. He was the active agent that created the universe.
Consider this: maybe He not just created the Sabbath by resting on it, but in the process of creation He also embedded the seven-day rhythmic cycle of rest into our DNA and behavior. That gives new meaning to His being the master of the Sabbath, while fashioning the Sabbath literally for mankind.
Psychological studies have shown that we humans don’t function well without a day of rest every week. Without it we are more prone to error, suffer more stress and irritability, we don’t rest as well, and live shorter lives.
We read in Genesis 2:3 of that first Sabbath rest: “And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Elohim created and made.” Clearly, the Sabbath is more significant than just a day to stop working. The seventh day is firmly infused into creation itself.
Even Land Must Rest The spiritual benefits of the Sabbath are even more profound. The Sabbath was given to keep us spiritually synchronized with our Maker and His design. He blessed it, and that blessing is passed on to us when we keep it by ceasing from work as He did.
Our understanding of the importance of the number seven really opens up when we trace some of its uses through the Bible.
We learn early on that the rhythm of seven is a pattern not just for the weekly cycle but also for annual obligations.
Most people are familiar with the term Sabbatical, a time when professors take a leave of absence traditionally every seven years to do research or travel. This concept of taking time off for rest comes right out of the Scriptures. There we find Yahweh’s command for a Sabbatical year, when planting and tilling the fields is to stop, thereby giving the soil a rest every seven years.
This land rest rejuvenates the soil and gives nutrients. Exodus 23:10-11 commands: “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy olive yard.”
If today’s agriculture followed the Bible’s Sabbatical year land rest, the soil would be much healthier and the use of chemical fertilizers could be reduced or eliminated. Notice that the Sabbatical year is also a system of welfare, where the poor could go out to the fields at harvest time and gather whatever the spontaneous crops had produced. What was left over the wild animals could eat.
Financial Relief There is another important component of the Sabbatical: financial relief. Every seventh year debts were canceled. Any loan was prorated for the time remaining of the seven years.
Deuteronomy 15:1-2 says, “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called Yahweh’s release.”
Borrowers would not be burdened by heavy debt from a lifetime of financial strain at high interest fees. Throwbacks to the Sabbatical still exist today in the world of finance, where banks hold certain records accessible for seven years while certain financial instruments have a seven-year depreciation clause. Copyrights are good for the life of the holder plus 70 years.
A person is considered an adult with adult privileges at 21 years of age (3 x 7 years).
Anciently, Hebrew slaves were to be freed on the seventh year, Deuteronomy 15:12 tells us.
Jubilant Seven Sevens It goes even deeper. Every 50 years, after seven Sabbaticals of 49 years, is another great Sabbath year command known as the year of Jubilee. Look up the word jubilee and Webster’s will tell you it’s a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating 25 or 50 years.
Have you ever felt “jubilant”? Maybe you attended a diamond jubilee celebration. These terms are based on the biblical Jubilee. There’s even an apocryphal Book of Jubilees.
You find many Jubilees observed around the world at any given moment. And the concept comes right out of the Bible.
In the Scriptures the word “jubilee” is derived from the Hebrew teruah, which means “a sound of joy or alarm.” It was the ram’s horn or shofar trumpet that announced the beginning of the Jubilee year.
Leviticus 25:9 says: “Then shall you cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
The biblical Jubilee comes after seven cycles of seven and was a time when the land was to go back to its original owner. This ensured that the tribes of Israel did not lose their promised inheritance.
The law of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years is one of the more intriguing subjects in Scripture.
Important events of history and prophecy are tied up in these specially sanctified times.
Feasts Rest on Sevens Yahweh’s days are universally overlooked, in the same way the first day of the biblical month is ignored today, even when the thin new moon crescent appears visibly in the sky and shouts to all the earth, “This is the first day of the month.”
This natural phenomenon goes right over most heads today because the moon has been factored out of our Gregorian solar calendar.
Much more significance remains with the number seven. We find throughout the year seven sacred observances that Yahweh commanded His people to celebrate as part of His covenant with us.
These Feasts or holy days are the only annual observances given in the Scriptures. Holiday is a contraction of the words “holy day.” Each is tied firmly to the number seven either by when they occur or by their length of observance. The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall are each seven-day observances.
Four of these observances are in the seventh biblical month. They are: the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day.
Prophetic Keys in Feasts If you want to understand the prophetic plan for this earth and the return of the Savior, important keys are in the Feast days. Each reveals facets of the Messiah’s coming and the setting up of His kingdom on earth in the future Messianic age. Each gives insight into what’s ahead for this world. Yahweh’s Feasts are the only holidays sanctioned in the Bible. They were all observed by Israel in the Old Testament, kept by the Savior and His apostles in the New Testament, were taught by the apostles, and will be enforced in the coming Kingdom (see RSB chart).
As critical to Yahweh’s Truth as these days are, the vast majority of Bible believers are ignorant of them, just as 2Peter 3 describes most people in a different context.
Along with the seventh day of the week, these seven annual observances have been neglected or mostly ignored through the centuries by the vast majority of Bible believers and self-confessed followers of Scripture.
In every key aspect of our existence, we see a prominent rhythm of sevens. We see it in Yahweh’s physical creation, in His command to pause and worship, in His salvation plan, in the prophetic timetable – sevens are everywhere.
Unlike our months and years, our seven-day week has no astronomical basis; you can’t look to the sky or out into space and determine the starting and ending of a week. There is no planet, star, sun or moon that sets the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is based totally on what Yahweh put into effect at creation when He rested on the seventh day. It was Yahweh alone who gave each week a starting point and an ending point. The week is divine.
Like the institution of marriage and family, Yahweh Himself established the Sabbath in Eden. That is why He is called the master of the Sabbath.
Sabbath Unchangeable Even the calendar on your wall continues this biblical institution of ending the week on the Sabbath. Our week that begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday is the same consecutive order of days in effect for thousands of years. The Sabbaths that Abraham, Moses, and King David observed are in the very same weekly sequence that still operates today.
None of the days of the week have gotten out of the weekly order.
Some have argued that the Sabbath sequence was altered in the switchover from the Julian to today’s Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII. The problem was that by 1752 the Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar, had drifted out of sync with the seasons as it moved slower than today’s calendar.
To catch the calendar back up with astronomical reality, 11 days (dates) were dropped in the new Gregorian calendar, creating an irregular month. But even with the loss of dates, the Sabbath cycle didn’t change.
The seven-day week has been in force worldwide from creation, although some countries have tried to alter it, France and Russia being two of them. Both of their secular attempts to change the week failed.
Deuteronomy 5:15 in the restatement of the 4th commandment, gives some additional insights into the larger concept of “Sabbath.”
“And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that Yahweh thy Elohim brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore Yahweh thy Elohim commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”
Why does He bring the issue of slavery in conjunction with the Sabbath? Because on specific Sabbath years slaves or bond servants were set free. That is, on the Sabbatical every seventh year, and on the Jubilee, which falls every 50th year. The Jubilee is also a Sabbath year. On this 50th year Sabbath, slaves were given their freedom.
Israel was taken into captivity for 70 years for not keeping the land Sabbath. The lesson is that not keeping the Sabbath, either weekly or annually, leads to slavery in various ways. By not keeping the weekly Sabbath, slavery to the world and all its pressures and enticements is fortified. Observing the Sabbaths frees us from slavery to this world.
Yahweh took two key actions with the Sabbath at creation: “He blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it,” Genesis 2:3. In doing these, He established its significance throughout the rest of Scripture and history. He sanctified it or set it apart as completely given over to Him. This is the essence of the Fourth Commandment, which mandates the complete cessation of all mundane work and the total devotion to Yahweh Himself.
Now, the trumpet call of the Jubilee directly parallels the trumpet that will announce the return of the Messiah Yahshua to this earth, which prophecy and Yahshua Himself indicated will occur on either a Sabbatical or a Jubilee year. Returning on the Jubilee could explain why Yahweh let Israel lose track of the Jubilee so that no one would determine the time of the Savior’s return.
In Luke 4:18 we read that on a weekly Sabbath in Nazareth, Yahshua went into the synagogue and read from Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the glad tidings to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of Yahweh.”
“Preach” here means to proclaim after the manner of a herald, always with the suggestion of formality, gravity, and authority. It is more than just talking; more than just teaching. The terminology fits perfectly the significance of the trumpet sound proclaiming the Jubilee at Atonement.
In quoting Isaiah 61, Yahshua stopped in the middle of verse 2, which demonstrates that as the fulfillment of this prophecy that He was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. The end of the verse refers to the Day of Judgment, which at that time obviously was far into the future.
Here we can see how Yahshua rightly divided the word. The “acceptable year” refers to the beginning of the Jubilee year as the welcome year. Another translation refers to it as Yahweh’s amnesty year.
Note what the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says, “Acceptable year – an allusion to the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:10), a year of universal release for person and property.”
Wesley’s Notes adds, “The acceptable year – plainly alluding to the year of Jubilee, when all, both debtors and servants, were set free.”
Yahshua came to preach the Good News to the meek and humble, those whose hearts were soft and teachable, to give them the truth to set them free.
The Jubilee is couched in the middle of a directive in Leviticus 25 to keep the Sabbatical year. The Jubilee is marked by:
• land rest
• land going back to the original owner
• Israelite slaves freed
In quoting Isaiah 61, Yahshua said, “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” It indicates that He was speaking on the Jubilee year and that He Himself would accomplish this. It hints that He began His ministry on the Jubilee.
Death Penalty Paid The Jubilee is all about freedom. He frees us by releasing us from the death penalty if we repent and follow Him.
The universal mantra in religious venues everywhere is that obedience to the Word is unnecessary and even a bad thing. The reasoning is that if you try you are rejecting what your Savior did for you. But what did Yahshua tell the young man in Matthew 19:17? “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15.
What did He mean by “His” commandments? Was He changing what His Father had already given?
If you are concerned that becoming obedient will take away the forgiveness Yahshua offers for your sins, you have nothing to worry about. We are all sinful enough that we cannot achieve sinlessness on our own. We will always need Yahshua’s blood to cover our disobedience. At the same time we are to strive to walk in Yahshua’s footsteps of obedience.
John 12:49-50 in the NIV reads, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Yahweh insisted on obedience to the law throughout the Old Testament, and Malachi 3:6 says He does not change. Yahshua simply took those commands and lived them as an example of righteousness for everyone to follow. He kept the Sabbaths, Feasts, Ten Commandments, moral law – everything commanded by Yahweh His father.
He did it all for a reason, not just to prove that He could. He was without sin. Even the law of sacrifice He adhered to and ultimately satisfied with His own blood.
He led His life to show you and me that this is what His Father expects of us. He applied His Father’s statutes in all aspects of life as He experienced them. That way we could use His example in our own lives and experiences.
If you buy into the notion that obedience is wrong, then you are not following the law-keeping, law-loving example of your obedient Savior who as the judge has the power to grant your salvation.
Just as He was cut off (meaning died) in the middle of the week as He foretold, so Yahshua left unsaid the rest of Isaiah 61:2, which tells of the vengeance that would follow His return. Note the latter part of this verse: “And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn” (Isa. 61:1-2). He’s not returning with smiles and hugs all around. He’ll be swinging a sword against the unrighteous, Revelation 1:16.
A Key Lost and Found There is no record that Israel or Judah faithfully kept all the Sabbaticals and Jubilees, and therefore we have little to go on in determining the year they should be kept. Regardless, Yahweh knows our desire to do the best we can in obedience. These times will be enforced when His Kingdom comes to earth.
Daniel 9 begins with a reference to the 70 years of Judah’s Babylonian captivity. The reason they were sentenced to a captivity of 70 years is that they had not kept 70 Sabbatical years and had to catch up (Lev. 26:34-35, 43; 2Chr. 36:21-23).
The chapter begins with a reference to the missed Sabbatical years in 70 Sabbatical cycles, and ends with a discussion of another 70 Sabbatical cycles.
The weekly Sabbath every seven days, the Sabbatical year every seven years, and Jubilees coming after every 7×7 years as well as the 1,000-year reign following 6,000 years of man are each a part of Yahweh’s design.
Yahweh marks weeks, holy days, years, and millennia in bundles of sevens. The word ‘week’ in Hebrew is the same as the number 7, shabua. It literally means “sevened.” Shabua has a dual meaning as well, and also connotes oaths. Yahweh is telling us by this word with two meanings that a powerful relationship exists between the number seven, representing Sabbaths, and an oath.
Is it any wonder then that the Sabbath is a sign between Yahweh and His people? It is a sign of the oath or covenant.
We can go even further. You could say the Feast of Weeks or Shabuot is a feast of oaths. His law by most accounts was given on the Feast of Weeks as well as the Holy Spirit in the New Testament to enable obedience to that law. You become eligible for that spirit when you obey Him, Acts 5:32. With both His Spirit and His laws working in you, you become a part of a sacred oath or covenant as His people.
Sevens in the Feasts The feasts of the biblical calendar are also marked by seven days, which is the length of both the Feast of Unleavened (bread) and of the Feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost (seven times seven days plus one), or the Feast of Weeks, is celebrated seven weeks from unleavened bread.
The commands for these days are found in Exodus 12 and 23, and Leviticus 23.
With many important meanings and lessons, Yahweh’s Sabbaths are also great equalizers. On the 7th day, for example, both the powerful and the weak become irrelevant, as even the ox is liberated and given the same day of rest.
To counter any greed in the 7th year, debts are forgiven. And to counter over-farming and depletion of the soil, the land rests in the 7th year. After 7×7 years, all debts are forgiven and lands are then returned to the original owners. That ensures that property rights remain in a family and the land especially given by Yahweh to the various tribes remained with them.
Today some Torah-observant Jews will lease their land to a gentile for the year, thinking they can skirt the Sabbatical Law. Biblical laws were not given to appease Yahweh but are for the benefit of the individual, family, and community (1John 5:3). We defeat their purpose when we evade them and look for loopholes.
Yahweh’s Laws for Our Good Yahweh says don’t eat fat. We now know that fat contributes to all kinds of health problems.
Yahweh says don’t eat swine. Science has learned that the omnivorous pig is a garbage disposer and natural incubator, allowing viruses to jump the species gap between beast and man.
The Bible has been proven invaluable by modern science when it says let the land rest and renourish for a year to rebuild the soil naturally. Many enlightened farmers today allow their fields to lie fallow for the same reason.
These are only a few ways that Yahweh’s laws benefit us physically. But the spiritual benefits are far greater. Paul told Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yahshua,” 2Timothy 3:15.
We can’t take Yahweh’s commands lightly, thinking they were made only for someone else, like the Jews. They apply to all ages and all people.
The magnificent number 7 is a profound key to Yahweh’s design in the universe and in His faith.
In Conclusion The number 7 (the number of perfection) is not just related to the reoccurring of the Sabbath and Sabbatical cycles but by sequences of seven it reckons the counting of the calendar. Yahweh’s seven biblical appointments, as seen on the cover of this booklet, demonstrates a symbolic representation of Yahweh’s perfect order, typified with the Feast of Trumpets in the center, designating Yahshua’s return at the last trump. Most miss the fact that the Last Great Day (the eighth day as it is called because it follows the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34-36) is a separate observance in the Feast cycle. Those who do not understand the first fruits offerings to Yahweh try to account for this by inserting a made up “Feast of Firstfruits.” Unleavened Bread and Pentecost both include the firstfruits by their very nature, as they are harvest festivals, which include firstfruits offerings to Yahweh through the barley and wheat harvests. The firstfruits, and more specifically the Abib barley harvest, which sets the yearly calendar, are key to understanding the Holy Day cycle, revolving around the harvest and the future spiritual harvests at Yahshua’s return. Reckoning the calendar with the firstfruits barley as Scripture shows, will align us with Yahshua’s return as He reaps His firstfruit harvest of the faithful.
While some may interpret the contents and conclusions of this article as anti-Semitic, this could not be further from the truth. Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry supports the nation of Israel and believes that the entire nation of Israel, including the traditional Temple Mount area, forthrightly belongs to the Jewish people. This article is only interested in the truth and how the facts impact Yahweh’s prophetic Word.
Many assume that the Temple Mount within the old city of Jerusalem is where the Jewish or Old Testament temple originally stood. However, what if this was not the case? What if the temple was located elsewhere? The truth could affect the location of a future third temple.
There is a theory gaining popularity that places the temple not on the traditional Temple Mount, but instead within the city of David. In this publication we explore several points of this theory, including the connection between the City of David and the biblical temple mount, the critical role of the Gihon Spring, the destruction to the temple and to the city of Jerusalem as prophesied by Yahshua and chronicled by antiquity, existence of Fortress Antonia, and much more.
This Theory’s Impact
However, before launching into the evidence supporting the temple as being located within the city of David, let us consider the importance of this theory. While this is not a salvational belief, it may have a far-reaching impact on prophecy.
The traditional Temple Mount contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Both of these buildings are sacred to Islam. For this reason it’s impossible today for the Jews to build a third temple on the Temple Mount. As a side note, Muslims call the Temple Mount the Haram esh-Sharif, meaning, “the Noble Sanctuary.”
While it may not be possible for the Jews to rebuild a temple on today’s Temple Mount (Matthew 24:15), nothing would hinder them from rebuilding within the City of David. However, for this to occur the Jews would also have to acknowledge that the current Temple Mount is not the location of the temple. Considering that the Temple Mount and its Wailing Wall, which is believed to be the outer western wall to the ancient temple, is the holiest site in Judaism, such acceptance would not be easy.
For the Jews to accept that the temple was not on the Temple Mount, but instead within the city of David, evidence would have to be found so conclusive that even the most ardent Jew could not reject this realization. While this may never happen, considering the current excavations occurring within the city of David, the thought of such evidence being found is within the realm of possibility.
Reviewing the Geography
In the picture Above we can see several important geographical features, including the Mount of Olives, the traditional Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley, the Central Valley, the Gihon Spring, and the current site for the city of David. Below is additional information on each of these locations:
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. At one point it had olive trees covering its slopes. Today there is a Jewish cemetery with approximately 150,000 graves. This mountain ridge was a significant location during Yahshua’s ministry. It was the place where He delivered His Olivet Prophecy and where He retreated hours before His death in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The traditional Temple Mount is where many believe the Jewish temple once stood. Both the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock reside on the traditional Temple Mount.
The Kidron Valley separates Jerusalem, including the city of David and the traditional Temple Mount, from the Mount of Olives. This valley continues east through the Judean Desert and toward the Dead Sea.
The Central Valley, also called the Tyropoeon Valley and the Valley of the Cheesemakers, is a rugged ravine on the west side of the City of David or the ancient city of Jerusalem and marks its western boundary, as the Kidron Valley does on the east.
The Gihon Spring is along the Kidron Valley near the ancient City of David. The name “Gihon” comes from the Hebrew gihu, meaning, “gushing forth.” It is one of the world’s largest intermittent springs and made life possible for ancient Jerusalem. While the water from the spring was used for irrigation in the Kidron, it was also central to temple worship. We will explore the Gihon further in this publication.
(The lookout above is approximately where the temple would have stood. City of David, Jerusalem)
The City of David is the location for the ancient Jebusite city that David conquered and renamed the City of David or Jerusalem. It is approximately 12 acres in size. It begins at the Millo (i.e., a ravine that separated the City of David from the Ophel, which Solomon filled in during his reign) and extends southward.
Today the City of David is an Israeli national park and a major archaeological site. Archaeologists have discovered many subterranean tunnels, reservoirs, and possibly an ancient room that was used for animal sacrifices. Also discovered beneath the City of David is Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Gihon Spring. On the southwest side of the city is the Pool of Siloam.
City of the David = Zion
We begin our investigating of the real temple mount by turning to the Bible. As with so many other truths, Yahweh’s Word holds the key in unlocking the truth as to where the original temple stood. Following is a compilation of Scripture confirming that the City of David and Mount Zion (i.e., the location of the temple) are synonymous:
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David,” 2Samuel 5:7. This passage clearly states that Zion and the city of David are the same. This point is critically important, as Scripture also shows that Mount Zion was the location of the temple.
“And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David,” 1Chronicles 11:5. As noted in the previous passage, 1Chronicles 11 confirms that Zion is also the City of David. The word “castle” here comes from the Hebrew matsuwd and refers to a place of defense. Because Jebus was located between the Kidron and Central valleys, it was a well defensible area.
“In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion,” Psalm 76:2. The word “Salem” derives from the Hebrew shalem. Strong’s states that this word is “an early name of Jerusalem.” This passage is critically important, as it shows a connection between the ancient City of David, the temple, and Zion and offers indisputable evidence for the temple location within ancient Jerusalem and not on the Haram esh-Sharif, or Temple Mount.
Remember that the old City of David was only a 12-acre plot of land between the Kidron and Central valleys. It did not include the 36-acre Temple Mount located a third of a mile north. The current Temple Mount platform was developed much later.
Using only the Bible as a roadmap and knowing the location for the ancient City of David, a strong case can be made that the temple was within the City of David and not on today’s Temple Mount. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
The Akra, Millo, and Ophel
When it comes to the location of the temple, there are three terms to understand – the Akra, Millo, and Ophel. The Akra was another name of the City of David. The Millo was a ravine that King Solomon filled in. And the Ophel is where the temple was likely located.
In 2Samuel 5:9 we find a description of the boundaries of ancient Jerusalem during the reign of King David: “So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.”
The word “fort” refers to the impregnability of the City of David. This was owing to its location between the Kidron and Tyropoeon valleys. We see that David built his city from the Millo inward. This ravine separated ancient Jerusalem from the Ophel.
Scripture shows that Solomon later filled in this ravine: “And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father,” 1Kings 11:27.
The word “repaired” here comes from the Hebrew cagar and is a primitive root, meaning, “to shut up,” Strong’s. By filling in the Millo, Solomon connected the City of David with the Ophel.
This is why Psalm 122:3 describes Jerusalem as a city “compact together.” The word “compact” comes from the Hebrew chabar and according to Strong’s means to “join.” When Solomon filled in the Millo, he enlarged the City of David by joining it with the Ophel.
According to 1Maccabees 13:52, the Ophel is the location of the temple. The KJV with Apocrypha reads, “…Moreover the hill of the temple that was by the tower he made stronger than it was, and there he dwelt himself with his company.” As a secondary reference, the Catholic Study Bible states, “…He also strengthened the fortifications of the temple mount alongside the citadel, and he and his people dwelt there.”
Even though Maccabees is not considered inspired or part of the canon of Scripture, it still offers invaluable historical insight during the time of the Maccabees and Hasmoneans.
This citation says the biblical temple mount or “temple hill” was located alongside the tower or citadel. This is conclusive evidence that the temple was alongside the City of David. This also places the biblical Temple Mount approximately a third of a mile south of the traditional Temple Mount.
Temple Built Over a Threshing Floor
Another biblical clue to the location of the temple is the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, found in 2Chronicles 3:1, “Then Solomon began to build the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where Yahweh appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
The mention here of Mount Moriah is important. As Zion was synonymous with the City of David, Zion was also synonymous with the location of the temple, i.e., Mount Moriah. Therefore, the Bible connects the City of David, Zion, and Mount Moriah.
The threshing floor where Solomon built the temple belonged to a Jebusite. This fact suggests that it was likely within the borders of the Jebusite city. So, this would place the threshing floor within the City of David and not on today’s Temple Mount. Remember that what is called the Temple Mount today is a third of a mile from the ancient Jebusite city.
(Example of a threshing floor at Jorge Island, Azores)
A threshing floor was an area where farmers would separate the grain from the straw and husks. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia states, “The threshing-floors are constructed in the fields, preferably in an exposed position in order to get the full benefit of the winds. If there is a danger of marauders they are clustered together close to the village. The floor is a level, circular area 25 to 40 ft. in diameter, prepared by first picking out the stones, and then wetting the ground, tamping or rolling it, and finally sweeping it. A border of stones usually surrounds the floor to keep in the grain. The sheaves of grain which have been brought on the backs of men, donkeys, camels, or oxen, are heaped on this area, and the process of tramping out begins. In some localities several animals, commonly oxen or donkeys, are tied abreast and driven round and round the floor. In other places two oxen are yoked together to a drag, the bottom of which is studded with pieces of basaltic stone. This drag, on which the driver, and perhaps his family, sits or stands, is driven in a circular path over the grain.”
The surface of a threshing floor had to be flat, smooth, and hard to allow oxen to tread the grain. It must also be in a location where there would be sufficient wind to separate the grain. This is key as it pertains to the temple.
Most believe that Ornan’s threshing floor was under the Dome of Rock on the traditional Temple Mount. The problem is, as seen in the photo Below, the rocky floor of the Dome of the Rock is not flat or even. This fact alone makes it highly unlikely this area served as a threshing floor.
Since the Temple Mount location is the highest of the three hills when compared to the City of David and Ophel, many claim that with the wind conditions the threshing floor would be better suited on the Temple Mount. While it’s true that the elevation of the traditional Temple Mount is higher than the City of David and Ophel, such elevation is not mandatory as the wind blows everywhere.
Jagged and uneven rock floor inside the Dome of the Rock – how can this be a threshing floor?
Another issue with the threshing floor being located on the traditional Temple Mount is that threshing floors were prone to thievery. “Threshing-floors are in danger of being robbed (1Sam 23:1). For this reason, someone always sleeps on the floor until the grain is removed (Ruth 3:7). In Syria, at the threshing season, it is customary for the family to move out to the vicinity of the threshing-floor. A booth is constructed for shade; the mother prepares the meals and takes her turn with the father and children at riding on the sledge,” Ibid, Threshing-Floor.
Does it make sense that Ornan and his family would place their threshing floor a third of a mile from the “fort”? Keep in mind that during this time the traditional Temple Mount contained no walls or defense. It was completely open to attack. It is far more likely that Ornan’s threshing floor was within the confines of the old Jebusite city and not on an unguarded hill a third of a mile away.
The Gihon Spring and Necessity of Water
One of the most compelling reasons for the temple being located within the City of David is the location of the Gihon Spring. This spring sits along the Kidron Valley near the ancient City of David. The Gihon is one of the world’s largest intermittent springs and made life possible for ancient Jerusalem. While the water from the spring was used for irrigation in the Kidron, it was also central to temple worship.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary speaks to the ancient and modern history of this famous spring, “The intermittent spring that constituted Jerusalem’s most ancient water supply, situated in the Kidron Valley just below the eastern hill (Ophel). This abundant source of water was entirely covered over and concealed from outside the walls and was conducted by a specially built conduit to a pool within the walls where a besieged city could get all the water it needed. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find abundant water?’ the people queried in the time of Hezekiah (2 Chron 32:2-4). Hezekiah’s Tunnel, 1,777 feet long, hewn out of the solid rock and comparable to the tunnels at Megiddo and Gezer, conducted the water to a reservoir within the city. From the top of Ophel the ancient Jebusites (c. 2000 B.C.) had cut a passage through the rock where waterpots could be let down a 40-foot shaft to receive the water in the pool 50 feet back from the Gihon. Early excavations at Jerusalem by the Palestine Exploration Fund under the direction of Sir Charles Warren (1867) resulted in finding the 40-foot rock-cut shaft. It is now known as Warren’s Shaft. Conrad Shick in 1891 discovered an ancient surface canal that conveyed water from the Gihon Spring to the old pool of Siloam, located just within the SE extremity of the ancient city. Isaiah seems to have alluded to the softly flowing waters of this gentle brook when he spoke poetically of ‘the gently flowing waters of Shiloah’ (Isa 8:6),” “Gihon.”
Without the Gihon there would have been no Jebusite city for David to conquer. Jerusalem today would likely not exist without this spring. The Gihon Spring is just east of the Ophel, which joins the ancient city of David. Knowing that the Gihon is the only major water source in Jerusalem, does it make sense that Israel would have built their temple on the traditional Temple Mount a third of a mile away from their only water source?
This is especially perplexing considering the thousands of animals that Israel sacrificed on the Sabbath and annual Feast days for which thousands of gallons of water would have been needed then and daily.
History says that Rome built aqueducts from Bethlehem to the Temple Mount. While this theoretically could have provided a water source for Herod’s temple, it could not have for Solomon’s. So while there is evidence for ancient reservoirs beneath the traditional Temple Mount dating to the time of Rome, there is no evidence of a water source prior to Rome’s rule. This presents a real problem for the traditional Temple Mount site.
Ancient Witnesses to Temple Location
History speaks of 70 Jewish families who relocated from Tiberius to Jerusalem in the 7th century CE. Tiberius is located in northern Israel along the Sea of Galilee. Reuvin Hammer, in his book Jerusalem Anthology, describes this relocation: “Omar decreed that seventy households should come. They agreed to that. After that he asked: ‘Where do you wish to live within the city?’ They replied, ‘In the southern section of the city, which is the market of the Jews.’ Their request was to enable them to be near the site of the Temple and its gates, as well as to the water of Shiloah, which could be used for immersion. This was granted them by Omar, the Emir of the Believers.”
Omar was the companion of Mohammed and the second caliph or Islamic leader in Islam.
Several important points need to be made here. These Jewish families insisted on the southern section of the city, near the Pool of Siloam. There is only one section of Jerusalem that is in the southern portion and contains the Pool of Siloam and that is the ancient City of David.
According to these Jewish families, this was also the area where the temple once stood. This is hard evidence for the temple location within the City of David and not on the traditional Temple Mount. This author also states that the water from the Pool of Siloam could be used for immersions, which would have included ceremonial washings. That water source was the Gihon Spring.
The fact that water from the Gihon could be used for ceremonial purposes verifies that not all water was equal. It also adds credence to the importance of the Gihon for temple worship. Again this begs the question why the Jews would have built their temple so far from their only water source. Such an idea seems completely preposterous.
A Gushing Spring
The smoking gun for the temple as it relates to the Gihon Spring is eyewitness testimony of a spring-like reservoir within the temple precincts. Two men provide evidence for this.
The first eyewitness to confirm this fact is a man named Aristeas, a Jew who lived during the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. Eusebius, the 4th century church historian, records his account.
“There is an inexhaustible reservoir of water, as would be expected from an abundant spring gushing up naturally from within; there being moreover wonderful and indescribable cisterns underground, of five furlongs, according to their showing, all around the foundation of the Temple, and countless pipes from them, so that the streams on every side met together. And all these have been fastened with lead at the bottom of the side-walls, and over these has been spread a great quantity of plaster, all having been carefully wrought,” Eusebius’ recording of Aristeas, chapter 38.
Aristeas was an eyewitness to the temple location from the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. This was not Herod’s temple, but the temple of Ezra and Nehemiah. Aristeas said that there was an “inexhaustible reservoir of water, as would be expected from an abundant spring gushing up naturally from within.”
The only spring within Jerusalem is the Gihon. If what this eyewitness said is true, the only possible location for the Temple would be within the City of David and above the Gihon Spring.
Remarkably, Aristeas is not the only eyewitness of a spring-like reservoir within the temple area. Tacitus, a Roman historian dating to the 2nd century CE, describes a similar account. He states, “The temple resembled a citadel, and had its own walls, which were more laboriously constructed than the others. Even the colonnades with which it was surrounded formed an admirable outwork. It contained an inexhaustible spring; there were subterranean excavations in the hill, and tanks and cisterns for holding rainwater. The founders of the state had foreseen that frequent wars would result from the singularity of its customs, and so had made very provision against the most protracted siege,” The History of Tacitus, p. 199.
Before describing what Tacitus saw, it should be noted that this man lived nearly 400 years after Aristeas and was not a Jew, but a Roman. He would have also been referring to Herod’s temple and not to the temple during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. However, even with these differences, both men refer to an inexhaustible spring within the temple. Again, the only spring they refer to is the Gihon, as the only spring and major water source within the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Tacitus also describes subterranean excavations or tunnels in the hill along with cisterns for holding rainwater. There are many subterranean tunnels and cisterns within the City of David. The sheer size and number of tunnels is astonishing. This provides additional credibility to the ancient City of David and not the traditional Temple Mount.
Along with these eyewitness accounts, Joel 3:18 provides a prophetic description of the future temple and shows similar evidence of a spring. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine,and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of Yahweh, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”
This is a future prophecy of the temple within the millennial Kingdom. Joel confirms here that a fountain will spring forth from underneath the temple, i.e., house of Yahweh. Not only do we have ancient eyewitness testimonies that the temple contained a spring-like reservoir gushing up from underneath the temple precincts, but a similar account is also provided by the prophet Joel as to the future temple.
These facts present a real problem for those who claim that the temple was on the traditional Temple Mount. The only way to reconcile the accounts from Aristeas, Tacitus, and the Book of Joel is to relocate the temple from the traditional Temple Mount to the Ophel, near the Gihon Spring.
Not One Stone Left on Another
Possibly the greatest evidence for the temple’s real location are in the prophecies spoken by Yahshua the Messiah. “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Yahshua answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Mark 13:1-2.
Mark 13, along with Matthew 24 and Luke 21, is known as the Olivet Prophecy. This passage begins with a disciple admiring the stones of the temple. In response, Yahshua said that these great buildings would be torn down with not one stone remaining.
Yahshua used the word “buildings.” Many who believe that the temple was located on the traditional Temple Mount will contend that Yahshua was referring only to the inner sanctuary and not to the entire temple complex. They do this to explain why the western wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, still stands.
This wall is the holiest site in Judaism. Tradition says that this wall was part of the outer western wall of Herod’s Temple. As a side note there’s debate as to whether this wall was even built by Herod. Eli Shukron, an archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, found a coin at the base of the Wailing Wall dating back to around 18 CE, 20 years after King Herod. Based on this, this wall was likely not built by King Herod, but by Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson.
When Yahshua gave this prophecy, Mark 13 records that He and the disciples were on the Mount of Olives looking back to the temple. From this location He would have viewed not only the inner sanctuary of the temple, but the entire temple precincts. With this in mind, along with the fact that He uses the word “buildings,” it seems unlikely that He was referring only to the inner sanctuary. It is far more probable that He was referring to the entire temple platform, which would have included the outer western wall. And remember, He stated that not one stone would remain upon another. Based on this prophecy and the known facts, how is it possible that the Wailing Wall remains today? There is no satisfactory explanation. Either Yahshua exaggerated or the Temple Mount is not the location of the ancient temple and this wall belongs to something else entirely.
Antiquity Supports Destruction
In addition to Yahshua’s prophecy, there is extensive evidence from antiquity to the destruction of the temple. Both Jewish and Christian sources confirm similar ruin. In fact, not only do they validate what Yahshua stated, but do so in a manner that verifies the destruction included not only the inner sanctuary, but also the entire platform, with the outer walls. One of the most well-known accounts is by Flavius Josephus.
Josephus lived between 37 and 100 CE and is one of the most renowned scholars and historians of the first century. He lived before and after the temple was destroyed. Therefore, this man
Flavius Josephus 37–100 CE
provides invaluable firsthand testimony of this destruction. Josephus in War of the Jews recounts, “I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our Holy Temple dug up, after so profane a manner” (Book VII, ch. 8).
The reference to “profane” here verifies that the Romans had no reverence for the temple. Even more importantly, Josephus states the foundation stones themselves were dug up and removed. Based on this extreme destruction, it’s hard to believe that Rome would have allowed the foundation stones of the current Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall to remain standing.
Evidence for the destruction of the entire temple platform is also found from Epiphanius of Salamis, a fourth century bishop in Cyprus. In his work, On Weights and Measures, he testifies to this destruction. “It was the second year of his reign when he [Hadrian] went up to Jerusalem, the famous and much-praised city which had been destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. He found it utterly destroyed and God’s Holy Temple a ruin, there being nothing where the city had stood but a few dwellings and one small church,” pp. 17-18.
Epiphanius records the eyewitness account of Emperor Hadrian. He states that Hadrian visited Jerusalem two years into his reign, approximately 119 CE. When he arrived, he was amazed at the devastation the city suffered under the Roman General Titus. He confirms that the temple was in ruins and that Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. Considering this, is it reasonable to believe that Titus would have allowed the foundations of the Temple Mount along with a large portion of the western wall to remain? This is highly unlikely. Another who provides insight into the temple’s destruction is Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius lived during the fourth century and was a historian, scholar, and bishop of Caesarea Maritima. He is one of the most well-known historians of the early church. In his work, Proof of the Gospel, he states the following: “Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood. If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge”
(Bk. VI, ch.13, sect. 273).
1910 aerial view of Jerusalem. The City of David is literally farm land.
Eusebius laments how such a place could have been so devastated that it was reduced to a plot of farmland where the oxen ploughed. Considering this description from Eusebius, is it realistic to believe that the foundation stones along with the western wall of the current Temple Mount were intact after the invasion of the Roman army? As we saw from Josephus and Epiphanius, such a conclusion is nearly impossible to draw. Later in this same work, Eusebius states, “The hill called Sion and Jerusalem, the buildings there, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else there was dedicated to the glory of God, [has] been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfillment of the Word” (Book VIII, ch.3, sect. 405). Eusebius states that the total destruction included the temple, the Holy of Holies, and all that was considered holy–hence the entire temple complex, including the outer walls. Eusebius astoundingly states, “Their ancient holy place, at any rate, and their Temple are to this day as much destroyed as Sodom” (Ibid, Book V, ch.23, sect. 250). Eusebius compares the destruction of the temple to the devastation of Sodom in the Old Testament. During our 2016 pilgrimage to Israel we visited what many believe is the ancient city of Gomorrah. As we know, Gomorrah suffered the same fate as Sodom.
As can be seen below in the image of Gomorrah, nothing remains of this ancient city, now reduced to rubble. Except for ash and a few remaining sulfur balls, Gomorrah today is a wasteland. Assuming that Eusebius was not exaggerating, is it possible that the Roman army left the foundation of the temple and Wailing Wall unscathed? Doubtful.
Jerusalem Itself Razed
In addition to the temple, Yahshua also prophesied a similar fate for the city of Jerusalem. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had
only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another,’” Luke 19:41-44, NIV.
Possible sight of Gomorrah, near Masada
Yahshua’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction was fulfilled. It’s amazing how history validates the Bible. Archaeology and scholarship have overwhelmingly confirmed the accuracy of the Bible.
Similar to what Yahshua said about the temple, He says here regarding Jerusalem. He verifies that not one stone would be left upon another. And as we know through antiquity, Jerusalem’s destruction was so great that the city was hardly identifiable.
According to Josephus in Wars of the Jews, “And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor if anyone that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again” (Book VI. ch.1).
Rome’s destruction of the city made Jerusalem unrecognizable. This once grand city had been reduced to rubble. Josephus describes the city as “desolate.” He goes on to say that even those who were familiar with the city would not have known it after Rome’s destruction.
Knowing that the temple was the central focus of Jerusalem, how is it possible to reconcile this description with the remaining foundation of the traditional Temple Mount and the western wall? Considering that these objects would have been well known and easily identifiable, how is it possible that even those who were familiar with the city before would not have recognized it afterward?
Josephus also describes this destruction in Book VVI, chapter 7, “As he came to Jerusalem in his progress, and compared the melancholy condition he saw it then in, with the ancient glory of the city with the greatness of its present ruins (as well as its ancient splendor). He could not but pity the destruction of the city … Yet there was no small quantity of the riches that had been in that city still found among the ruins, a great deal of which the Romans dug up; but the greatest part was discovered by those who were captives, and so they [the Romans] carried it away; I mean the gold and the silver, and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had, and which the owners had treasured up under ground against the uncertainties of war,” Ibid.
Not only was the entire city of Jerusalem destroyed, but much of it was dug up. After Jerusalem fell to the Romans, the army began looking for valuables, including gold and silver. To hide many of these valuables, many Jews buried them. So not only was the city completely demolished, but they also excavated the very foundation stones, including within the temple precincts, looking for plunder. This confirms Yahshua’s prophecy that not one stone would remain, including the foundation stones. Based on this, it’s hard to fathom how anything substantial would have remained within the city or temple platform, especially considering the ornateness of the temple. It’s likely that the temple was ground zero for many of these Romans who desecrated the holy place for personal gain.
In addition to the Jewish historian Josephus, we also find evidence for Jerusalem’s destruction from the early church. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century bishop and Nicene Father, also gives an account of Jerusalem’s desolation, “Up to the time of the manifestation of Christ the royal palaces in Jerusalem were in all their splendor: there was their far-famed Temple, … [but now] no traces even of their Temple can be recognized, and their splendid city has been left in ruins, so that there remains to the Jews nothing of the ancient institutions; while by the command of those who rule over them the very ground of Jerusalem which they so venerated is forbidden to them,” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, p. 940.
Gregory of Nyssa states that no traces of the temple were left. We know that the Temple Mount foundation along with the Wailing Wall existed during the fourth century. How is it possible that such prominent landmarks were missed? How is it possible that no traces of the temple remained if large portions of the foundation and walls of the temple remained? The logical answer is, what is called the Temple Mount today is not the location of the temple.
South end of the Western Wall.
The Remaining Monument a Roman Wall
We find a clue as to what the Temple Mount was from Josephus in Wars of the Jews. He states, “And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but that monument of it preserved, I mean the camp of those that hath destroyed it” (Book 7, ch. 8).
Josephus, quoting Eleazar Ben Ya’ir, commander and leader of the Sicarii, painted a dreadful picture of the ancient city of Jerusalem. He described how the once crown jewel of the Jewish nation had been demolished down to its very foundation and how only one monument remained, i.e., the camp.
What camp was Josephus referring to? From a historical standpoint, the only possible answer is Fortress Antonia. This was the Roman camp or fort that existed during the time of the Messiah and after the destruction of Jerusalem. So according to Josephus, the only substantial structure that remained after Rome’s demolition of Jerusalem was this Roman fort. Everything else within the city was demolished.
Where was Fortress Antonia located? The only plausible answer is the traditional Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are located. Again, Josephus confirms that the only remaining structure was the Roman fort and there is only one major structure that still exists today within the city of Jerusalem from that time period – the traditional Temple Mount platform. This means that the current Temple Mount along with the Wailing Wall was not part of the temple, but of Fortress Antonia.
Before we go any further with Fortress Antonia, let’s first review the Roman Tenth Legion.
Rome’s Tenth Legion Stationed There
From newhistorian.com we learn about the location and history of this military power: “Bricks from the bathhouse were stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion, which was part of the takeover of Jewish Yerushalayim. Its soldiers were garrisoned there until 300 CE. The Tenth Roman Legion (Legio X Fretensis) was created by Augustus Caesar between 41 and 40 BCE, specifically to fight in the civil war which marked the beginning of the end of the Republic of Rome. The tenth legion existed until at least the 410’s,” Reminders of the Tenth Roman Legion Unearthed in Jerusalem.
A key fact is that the Roman Tenth Legion was an actual legion, coming from the Latin legio. We’ll see later why this is important. We also find here that the Tenth Legion was stationed in Jerusalem until about 300 CE and existed until the 410s. Long after Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans, the Tenth Legion remained there for nearly 200 years.
Imperial Roman legionaries in formation
A Legion Is Like a City French author, Yann Le Bohec, describes the number and complexity of a typical Roman camp: “With almost 5000 men, a legionary camp was the equivalent of a town. Consequently everything that was essential for the daily life of such a community — hospital, stores, workshops, baths, as well as public lavatories — was to be found,” The Imperial Roman Army, p. 160.
Besides the 5,000 men was the support staff. According to some, a support staff would have added several thousand more. A legionary camp was equivalent to an average town, including stores, workshops, baths, and many other necessities.
The Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature states, “The legion appears to have originally contained about 3000 men, and to have risen gradually to twice that number, or even more. In and about the time of Christ it seems to have consisted of 6000 men, and this was exclusive of horsemen, who usually formed an additional body amounting. to one tenth of the infantry,” Vol. V, “Legion,” p. 329.
In all, a typical Roman legion could have had as many as 10,000 people.
Now why is this number important? It verifies that the current model of Fortress Antonia as shown by scholarship could not be right. As seen in the model of Fortress Antonia as displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, it would be impossible to accommodate more than a few hundred troops (see image page 25).
So how does scholarship explain this discrepancy? Many claim that the Roman Tenth Legion was not a legion, but a cohort, containing about 600 men. There are two issues with this: (1) By definition, the Tenth Legion was not a cohort, but a legion, coming from the Latin Legio X Fretensis, meaning, “Tenth legion of the Strait” and 2) a typical legionary camp or fortress was the size of a city. Therefore, based on this evidence, the traditional model at the Israel Museum is likely incorrect.
Recreation of the legionary fortress of Deva. Notice how small the amphitheater looks in comparison
Besides the inaccuracies we have already seen, Josephus, an eyewitness to this Roman fortress, provides several important facts that modern scholarship seems to overlook.
First, Josephus states in Antiquities of the Jews, “Now on the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel was built by the Kings of the Asamonean race, who were also High Priests, before Herod; and they called it the tower…But for the tower itself, when Herod the King of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius; who was his friend, and the Roman ruler; and then gave it the name of the tower of Antonia” (Book XV, ch.11).
Thirty-six acre Harem El Sharif, originally Fortress Antonia
Josephus further provides somewhat of a lengthy but crucial description of Fortress Antonia in War of the Jews: “Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two cloisters of the court of the Temple; of that on the west, and that on the north. It was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a great precipice. It was the work of King Herod, wherein he demonstrated his natural magnanimity. In the first place, the rock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it. Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits. The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be composed of several cities.
By its magnificence it seemed a palace. And as the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high, that from thence the whole Temple might be viewed, but on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the Temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion) went several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make any innovations; for the Temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the Temple, and in that tower were the guards of those three. There was also a peculiar fortress belonging to the upper city, which was Herod’s palace, but for the hill Bezetha, it was divided from the tower Antonia, as we have already told you, and as that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three, so did it adjoin to the new city, and was the only place that hindered the sight of the Temple on the north.” (Book 5, ch.8).
We learn a great deal from these two accounts from Josephus. Below is a summary highlighting the major or crucial points:
• Fortress Antonia was originally a fortress built by the Hasmoneans, i.e., Maccabees.
• Herod further fortified the fortress to protect the temple and gave it the name “Fortress Antonia” in honor of Mark Anthony.
• The temple and Fortress Antonia were connected by two cloisters, i.e., covered bridges, (Wars VI, 2, 144 confirms this distance at 600 feet).
• A typical Roman fortress contained all kinds of conveniences (e.g. courts,
places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps), similar to an actual city.
• Fortress Antonia had four distinct towers at its four corners measuring 50
cubits (75 feet), except for the southeast corner, which measured 70 cubits (105
feet) high, from which the temple could be viewed.
• Fortress Antonia housed the Tenth Roman Legion, of approximately 6,000
• As the temple was to guard Jerusalem, Fortress Antonia was to guard the
• Fortress Antonia was located on the highest of the three hills.
• Looking from the north, Fortress Antonia blocked the view of the temple.
Several points here are inconsistent with the model at the Israel Museum in
Jerusalem. (See below.)
Missing Connectors and Hills
Josephus mentions two covered bridges that connected the temple and Fortress Antonia. No such bridges exist in the Avi-Yona model at the Israel Museum. Also, the description of the fort resembling a city and housing a 6,000-man army does not fit the current model, as it is far too small. We also find inconsistencies with the towers. The towers depicted on the model have four equal-length towers, while Josephus clearly states that the tower overlooking the temple was 25 additional cubits. He also stated that the fort obscured or blocked the view of the temple from the north. This is certainly not depicted by the model. Another major problem between the model and Josephus’ account is the fact that the fortress was on the third highest hill.
Neither of these last two points is depicted by the model at the Israel Museum. However, if the temple was within the City of David on the Ophel, and Fortress Antonia was on the Temple Mount or the Haram esh-Sharif, everything falls into place. When you survey the City of David, the Ophel, and the Temple Mount area, the Temple Mount area is on the third highest hill and also obscures the Ophel and the City of David from the north.
Roman siege camp F can still be seen today from Masada, Israel
Roman Fortresses Built Alike Another indication for the traditional Temple Mount being the location of Fortress Antonia is the fact that it shares similar dimensions with other legionary camps. The Temple Mount platform is 36 acres in size with the eastern wall measuring 1,541 feet, the southern wall measuring 918 feet, the western wall measuring 1,601 feet, and the northern wall measuring 1,033 feet. While the Temple Mount resembles a rectangle, it is in fact a trapezoid.
This shape is similar to other Roman forts. For example, there is a Roman fortress in Caerleon, Wales, dating to 75 CE. It measures a total of 50 acres. It is believed that this particular fort housed the Second Roman Legion, of approximately 5,500 men.
Another is in Neuss, Germany, dating to 80 CE. The size is 59 acres and possibly housed the Nineteenth Roman Legion. There are remains of a Roman fort from Haltern, Germany, with a total size of 85 acres. It’s thought this fort housed two Roman legions.
The size and shape of these Roman fortresses strongly resemble the area known as the Temple Mount. Could this only be coincidence? It is highly doubtful. It is far more likely that these similarities offer additional evidence for the Temple Mount platform being the location of Fortress Antonia. One fact is certain: the model at the Israel Museum does not fit the description from Josephus or what archaeology confirms regarding a Roman fort or legionary camp.
The Paul Dilemma
A final piece of evidence for the Temple Mount being the location of Fortress Antonia comes from the 23rd chapter of Acts. “The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks…Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, ‘Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight,’” vv. 10, 23, NIV.
Due to a dispute caused partially by Paul, the Romans were forced to fetch Paul from the temple to the barracks, i.e., Fortress Antonia. Notice that the men who retrieved Paul came DOWN from the barracks to the temple. This shows that the Roman fortress was at a higher elevation than the temple and verifies Josephus’ account that Fortress Antonia was on the third highest of the three hills.
We also see here that Rome provided two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to escort Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea, a total of 470 men. Again, some theorize that the Tenth Legion was not a legion, but a cohort. In other words, they claim that instead of 6,000 men, Fortress Antonia housed only 600 men.
Knowing that Rome provided Paul with 470 men, is it reasonable to assume that the Roman Tenth Legion consisted of only a cohort? If true, this means that they gave 78 percent of their military force to escort one man and leaving only 22 percent to guard the entire city of Jerusalem. This is highly improbable! However, assuming that the Tenth Roman Legion was an actual legion of 6,000 men, 470 men is possible, especially because Paul was a Roman citizen.
While this theory of the temple’s actual location is not salvational, it is a belief that may hold a crucial key to future prophecy. The Bible is clear that a third temple will be rebuilt before Yahshua’s coming.
Yahshua in Matthew 24:15 states, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:).” The phrase “holy place” is an allusion to the Holy of Holies within the temple.
Paul also describes a temple in 2Thessalonians 2:3-4: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called Elohim, or that is worshipped; so
that he as Elohim sitteth in the temple of Elohim, shewing himself that he is Elohim.” Paul clearly states here that the son of perdition or anti-messiah will sit in a temple exalting himself as elohim or as a god to be worshiped.
As a final reference, John of Patmos in Revelation 11:1-2 records, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of Elohim, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” John not only confirms here a temple, but also describes the outer court.
Based on this and the two previous accounts, there is little doubt that a third temple will be rebuilt prior to the return of Yahshua the Messiah. Assuming that the temple was originally located within the City of David, as indicated by the evidence, and Jewish scholarship accepted this conclusion, this could radically impact future prophecy.
It is for this reason that this theory is important. While many are looking to the traditional Temple Mount as the location for the third temple, the actual location may be elsewhere. If this is the case, as seems to be supported by Scripture and antiquity, and is ever accepted by the Jews, this could provide an alternate location for the temple and shock millions in the process.
Why do half of all marriages end in divorce today? What is missing from marital relationships? How can we improve our own marriages and ensure that they are a blessing? In this booklet we offer practical answers to these questions and much more from the pages of the Bible.
It’s our hope that this guide will strengthen your own marriage and that you in turn would be an example and blessing to others. If married, we encourage both you and your spouse to read this with a desire to better your marriage. Stop and discuss each section and focus on ways to improve your current relationship. The information in this publication will benefit all marriages.
Major Topics in this Booklet:
Respecting divine order
Mutual love and respect
Forgiveness and a spirit of peace
Romance and intimacy
Till death do us part
Yahweh recognized a problem with the creation of Adam, the first man. While he created male and female in the animal kingdom, Adam was all alone. So He created for Adam a “help meet.” Let’s begin by discussing what it means to respect divine order.
We see this principle in Genesis 2:18: “And Yahweh Elohim said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” The phrase “help meet” comes from two Hebrew words. The word “help” is the Hebrew ezer and refers to an aid, while the word “meet” derives from the Hebrew neged, meaning a counterpart or mate. A “help meet” refers to an aid or helper as a counterpart to the other.
In addition to being a help to Adam, Eve also served to balance Adam. Nobody knows you better than your spouse. A spouse knows your strengths and also your faults, and because of this they normally help you become a better and more balanced person. If the relationship in a marriage is toxic, the spouse can also be a detriment.
It’s also important to realize that while Eve was created as a helpmate to Adam, Adam was also a helpmate to Eve. In marriage it’s never a one-way street; the principles we find in our Father’s Word for a healthy marriage apply to both the husband and wife. This is not to say, however, that the husband and wife share the same authority.
Divine Order in Marriage
Yahweh in Genesis 3:16 provides a divine order in the marital covenant: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
Here the Bible records Eve’s punishment for eating of the forbidden fruit. Yahweh says she would give birth in pain and that her desire would be to her husband and that he would rule over her. The word “rule” comes from the Hebrew mashal and means “to rule, to have dominion, to reign,” Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon.
So the husband is over the wife in authority. Now even though this goes against the grain of today’s liberal movement, it is the inspired truth from our Heavenly Father. It wasn’t too long ago when most spouses understood and embraced this principle.
A balanced approach is essential. The husband is the head or final authority in the marriage. He should be shown respect by his wife and children. However, this authority does not mean that he should dictate, make unreasonable demands or be abusive to the family.
As we will show, the husband’s position parallels the Messiah’s over the assembly. While the assembly follows Yahshua’s lead, Yahshua was never unreasonable or abusive to the assembly, and neither should husbands be to their families.
It’s important to keep in mind that while the husband is the scriptural head of the wife, the husband and wife should make decisions together. Husband and wife form a partnership. For a marriage to succeed the two must work together and find unity. For example, before making any large purchases the husband and wife should discuss and agree on it together. Just because the man is the scriptural head within the marriage covenant doesn’t mean he should make important decisions in a vacuum.
What happens if the husband abuses his role as the authority? What will be the result if he dictates important decisions within the marriage without first consulting his wife? He will create unnecessary strife and animosity within that marriage.
What about those moments when the husband and wife disagree and may not be able to find common ground? The husband must then consider all viewpoints, especially from his wife, and make a decision that’s best for the family. In turn the wife should respect that decision.
Parallels to the Messiah
The Apostle Paul in the fifth chapter of Ephesians compares the marriage covenant to Yahshua the Messiah and the assembly. He writes, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Master. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Messiah is the head of the assembly: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the assembly is subject unto Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything,” verses 22-24.
Paul explains the parallel between marriage and Yahshua’s position with the assembly. The husband represents the Messiah and the wife the assembly. As the assembly is to obey and follow the Messiah the wife must do the same with her husband.
There are two caveats here. Under no circumstance does the Bible permit abuse. Separation is an option where abuse is occurring. Also, as believers we must always obey Yahweh first. For example, a Believer wife must not break the Sabbath, even if pressured by her husband.
Now as the wife is to obey her husband, the husband is to emulate Yahshua the Messiah. Yahshua never abused the assembly. On the contrary, He gave everything for the assembly, including His own life. The husband is to follow Yahshua in that.
His decisions should never be made out of selfish desires that will hurt the family. He must consider himself last and the family first. Husbands should remember that when someone is given authority they are judged more harshly by Yahweh.
Biblically the assembly is to show double honor to ministers, but James also writes that ministers will receive the heavier condemnation. The same principle applies to the husband. For a marriage to be successful it’s important that the husband and wife respect this divine order. It was inspired from Yahweh and is the pattern that believers are to follow.
Communication that Builds
Another key to a successful marriage is righteous communication. Scripture has much to say about how we should be communicating in our relationships.
James 1:19 states, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Do you realize that the majority of marital arguments could be resolved if this were followed?
A man in the faith once exemplified this passage. He was always somewhat slow in his response. It wasn’t his intelligence that made him think before answering, he was slow on purpose. Before he said anything he thought carefully about his words. How thoughtful are we with our words; do we think before we say something or are we rash in our responses?
While this principle is important for all relationships, it’s especially important in marriage. Many marriages end in divorce not because of large issues but because of small disagreements that accumulate over time. If all spouses followed this standard they would save themselves a lot of unnecessary grief. Let us remember to be quick to listen and slow to speak. As the saying goes, Yahweh gave us two ears and only one mouth.
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:25 provides another principle regarding communication. He says, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”
Honesty in marriage is a moral obligation that we have not only as spouses, but also as believers. When trust is broken, relationships will often not succeed. While this principle is important to all relationships, it’s crucial within marriage.
One of the hardest trials to overcome in marriage is distrust between husband and wife. According to an ABC News article, “About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. The rate is even higher among married men. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives.” Sadly, many of these relationships end in divorce.
Often it’s not the actual adultery that causes the divorce but the long series of lies and deceit. If as a spouse we’ve done something wrong the worst thing we can do is to conceal it with lies and deception. Where there’s trust and honesty in a relationship most problems can be resolved.
Now keep in mind that while resolution may be possible it may not always be easy or happen quickly. Depending on the infraction it may take time to restore trust. Believers should always exercise compassion and be willing to forgive if sincere remorse is forthcoming. Our Heavenly Father forgave us by giving His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins when we were yet sinners.
Solomon in Proverbs 25:11 also provides insight on how we’re to communicate. He said, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” What Solomon meant, according to Matthew Henry, was “…that which runs well, is well-circumstanced, in proper time and place instruction, advice, or comfort, given seasonably, and in apt expressions, adapted to the case of the person spoken to and agreeing with the character of the person speaking.”
We should try to speak when the circumstance and opportunity are right. Anyone who’s been married for any length of time knows there are days when certain discussions should be avoided. If you come home and realize that your spouse has had a bad day, it isn’t the best time to discuss something that may be contentious. Look for the right opportunity.
We should also consider the words we use. There’s more than one way to say anything. We should avoid words that may cause greater aggravation or intensify the situation. Instead, we should be considerate and thoughtful in our choice of words. Choosing the right words can make all the difference in our relationships.
We should also be cognizant of our tone and body language. We can say the same words in different ways just by our gestures and expressions. According to author Albert Mehrabian in his book Silent Messages, 55 percent of communication is expressed through body language and 38 percent is through our tone. While there is debate on Mehrabian’s conclusion, there is no argument that much of our communication is nonverbal. For this reason we should be especially careful in our physical stance and tone when communicating.
As a side note, this is often why email and text messaging prove problematic. Because the recipient is unable to see nonverbal cues he or she often makes false assumptions. The message may be seen as combative when this was not the sender’s intent.
Another key to a successful marriage is mutual love and respect. The Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 13 provides one of the best definitions of love. He writes, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…,” verses 4-5a, NIV.
When most think of love they think of an emotion. The fact is love is much more than an emotion. It’s an action; it’s what we do as spouses. What are some of the specific actions of love mentioned here by Paul? He says that love is patient. Whenever two people come together in a relationship there will be disagreements. Maybe you’re punctual and your spouse is habitually late; maybe you’re a saver and your spouse a spender. There are countless other reasons that patience is needed for the relationship to succeed.
Paul also states that love is kind. This word comes from the Greek chresteuomai and means “to show oneself mild, to be kind, or to use kindness,” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. As with communication in general, many disputes can be resolved if we simply show caring and compassion for others.
What’s sad is that many people will often show more compassion to strangers than to their own spouses. Because many spouses feel a sense of empowerment and are less concerned about retribution from their mates, they often show them less respect. Our spouses should also be our best friend and we should never feel justified doing them wrong. We should never use our position to abuse those we love most.
Remember that the relationship between a husband and wife mirrors that between Yahshua and the assembly. If the husband feels there’s no need to show compassion to his wife he should reconsider how Yahshua showed compassion toward the assembly. The two run parallel.
Paul goes on to say that love does not envy. Believe it or not, spouses can resent one another. If the wife has a better job the husband might be envious. In some cases this type of envy can produce contention. The wife might be envious because she must work outside the home, unlike her next-door neighbor. There are many other ways that resentment can creep into a marriage. Spouses must be cognizant of this and realize that envy is not an attribute of love.
Paul also says that love is not proud. Pride might be the single most destructive attribute in the history of mankind. It was this attribute that caused Satan the devil to sin and fall from grace. One problem with a prideful person is they are often blinded by their own mistakes or shortcomings. Therefore they never repent or change.
For a marriage to be successful both spouses must be willing to be humble and sacrifice for the other. This means that they must temper their pride. Solomon in Proverbs 11 said, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is, when pride controls the outcome, the outcome will not be positive. The opposite of pride is humility. When we show humility there’s nothing that can’t be resolved. True humility will look first to the needs of others, including your spouse.
Paul tells us that scriptural love is not easily angered. When anger is expressed in a marriage it puts the entire family on edge. It causes anxiety, hatred, depression, and contempt. And believers are not exempt or immune from this problem. If you’re struggling with anger we encourage you to seek help. A marriage will never be successful so long as there’s strife and contempt in that relationship.
Paul closes here by saying that love keeps no record of wrongs. No matter who’s guilty, it’s important to remember that when we say we forgive we must also let go. Holding on to grudges and focusing on past mistakes will not cultivate a successful marriage. Love is not simply an emotion but is also an outward expression of our concern and compassion for others. This includes forgiveness!
Husbands, Emulate Yahshua
Paul in Ephesians 5:25 provides another example of what it means to love our spouse. However, this time it writes specifically to husbands. He states, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Messiah also loved the assembly, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious assembly, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.
He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Master the assembly:” As husbands, how are we to show love to our spouse? It’s simple, we’re to emulate Yahshua the Messiah. As Yahshua sacrificed and gave all for the assembly, husbands must be willing to do the same for their wives.
How did Yahshua sacrifice for the assembly? First, and most importantly, He gave His life as a ransom for our sins. As Yahshua Himself noted in John 15:13, there’s no greater love than sacrificing your own life for another.
Beyond this He also chose a life of simplicity; some might even say poverty. In Luke 9:58 Yahshua said, “…Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” As Yahshua sacrificed everything for the assembly, husbands have a scriptural duty to sacrifice for their wives and family.
When Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as Yahshua loved the assembly, this is the love of which he’s speaking. Everything our Savior did was motivated for the betterment of the assembly. It wasn’t just the sacrificing of His life, but also His willingness to humble Himself and become a servant.
Yahshua’s entire life is an example of what it means to sacrifice for another. As husbands, do we make decisions that benefit the family? For example: Are we providing financially? Are we providing emotionally? And most importantly, are we providing spiritually? The Bible says that if a man doesn’t work and provide for his family that he’s worse than an infidel or unbeliever.
Most men understand and embrace the concept of physically protecting their family. Just as husbands are to be physically courageous for their families, they must also be emotionally courageous.
Even though many wives are strong and resilient, there are times in a marriage where the husband must show emotional strength. So in addition to being physically strong, husbands must also be emotionally supportive. For a lot of men this is not easy, but Yahshua was emotionally strong and so should husbands be for their families. For example, if the wife is going through some emotional trauma with a friend or family member, the husband must be emotionally strong in that situation.
Most importantly, men must be spiritually strong for their spouse and family. Now what does this mean? Husbands should not be controlling or domineering, but live the morals and principles we find in Scripture and be that spiritual compass in the storm of life. There are situations in life where it’s easy to compromise; husbands, though, must have the spiritual strength and courage to do the right thing, even when it’s hard thing to do.
In Colossians 3:19 Paul speaks about bitterness. He says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
What does it mean to be bitter? The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as “to embitter, to exasperate, to render angry or indignant, or to be irritated.” We’re not to purposely anger or exasperate our spouse. When this is done it often results in resentment.
The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary states, “Many polite abroad are rude at home, because they are not afraid there.” Sadly, this describes a lot of people, including believers. There are many spouses that behave one way outside the home and another way inside the home. As already discussed, many feel because of their position they are justified or they have nothing to lose being less supportive with their spouse. We’re not to take advantage of the relationship we have with our mate. Even though many struggle with this, we should strive to treat our spouse better than those in the world. One way in which we do this is by not using them as emotional punching bags.
This includes showing consideration and respect, as we find in 1Peter 3:7. Peter says there, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Peter says here that we should use “knowledge” in our relationships. This word is from the Greek gnosis and refers to the “act of knowing.” Here, gnosis refers to the knowledge of Yahweh’s Word. So in our marriage we should be using the gnosis or knowledge of our Father’s Word to guide that marriage.
He also mentions here “honour.” This word is from the Greek time. The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it as, “…honor which belongs or is shown to one, including deference and reverence.” Peter conveys that husbands are to show respect and reverence to their wives. The same is true for ladies. So what does it mean to “respect” your spouse? Here’s how the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines respect: (1) a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, (2) a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, and should be treated in an appropriate way, and (3) a particular way of thinking about or looking at something.
Do we admire our spouse’s qualities and character? Do we see him or her as being a person of integrity? Do we view them as supportive to us and the family? Do we see them as willing to sacrifice for the good of others? Do we view them exhibiting the attributes shown in our Savior, Yahshua?
Hopefully we see our spouses in more of a positive light. What about those who see their spouses in a negative light? While this may not always be easy, as husbands and wives we should still try to show our spouses a level of honor and respect. Hopefully by setting an example they will see our good works and be willing to change.
Peter says here that husbands are to honor their wives, as unto the weaker vessel. Weaker here does not mean inferior. Marriage is about using our strengths to help and support the other.
Meaning of Forgiveness
Another key to a great marriage is forgiveness and a spirit of peace. It doesn’t matter who we are or how long we’ve been married, there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. Every marriage has ups and downs. How then do we achieve peace in our relationships? The most important ingredient is forgiveness.
Paul in Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” Even though this is a simple passage, those married know it’s not always easy to follow. Notice the first thing Paul says here, “…be not angry.” If we’re going to forgive we must first let go of our own anger and animosity. As spouses, it’s so important that we understand this concept.
Even though the focus of this booklet is marriage, this principle applies to all relationships. As believers, we should never allow bitterness to take root. This is why Paul says not to go to bed angry. If we have a grievance with our spouse, we’re to resolve it beforehand.
What about those who struggle with conflict? There are some who will do almost anything to avoid contention. In most cases, though, conflict does not resolve itself. Most often when conflict is ignored it only becomes worse. It’s important that we develop strategies and ways of resolving conflict in our relationships.
When speaking about forgiveness and a spirit of peace it’s important that we’re cognizant also of our speech. The fourth chapter of Ephesians reads, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of Yahweh, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Yahweh for Messiah’s sake hath forgiven you,” verses 29-32.
The word “corrupt” comes from the Greek sapros and literally means, “rotten or worthless.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines sapros as, “of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, or worthless.” As a spouse are we guilty of sapros, of speech that is worthless, bad, or unfit to use? As spouses one of the worst habits we can develop is using speech that tears down and causes unnecessary grief.
Paul goes on to say that our speech should be “edifying.” This word comes from the Greek oikodome and refers to a structure or building. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also states that it metaphorically applies “…to the act of one who promotes another’s growth in wisdom, piety, happiness, or holiness.” Think about this definition and ask yourself, does my speech promote wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness? If the answer is no then you’re falling short as a spouse. Our words should not tear down but build up. How often do we criticize rather than compliment our spouse? While feedback is inevitable in a marriage, we should not forget to express praise and admiration. And remember, sometimes it’s the small praises that mean the most.
Paul goes on to say that we must let go of all bitterness. The word “bitterness” comes from the Greek pikria and means poison or hatred.
As Paul explains, bitterness can poison our relationships. So how are we to avoid these types of hostilities? Through tenderheartedness and forgiveness, as Yahweh forgave us. If you want a marriage that’s a blessing and one that promotes peace, then these are the attributes we are to follow. Solomon in Proverbs 19:11 provides critical insight on forgiveness. He writes, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” The NIV renders this passage, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
When we are patient we show right discretion and wisdom. What do we show when we exhibit anger or animosity toward our spouse? We show ourselves to be fools. This passage also confirms that there’s wisdom in being patient or showing compassion and a glory in overlooking a transgression or offense.
The best model of forgiveness is Yahweh’s forgiveness of us. Paul in Romans 5:8 writes, “But Elohim commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.” Think about the depth of this statement. Yahweh sacrificed His Son to a people who were sinners, who were unworthy and undeserving. If our Father in heaven can forgive our sins through the sacrifice of His only begotten son, surely we can forgive one another.
Forgiveness is not only an attribute that we must exhibit as believers, but also one that’s essential in a marriage. If we don’t have compassion to forgive our spouse then we will never achieve tranquility in our marriage.
Another key to a successful marriage is respecting differences. Even though the Bible says that the husband and wife are one, the reality is they are still two sindividuals, oftentimes with differing opinions, personalities, and world views.
Believers must learn how to come together in a marriage while respecting the uniqueness of our spouse. Genesis 2:24 states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Husband and wife are to be one. The word “one” comes from the Hebrew echad. Strong’s defines this word as to be “united.” Interestingly, this is the same word used in the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Yahweh our Elohim is one.” In the example of marriage, it refers to the cohesion of the husband and wife. Even though they are two persons they are united as one in holy matrimony.
Now even though a married couple are “one,” they are also two people with sometimes alternative viewpoints. We deal with these idiosyncrasies through mutual respect.
There’s a common saying about marriage, “Women marry men hoping they’ll change. Men marry women hoping they won’t.” Even though as spouses we influence one another, seldom do we completely change the other. Now that’s not to say people can’t or shouldn’t change. As believers we are to always seek to emulate and follow the example of our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah. Married or not, poor behavior is never okay as disciples of the Messiah. As spouses we should always be seeking to be a better person. It should be our goal to improve ourselves, not only for us but also for our spouse. For example, if we’re argumentative, quicktempered, uncompassionate, or have some other shortcoming, we should strive to overcome those negative attributes for our good and the good of our spouse.
Here are some real life scenarios that you and your spouse might be dealing with as they relate to differences. Maybe you’re an extrovert and your spouse an introvert. Maybe you’re assertive and your spouse laidback. Maybe you’re a saver and your spouse a spender. Maybe you’re one to avoid conflict and your spouse prefers to resolve conflict.
The fact is, there are no two people completely alike and for that reason we must learn how to work within these differences. The best way to manage these idiosyncrasies is learning how to communicate. Just as different forms of discipline work better for certain children, people respond differently to different forms of communication. As a spouse, we must learn how to communicate that is effective within our marriage.
Instead of looking at differences in a negative way we should view them as a strength or blessing. Here’s what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4:9. “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
Solomon is showing that there’s strength in numbers. This same concept also applies to differences between spouses. One of the benefits of marriage is that normally we become a better person through our spouse. In part, this doesn’t happen because you’re the same, but because you’re different.
This same concept is also true for an assembly. It’s the strengths and talents of all the members of an assembly that make that body strong and a blessing. Instead of viewing these unique traits as negative, we should take a step back and consider the positive.
Honoring Conjugal Duties
The next key to a successful marriage is intimacy. The Apostle Paul speaks about the importance of intimacy within marriage in 1Corinthians 7:3-5: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”
Paul’s referring here to the marital or conjugal duties within a marriage. He confirms that as a spouse we don’t have power over our own bodies. Assuming there is no uncleanness or other biblical constraints, neither the husband nor wife can deny the other of their desire for intimacy. To this point, Adam Clarke writes, “Her person belongs to her husband; her husband’s person belongs to her: neither of them has any authority to refuse what the other has a matrimonial right to demand” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, 1Cor. 7:4).
He goes on to say that the husband or wife is not to defraud one another, except they agree upon a time for fasting and prayer. Paul reiterates here that spouses cannot deny one another of their conjugal rights unless both spouses mutually agree to abstain for a set time.
As there is a need for emotional support there is also a need for intimacy within marriage. When this is neglected it can often lead to frustration by one or both spouses and for some, separation or even divorce. According to some surveys, a lack of intimacy is one of the top ten reasons for divorce. So when it comes to the conjugal duties of marriage, a husband and wife must not neglect the other.
While our culture has turned sexual relations into something perverse, within the marital covenant it is beautiful and not to be ashamed of. Our Heavenly Father created intimacy within marriage and for that reason it is sacred or set apart.
Because marriage is consecrated we must honor our commitment to our spouse by remaining faithful. This is so important to Yahweh that He included “Thou shalt not commit adultery” within the Ten Commandments.
The word “adultery” comes from the word na’aph, which is a primitive root in the Hebrew language, meaning “to commit adultery.” Metaphorically, it can also mean to apostatize. In the framework of marriage it means to have unlawful sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse.
Marriage is a holy union that was established by our Father Yahweh and is also the basic building block of a culture. Since it’s both a sacred and critical institution, it’s essential that we remain true to the commitment we make.
We need only to examine our culture to realize what happens when marriage is compromised. When fathers and mothers leave the home and children are without both parents it impacts those children in many negative ways. For example, consider the following facts from the National Fatherhood Initiative: “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of every three – live in biological father-absent homes. Nine in ten American parents agree that this is a ‘crisis.’ “In a study examining father involvement with 134 children of adolescent mothers over the first 10 years of life, researchers found that father-child contact was associated with better socio-emotional and academic functioning. The results indicated that children with more involved fathers experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in case of nonresident fathers.
“Even after controlling for community context, there is significantly more drug use among children who do not live with their mother and father.”
As a culture there’s no denying we have a crisis with marriage and as a result children are suffering. Because they are the future, this is a trend we should be very concerned about. Many of the social problems we havein this nation go back to the upheaval we saw during late 1960s and 70s. Those decades changed this nation in many ways, and not for the positive.
Years ago it was assumed that adultery was committed by mostly men but today this is no longer true. While the percentage is still higher for men, women are not far behind. This is a major indicator showing the collapse of today’s family. It’s a statistical fact that a large portion of marriages never recover from infidelity. This is why we find many passages speaking about this sin and the need to remain faithful.
The author of Hebrews writes: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for [Yahweh] will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral,” Hebrews 13:4, NIV.
There are many lessons to consider here. Marriage was established by our Father Yahweh as a divine union between one man and one woman for life. It’s a sacred bond we must not break.
The word “honored” here is from the Greek timios. Strong’s defines this word as something that is “esteemed or beloved.” When we esteem something or something is beloved we protect and cherish it. Besides our commitment that we make at baptism, nothing means more and matters more in this life than our marital pledge.
When it says to keep the marriage bed pure, Yahweh is simply saying to remain faithful to our spouse. Again, there’s a reason this command is part of the Ten Commandments. Those who break this trust will be judged by Yahweh Himself.
The fact is, most people never think about the impact of sin. In the case of adultery, not only does this most often cause division and separation between you and your spouse, but also between you and your children.
The sin of adultery impacts more than the adulterer. The innocent spouse and children suffer tremendously when marital vows are broken, often more than the one guilty of the infraction. This is why our Heavenly Father is so adamant about remaining faithful to our commitment.
Till Death Do Us Part
The last point to consider is what we call, “Till death do us part.” In Malachi 2:16 we find how Yahweh views divorce. The NIV renders it, “I hate divorce.” This word “hate” is from the Hebrew sane’. According to the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, this word represents an “intense hatred.” This is how our Father in heaven views divorce.
Why do you suppose He has such disgust for divorce? First, He was the one who established marriage as a sacred lifelong union between one man and one woman. Second, He knows and understands the impact of divorce and what it does to a family. And third, marriage is a blueprint for the relationship we have with Him through His Son.
It’s for these reasons that He abhors divorce. Marriage is a lifelong sacred union between one man and one woman. We see confirmation for this not only in the Old Testament but also in the New.
In Matthew 19:5-6 Yahshua said. “…For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore Elohim hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” This is Yahshua’s quotation of Genesis 2:24. It is one of the most important statements regarding marriage.
Our Savior confirms here that when we commit ourselves in marriage there’s no turning back. In this way marriage is similar to baptism; once we commit to our Savior through baptism there’s no going back on our promise.
For more information on divorce and remarriage, including answers to many misunderstood passages, see our booklet: Restore the Lock in Wedlock.
Here are keys to a successful marriage:
• Respecting divine order. This includes recognizing and honoring the order that our Heavenly Father established within the Word. When this
order is ignored, couples suffer from competing views without a biblical process to resolve them.
Righteous communication. There is perhaps nothing greater in a marriage than how we communicate with one another. Righteous communication occurs when we use language that promotes love and peace within our marriage. This includes both our verbal and nonverbal communication.
Mutual love and respect. Even though there is a divine order within marriage, it is incumbent by both spouses to show mutual love and respect. If it is missing then that marriage will not be blessed. This will also lead to conflict and frustration by one or both spouses.
Forgiveness and a spirit of peace. This is a key ingredient in all relationships, especially within marriage. Forgiveness includes not only letting go of any personal hatred or animosity, but also reconciliation with the person with whom we have the conflict.
Respecting differences. Because no two people are completely alike, both will face competing and differing views within marriage. It’s important to learn how to manage and respond to these differences. While differing opinions can create conflict, they can also be a strength.
Romance and intimacy. This is an essential aspect of marriage and must not to be withheld or ignored. It was ordained by Yahweh and should not be viewed negatively but as something sacred within the marital covenant.
Remaining faithful. Since intimacy is a sacred aspect within marriage, it’s crucial that we honor our commitment by remaining faithful to our spouse. Those who defraud their spouse through adultery will be judged by Yahweh Himself.
Till death do us part. Marriage was established by Yahweh between one man and one woman as a lifelong union. The commitment to marriage is only secondary to baptism. Since the New Testament only permits re-marriage after the passing of our spouse, it’s crucial that spouses do everything within their power to honor this commitment.
A marriage will experience blessings beyond most when these keys are followed. You will have greater love and less conflict. While many of these principles are simple to understand, they are much harder to implement.
However, those who successfully apply them to their relationships will have a far greater and rewarding marriage. It is our hope that all who read this booklet will seriously consider each point offered and endeavor to live by each one for the honor and glory of Yahweh.
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As Patrick sat in the pew listening to his minister quote Old Testament passages in the New Testament, he began to wonder why so many ignore the Old Testament Scriptures. He said to himself, if my Savior and His apostles followed the Old Testament writings, shouldn’t we today? After the service he approached his minister and asked, “Why don’t we use the Old Testament more often?” The minister replied, with a look of concern, “We are now living under a new dispensation. The Old Testament was given to the Jews and the New Testament to the church.”
Even though this account is fictional, there are many like Patrick with this same key question. Why do so many today view the Old Testament and the Hebraic faith as obsolete? Why does churchianity accept the authority of the New Testament, but dismiss its foundation, which is the Old Testament?
We will explore this question now and explain why the church deviated from its Hebraic roots. We will also reveal why the promise in the New Testament is Hebraic and not Grecian, as so many assume today. We’ll see evidence from the Bible that the Messiah and His apostles, including Paul, held the Old Testament as authoritative and were law observant. Buckle up and brace yourself for a spiritual journey that will unravel years of man-made tradition.
‘I Come to Fulfill’
Ironically, one of the easiest methods of confirming the church’s connection to the Old Testament and to its Hebraic faith is through Christian scholarship. Even though many ministers will gloss over the origins of the church, scholars and historians freely acknowledge its connection to the Old Testament.
Author Paul D. Wegner in his book, The Journey from Text to Translation, states: “The word old when it refers to the Old Testament, is not derogatory, nor does it mean the Old Testament is obsolete. Jesus [Yahshua] himself said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’…Initially early Christians and Jews both worshipped in synagogues (Acts 3:1; 4:1; 5:42; 6:9-10; 13:14-15, 42; 14:1; 17:1-2), using the same books of Scripture, namely, the Old Testament,” p. 32.
What an amazing admission! This author confirms that the term “Old Testament” is not to be viewed negatively or as obsolete. As evidence for this, he refers to Matthew 5:17, where the Messiah confirms that He came not to destroy but to fulfill the law.
The word “fulfill” in this passage comes from the Greek pleroo. Strong’s defines this word as, “to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction).” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon provides this definition, “…used to fulfil, that is, to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment.”
Yahshua came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill, i.e., to obey and follow it (establish it, Greek Diaglott). An example of this fact is found in Matthew 3:14-15: “But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Yahshua answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
The word “fulfill” here is from the same Greek word pleroo. Here it refers to Yahshua’s obedience to the act of baptism. This, along with many other passages, confirms that the Messiah’s intent was never to make the law obsolete. He came to set the example as an obedient Son to His Father and a Savior to mankind.
Only Through the Old Testament
This reference goes on to state that both the Jews and early New Testament believers worshiped in the synagogues together using the same book, i.e., the Old Testament. This concept that the Old Testament is no longer valid is simply not true. Not only is it binding, but the Messiah and His apostles viewed it as the foundation of Scripture. Therefore, those who argue that the Old Testament is no longer necessary are rejecting a significant part of Yahshua’s own ministry.
It is to this point that authors Alan Johnson and Robert Webber state, “In Jesus’ [Yahshua’s] attitude toward the Old Testament one can glean a considerable range of information on his understanding of the nature and authority of the Bible. He either quotes or alludes to the Old Testament more than 150 times in the Synoptic Gospels alone. He thus exhibits a deep respect for the Bible…. Using the threefold division of the Old Testament familiar to his audience he sweepingly affirmed that the whole Old Testament had a bearing on his mission. Nothing was excluded,” What Christians Believe – A Biblical and Historical Summary, pp. 23-24.
Yahshua’s Faith in the Old Testament
This reference affirms a very important fact. Yahshua viewed the Old Testament as authoritative and part of the inspired Word. He used the Old Testament writings to establish His position and purpose. Such evidence cannot be understated. As these authors succinctly stated, “Nothing was excluded.”
If churches today understood these crucial facts many of today’s erroneous beliefs would not exist. If they understood the faith of their Savior, they would freely recognize the significance of the Old Testament and teach it to their congregations.
Author Earle E. Cairns corroborates this conclusion in his book, Christianity Through the Centuries: “Christianity may have developed in the political milieu of Rome and may have had to face the intellectual environment created by the Greek mind, but its relationship to Judaism was much more intimate. Judaism may be thought of as the stalk on which the rose of Christianity was to bloom…. Judaism provided the heredity of Christianity and, for a time, even gave the infant religion shelter…. The Jewish people still further prepared the way for the coming of Christianity by providing the infant Church with a sacred book, the Old Testament. Even a casual study of the New Testament will reveal Christs’ and the apostles’ deep indebtedness to the Old Testament and their reverence for it as the Word of [Yahweh] to man…. The books of the Old Testament and the books of the New Testament, given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were to be the living literature of the Church,” pp. 44-46.
Even though the early church had to deal with Rome and the Greek culture, its relationship is most closely tied to Judaism. This statement cannot be overemphasized. Without Judaism or the Old Testament there would be no assembly or New Testament.
Therefore, to state that we are now living under a new dispensation, i.e., the New Testament, and free from that archaic Old Testament could not be further from the truth. Christianity’s roots are deeply grounded in the faith given to Abraham. Those who ignore this fact ignore the origins of their faith.
Interestingly, the Roman Empire initially made little distinction between Judaism and the New Testament assembly. Believers in the Messiah were simply seen as another sect of Judaism. It was not until the Church began to pull away from Judaism that Rome became suspicious and began to persecute Christianity. Rome respected ancient traditions. This is why they exempted the Jews from certain requirements, including of worship of state deities and temple sacrifices. However, once the church began to form its own identity, they no longer enjoyed many of the conveniences provided to the Jews.
Old Testament’s Messianic Prophecies
Perhaps the most important connection between the Messiah and the Hebraic faith is the many Messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament. It was upon this ancient text that the Messiah and His apostles hung their ministry.
One of the earliest references to the Messiah is found in Deuteronomy 15, “Yahweh thy Elohim will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of Yahweh thy Elohim in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my Elohim, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And Yahweh said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him,” verses 15-18.
This prophecy pertains to the Messiah. Evidence for this fact is in Acts 7:37. Why is this passage important or possibly more significant than other Messianic prophecies? First, Moses draws a parallel between him and the coming Savior. Second, like Moses, this coming Messiah would speak Yahweh’s Word and command authority.
This second point is noteworthy, as it conveys that Yahshua has the ability to interpret and even provide commandments in the New Testament. We find many examples of Yahshua commanding by enhancing or clarifying Yahweh’s Word. One example is found in the beatitudes where He states that to even look and lust after a woman was the same as committing adultery. This authority would have also extended to rules regarding worship, as we find for instance in 1Corinthians 11, where Paul commands that men leave their heads uncovered and ladies cover their heads during times of formal worship. After all, Yahshua instructed all the apostles, including Paul, who received His message by direct revelation, Galatians 1:12, 17-18.
Therefore, this Old Testament prophecy not only provides evidence for the Messiah’s coming, but also the depth and scope of His message and authority. This last point is especially important considering the many commandments He personally gave in the New Testament.
Of the prophets in the Old Testament, possibly the one to provide the most insight into the Messiah is Isaiah. From this prophet we have prophecies regarding Yahshua’s first and second comings. This includes the Messiah who would come and die for the sins of mankind and the Messiah who will return to establish Yahweh’s Kingdom on earth.
One of the most pivotal prophecies regarding his First Coming is Isaiah 7:14. It reads, “Therefore Yahweh himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
This prophecy focuses on the Messiah’s birth. It states that He would be born of a virgin. From the first chapter in Matthew, the Bible confirms that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Yahshua. She was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, Yahshua’s legal father, but they had not yet fulfilled their nuptials. Instead of natural conception, the Bible records that the Messiah was conceived through the Holy Spirit. On this point it’s important to note that the Holy Spirit represents the Father’s power and is not a separate entity. If the Holy Spirit were a separate being, it (or he) would have been the father of Yahshua and not Yahweh.
Isaiah also mentioned that He would be called “Immanuel,” meaning, “El with us.” In point of fact, this is not a proper name, but a title expressing Yahshua’s future role within the millennial Kingdom. During this future time, He will reign and govern this earth with righteousness, Isaiah 11:1-5 and Revelation 20:6. Also, those from the first resurrection will assist him as a kingdom of priests,Revelation 5:10.
Perhaps the greatest Messianic prophecy is found in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. There the prophet delivers a powerful prophetic message that is still heard over many pulpits today. He describes the suffering Messiah.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of Elohim, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:3-11.
This prophecy was written some 700 years before the Common Era and was pivotal for the Messiah and the apostles in the New Testament. Here are some highlights. Through this prophecy we find evidence that the Messiah looked like any other Jew. This certainly discounts the common portrayal of the Messiah that displays Yahshua as a tall European with long flowing hair. Most Jews during the first century were of olive or darker skin color with short curly hair.
It also confirms here that Yahshua died to pay the penalty of sin for many. This is the central message of Yahshua’s ministry. Through His sacrifice we find justifications from our previous iniquities. Simply put, without Yahshua and His sacrifice, we would all be left in our sins without any Savior or recourse. Amazingly, this crucial message is rooted in the Old Testament.
The first chapter of John confirms that the Jews rejected Yahshua as the Messiah. However, long before John, Isaiah prophesied of this outcome when he stated that He would be “opposed.” Throughout His Ministry, He was not only rejected, but He would eventually die for His message. Matter of fact, He was condemned for doing nothing more than telling the truth, which is also found in this prophecy.
In addition to these, there are many other insightful points that we could glean from this passage. Isaiah, along with many other Old Testament prophets, provides a treasure trove of information about the Messiah. In fact, according to biblical scholars there are 300-400 unique prophecies in the Old Testament pertaining to the Messiah and His Second Coming.
Messiah Loyal to the Old Testament
Once we understand the depth of this truth, it’s impossible to ignore the importance of the words given to Moses and the prophets. The fact is, without the Old Testament, the Messiah and the apostles would have been without any way to substantiate their position or authority. For this reason the Old Testament is indispensable to the faith of the New Testament.
The Messiah throughout His ministry also confirmed His deep loyalty to the Old Testament. For instance, in Luke 24:44 He used the Old Testament to confirm His position as the Messiah. He stated, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” The Messiah Yahshua verifies His teachings from the pages of the Old Testament. He conveys to His apostles that all things had to be fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. Incidentally, these are the three divisions of the Old Testament.
If the Old Testament were not relevant to the Messiah and the apostles, why then does He refer to this ancient source as confirmation for His resurrection and position as the Messiah? Contrary to the assumptions of many, the only book accessible at this time was the Old Testament. The entire foundation of who Yahshua was and what He taught was founded in the text given to Moses and the prophets.
Another example of this profound connection is found in the transfiguration. “And after six days Yahshua taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Eliyah talking with him,”Matthew 17:1-3.
It’s important to begin here by acknowledging that this was a vision the apostles witnessed. The question is, why did Moses and Eliyah appear with Yahshua and what did they represent? The meaning is clear: Moses represented the law and Eliyah the prophets. Together, they verified Yahshua as the Messiah from the law and prophets. This is one more example confirming Yahshua’s position from the Old Testament. The fact is, Yahshua relied exclusively on these Hebrew writings throughout His Ministry.
With such indubitable evidence, it’s a wonder that so many are opposed to the Old Testament. Do we not desire to worship as Yahshua worshiped? Do we not desire to follow in our Savior’s examples? If we do we must then not divorce ourselves from the Old Testament, but view it as the foundation of our faith.
This departure is why so many churches and ministers have deviated and missed the mark of sound biblical doctrine. For example, Yahshua kept the Sabbath, Feast days and dietary food laws. After His death, the apostles did the same. However, today these foundational teachings have been forgotten and replaced with non-biblical, Greco-Roman, beliefs. If we care about following the truth that the Messiah delivered to His apostles, we then must reconsider much of what is taught in mainstream worship.
Paul’s ‘Autobiography’ Claims Perfect Law Adherence
The Apostle Paul is credited more than any other Bible writer as starting a new faith from what was delivered in the Old Testament. Most clerics assert that he was anti-law and introduced a new belief system that was more palatable to his gentile coverts. Is this true? Do we find evidence from the New Testament that Paul began a religion that diverged from the Old Testament?
In the third chapter of Philippians he provides somewhat of an autobiography in which he describes his faith. He writes, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Messiah,” verses 5-7.
This passage provides great insight as to who the Apostle Paul was before and after his conversion. As with any other good Jew, he was circumcised on the eighth day. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and considered himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews. This repetition shows his emphasis on his Hebraic upbringing. He was also a Pharisee and claims to have kept the law perfectly and was without blemish. He had so much passion and zeal for his Jewish faith that he even persecuted those in the Messiah, including consenting to the death of Deacon Stephen and imprisoning many believers.
Now after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah, he counted everything else as worthless or a loss. He realized that salvation could not be earned, but came only through faith in Yahshua the Messiah. This change in focus was seen throughout his epistles.
The question is, did this change alter his faith and religious devotion? This is what the vast majority in the church believe, but does this square with the Bible? It’s true that Paul viewed salvation differently after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah, but not once did he forsake the commandments or his Hebraic roots.
One of the best ways to establish Paul’s commitment to the Old Testament is to examine his life after his conversion. The difference between what is heard today in most churches and what is actually stated in the Bible may shock you.
Paul’s Vow and the Law After His Conversion
One of the first challenges Paul faced after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah was from the other apostles. In the twenty-first chapter of Acts he is asked specifically whether he was against the Law of Moses. This question was the result of rumors circulating about Paul.
“And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things Elohim had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified Yahweh, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law,” verses 18-24.
Soon after his conversion Paul was suspected of teaching against the Old Testament commandments. To show that he was not opposed to the Law, James suggested that he participate in a vow, most likely a Nazarite vow.
If Paul’s intent were to begin a new faith, here was the perfect opportunity to straighten out his fellow apostles by explaining that the commandments were no longer necessary and that salvation was by faith alone now. But he agreed to participate in this vow, showing his observance of the commandments.
Amazingly, the belief that Paul opposed Old Testament law is still held by most ministers today. Even though Paul agrees to verify his adherence to the commandments, most continue to overlook that fact and perpetuate this false notion about Paul.
In Acts 24:14 he again reaffirms his commitment to the faith delivered in the Old Testament: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”
The word heresy here is equivalent to the word cult. Even though many viewed Paul as deviating from his former foundation and now was in a cult, he fully acknowledged the faith of his forefathers. He firmly professed that he believed all things written in the law and in the prophets.
How is it possible that he believed all things in the Old Testament and yet taught a brand new religion based on Greco-Roman ideas? Obviously such a notion does not hold up to the scrutiny of Scripture. To state otherwise is to contradict Paul’s own statement! As people misunderstood and misinterpreted Paul during his own day, the same occurs today.
Paul was not an advocate of a new religion; instead he surrendered himself to his childhood faith. He embraced his Hebraic roots, including the law and the prophets. The only difference before and after his conversion involved his view of the Messiah and the impact this had on salvation.
As seen in his autobiography, prior to coming to the knowledge of Yahshua, Paul considered himself a Pharisee. He was proud of his devotion to the law and believed his efforts made him worthy of salvation. After coming to the Messiah, he realized that works were not enough.
Harmonizing Faith and Law
The question is, did this newfound revelation radically change Paul’s view on the Law?
He answers this question in the third chapter of Romans: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the Elohim of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one Elohim, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not: yea, we establish the law,”Romans 3:27-31.
Even though Paul understood that a believer was justified by faith apart from works, he also understood that this did not revoke the need for obedience to the law. In verse 31 he states that believers are to establish the law. The word “establish” comes from the Greek histemi. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as, “…to establish a thing, to cause it to stand, to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything.”
Notice that this definition conveys the thought-sustaining authority of a thing. In this instance it’s referring to the authority of the Old Testament commandments. So while a person may not be justified through the Law, this does not negate or remove our obligation to obey. The law is a measuring stick that defines right living. When we remove that measuring stick we have no way to measure what is right and wrong.
Sadly, this is exactly what has occurred in our culture today. Years ago people looked to the Bible as the absolute source of truth and morality. Today this is no longer the case. People now believe that truth is a personal preference. For example, many see nothing wrong with living together out of wedlock or two people of the same gender marrying. Because society no longer acknowledges sin and the Bible as the standard of morality, such examples of sin are now tolerated and even paraded.
From this passage and many others like it, Paul explains that faith and law are not diametrically opposed but complement each other. Faith brings us to Messiah through repentance and justification, and the Law provides a method of sanctification, i.e., the process by which a believer is found righteous. The Law is more than a random set of rules, but is a blueprint for virtue and morality.
First to the Jew
Another way of viewing the importance of the Old Testament is to understand Yahweh’s plan of salvation. The truth was first delivered to Israel. This is a historical fact! Only afterwards was it brought to the gentiles or those outside of Israel. Paul confirms this in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the good news of Messiah: for it is the power of Elohim unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Paul is speaking here about salvation and confirms that it was first delivered to the Jews, representing Israel, in the form of the Old Testament and later it was given to the gentiles. Contrary to what some believe, salvation along with the many other concepts did not originate in the New Testament. These truths were firmly established first in the Old Testament.
For example, the word “salvation” is found 119 times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible. The word “faith” is found twice, i.e., Deuteronomy 32:20 and Habakkuk 2:4. Remarkably, Paul in Romans 1:17 quotes Habakkuk when describing the “righteousness of faith.”
Similarly, we find the word “grace” mentioned 39 times from Genesis through Zechariah. It first appears in Genesis 6:8 in reference to Noah. If not for this man finding grace, all the human race would have been destroyed through the flood. Yahweh’s divine favor on Noah led to the preservation of mankind.
These examples illustrate that the message of salvation and redemption was first delivered to Israel in the Old Testament. It also verifies that these core concepts are not Grecian, but Hebraic in origin. As seen earlier, the assembly blossomed from the Hebrew faith. This was, and remains, its foundation.
Many have the impression that after the death of the Messiah these promises were transferred from the Jews to the church. They were not transferred, but extended. In other words, the church or more properly, the assembly or congregation, did not replace Israel, but was absorbed into Israel.
Paul confirms this truth in two key passages in Romans. There he describes the attributes of a true believer and the process by which the gentiles are grafted into the Hebraic promise. For nearly 2,000 years this truth has been hidden by the church.
Many believe that the church replaced Israel in the New Testament. Theologians call it “replacement theology.” This doctrine wipes the New Testament clean of its Hebraic roots, something that the apostles never intended or taught.
In one of the most insightful verses, Paul in Romans 9:4 describes a believer as an Israelite and provides several key attributes. It reads, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises.”
Notice that Paul does not use the word “Christian,” but “Israelite” to describe a New Testament believer or disciple of the Messiah. In addition, he provides six characteristics that all believers have in common.
The first attribute mentioned is the “adoption.” This word derives from the Greek huiothesia and refers to sonship. In Exodus 4:22, Israel is called Yahweh’s son and firstborn. It’s important to note that this adoption began with Israel in the Old Testament and was then extended through Messiah to the gentiles in the New Testament (that is not to state that non-Israelites could not be grafted also in the Old Testament). As Paul confirms in Ephesians 2:15, through Yahshua’s death and resurrection He made Jew and gentile into “one new man.”
The second characteristic mentioned is “glory.” This is from the Greek doxa, which offers a very broad definition. One of the definitions provided by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states, “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true [believers] shall enter after their Savior’s return from heaven.” This refers to the reward or splendor that those in the Messiah will receive when Yahshua returns to establish His Kingdom.
The third attribute is “covenants.” This word comes from the Greek diatheke and means, “a disposition, i.e. (specially) a contract,” (Strong’s). Notice that this word is used in the plural, which confirms that the faith of the Messiah and the apostles was based not only on the wirings of the New Testament, but also on those covenants that preceded it, namely the Old Testament.
Even though the Old and New testaments are the two main covenants, there are several minor covenants also mentioned, including: the Adamic (Gen. 1:26-30, 2:16-17), the Noahic (Gen. 9:11), the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3), and the Davidic (2Sam. 7:8-16). While each of these covenants contains different assurances, each of them required obedience and faith in Yahweh.
The fourth characteristic is the “giving of the law.” This phrase derives from the Greek nomothesia and refers to “legislation (specifically, the institution of the Mosaic code)” (Strong’s). Paul says that part of being a believer includes keeping the law given to Moses. Considering today’s aversion to the Torah, it’s surprising that Paul provides this attribute. Even more remarkable is the fact that so many ministers miss it.
The fifth attribute is the “service of Elohim.” This refers to the ministration or method of worship, including the rights and ordinances in the Old Testament. Even though many of these rites have changed through Yahshua’s sacrifice, as believers we continue to offer spiritual sacrifices. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yahshua Messiah,” 1Peter 2:5.
The final characteristic is the “promises.” This word comes from the Greek epaggelia and denotes “an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good)” (Strong’s). The good news in the New Testament is twofold: 1) Salvation through Yahshua and 2) the promise of the coming Kingdom.
Some will contend that these six attributes are not speaking about believers today, but are a summary of Old Testament Israel. Paul lays this theory to rest in verse six where he states, “…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”
This statement by Paul might seem confusing, however, his point is quite simple. He’s confirming that not all native-born Israelites are true Israelites. In other words, he’s making a distinction between nationality and religious practice. As Revelation 12:17 and14:12 verify, an Israelite (representing a New Testament believer) is one who keeps the commandments of Yahweh and holds to the faith of Yahshua. If we neglect either one we disqualify ourselves as believers. This includes natural born Israelite and gentiles.
Parable of the Olive Tree
Paul also speaks to this Israelite connection in Romans 11. He describes there the process by which believers are grafted into the promise. This is one of the most important New Testament principles. While many churches teach that the church has replaced Israel, Paul teaches that the assembly is grafted into the promise given to Israel.
To ensure that we understand Paul’s message in its entirety, we will review verses 13-22: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if Elohim spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of Elohim: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
Even though Paul was an apostle to the gentiles, he still had a concern for his people. It was his hope that some of his fellow Israelite brethren would come to know and accept Yahshua as the one true Messiah. The fact that many Jews refused to accept Yahshua allowed gentiles to enter the fold through the process of being grafted in.
This same message is also found in Yahshua’s parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14. Because His first guests (Israel) refused to come (symbolizing their rejection of Yahshua), the king (Yahweh) sent His servants (the apostles) into the highways to find those who would come (the gentiles).
As seen in both Paul’s metaphor of the olive tree and Yahshua’s parable of the wedding banquet, Yahweh is now calling gentiles into the promise. This is because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah. In Paul’s analogy of the olive tree he states that the root and branches are holy. The root symbolizes the Hebraic promise given to Abraham and the branches represent natural Israel. He also mentions wild olive branches. These symbolize the gentile believers who are grafted into this Hebraic promise.
Through this analogy, Paul attests to the following: The root of the New Testament is grounded in the Old Testament; not all natural-born Israelites were cast aside or rejected by the Messiah; and instead of replacing Israel, the gentiles are spliced into the promise given to Abraham.
Heirs of Abraham
Interestingly, the patriarch Abraham is a pivotal figure in both Old and New testaments. Paul in the third chapter of Galatians explains his connection to the New Testament: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yahshua. And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” verses 27-29.
Paul begins by saying that baptism represents the death of our old man and the birth of a new creature. Through this symbolic process of death and rebirth, we also share in the likeness of His resurrection at His Second Coming. Within the context of salvation, Paul also says that there’s no discrimination within the body of Messiah. This includes nationality, social status, and gender.
He closes here by focusing on Abraham. He confirms those immersed into Yahshua’s Name are also heirs of Abraham. The word “heirs” comes from the Greek kleronomos. According to the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, this word “denotes one who obtains a lot or portion (kleros, ‘a lot,’ nemomai, ‘to possess’), especially of an inheritance.”
Even though the adoption occurs through baptism into Yahshua’s Name, the inheritance refers to the promise given to Abraham. Scripture states that all the families of the earth would be blessed through this man, Genesis 28:14. This occurs in two ways: to Abraham was given the covenant; and through his seed was born Yahshua the Messiah, the Savior of mankind.
This tie to Abraham shows unequivocally a connection and continuity between the Old and New testaments. The belief that the Old Testament was only for Israel and the New Testament only for the church could not be further from the truth. The Messiah and the apostles viewed the Old Testament as inspired and authoritative.
Benefits of Being of Judah
In addition to the blessings provided by Abraham, the New Testament provides a similar benefit for the Jews. In the third chapter of Romans, Paul gives one major reason why today’s believers should respect the Jews, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Elohim,” verses 1-2.
Even though Paul mentions only the Jews, it’s important to acknowledge that Yahweh’s law was given to all twelve tribes and not just to Judah, the Jewish people. However, what is special about the Jews is that they preserved Yahweh’s Word throughout the ages.
Unlike the northern kingdom, which broke away during the reign of Rehoboam, Judah (representing the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) continued to uphold the Scriptures. In fact, this is why the New Testament focuses on the Jews instead of Israel collectively. Because they were the only ones observing Yahweh’s Word, by proxy they represented all twelve tribes.
The word “oracles” here comes from the Greek logion and means, “an utterance of Yahweh.” This refers to the Old Testament commandments given by Yahweh to Moses. If the law is no longer necessary in the New Testament, why is Paul even mentioning these commandments in the Book of Romans? Obviously, he understood that the commandments were still relevant in the New Testament.
The Messiah too confirms a special connection to the Jews. He states, “…for salvation is of the Jews,” John 4:22.
Prior to this statement Yahshua had gone to Sychar, a city in the land of Samaria. While there, he met a Samaritan woman near a well. This woman explained to Yahshua that while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem that her people worshiped in this mountain. She was referring to Mount Gerizim, near this Samaritan city.
Yahshua replied by explaining that there was coming a day when believers would not exclusively worship in Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but would worship Yahweh in spirit and truth. He prophesied that this saying would be fulfilled in that day. This statement by Yahshua is prophetic and confirms that worship is no longer isolated to one location.
So what did Yahshua mean when He said, “…salvation is of the Jews?” Often Scripture provides for more than one application. This passage is an example of this usage. Yahshua confirmed the authority of the Old Testament and the entrustment of the law to the Jews (again, representing Israel collectively). In addition, He also spoke of His own position as the Savior of mankind. Both of these truths are central to the faith of the New Testament.
Like the Apostle Paul, it was never Yahshua’s intent to begin a new faith from what He learned as a child. He came to strengthen the Word, not demolish it. Yahshua embraced His Hebraic roots, as should all believers today. As disciples of the Messiah it’s important to understand that when we deviate from the promise that Yahweh gave to Israel we also deviate from the faith of our Savior and the apostles.
Becoming a Jew Inwardly
In Romans 2:25-29, Paul explains that there are two types of Jews. “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of Elohim,” verses 25-29. This circumcision is not a surgical procedure, but a way of life.
Paul is making an important distinction between Jews by birth and Jews by faith. When he speaks about the circumcision, he’s referring to natural Jews or Israelites. Conversely, when he speaks about the uncircumcision, he’s referring to non-Jews or gentiles.
He says that when the uncircumcision (gentiles) obey the commandments that their uncircumcision becomes circumcision and that they are now inward Jews. What an amazing revelation! Specifically, what’s the difference between an outward Jew and an inward Jew? An outward Jew is a native-born Israelite. An inward Jew is a believer (whether Jew or gentile) who accepts both the commandments and the faith of Yahshua the Messiah.
Dominion of the Law
As mentioned earlier, Paul was not against the commandments. He understood the need for the influence of the law within society. He explains in Romans 7:1, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”
The word “dominion” comes from the Greek kurieuo and according to Strong’s means “to rule.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words expands upon this definition. It reads, “to be lord over, rule over, have dominion over (akin to A, No. 2), is used of (a) divine authority over men, Rom 14:9, ‘might be Lord’; (b) human authority over men, Luke 22:25, ‘lordship,’ 1 Tim 6:15, ‘lords’ (RV, marg., ‘them that rule as lords’); (c) the permanent immunity of Christ from the ‘dominion’ of death, Rom 6:9; (d) the deliverance of the believer from the ‘dominion’ of sin, Rom 6:14; (e) the ‘dominion’ of law over men, Rom 7:1; (f) the ‘dominion’ of a person over the faith of other believers, 2 Cor 1:24 (RV, ‘lordship’).”
Based on the above definitions, how is it possible for the law both to have dominion and to be obsolete? These contradictory notions cannot both be right. From the evidence the truth regarding the commandments should be obvious. Not only are they relevant, but they also have authority over us.
Paul illustrates this point in verse seven, “…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou Shalt Not Covet.” The same question could be asked of any number of laws in the Old Testament, including commandments pertaining to theft, adultery, and murder.
The point that he understood and so many miss today is that Yahweh’s commandments are for the well-being of mankind and are not to our detriment.
In verse 12, he continues, “…the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Surely, Paul not only expresses the significance of the commandments here, but also its benefits. He understood that the law was a reflection of our Heavenly Father’s own ethics and values. When we embrace and obey them, we will prosper and be blessed.
Yahshua the Messiah Observed the Sabbath
Along with those commandments dealing with morality, Scripture teaches that Yahshua and His apostles, including Paul, also observed laws pertaining to proper worship, including the Sabbath and Feasts.
Even though most in the church today see these days as obsolete and accept replacing them with pagan holidays such as Easter and Christmas, they are incredibly important to our Creator Yahweh and to His Son, Yahshua the Messiah.
Based on the New Testament, the Messiah and His apostles observed the Sabbath and Feasts. Consider the following examples showing Sabbath observance:
“And he said unto them, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Master also of the sabbath,” Mark 2:27-28. Prior to His stating this, the Pharisees reprimanded Yahshua for allowing His apostles to pick ears of grain as they walked through a grain field on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were guilty of adding many man-made laws to Yahweh’s Word through their Talmud, which was a record of their traditions.
In fact, this rabbinic reference adds 39 additional laws to the Sabbath alone, including specific laws regarding sowing, plowing, reaping, binding, weaving, tying, untying, tearing, etc. It’s important to realize that all these rabbinic traditions are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Similar to some Christian denominations, many Jews believe they have the authority to add to the Bible.
Even though intentions may have been honorable, through their man-made laws they made the Sabbath a burden and missed the entire point. Yahshua said that the Sabbath was made for man. In other words, the Sabbath was created as a blessing to man by allowing one day of rest. This statement is certainly not expressing the abolishment of the Sabbath. A similar account is also found in the twelfth chapter of Matthew.
In Mark 6:2 Yahshua again shows His commitment to the Sabbath, “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”
The argument has been made that the Messiah worshiped in the synagogue on the Sabbath because He was Jewish and He was trying to reach His Jewish kinsmen. While both of these points are true, it’s untrue that this was His main motivation. His reason for worshiping on the Sabbath was quite simple, it was a command by His Heavenly Father and He kept all of Yahweh’s commands,John 14:31.
If more people would only acknowledge Yahweh’s Word and ignore the millennia of tradition that the church has wrongly established, we would see a transformation to proper worship surpassing even the Great Awakening. It’s time that we as believers wake up and realize the Hebraic roots of our faith. It is time to understand that the tenets delivered in the Old Testament are the same as found in the New Testament. Everything about the Old and New testaments is Israelite based, because the covenant was given to Israel, and to have a part in it means to be grafted into Israel.
Paul Also Observed the Sabbath
What’s more striking and convincing than the Messiah observing the Sabbath is the fact that Paul also observed this day long after Yahshua’s death and ascension to heaven. We find three key examples in the book of Acts, also known as Acts of the Apostles. It’s called this because within this mountain of a book we find how the apostles understood and observed their New Testament faith.
The first example is in Acts 13, “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down,” verses 13-14.
Now why would Paul and his company observe the Sabbath? The answer should be obvious, they believed in the Sabbath. If the Sabbath was not important, then what would be the reason for Paul’s continued commitment to this day?
A second instance is found in Acts 17:2: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”
It states here that it was Paul’s “manner” to worship on the seventh-day Sabbath. This word derives from the Greek word ethos and refers to a habit or custom that is either of a personal conviction or by command. Strong’s defines ethos as, “a usage (prescribed by habit or law).” In this case, while it was Paul’s custom, his conformance to the Sabbath was based on biblical law. Paul obeyed the Sabbath because it was a command from his Creator!
Another important fact is the timeframe from Yahshua’s resurrection. This account took place some 20 after Yahshua’s death and resurrection. Did Paul miss the memo that the Sabbath was no longer necessary? Of course not, he understood the Sabbath was still obligatory for him and other believers. This shows beyond all uncertainty that the Sabbath never changed for the apostles.
It also confirms that he reasoned in the synagogue for “three Sabbath days.” This phrase refers to three consecutive Sabbaths. From this example there should be no question as to Paul’s continued commitment to the seventh-day Sabbath.
A final witness is found in Acts 18:4. “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
The Apostle Paul observed every Sabbath. Perhaps if Paul only kept the Sabbath occasionally a person could argue that it wasn’t that crucial to him. However, we see here something entirely different. He kept every Sabbath holy.
It’s also significant to understand what he was doing on the Sabbath. Besides worshiping his Father in Heaven, he persuaded both Jews and Greeks. His persuading the Jews should be obvious, but what about Greeks? If the Sabbath were strictly for the Jews and the Hebrews why are Greeks in attendance?
So that there’s no confusion regarding the word “Greeks,” this word comes from the Greek hellen. Strong’s defines the Greek as “an inhabitant of Hellas; by extension a Greek-speaking person, especially a non-Jew.”
The reason they were worshiping on the Sabbath is simple: the Sabbath day never changed.
Based on the above passages, there is no doubt as to which day Paul worshiped. Perhaps even more remarkable, not once does Acts or any other New Testament book show him or the other apostles worshiping on Sunday.
Many will argue that Paul was doing this only because he was a Jew or Israelite. However, the biblical record shows otherwise. This is certainly more than a habit he learned as a child. It was a full-fledged conviction based on his understanding of Scripture.
The fact is, the word Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the King James Version of the New Testament. Conversely, the “first day” is mentioned only 12 times and not once does it mean a Sunday observance.
Scholars in many different denominations freely acknowledge that the Sabbath was not changed in the Bible, but only through the dictates of the Roman Church. For example, consider the following sources directly from the Roman Church:
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church” (Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, NJ News on March 18, 1903).
“Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third (Protestant Fourth) Commandment of G-d… The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact’’ (Catholic Record, September 1, 1923).
“Of course these two old quotations are exactly correct. The Catholic Church designated Sunday as the day for corporate worship and gets full credit – or blame – for the change” (“This Rock,” The Magazine of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization, p. 8, June 1997).
Here are additional statements from Lutheran sources:
• “They [the Catholics] allege the Sabbath changed into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the Decalogue (10 commandments), as it appears, neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments” (Augsburg Confession of Faith, Art. 28, par. 9).
• “The Christians in the ancient church very soon distinguished the first day of the week, Sunday; however, not as a Sabbath, but as an assembly day of the church, to study the Word of G-d together, and to celebrate the ordinances one with another: without a shadow of doubt, this took place as early as the first part of the second century” (Bishop Grimelund, History of the Sabbath, p. 60).
Lastly, consider the following Baptist references:
• “There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found: Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week” (Dr. E. T. Hiscox, author of the Baptist Manual).
• “Of course I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of Paganism, and christened with the name of the sun-god, then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism” (Dr. E. T. Hiscox, report of his sermon at the Baptist Minister’s Convention, in New York Examiner, November 16, 1893).
All of these confessions are only the tip of the iceberg. There are also countless other quotations confirming that the Sabbath was altered not by the Bible but by man. The seven-day Sabbath remains the only true day established by our Creator. All other days are counterfeits.
The Bible Shows Complete Continuity
As the Bible reveals, the Messiah and His apostles never forsook the Sabbath or the faith of their forefathers. They continued upholding the same precepts that were delivered to Abraham. If more people understood this core truth, we would see a far different message coming from today’s pulpits. Instead of trying to divorce themselves from the Old Testament, they would embrace it! They would see the value in the commandments as Yahweh’s moral code.
Understanding that the New Testament is rooted in the same Hebraic faith given to Abraham is pivotal and life changing. When we ignore this fact we lose perspective of who our Savior was and what He really taught. Sadly, the majority of Bible teachers today continue with this fantasy that the Messiah ushered in a new religion based on faith alone with no resemblance to the Hebraic covenant given to the patriarchs of old.
As seen from both scholarship and the Bible, this simply is not the case. As Malachi 3:6 states, Yahweh doesn’t change. He’s the same in both the Old and New testaments. He will also be the same in the coming Kingdom, when His Son reigns over this earth.
At this time, Scripture declares that worship, including the commandments, will go out from Jerusalem. “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of Yahweh shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, and to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem,” Micah 4:1-2.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. This applies to the Hebraic roots of our faith. A Hebraic continuity can be found from Old Testament to New and from New on into our Father’s Kingdom. The same Hebrew roots that Abraham embraced were also embraced by Yahshua the Messiah and His apostles.
Isn’t it time that we, too, consider our Hebrew roots and return to the proper foundation of Yahweh’s Word and its promises?
Watch our Discover the Truth TV program: “Hebrew Roots” below
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We are told that we are buried with Yahshua through baptism to the end that we walk in a new life, Romans 6:4. That means that we undergo a unique transformation. Before you take the important step of immersion, you must understand all its ramifications for your present and future life.
When a person is called to the Truth, he or she is convicted to do all that Yahweh requires. A desire wells up inside to be obedient in everything that the Scriptures command.
Key to that obedience is the ordinance of baptism. The Scriptures teach baptism; the Apostles performed it; Yahshua Himself submitted to it as an example to us; and the Holy Spirit is given as a direct result of it, Acts 2:38. Whether or not to submit to baptism into Yahshua’s Name to become a son or daughter of Yahweh Almighty is the most important decision you as a Believer will make.
To think of immersion as a mere formality or just an outward sign of an inward change is to trivialize what is an essential act of salvation for every True Worshiper seeking the Kingdom.
Neither is the rite of baptism like some incantation that automatically changes your life. Baptism results from deep faith, sincere repentance, and a total commitment to real change in the life you live, while learning Yahweh’s truths.
Baptism is a prerequisite to salvation itself. Therefore, immersion in the baptismal waters is no small matter. We read Yahshua’s words in Mark 16:16: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.” He also said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Elohim,” John 3:5.
Are You Willing to Permanently Change?
A principal truth of Yahweh’s Word is the simple fact that Yahweh will bar those from His Kingdom who are still in their natural, sinful, human condition. We must first be changed in heart to take on the mind of Yahshua. He told a parable of the man who was ejected from the wedding of Yahshua and His chosen Bride because he lacked a wedding garment. The spiritual message is that we cannot approach Him unprepared and unchanged in heart (Matt. 22:12-14).
In order to be considered one of Yahweh’s sons or daughters a dynamic transformation in your very thinking must first occur. That change includes the desire to put sin out of your life by leaving behind the old nature in the burial waters of baptism. You come out of the water a new person, a new creation with a different way of looking at life. See Ezekiel 18:31.
As a result, instead of living for yourself and seeking always to satisfy personal wants and ambitions, you as a converted child of Yahweh desire above all else to obey Him and live for Him for the remainder of your life.
What was once important to you as a carnal individual now takes a backseat to pleasing Yahweh in everything. It means nothing less than surrendering your very life to your Creator. It comes down to saying, “All that you have said in your Word I will do and be obedient.” Paul describes it as “putting on Messiah,” Galatians 3:27.
Yahshua now rules your thoughts and your actions. His life becomes the pattern for your life. Through Yahweh’s Spirit you see the world and look at your life through His eyes. You see your earthly existence as nothing less than training for an everlasting Kingdom.
Before you commit to baptism and submit to the waters of immersion, you must be absolutely sure of your decision. You must be aware that there are severe consequences if you do not following through in your commitment to Yahweh after your baptism. The irrevocable promise you make at immersion includes complete obedience to Yahweh.
No Turning Back
At baptism you make a commitment to Yahweh to be faithful until death. Through immersion you enter into a unique New Covenant promise with Him.
A vow in Yahweh’s eyes is a binding pledge with an extremely high price for going back on your commitment. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 warns, “When you vow a vow unto Yahweh, defer not to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed. Better is it that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay.” The language of Numbers 30:2 is very clear: “If a man vow a vow unto Yahweh, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
Immediately after Yahshua was immersed by John, He underwent trials from the Adversary, Matthew 4, Luke 4. He was tempted three separate times to be unfaithful to His commitment to Yahweh His Father.
Similarly, once you repent and submit to Yahweh through the waters of immersion, you will be tried and tempted in some fashion. Satan never gives up in his unholy efforts because he wants you — Yahweh’s very own son or daughter — as a prize for himself.
In a moment of weakness you may at some point stumble and make a mistake. But Yahshua is our Advocate with the Father and Yahweh will forgive us if we truly, sincerely, and with our whole heart turn back to Him in humble submission, seeking His forgiveness.
Yahweh will show mercy to the humble and sincere person who honestly seeks His forgiveness and promises to not repeat the sin. However, if after you are baptized you turn completely away from the Truth and reject His Word, then you are in dire straits. At that point repentance is no longer possible, Hebrews 6:6, Exodus 15:2-3. With no access to forgiveness of his sin, the heretic backslider faces eternal death, James 1:15. Before you take the irrevocable step of immersion you must ask yourself, am I willing to be obedient in all things for the sake of the Kingdom? Do I desire with my whole being:
· To put Yahweh first in my life through my worship, my time, and my tithe and to place Him before my spouse, family, friends and job?
· To keep all His annual Feasts every year, along with the weekly Sabbath? Am I prepared to find other employment if necessary in order to be faithful to the Feasts and the Fourth Com-mandment?
· To be an example to others of a True believer in Yahweh in my actions and behavior each day?
· To be willing to change when I am shown to be in error?
If your answer to any of these is no, or if you have reservations about any of these questions, then you may not be ready for immersion. Baptism requires a complete change of heart and life. Adhering to the Truth of the Word is all about personal change and walking a different path that leads to salvation.
We are commanded to come out of the world (2Cor. 6:17), and that means to leave error and follow Truth. You must be willing to make permanent changes in the way you live your life so that you will be found worthy of the Kingdom.
Living for Yahweh will entail difficulty at times. Paul wrote, “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of Elohim, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of Elohim, for which you also suffer.” (NASV)
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. That is especially true of the Kingdom.
Repent and Turn Your Life Around
Every person on the planet has sinned, Romans 3:23, and sin rules in the lives of all unrepentant people. Each has racked up a grave penalty for their sins. Sin must be expunged from our lives if we hope to see the Father. Yahweh’s Spirit can’t live in the same person who has filthy, unrepented sin there as well.
The only way to remove the penalty of sin is to partake in the death and resurrection of Yahshua, which is accomplished through baptism. Colossians 2:12 explains, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of Elohim, who has raised him from the dead.”
Repentance is central to baptism and the removal of sin. A serious introspection of one’s life must occur prior to baptism.
Repentance means more than just feeling sorry for one’s sins. It means a complete turnaround in one’s attitude and life. John gives us a wonderfully clear definition of true repentance in Matthew 3.
There was nothing about John the Baptist’s message that was warm and fuzzy. It was harsh, it was strong, it was confrontational, and it was devastating because John understood how prone the sinner is to a shallow, superficial repentance that does not save.
John knew of the kind of repentance that the sinner must have. But at the same time, because it is such a clear definition of true repentance, it also exposes false repentance, or shallow repentance, or non-saving repentance.
The common term in the Old Testament for repentance is sub. Two requisites of repentance included in sub are “to turn from evil,” and “to turn to the good.” It means turning away from evil and turning to Yahweh. Three times Ezekiel included Yahweh’s call to the people of Israel: “Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (14:6); “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses” (18:30); “Turn! Turn from your evil ways” (33:11).
The Septuagint underlines this idea by usually translating sub by epi (apo-)strepho (to turn about, or to turn away from). To be abandoned are both evil intentions and evil deeds, and both motive and conduct are to be radically changed. A striking example is found in Isaiah 1:16-17: “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right.” In Luke 13:3 and 5 Yahshua said, “If you don’t repent, you’ll perish.”
In the New Testament Greek repentance is the noun metanoia and means a real change of mind and attitude toward sin itself and the cause of it, not merely the consequences of it, which affects the whole life and not merely a single act. Yahweh promises that forgiveness will follow true repentance, Ezekiel 18:21-23.
You can’t dabble in the truth. You are either in or you are out. You can’t sit on the fence. You can’t be lukewarm. Yahshua said the lukewarm or only partly committed individual is going to be spewed out like a drink of warm water. You either get in the action or you sit on the sidelines.
John the Baptist said you need to do a search of your heart. You need to turn from your sins. You need to see the dark and the low and the gross and base elements of your life. You need to see the proud nature of your heart and the perverse and crooked things and every other hindrance in your life for what it is…obstacles that keep you from walking rightly with Yahweh. True repentance requires a complete and full admission of one’s sinfulness…depth and height and length and breadth.
This brochure is written with the hope that you will come to know what baptism means and how serious and permanent a decision it is for your life. Be sure that you are completely ready to commit your life to Yahweh and to be faithful in all things before you submit to the waters of immersion.
Prayerfully seek Yahweh for guidance. Repent of your sins. And then may the angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:10)
Testifying about and sharing the Word effectively is one of the most important skills for any believer. A person’s witness can be both a benefit and a detriment, as contradictory as that may sound. Just as our tongue can be used as an instrument to bless Yahweh and curse man (James 3:9), our testimony can have the same result. We are instructed to let our light shine (Matt. 5:16) and to have a ready answer to all who may ask.
How then does a person witness in a way that is both persuasive and a blessing to Almighty Yahweh? What are some of the methods of effective witnessing? Surprisingly, the Word provides many.
Basis of All Truth
The most important of all is the primary use of Yahweh’s Scriptures themselves. All other approaches are built upon them. We find in the Book of Hebrews that Yahweh’s Word works in powerful ways. The author of this dynamic, ageless book, wrote, “For the word of Elohim is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
This passage compares the Word to a two-edged sword, which is able to discern the thoughts and motives of the individual. Understand that when we witness that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Satan wants nothing more than to discourage us from sharing the Truth. There is no weapon more powerful to oppose Satan than the Word.
Another advantage of using the Word is that it keeps personal opinion or bias from entering the discussion. In sharing the Scriptures avoid statements like, “I think” or “I believe.” Instead, simply say, “The Word says.” Who can refute the inspired text?
When Yahshua the Messiah taught He typically used and referred directly to the Scriptures. There are many examples of such in the Bible. One instance is when He was confronted by Satan after His immersion. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Elohim…Yahshua said unto him, It is written again, you shall not tempt Yahweh your Elohim…Then saith Yahshua unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, you shall worship Yahweh your Elohim, and Him only shall you serve” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).
How did Yahshua respond to Satan’s direct temptations? In every instance He replied, “It is written…” There is no example where the Messiah prefaced His response with, “I believe” or “I think.” He simply referred to the Word. No greater weapon stymies the Evil One more than the pure and unadulterated Truth of our Father in heaven. Personal opinion or man’s thinking means nothing compared to the Word. It matters not what we believe. If we cannot prove what we believe then we have a problem that must first be reconciled with the Word. When we evangelize, what we say must be based on the truth of Scripture. One of the best ways of ensuring this is to simply quote pertinent verses.
Another instance of this approach can be found in the evangel of Mark: “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6).
Yahshua could have attacked these men with personal judgment, but instead He simply yielded to the Word. As was seen in Hebrews, nothing is more impacting than the inspired Word of Almighty Yahweh. Yahshua understood this well. This is why it is so important that all believers make time to study the Word. How can we refute a false belief if we do not have adequate knowledge of the Truth?
Find Common Ground
Another key to witnessing is finding similarities, meaning focusing on those aspects of truth that might be shared. The Apostle Paul frequently used this method with often incredible results. One example can be found in his witness on Mars’ Hill. “And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bring certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN MIGHTY ONE. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. Elohim that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Sovereign of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:19-25).
On this occasion, Paul used the object with the inscription “to the unknown Mighty One” to connect to his audience. Paul was basically saying, “Let me tell about this One whom we worship.” In doing so, Paul was forming a relationship between him and his hearers. It is also noteworthy that Paul began his witness at creation. Since the “Athenians and strangers” were ignorant of Scripture, Paul began at the beginning to build a foundation. Two lessons can be derived from this example: (1) similarities may be found even in the most difficult of situations, and (2) it is often necessary to build a foundation. If we focus only on our differences, we remove the motivation for the listener to change. Part of witnessing is building a relationship. A relationship is very difficult when there is no common ground to build on.
Another time that Paul used this approach is in his first epistle to the Corinthians. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to Elohim, but under the law to Messiah), that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1Cor. 9:19-22).
Paul’s statements here again illustrate his strategy of forming a bond with his audience through similarities. He said that he became a servant to all so that he might gain the more. How did this great Apostle become a servant? To the Jews he became a Jew and to those who were without law as one without law. Is Paul saying that he followed all Jewish traditions or lived without law to win more to the faith? Absolutely not! The Apostle is stating that he found common threads with those groups and used similarities to win them to the Messiah.
Too much of anything can be a detriment. As with most of life, there must be a balance with witnessing, specifically with the volume of knowledge that can be shared. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:12 said, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
Solomon understood that excessive study could be a detriment. The same applies to witnessing one’s faith. Most individuals are capable of receiving only so much information at a time before reaching sensory overload. The limits will vary with the person, of course. The best approach is to volunteer a little and then let them ask for more. If we are not cognizant of this principle we may make it very difficult for our listener to retain the knowledge we share or worse, may discourage our listener from being receptive to future teaching. Let them digest a little at a time. Balance and moderation are keys to successful witnessing.
The detriment of excessive knowledge and the need for moderation did not escape the Apostles and elders of the early assembly. They applied this principle to the first wave of gentile converts. “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to Elohim: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day” (Acts 15:19-21).
In this passage the Apostles and elders were gathered to discuss what was to be done with the new gentile converts regarding physical circumcision. The conclusion of this meeting was that circumcision would not be required of those uncircumcised gentile converts. The reason is important. Scripture says that the elders and Apostles would not trouble the gentiles with circumcision because they understood that to burden them at this time with that requirement would have been excessive and a detriment.
Instead of requiring circumcision, the Apostles commanded that they begin their walk by abstaining from four specific practices that were all connected with their previous pagan worship. The rest of the Truth they would learn in due time as they met each Sabbath to hear the law as given on Sinai. To avoid discouraging the early converts, the Apostles and elders saw the benefit of allowing them to learn gradually. Give then only a little at a time and make them hunger for more.
Witnessing is like sowing a seed. When a seed is planted only a small amount of water is needed. Give it too much and it might wash out. But as the plant grows greater amounts of water are required. This same concept holds true for witnessing the Word. When planting the seed use moderation and discretion and don’t inundate.
Shun Personal Attacks
In addition to having self-control we should never attack or belittle another’s beliefs. That will get us nowhere. An example of a right approach can again be found in Paul encounter on Mars’ Hill. “Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious’” (Acts 17:22, NKJV).
Notice that instead of attacking these people for their pagan worship he said that he perceived that they were very interested in religious things. He himself was more religious too, so he found common ground with at least their desire to investigate. Paul understood that to attack their faith would have been counterproductive. Witnessing with aggression and a desire to humiliate is not only self-defeating, but also reflects poorly on the Faith. Personal attacks should always be avoided. They will only escalate contention and frustration.
Even when he was confronted with pagan worship Paul had a way of approaching the situation in a manner that disarmed them and connected with his listeners simultaneously. Yahweh’s people should follow this example. His approach is dignified, sincere, and effective at drawing them in to desire more of Yahweh’s Word.
Let Your Light Shine
Perhaps the easiest, and one of the most influential ways to evangelize is by personal example. The Messiah in Matthew 5:15-16 commanded that all believers were to allow their lights to shine: “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Our Savior commanded us to allow our light to shine so that our good works would be a positive testimony to Yahweh. Someone said, “You may be the only Bible someone else reads.” The examples that we set by our lives may indeed be the only model of truth that some will ever experience. With this principle in mind, it is crucial that we live daily according to the Word.
It is important that we understand that our examples can either be a blessing or an obstacle. If we willfully commit sin then we may discourage others from the Faith. For a believer, hypocrisy is not an option. As our Savior lived a life free from sin, we must strive to do the same. “For even hereunto were ye called: because the Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22).
This principle not only applies to witnessing, but also to personal relationships. Peter encourages wives to win over their unbelieving husbands by their good works: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives,” 1Peter 3:1. The word “conversation” comes from the Greekanastrophe, meaning “behavior.”
No matter what situation we are discussing, living a life that reflects our Savior can lead others to change and to accept the truth of Almighty Yahweh. Whether it is a wife trying to win over her husband or a believer trying to win over a friend, we must always set a right example. If our examples contradict our words then we lose credibility and what we say will fall on deaf ears.
The Virtue of Patience
In addition to the other techniques, patience and refraining from anger are indispensable when witnessing. Solomon in Proverbs 15:18 wrote, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.” According to Solomon anger creates more strife. Our discussion may already be fragile and adding emotion will only push it over the edge and defeat our goal. Our goal should be to ensure that our witness is a positive experience for both us and the person we are communicating with. Being impatient and argumentative will ensure that this won’t happen.
While anger causes strife, patience calms strife. When we witness we must learn to control our emotions, especially anger, and to be patient. Remember that in many cases, it is not what we say but how we say it. When we confront someone face to face they see our facial expressions, which speak just as loudly as what we may say. If what we say is in strife, then no matter what validity we may have it is all for nothing. It is also important to remember that not everyone is on the same spiritual level. While some may accept certain truths quickly, others may not. This is why patience is a virtue when witnessing the Word.
Scripture is clear that discretion is key when witnessing. Not everyone is in a position to receive Yahweh’s Word, especially those who are in open defiance to their Father in Heaven. Yahshua warned us of this in Matthew 7:6: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
In other words, we are not to share Yahweh’s word with those who would reject or pollute that Word. If discretion and wisdom are not used then our witness may not only fall on rebellious ears, but may also come back to bite us. In 2 Peter 2:12 we find that there are some who are “as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed.” These people have no regard for Yahweh’s Word and will destroy it if possible, especially that which is holy. This is the reason we are told to abstain from sharing the Truth with those who would scorn, abuse, and defile it.
Wait on Yahweh
The last principle to understand is the one that often causes the most frustration. When we witness we must learn to wait on Yahweh and to accept His will. Even though our witness is often motivated from a deep desire to see a person change, we must understand that only Yahweh can change hearts and minds. In many cases, regardless of the evidence we present or how well we may articulate our words, it is not meant for some people to see the truth. Not everyone is called at this time.
We find in Matthew 13:10-13 that this was the reason why Yahshua spoke in parables: “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”
In this passage Yahshua explains that he spoke in parables to avoid revealing the truth to those whom it was not given. It is not Yahweh’s desire that all receive knowledge of His Word today. A truth that is often missed by many Bible believers is that today is not the only day for salvation. Scripture speaks of two resurrections, one for the saints in Messiah (1 Cor. 15:23, Rev. 20:6) and one for the rest of mankind (Rev. 20:11-15). All of mankind at some point will have an opportunity to learn and accept the promise of salvation; some have that opportunity today, while others will have that opportunity in the future.
Keep this principle in mind when sharing the Word. Yahweh may have a reason for not revealing his truth at this time to someone we might know. Even though it may be disappointing, we must have faith that Yahweh is in control and has a plan for those whom we love. Life often has a way of taking turns we cannot always foresee. When our witness does not take root then we must leave that seed to Yahweh.
From the Apostle Paul we learn that only Yahweh can bring forth the increase. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Master gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but Elohim gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth is any thing, neither he that watereth; but Elohim that giveth the increase” (1Corinthians 3:5-7).
In this passage we find that while we can plant and water, we cannot bring fourth the increase; only Yahweh can produce the fruit of our labor. Yahweh is the only one who can open eyes and change hearts and minds of men. Even the greatest orators in the history of man have failed to convince some. Wait on Yahweh.
To witness the Word effectively we must use discretion and wisdom. We must engage those techniques that cultivate success and avoid those that only offend. Considering the weight and significance of our witness, it is of necessity that we strive to present the best witness possible. Our witness can be both a benefit and a detriment; may our witness not be of the latter.
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As Ed sat in his pew listening to his minister explain the afterlife, he was baffled as to why there was such a discrepancy between what he was hearing and what he was reading in the Bible. Is it possible that his minister and so many others were wrong about what follows death? he wondered.
Even though he did not fully comprehend the afterlife, he saw numerous contradictions when he compared the Scriptures with common teachings. If you’re like Ed and are looking for the scriptural truth about what happens at death, and have found many discrepancies in nominal teachings, you are not alone.
The majority of what we hear today about the afterlife simply does not agree with Scripture. Many of these teachings are the result of Greek philosphy and centuries of tradition embraced by the church.
In this inquiry we will examine exactly what the Bible says about death, what it means to die, how long death lasts and where we go when we die. For example, does Scripture really say that the righteous go to heaven while the ignorant or sinners burn forever in a relentless hell-fire? You might be surprised by what your Heavenly Father reveals in His Word. Get out your Bible and let’s begin an honest inquiry.
No Man Has Ascended
Possibly the most eye-opening discovery at the start of our investigation is what our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah plainly says in John 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
The Messiah Himself verifies that only He has been to heaven. The word “ascended” comes from the Greek anabaino and means “to go up” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds, “to rise, to mount, to be borne up, to spring up.”
Peter confirms this truth in his dynamic sermon on the day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day…For David is not ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:29, 34).
If anyone would have been found worthy of heaven it would have been David. After all, he had a heart after Yahweh’s own and is guaranteed the position of prince in the coming millennial Kingdom, Ezekiel 37:24. If the believer is immediately wafted off to heaven at death it would seem certain that David of all people would have ascended to heaven when he died. Based on what Peter and other Scriptures tell us, however, it never happened. David is still dead and awaiting the resurrection.
But what about Yahshua’s description of heavenly mansions in the book of John? Did He not promise that a heavenly paradise awaits the saved? Let’s investigate. We read in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
At first blush this passage seems to describe a heavenly paradise. However, as we often must do when digging out the truth, we need to look below the surface. Yahshua here is not speaking of places of eternal dwelling but of positions of authority in His governing family.
The word “house” is from the Greek oikia, which by extension refers to a family, and the word “mansions” is derived from the Greek root meno, meaning “to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s Concordance). This passage would be better rendered, “In my Father’s [family] are many [positions]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a [position] for you.” When the Messiah returns the saints will receive offices as priests in Yahweh’s Kingdom (Rev. 20:6) and will reign on the earth, not in heaven (Rev. 2:26; 5:10).
Spirit (Breath of Life) Returns to Yahweh
If we don’t go to heaven, where then do we go? We find the answer in two key passages. The first is from the pen of King David and speaks about the death of human beings: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust,” Psalm 104:29. The second is from his son, Solomon, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto Elohim who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
When we die our bodies go to dust and our spirit goes back to Yahweh. Spirit is the Hebrew ruach and means,”wind; by resemblance breath,” Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines ruach as “spirit (used of the living, breathing being in man and animals); as gift, preserved by [Elohim], [Yahweh’s] spirit, departing at death.”
Ruach literally means a burst of air, and by extension, breath of life. It can also refer to spirit beings and to the Holy Spirit. In the context of the aforementioned passages, it represents the life that Yahweh our Father in heaven breathes into every living soul or human being, as can also be seen from the following:
• “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life [ruach], from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die,” Genesis 6:17.
• “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life [ruach],” Genesis 7:15.
• “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath [ruach] of all mankind,” Job 12:10.
• “Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath [ruach] in them,” Jeremiah 51:17.
• “Thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath [ruach] to enter into you, and ye shall live,” Ezekiel 37:5.
To make a person come alive Yahweh breathes the breath of life into him or her, just as He did with the first humans, Genesis 2:7. According to Genesis 7:15 this breath of life is also given to animals so that they come alive. Unlike our life, however, the life essence of animals does not return to Yahweh but goes down to the earth, Ecclesiastes 3:21.
Ezekiel’s statement in 37:5 is key. It’s a reference to the second resurrection when Yahweh will revive His people Israel. Once he restores the fleshly body He will return the breath of life or ruach to each person in the second resurrection.
While the first resurrection is to spirit essence (1Cor. 15:42-44), the second resurrection is to physical life, meaning that those in it will be resurrected to flesh with the potential to live forever, the same potential Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden before their sin. This is likely the reason for the tree of life in New Jerusalem, Revelation 22:2. Those who eat of it will have perpetual life.
In the New Testament the parallel word that corresponds to the Hebrew ruach is the Greek word pneuma. Strong’s defines this word as, “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) [Elohim], [Messiah’s] spirit, the Holy Spirit.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words further states, “pneuma NT:4151 primarily denotes “the wind” (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath”; then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful….”
The essence of ruach and pneuma is defined as a current of air, i.e., wind, or breath. It is the breath of life. By extension, it also signifies angelic beings as well as the Holy Spirit.
This meaning is verified in Revelation 11:11, “And after three days and a half the Spirit [pneuma] of life from Elohim entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” At the end of the age, after the two witnesses prophesy for 1,260 days, the Man of Sin will kill them and their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three-and-a-half days. After this time, at the return of Yahshua the Messiah, the breath of life (pneuma) will be restored to them and they will stand on their feet as a witness against those who defied the will of Almighty Yahweh. Yahweh always has His representatives on earth through times of trial.
Perish the Thought
When we die our spirit or ruach returns to Yahweh. All our thoughts and awareness of our world come to a complete end, Ecclesiastes 12:7. There is no more consciousness at death.
Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5 wrote, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.” King David confirmed this fact about death in Psalm 146:4: “His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”
When the ruach returns to Yahweh two things happen. First, our bodies return to the dust and second, our thoughts, which include all mental awareness, totally stop. The word “thoughts” is from the Hebrew eshtonah which literally means, “thinking” (Strong’s). The word “perish” is the Hebrew abad, a primitive root that means, “to wander away, i.e. lose oneself; by implication to perish or destroy” (Strong’s).
The Hebrew clearly shows that when our spirit returns to Yahweh that our ability to think stops; at death we fall into total unconsciousness. Ruach does not mean an “immortal soul” but rather the life-force that our Father gives to each living person. Through His prophet Yahweh stated, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4.
Scripture nowhere teaches that death is an automatic portal to another life. The following passages show that death is like sleep: “Now shall I sleep in the dust; and you shall seek me in the morning, but I shall not be,” Job 7:21.”For in death there is no remembrance of You: In the grave who shall give You thanks?” Psalm 6:5. “And he [Stephen] kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, ‘Master, lay not this sin to their charge.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep,” Acts 7:60. “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of Elohim, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption,” Acts 13:36.
Daniel shows that only at the resurrections do the dead come alive again: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,” Daniel 12:2. Paul called the rising of the Messiah from the dead, “the firstfruits of them that slept,” 1Corinthians 15:20, 23.
Immortality Belief: Relic from the Mysteries
If the immortality of the soul belief is not rooted in Scripture, where did it originate and how did it end up in popular teachings?
The Jewish Encyclopedia, in the article, “Immortality of the Soul,” says, “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere taught in the Holy Scripture….The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended.”
Like many of today’s popular teachings, belief in an immortal soul is a legacy of ancient pagan beliefs handed down through the millennia. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived during the fifth century B.C.E., immortal soul beliefs trace directly back to the mystery religion of the Egyptians: “The Egyptians were the first that asserted that the soul of man is immortal…This opinion some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their own” (Euterpe, chapter 123).
The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature corroborates, “Perhaps we may say that the idea of immortality assumed a more definite shape among the Egyptians, for they clearly recognized not only a dwelling-place of the dead, but also a future judgment. ‘Osiris, the beneficent god, judges the dead,’ and, ‘having weighed their heart in the scales of justice, he sends the wicked to regions of darkness, while the just are sent to dwell with the god of light.’ The latter, we read on an inscription, ‘found favor before the great G-d; they dwell in glory, where they live a heavenly life; the bodies they have quitted will forever repose in their tombs, while they rejoice in the life of the supreme Gd.’ Immortality was thus plainly taught, although bound up with it was the idea of the preservation of the body, to which they attached great importance, as a condition of the soul’s continued life; and hence they built vast tombs, and embalmed their bodies, as if to last forever,” Immorality, p. 514. This same exhaustive source also explains the connection between immortality and the ancient eastern religions of Hinduism and Confucianism:
“Hindus – In the sacred books of Hindus called the Veda, ‘immorality of the soul, as well as personal immortality and personal responsibility after death, is clearly proclaimed….’
“Chinese – While it is true that Confucius himself did not expressly teach the immortality of the soul, nay, that he rather purposely seems to have avoided entering upon this subject at all…it is nevertheless implied in the worship which the Chinese pray to their ancestors….” p. 513.
Eventually these pagan beliefs were handed down to the Greeks, who then delivered them to Judaism and Christianity, forever changing the concept of the soul for western religion. According to Plato, a Greek philosopher and mathematician schooled by Socrates, the soul could not be destroyed. In Plato’s dialog Phaedo he states, “The soul whose inseparable attribute is life will never admit of life’s opposite, death. Thus the soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible….”
Contrary to the beliefs of the pagan Plato, the soul is not immortal. As Ezekiel wrote, “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Life Essence Is Called ‘Soul’
The word “soul” comes from the Hebrew nephesh and means “a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):” (Strong’s). It first appears in Genesis 1:20 where we read, “And Elohim said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh] that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
As we see, the word “soul” does not refer to an indestructible inner spirit, but to the life bestowed by Yahweh on His creation, including animals. The words “immortal” and “soul” never occur together anywhere in Scripture.
Following are more uses of nephesh:
• “And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [nephesh],” Genesis 2:7.
• “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life [nephesh] of man,” Genesis 9:5.
• “And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons [nephesh], and take the goods to thyself,” Genesis 14:21.
• “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life [nephesh] for life [nephesh],” Exodus 21:23.
Immortal Soul Arguments Answered
We’ll now look at some of the popular passages often cited by advocates of the immortal soul belief. The first is in Genesis 35:18 where Rachel was giving birth: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”
Many will point to the phrase, “soul was in departing,” as indicating that the soul as an immortal, inner spirit flitters away to heaven at death. The problem is that the word “soul” or “nephesh” refers not to a separate being or essence but simply to the life of the person. When we die our life leaves us, just as it does with animals.
The New International Version (NIV) translates the phrase simply as “she breathed her last….” The same phrase is in the Jewish TANAKH. Both the NIV and the TANAKH refer to the life breath of Rachel, as do the Modern Language Bible and The Torah: The Five Books of Moses (“she breathed her last”).
In 1Kings 17:21 Elijah is restoring life to a child, translated “soul”: “And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto Yahweh, and said, O Yahweh my Elohim, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.” Soul here is nephesh.
Here is an incredible story of Yahweh’s healing through the prophet Elijah (properly EliYah, meaning, “my El is Yah”). In response to the boy’s death, EliYah prayed that Yahweh would restore the soul or life of the child. In verse 22 we find that Yahweh answered his prayer: “And Yahweh heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” The word “soul” used here again is nephesh, referring to the life force of the boy.
An immortal essence (“soul”) does not make an individual come to life, rather, the soul IS the life. The NIV reads, “…let this boy’s life return to him.” The TANAKH reads, “…let this child’s life return to his body.” From the NIV and Jewish TANAKH we see that the word “soul” or nephesh is not referring to an immortal essence in a person, but simply to his or her life.
We use the same terminology when speaking of human life when we say, “many souls were lost” in a disaster.
Did Enoch and Elijah Head to Heaven?
Many read Hebrews 11:5 where Enoch was “translated that he should not see death” and believe he went to heaven (a clear contradiction of Yahshua’s statement in John 3:13 that no one has gone to heaven). Later in verse 13 we find that Enoch died in faith, along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others – and not of them has yet to receive the promise of everlasting life (“not having received the promises”).
The word “translated” here is the Greek metatithemi and simply means carried. Yahweh carried him to a different location on earth. It is the same word used in Acts 7:16 where Jacob died in Egypt and was carried to Sychem for burial. Similarly, after baptizing the eunuch Phillip was caught away by the Spirit, but was seen later at Azotus, 34 miles from Gaza. “Translated” is never used in Scripture to mean “was made immortal.”
Yahweh mercifully took Enoch out of the social situation he was in to remove any opportunity to jeopardize his salvation. The verb tense is future conditional, meaning he was taken so he “would not die,” meaning the judgment of the second death (John 8:51, 11:26). This also means that Enoch will be in the first resurrection at Yahshua’s return, as he has not yet seen the promises.
Why did Yahweh do this for Enoch? Read the last part of the verse: “for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased Elohim.” By his life Enoch showed himself to be a true follower of Yahweh and was blessed by this gracious act of Yahweh because of it.
Many assume Eliyah (Elijah) in 2 Kings 2:9-11 was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. If that’s true then why do we find him 10 years later back on earth writing a letter of chastisement to a king? (2Chronicles 21:12). Obviously he was still earthbound, writing to and warning Jehoram of Judah about the king’s impending punishment.
The Bible speaks of three heavens: the air above us, outer space, and the place where Yahweh dwells. Whirlwinds exist only in the atmosphere surrounding the planet, the first heaven, and was the conveyance by which Eliyah went up, v. 2:11.
If Eliyah had gone to the third heaven to be with Yahweh, then why did Elisha consent to allow 50 sons of the prophets to search three days for him in the mountains and valleys? (2:17) They would never have done so if they, along with the Holy Spirit-directed Elisha, thought that Eliyah had gone to be with Yahweh.
The account in Matthew 17 of Moses and Eliyah on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yahshua also leads some to believe in an immortal soul. But in verse 9 Yahshua tells the three disciples who witnessed it that it was a “vision” (Greek horamah, meaning a supernaturally granted spectacle). This vision was used to accentuate Yahshua’s teachings about immortality in the kingdom to come.
Rich Man Inflamed?
In Luke 16 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Realize that this is but a story used indirectly to illustrate a point. Parables are rich with metaphor and by nature are a step removed from literal reality. Yahshua is talking about the Pharisees here, symbolized by the rich man who dressed and ate well.
These religious leaders know the truth, yet they reject it. Converted gentiles are represented by the beggar Lazarus, who lives by every morsel of truth given him and ultimately is rewarded for his willing obedience to what he learns.
In the allegory we find Lazarus dead and buried and carried by the angels into “Abraham’s bosom.” According to theologian John Lightfoot in speaking of death the Pharisees would say, “This day he sits in Abraham’s bosom” (Commentary on the Gospels, vol. 12, pp. 159-163). This unique expression means that he joined Abraham and his other deceased fore-fathers in the grave. See 1Kings 1:21; 2:10, 11:21. Abraham was not in heaven because later on Hebrews 11:13 distinctly tells us that Abraham “died in faith NOT having received the promises.”
Verses 22-23 in Luke 16 read, “…the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell [hades] he lifted up his eyes…” The Vulgate and Syriac versions exclude part of this verse and simply read, “and was buried in hades.” Hades is the grave. This fact is confirmed by the word “torments” in verse 23. Torments is basanos and means, “going to the bottom” of the grave.
Continuing in verse 24: “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
The rich man’s tongue is dry because of his intense anxiety at being shut out of salvation and he wants his tongue refreshed with a drop of water. If he were in hell fire he would have asked for a flood of water to put out the flames! A drop of water would do nothing to relieve the excruciation in an environment of burning sulphur and fiery brimstone. Furthermore, “tormented” has nothing to do with physical torture but relates to mental anguish. It means he was distressed, grieved (odunaomai, Companion Bible note).
Being that this is only a parable, Yahshua animates these dead men to prove a point – that the Pharisees (v. 19) will be shut out of the promises, Matthew 5:20.
The additional meaning of the parable is that repentance is impossible once we die. Death ends all possibilities to change our lives. Psalm 88:10 asks, “Will you show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you?”
Wise King Solomon wrote: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest,” Ecclesiastes 9:10.
Let’s now consider a few notable passages in the New Testament.
What Yahshua said in Matthew 10:28 is one of the most frequently cited verses to support the immortal soul belief. It states, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” KJV.
What did Yahshua mean by, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body….”? Was He saying that the body and soul were distinct, with the soul being immortal? To understand we must look at the Greek.
The word “body” here is the Greek soma. Strong’s defines it as “the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively.” The word “soul” comes from the Greek psuche. According to Strong’s this word is from 5594, psucho, meaning to breathe voluntarily. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew nephesh, or life force. Only Yahweh can destroy the body as well as terminate the life force that goes back to Him at death. He does this at the second death in the lake of fire (gehenna). There is no resurrection to life fromgehenna. When we understand the Greek, our Savior is simply saying, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both the breath, i.e., life, and body….” There’s nothing in this passage indicating the immortality of man’s soul. It is not immortal if it can be destroyed.
Sacrificing for the Faith
Before moving on from this passage let’s review. The Hebrew equivalents for Greek NT:5594, psucho, and NT:4151, pneuma, are OT:5315, nephesh, and OT:7307, ruach. Hebrew’s exact equivalents of these Greek words show how they were originally defined and used in the Old Testament, the foundation of the Scriptures. We must also consider two other examples. The first is Revelation 6:9: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of Elohim, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Yahweh, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
This fifth seal of Revelation represents the martyrdom of the saints. Many will use this passage to support the immortal soul notion. They will point out that the souls here are crying out for retribution on their enemies.
The Bible often uses symbolism and metaphor. For example, in Genesis 4:10 Abel’s blood is personified as crying out. “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Was Abel’s blood literally crying out from the ground? Of course not. This passage is just figurative speech, which is very common in the Hebrew language. Just as Abel’s blood symbolically cried out from the grave, we find the same type of speech here in Revelation, where the saints are symbolically calling out for Yahweh to avenge their deaths.
The intent of this passage was not to show that man is immortal, but to confirm that those who die to Messiah will receive white robes representing eternal life in His coming Kingdom.
In Revelation 20:4 we find another example of this type of speech. It reads, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yahshua, and for the word of Yahweh, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years.”
The word “souls” in this verse is from the Greek psuche, corresponding to the Hebrew nephesh. As we’ve seen, neither word refers to an immortal soul, but to the life and breath of individuals. (How do you behead an immortal soul?) The timing here is important. This isn’t referring to immortal souls in heaven, but to the future Kingdom on earth when the saints will rule with the Messiah as priests, Revelation 5:10.
Second Resurrection Is to Physical Life
Paul in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 reveals that the second resurrection takes place at the Messiah’s Second Coming: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yahshua will Elohim bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Master shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
This is the greatest promise we have as believers. When our Savior returns to the earth those in Messiah who died will rise first in this first resurrection, followed at that time by the righteous who are still alive. Death is not final; for those found worthy of Yahweh’s grace, death is but the beginning.
Imagine witnessing our Savior coming down from heaven with thousands of angels and seeing the saints coming forth from their graves and those already alive following them, to meet him in the clouds! This is the reward that awaits those found worthy. There’s no greater assurance than the promise of the resurrection for those who love our Father in heaven.
When Yahshua descends from heaven all will hear the shout of an archangel and the deafening trumpet blast of Yahweh. Contrary to popular belief, there will be no secret rapture but a visible return of our Savior.
More on the Order of the Resurrections
Paul further details the sequence of the resurrections in his first epistle to the Corinthians, “But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at his coming,” 1Corinthians 15:20-23.
Yahshua was the first of the firstfruits to be resurrected, symbolic of the firstfruits of the barley harvest in the Old Testament offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yahshua’s resurrection depicted the firstfruits of a larger harvest of human souls in the New Testament.
Notice also the comparison between Adam and the Messiah. In Adam all died, but in Messiah all shall be made alive. Only by Yahshua can we achieve eternal salvation through His resurrection. Through His blood we find justification and the hope of everlasting life. If it were not for Yahshua the Messiah and His atoning blood, we would all be dead in our sins.
To share in the Messiah’s resurrection at His second coming we must first be baptized into His death: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua Messiah were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection….” Romans 6:3-5.
When we are immersed into His Name we die to our old man and from that point onward our life or nephesh belongs to Him. This is why baptism into Yahshua’s Name is so important!
Kingdom Will Come to Earth
What happens next for those found worthy of the second resurrection? Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Those in the first resurrection will rule as priests with the Messiah for a millennium or thousand years. Imagine, at this time the saints will be changed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible, and will then be with their Savior forever.
Notice that the second death will have no power over those in the first resurrection. As Israel was exempt from most of the plagues of Egypt, those in the first resurrection will not be in danger of the second death.
Do you comprehend the significance of this promise? Yahweh is guaranteeing everlasting life to all who will devote their lives to Him now! Those in the first resurrection will have already passed judgment and been granted immortality. They will be with the Messiah for eternity.
Where will the saints be in the millennial Kingdom? Many would say in heaven, but Scripture says otherwise. Revelation 5:10 confirms, “And hast made us unto our Elohim kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” The saints will reign under Yahshua and David on the earth during the future Kingdom.
The millennial Kingdom is a time of restoration. Along with the Messiah, the saints will be teaching Yahweh’s ways to those who survive the Great Tribulation: “And though Yahweh give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers,” Isaiah 30:20.
But what about those who died never having the opportunity to learn and live the truth of their Heavenly Father? Are they forever doomed?
Second Resurrection Comes after the Millennium
John of Patmos provides a description of the second resurrection in Revelation 20:11-15, sometimes called the Great White Throne Judgment. It reads, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away: and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Elohim; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Great White Throne Judgment is for all mankind, excluding those who were found worthy of the first resurrection. Books will be opened for the judgment. While the Word doesn’t say what information these books contain, we can safely assume that one contains a record of our lives. Another book is likely Yahweh’s Word, the standard of judgment, which will be the Constitution in the coming Kingdom. At this time all of mankind will be judged from these books based on how they lived, or as we find in verse 13, their works.
Requirements of the First Resurrection
This message of Yahweh’s Kingdom coming to earth is nonexistent in nearly all modern teachings. Most erroneously think we leave this world and go to heaven, but they don’t know what they are supposed to do there. Many also believe that we are under grace alone, that grace overrides works and therefore they have no need of works. This is not the message we find in Scripture. Yahweh states that we will be judged according to our works, Revelation 2:23, Jeremiah 17:10. So where does that leave the “grace by faith alone” doctrine?
While salvation is based on our Father’s grace (Rom. 6:23), we still have an obligation to obey the commandments to be found worthy of His grace. In the book of Jude, verse 4, we find this warning, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, wicked men, turning the grace of our Elohim into lasciviousness, and denying the only Sovereign Yahweh, and our Master Yahshua Messiah.”
Yahweh’s grace is not a license to continue in sin. Upon repentance we are to change our lives and abide by Yahweh’s moral standards. This is accomplished by obedience to His commandments, 1John 2:3, Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14. Those who teach that the commandments are no longer obligatory are guilty of turning Yahweh’s grace into lasciviousness (lawlessness).
What about those who were not law observant because of ignorance? Will they be given an opportunity for salvation? Those who lived a moral life based on what they understood will certainly receive grace in the judgment. Yahshua alludes to this in John 9:41 when He said “…If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”
He also provides a second example in Matthew 11:23, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to the grave: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
While Yahweh’s law is always present, His condemnation is not. Yahweh doesn’t hold to account actions done in ignorance. If we are indeed unaware of keeping certain commandments (e.g. the Sabbath, Feasts, Yahweh’s Name, etc.), He overlooks that disobedience.
But we also find this principle in Acts 17:30, “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Notice that once we know the truth we must repent and follow that truth. Willful ignorance is unacceptable to our Father and Savior. Deliberate disobedience will be punished.
Traditions of Hellfire
We read earlier from Revelation 20, “And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.” The word hades is traditionally rendered “hell” and has been understood as a place of perpetual torment. The fact is, this belief is nowhere in the Bible but only in myth and man’s traditions.
The current concept of hell developed from Greek influence, according to authors Alan F. Johnson and Robert E. Webber in their book, What Christians Believe–A Biblical and Historical Summary. “In the intertestamental period there were significant developments in eschatological themes. The first relates to the development of a compartmental view of sheol. When the righteous and the wicked die, they go to different places. This is to be contrasted with the Old Testament view that sheol is the place where both the righteous and wicked go. Under the growing influence of Greek concepts of a distinct body and soul, some Jews taught that after death ‘the immortal and perishable soul, once detached from the ties of the flesh and thus freed from bondage, flies happily upwards’ [quote from Flavius Josephus, The Jewish Wars, II, VII.2]…On the other hand the wicked go to sheol, which is now identified with the Greek hades. This region of damnation is also called gehenna, a place of eternal fire (originally the old rubbish heap and a place of child sacrifice south of Mount Zion in Jerusalem). It was known as the Valley of Hinnom,” pp. 423-424.
The current concept of hell as an ever-burning fire is completely missing from the Old and New testaments and arose only through pagan traditions of man. This belief was further propagated and solidified in the 14th century through the “Inferno,” the prologue to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Scholars say Dante wrote the Divine Comedy as retribution against his political rivals, whose evils are featured in the work. He depicts sheol or hades as a place of fire and torment in the earth for those who do wrong during their lifetimes. Images of this epic-poem continue to influence New Testament believers today.
Sheol, Gehenna, and Hades Analyzed
While these words come from different languages, not one refers to an ever-burning hell fire in Scripture. Let’s examine each one individually.
Sheol appears 66 times in the Old Testament and is rendered in the KJV as, “grave, hell and pit.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines sheol as, “Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates.” Notice that Strong’s defines this word as the “world of the dead.” This “world” included both the righteous and the wicked, as shown in Genesis 37:35, “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave [Heb. sheol] unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.” In this account Jacob is mourning the assumed death of his righteous son Joseph.
Gehenna refers to the Valley of Hinnom. It was a place where the Israelites burned their trash and sacrificed their children to Molech, an abominable practice abhorred by Almighty Yahweh. This word occurs 12 times in the New Testament and in every instance is rendered “hell” in the KJV. Strong’s defines this word as, “…of Hebrew origin [OT:1516 .and OT:2011]; valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment.” The Valley of Hinnon was not a place of perpetual torment, but one of total, eternal destruction. In other words, those who go to “hell” will reap the totality of Yahweh’s judgment. However, the concept of burning forever is foreign to Scripture.
Hades appears 11 times in the New Testament and means, “the place
(state) of departed souls,” Strong’s. The Complete Word Study New Testament, under its Lexical Aids, states that hades, “corresponds to sheol in the Old Testament,” and that, “both words have been inadequately translated in the KJV as hell.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, in biblical Greek this word was associated with “Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits. Usually hades is just the abode of the wicked, Luke 16:23; Rev.20:13,14; a very uncomfortable place.”
Keep in mind that this understanding developed through pagan Greek thought and philosophy. For that reason it’s essential that we interpret the word hades based on Scripture.
What About Eternal Fire?
You might be wondering, what about the references in Scripture to eternal fire? To the surprise of many, this phrase does not refer to an everlasting punishing. From the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah we learn that “eternal fire” simply refers to the finality of Yahweh’s judgment: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 7.
From the Restoration Study Bible we see that the phrase “refers both to its ability to continue burning in the presence of sufficient fuel, as well as its lasting effects….” The latter explains the eternal nature of this punishment. It is not the fire that burns forever, but the punishment or sentence of judgment that remains forever. Sodom and Gomorrah no longer burn, but Yahweh’s judgment on them will be forever remembered. Two additional examples are found in Jeremiah:
• “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched,” Jeremiah 17:27.
• “Therefore thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched,” Jeremiah 7:20.
These prophecies were fulfilled when Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. It says this fire would not be “quenched.” This word comes from the Hebrew kabah, a primitive root, meaning, “to expire or (causatively) to extinguish (fire, light, anger).” As with Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not referring to eternal fire, but to fire that no one shall put out until it has completely burned up its fuel, a comparison to the totality of Yahweh’s judgment.
Yahshua Was Dead and Never Visited the Fires of Hell
If hell or hades were a place of suffering for the wicked, why then do we find it used in reference to believers? For example in Acts 2:27, 31 we find that even Yahshua the Messiah was in hell: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption…He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Messiah, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
If hell is a place of eternal torment for wrongdoing, why was Yahshua there? And if those who go there can’t possibly get out, why isn’t He still there? Church tradition says that Yahshua went to “hell” to preach to the wicked who were sent there, but Scripture is clear that for three days and three nights He was in the “heart of the earth,” a figure of speech that means the grave, Matthew 12:40.
Further verifica-tion is found in the context of verse 31, where Paul connects “hell” with corruption or decay, a state associated only with the grave. If Yahshua did not die, but went to preach to the wretched in hell fire, then His sacrifice did not pay the death penalty that our sins require. If typical church beliefs about His visit to hell are correct, then He never actually died and we have no salvation.
The Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 15:55 provides another example, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” The word “grave” here is derived from hades. Not only is this verse referring to the saints, those who will be found worthy of the first resurrection, but it also connects hades with total death.
Clearly, hell is not solely reserved for the wicked, and is not a place of continual torment in the Scriptures. It is simply the grave where all the dead remain until the resurrection.
Heavenly Paradise Coming to Earth
Following the Great White Throne Judgment of the second resurrection, John of Patmos provides an image that could be described only as, “heavenly paradise on earth.” He states, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from Elohim out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and Yahweh himself shall be with them, and be their Elohim. And Elohim shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” Revelation 21:1-4.
For those found worthy of Yahweh’s calling, this is the prize. After the Millennium (and the second death), Yahweh our Father will bring His holy city, New Jerusalem, to earth. In His Kingdom there will be no more tears, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain.
Imagine such a paradise! Yahweh Himself will finally make His abode with men. He will be their Mighty One and they shall be His people. That has been His desire and plan for mankind from the beginning.
John further describes this awe-inspiring city: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from Elohim, Having the glory of Elohim: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb… And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein : for Yahweh El Shaddai and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of Elohim did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof,” Revelation 21:10-14, 18-23.
The description of this city is breathtaking. Imagine walls of jasper and streets of transparent gold! Rulership in this Kingdom on earth awaits those who devote their lives now to our Father Yahweh and to His Son, Yahshua the Messiah, Revelation 2:26.
Our lives are transitory; the life to come is eternal, full of happiness and blessings beyond measure. There will be no end to Yahweh’s Kingdom. Regardless of our current trials in this world, we have hope for a wonderful promise ahead if we prove faithful to the end.
Time to Make a Critical Decision
Teaching that the soul is not immortal, the Bible presents a serious choice for us. Scripture speaks of two resurrections. How we live now will determine whether we receive everlasting life in the first resurrection or face judgment in the second resurrection. Daniel 12:2 provides one of the first glimpses in the Word of the resurrection: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel distinguishes the two resurrections here.
Only two possibilities exist in the second resurrection. We will either be raised to everlasting life or be condemned to everlasting contempt. Our fate will be determined by the lives we live now. Many view death as a permanent state, but death is only a temporary type of sleep as we lose awareness or consciousness in the grave.
If we strive to live a moral, obedient life according to our Father’s Word, we will have an opportunity for everlasting life. Those, however, who know and understand and yet through their own rebellion refuse to obey, will find themselves in an unfavorable condition.
Paul admonished the assembly at Philippi, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12.
That message is the same today.
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From the beginning this nation has stood as a beacon of hope to the world. The principles that formed the foundation of this once great country were different from all others before it. As John Adams, a founding father, once stated, “Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence… What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be” (Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9).
Clearly from the writings of John Adams and other founders who shared his view on government and morality, it was a widespread hope that every person would live life based on the moral precepts of the Bible. If they did, we would have a much different world today. It’s not hard to see, however, that something has gone horribly wrong, especially with the ever-increasing acts of violence committed by today’s youth.
In 1973 one key court decision greatly contributed to the moral decline of our culture and that was the federal ruling to allow abortion. Since this infamous day, millions of legalized abortions have been committed under the banner of pro-choice and women’s rights. Even though many see the abortion issue as only political, the truth is, it is a deeply moral issue that every Bible believer should stand up and cry out against. It is a travesty of complete disregard for the lives of children.
We hope that after reviewing this publication you will agree that abortion is not only morally wrong, but it is also up to every believer concerned about the future of the culture to stand against the practice. To understand the gravity of the issue, let’s begin with the number of abortions here and abroad.
In 2008 there were 1.21 million abortions reported in America, down from the 1.31 million in 2000. According to the National Right to Life Committee (the largest and oldest pro-life organization) and the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011 the number of abortions dropped to 1.05 million.
Even though we’ve seen a decrease in the number of abortions, we’re still seeing over a million abortions per year. Since the notorious court case of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, we’ve seen over 50 million legal abortions. The current population of the state of California is 38,332,521, according to a July, 2013, census report. This means that one child has died for every man, woman, and child living in California … plus 12 million more!
In addition to domestic abortions, the number of international abortions is nothing short of a travesty. Based on a study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008 there were 43.8 million abortions worldwide. Below is a breakdown by region:
Region No. of Abortions (millions)
Excluding Eastern Europe………………………………..3.2
In addition to the number of abortions, it’s important to understand the demographics behind this epidemic. According to the Guttmacher Institute:
Eighteen percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers; those aged 15–17 obtain 6% of all abortions, 18 to19-year-olds account for 11%, and teens younger than 15 account for 0.4%.
Women in their 20s account for more than half of all abortions: Women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and women aged 25-29 obtain 24%.
Non-Hispanic white women have 36% of the abortions, non-Hispanic black women 30%, Hispanic women 25% and women of other races account for 9%.
Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant and 28% identify as Catholic.
Women who have never married and are not cohabiting account for 45% of all abortions.
About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one child or more.
Why are so many teenagers having abortions? The most obvious answer is that they are not waiting for marriage and are not being reared to respect the sanctity of both marriage and life; instead they are promiscuous and with little concern about the consequences.
Abstinence is a novel idea today, relegated to the era of “Father Knows Best” and “I Love Lucy.” Instead of teaching moral principles, schools are handing out birth control pills and by doing so encouraging illicit behavior.
Abortion is a moral problem and it begins with our children. Instead of ingraining the values and virtues of our Father’s Word, our culture instead is communicated a very different message. This message is one of total tolerance and acceptance, and the result is what we are witnessing in the breakdown of today’s family. When we refuse to take moral stands and to impress upon our children the concepts of abstinence and the sanctity of marriage, we will lose their hearts and minds.
Women in their 20s account for more than half of all abortions. This is the result of not raising our young people with the morals and ethics we find in the Bible. Many consider the Bible old-fashioned and out of date, but the Bible has stood the test of time. While our growing secular nation continues to fall apart, the Bible is the very source needed to cure our moral sickness. As a nation we need to repent and return to the virtues that our Father Yahweh has given us in His Word. Without His teachings we will continue the downward spiral.
Reasons Given for Aborting
Out of all the information regarding abortion, possibly the most concerning are the reasons why most women choose this path. In 2004 the Guttmacher Institute did an extensive survey on why women have abortions. Some of the reasons may surprise you:
Why Women Abort(in percentages)
Having a baby would dramatically change my life………………………………………74
Would interfere with education………………………………………………………………..38
Would interfere with job/employment/career…………………………………………….38
Have other children or dependents………………………………………………………….. 32
Can’t afford a baby now…………………………………………………………………………….73
Student or planning to study…………………………………………………………………….34
Can’t afford a baby and child care……………………………………………………………..28
Can’t afford the basic needs of life……………………………………………………………..23
Can’t leave job to take care of a baby………………………………………………………….21
Would have to ﬁnd a new place to live………………………………………………………..9
Not enough support from husband or partner…………………………………………….14
Husband or partner is unemployed…………………………………………………………..12
Currently or temporarily on welfare or public assistance………………………………8
Don’t want to be a single mother or having relationship problems………………..48
Not sure about relationship…………………………………………………………………….. 19
Partner and I can’t or don’t want to get married………………………………………….12
Not in a relationship right now…………………………………………………………………..11
Relationship or marriage may break up soon……………………………………………….11
Husband or partner is abusive to me or my children……………………………………..2
Have completed my childbearing……………………………………………………………….38
Not ready for a(nother) child……………………………………………………………………..32
Don’t want people to know I got pregnant…………………………………………………..25
Don’t feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child………………………………………..22
Husband or partner wants me to have an abortion……………………………………….14
Possible problems affecting the health of the fetus……………………………………….13
Physical problem with my health………………………………………………………………..12
Parents want me to have an abortion……………………………………………………………6
Was a victim of rape……………………………………………………………………………………1
These alarming statistics show that most often abortion is done for personal convenience or finances. Medical reasons amount to a small percentage; only 1% is for rape. What do we hear, though, from most abortion advocates? They will justify abortion for the health and safety of the mother. The greater part of abortions is committed to simply avoid personal responsibility or inconvenience.
As created beings we’re to be accountable for our actions. When we make a mistake, we’re to own up to that mistake and do what is necessary to make it right. This includes both the biological mother and father. That unborn child has two parents, each of whom is responsible for their actions and must step up and take responsibility.
Injury and Emotional Impact
A common misconception is that abortion is harmless and without much risk; the facts show otherwise. According to the Pro-Life Action League, the consequences of abortion include both physical and psychological problems.
“Contrary to the claims of many abortion advocates, there are many serious physical and psychological risks to abortion. Among the physical risks are infection, perforation of the uterus, hemorrhage, cervical incompetence, cancer, and even death. Among the psychological risks are regret, nervous disorders, sleep disturbances, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, child neglect or abuse, divorce or chronic relationship problems, and repeat abortion.”
While the physical risks are real, the psychological problems are more common. The following list of those consequences is provided by the American Pregnancy Association:
Sense of loneliness or isolation
Loss of self confidence
Insomnia or nightmares
Suicidal thoughts and feelings
With so many risks involved, abortion is anything but safe. It can leave both lifelong physical and psychological scars. The emotional scars are often hardest to live with.
Testimonials from Mothers
Consider the following testimonials from those who experienced an abortion (Source: Silent No More Awareness):
“For seven years I’ve not allowed myself to think about it. I’ve blocked it out so that I wouldn’t hate myself for my decision. I still haven’t fully forgiven myself, although the more I speak about it, the more healing I find.” – Melissa, MD
“Regardless of my outward appearance, I’d personally given up the hope of ever feeling whole. I constantly battled rage and self-loathing. I’d suppressed the memories of my abortion so deep, yet the reality of them was evident in how I lived my self-destructive life.” – Tammi, PA
“I will never know if my babies were boys or girls – what they would have been like, what they would have liked doing…I hope my story will help someone, or keep someone from having an abortion. It was the worst thing I have ever done in my life – I will never escape the pain!” – Laney, AL
“I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. My appearance of normalcy deceptively masks the reality of my abortion experience. There is nothing normal about aborting one’s child…I am writing my true story to warn others who may be considering abortion to carefully consider not making the same fatal choice that I made over four decades ago.” – Charlotte, CA
“I made my unborn child suffer. I made myself suffer. I don’t know how I couldn’t see that no one was going to win, that this wasn’t a game. It’s been four days, and I don’t know how I can go four weeks or months or years.” – Lucie, FL
“It was so easy to believe the lies, that what would be removed was simply a piece of tissue, and that, by having it removed, I could simply go on with my life, never looking back. Everything and nearly everyone was pointing to abortion. This was not just my choice, this was the choice of a society.” – Cindy, OR
“The bottom line for me is this: No matter how much noise pro-choice people want to make, there’s something speaking even louder in each human being. It is called our conscience. Whatever argument you want to tell yourself to believe that abortion is right, your conscience will tell you it’s not.” – Marisela, WA
“Do I wish I had made a different choice…that I would have even been told I had a choice? Absolutely! But it is important to not condemn the young women who made this choice; from experience, I know how much it hurts them…If telling my story helps even one woman, saves even one baby, then it’s worth it. I want all women to know that taking your baby’s life destroys your own…that’s why I am Silent No More.” – Marie, WI
From the above testimonials, there is no denying the guilt and emotional grief that many women suffer from after an abortion. While many abortion advocates desire to mask or hide this, the fact is, it’s very real! The only solution is to bring awareness to this important issue and to change the hearts and minds of this culture.
Alternatives to Abortion
It’s crucial to realize that there are other answers than abortion. Alternatives can be categorized in two ways: pre- and post-pregnancy. The obvious preventive measure to ensure that abortion is not needed is to remain celibate before marriage. Even though this concept is viewed by many as old-fashioned, not only is it biblical, but it also provides the only solution to ensure that pregnancy does not happen prior to marriage.
For women who find themselves pregnant, there are three alternatives to consider:
The first is parenting. For those not married, this option can be especially challenging. It’s not easy being a single mother. However, even though this may be a difficult option, it is also the most rewarding. Being a parent offers rewards not found with anything else in life. Caring for your child brings a connection of love and hope not found in any other relationship. This also shows character. Our character is often defined during moments of trial. As the Apostle Paul shares in the fifth chapter of Romans, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of Elohim is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us,” verses 3-5.
A second option is interim foster care. This choice provides a loving and safe home while the mother can adapt to and prepare for the needs of the child. It can offer assistance from a few hours after the child’s birth to a few months after the pregnancy. Options for caretakers include foster and family members, including the family of the biological father.
A third option is adoption. While this option is more permanent than interim foster care, it provides for a lasting solution for the child without the need of terminating his or her life. There are several types of adoption programs available, including: open adoption, semi-open adoption, and closed adoption. Open adoption allows for continued contact between the child and biological mother. In some cases, the mother will choose the parents and draft the terms of the adoption, including the frequency and type of communication allowed. While semi-open adoptions also allow for communication between the biological mother and child, the contact is normally through an intermediary source, e.g. adoption agency.
The last option, closed adoption, allows for no contact between the biological mother and child.
Even though some mothers feel that they are abandoning their child through adoption, they should also realize that they are saving the life of that child and giving him or her an opportunity to survive and thrive.
Adoption Story of Judy V.
“As a senior in college I found myself pregnant after a fling. There was no chance of marrying the father, and abortions were not legal at the time. Besides, it was not the baby’s fault that I was pregnant. With the help of the county’s social services department, I went to a home for unwed mothers in a distant city.
“During counseling sessions with a social worker, I analyzed my past, my character, and my potential. She emphasized that, in deciding whether to raise my baby or to put it up for adoption, I should consider the results of raising a child as a single woman. It was possible that in trying to be responsible, I could condemn us both to lives of poverty and unfulfilled potential. We could be isolated, as well, for unwed mothers and their children were shunned in the society at that time. For these reasons, I might also end up resenting the child. It was very important that both of us be loved. Ultimately, I realized that an adopted baby was loved twice – not only by the family that received the child, but also by the mother who gave the child to them. I opted for adoption.
“In those days, there were no open adoptions that allowed the birth mother to keep track of her child. But I did have one last opportunity to hold my baby girl and say goodbye…Then she was gone, given to a young couple who could not conceive and who were anxious to love and guide her.
“I felt empty, yet full. Gone was the baby who had been within me for nine months. Some wonder if I ever had guilt over giving up my baby. I can truly say, never! I did the best I could for my child. I gave her life, not death, and offered her to a family that welcomed and loved her.
“When she was twenty-one, my daughter searched for and found me. I welcomed her, and our families were united successfully. She has blended with her three younger half-sisters and now has nine children of her own. Her family resides in Germany, where she currently serves as the prayer partner and advisor to the president of the Hessen area military women’s Christian outreach program. Adoption works.”
Support for Mother and Family
One of the greatest ways to avoid abortion is support from the biological father and family members. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14% of mothers choose abortion because they were pressured by their partner or spouse. The influence of a loving spouse and family can make the difference between life and death. For this reason, it’s crucial that support be given to the mother, regardless of the situation.
Another place where support can be found is in crisis pregnancy centers. There are more pregnancy centers than abortion clinics. As of 2013, there were 2,500 pregnancy centers and 1,800 abortion clinics nationwide (“Pregnancy Centers Gain Influence in Anti-Abortion Arena,” New York Times). Most of these clinics offer various programs and assistance for both the biological mother, father, and child, including peer counseling concerning abortion, pregnancy, adoption, and other related topics. They can also offer financial assistance and classes on child-rearing. Some even offer programs allowing you to earn clothing and other items for your child.
Development of a Baby
To understand that an unborn baby is a human being, one must simply look at the development of a child. Once a person understands such facts as the heart begins to beat six weeks after conception, there should be no doubt that the unborn is a living, growing, human being.
The following is provided from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. We will consider weeks 5 – 21 and the development of the child at various stages:
The embryo’s cells multiply and start to take on specific functions. This is called differentiation.
Blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells all develop.
The embryo grows rapidly, and the baby’s external features begin to form.
Your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop.
Baby’s gastrointestinal tract starts to form.
Weeks 6 – 7
Arm and leg buds start to grow.
Your baby’s brain forms into five different areas. Some cranial nerves are visible.
Eyes and ears begin to form.
Tissue grows that will become your baby’s spine and other bones.
Baby’s heart continues to grow and now beats at a regular rhythm.
Blood pumps through the main vessels.
Baby’s arms and legs have grown longer.
Hands and feet begin to form and look like little paddles.
Your baby’s brain continues to grow.
The lungs start to form.
Nipples and hair follicles form.
Arms grow and elbows develop.
Baby’s toes can be seen.
All baby’s essential organs have begun to grow.
Your baby’s eyelids are more developed and begin to close.
The outer ears begin to take shape.
Baby’s facial features become more distinct.
The intestines rotate.
Weeks 11 – 14
Your baby’s eyelids close and will not reopen until about the 28th week.
Baby’s face is well-formed.
Limbs are long and thin.
Nails appear on the fingers and toes.
Baby’s liver is making red blood cells.
The head is very large–about half of baby’s size.
Your little one can now make a fist.
Tooth buds appear for the baby teeth.
Weeks 15 – 18
At this stage, baby’s skin is almost transparent.
Fine hair called lanugo develops on baby’s head.
Muscle tissue and bones keep developing, and bones become harder.
Baby begins to move and stretch.
The liver and pancreas produce secretions.
Your little one now makes sucking motions.
Weeks 19 – 21
Your baby can hear.
The baby is more active and continues to move and float around.
The mother may feel a fluttering in the lower abdomen. This is called quickening, when mom can feel baby’s first movements.
By the end of this time, baby can swallow.
Another key fact is that a baby can feel pain near the 20th week of pregnancy. This, along with the stages of development, verifies that a “fetus” is a human life. Knowing that a new life begins at conception, it is clear that abortion is the killing of a human being.
Yahweh Knows the Unborn Child
Now beyond medical science, we also find evidence for life beginning at conception in the Bible. David in Psalm 139:13 wrote, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” The word “possessed” here is from the Hebrew qanah, a primitive root in Hebrew meaning, “to erect or create.” The word “covered” comes from the Hebrew cakak, meaning, “cover over or to protect.” The Bible confirms that not only did Yahweh create David, but He also protected him while yet in his mother’s womb. So from a biblical standpoint, this shows that a “fetus” is a human being created and protected by our Father in heaven. But David wasn’t the only one known while yet in the womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 verifies that Jeremiah was also known by Yahweh before his birth. It reads, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Not only was Jeremiah known, but he was also sanctified while yet in his mother’s womb. The word “sanctified” comes from the Hebrew qodesh and means “to consecrate or dedicate.” As Scripture clearly relates, Jeremiah was consecrated as a prophet while yet in his mother’s womb, providing undeniable evidence that a human life begins at conception. A baby in the womb is no less a human being than any other person.
Another individual known before birth was John the Baptist. Luke 1:15 states, “For he shall be great in the sight of Yahweh, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb…And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,” verses 15, 41. There was something very special with the conception of John the Baptist. He received the Holy Spirit while yet in the womb. If this doesn’t provide biblical support that a human is alive at conception, what does? Surely the ability to receive the Spirit shows proof of life.
Another person known in the womb was the Apostle Paul: “But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” Galatians 1:15-16. Paul was “separated” from his mother’s womb. This word comes from the Greek aphorizo and refers to “the Divine action in setting men apart for the work of the gospel, Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:15” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). Like Jeremiah before him, Paul was divinely appointed by Yahweh from his mother’s womb.
Beyond the examples showing that we are known from the womb, Exodus 21:22-23 provides a passage verifying that the unborn is considered a human being. It reads, “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.”
According to the Torah, or Old Testament law, if two men fight and accidently injure a pregnant woman, causing a miscarriage, the person responsible for the injury had to provide a settlement for his action. Keep in mind that this was unintentional. What happened in the event that the guilty person continued to fight? As we read, if mischief or hurt followed, the person had to pay life for life.
In other words, if the initial injury was accidental, the person responsible had to pay what the husband and judges determined. However, if the conflict continued and death followed, he was to give his life for the life of the unborn.
Not for the purpose of condemnation, but to understand the view of the other side, let’s now consider an excerpt from an article that was written by a pro-choice advocate:
“At the outset, let me say that from a pro-choice point of view, the status of the fetus is a peripheral issue. Regardless of whether a fetus is a human being or has rights, women will have abortions anyway, even if it means breaking the law or risking their lives. Even women who believe that abortion is murder have chosen to get abortions, and will continue to do so. That’s why we should leave the decision up to women’s moral conscience, and make sure that they are provided with safe, legal, accessible abortions. Because ultimately, the status of a fetus is a matter of subjective opinion, and the only opinion that counts is that of the pregnant woman….”
One key sentence here summarizes the error with the pro-choice point of view. The author says, “Regardless of whether a fetus is a human being or has rights, women will have abortions anyway….”
It does matter whether a “fetus” is a human being, which is the crux of the issue. If the “fetus” is not a human being then there is little debate on either side. From the evidence, a “fetus” is alive; that unborn baby has a beating heart six weeks after conception.
The other argument that women will have abortions regardless of its legality is extraneous. The same argument could be made for any offence, whether murder, theft, drug use, etc. What people will do does not justify wrongdoing. We can’t set standards by the actions of society. Regardless of personal opinions or bias, everything about the abortion issue comes back to whether that “fetus” is a human being, and from medical science and Scripture we find undeniable evidence that life begins in the womb.
Ancient Parallels of Child Sacrifice
Even though widespread abortion is a recent phenomenon, we find similar acts of violence involving children in Scripture and history. One such practice included the worship of Molech. He was the national god of the Ammonites, also known as “Milcom.” To show their devotion to this deity, worshipers would kill their children and then lay them upon the arms of Molech. The child would slide from the arms into a fiery inferno. This worship was so vile that Yahweh called it an abomination.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary further explains Molech worship, “A Semitic deity honored by the sacrifice of children, in which they were caused to pass through or into the fire. Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. Ammonites revered Molech as a protecting father.
Worship of Molech was stringently prohibited by Hebrew law (Lev. 18:21; 20:1-5). Solomon built an altar to Molech at Topheth in the valley of Hinnom. Manasseh (c. 696-642 B.C.), in idolatrous orgy, also honored this deity. Josiah desecrated the Hinnom valley altar, but Jehoiakim revived the cult.
The prophets sternly denounced this form of heathen worship (Jer. 7:29-34; Ezek. 16:20-22; 23:37-39; Amos 5:26, marg.). No form of ancient Semitic idolatry was more abhorrent than Molech worship.”
Even though there are obvious differences between abortion and the worship of Molech, they have one fact in common, the intentional murder of children! Why do you suppose our Heavenly Father abhorred the worship of Molech? Was it the deity itself or the worship involved? There were many gods and idols in the ancient world and while Yahweh warns against idolatry, He was most concerned about the worship of Molech. He loves and values human life, including both the born and unborn. As Scripture confirms, life does not begin at the moment of birth, but at the moment of conception, which is actually a continuation of life from the father and mother.
Without Natural Affection
Paul, writing to young Timothy, provides a prophecy that partially speaks to abortion: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,” 2 Timothy 3:1, 3.
Notice that these prophecies are for the last days, which may very well mean today. Paul says here that “perilous” time shall come. This word is derived from the Greek chalepos, meaning, “difficult or dangerous.” In this difficult time, Paul states that people and society will be without natural affection.
Along with abortion, this can be seen in many facets of today’s society, including the plague of bombings and shootings in public places. As a culture we’re becoming numb and callous to these horrible crimes and acts of violence. Abortion is the taking of a human life. With over one million abortions per year, this cannot be denied!
The blame, however, cannot be wholly applied to women receiving abortions. As a culture we’ve given abortion acceptability and legality. If there is any hope for change, we must as a culture reverse course by acknowledging the sanctity of life.
Is Forgiveness Possible?
Perhaps the number one concern of women who have had abortions is: Can I be forgiven? The answer is yes. Forgiveness can be found for those who have aborted their babies, particularly for those who did not understand the full scope of their actions.
The Apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of 1Corinthians states, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh]? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of [Yahweh]. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the [Master Yahshua Messiah] and by the Spirit of our [Elohim]” (verses 9-11, NIV).
While we don’t find abortion specifically mentioned here, we see that forgiveness is possible if we repent and seek baptism. There were those in the early assembly once guilty of these sins, but they had been washed and justified through the blood of Yahshua the Messiah by the waters of baptism.
In addition to what Paul says, we find the forgiveness of King David. Paradoxically, David, the most famous king of Israel, was guilty of adultery and murder in his actions with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. Even though he would suffer because of his sins, he found forgiveness from Yahweh through humbly repenting.
Nothing captures his sincere remorse greater than Psalm 51, “Have mercy upon me, O Elohim, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
Evident in this Psalm is David’s deep sorrow and profound remorse. This is what Yahweh seeks of us when we transgress. He wants to forgive us as well if we would just submit to Him and change our lives.
It is the hope and prayer of this Ministry that this publication will change not only the hearts and minds of those seeking or contemplating abortion, but of society as well. Until the people of this nation and world realize the immorality of abortion, this sin will continue.
Pray that hearts will soften and eyes will be opened to this worldwide plague. And just as with David, those who sincerely repent and follow up with baptism into Yahshua’s Name will find forgiveness of their transgression.
Watch “Abortion Facts” with National Right to Life President Carol Tobias below:
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The Bible is the most misread and misinterpreted Book ever written. Much of what you may think the Bible teaches is probably not even close to the truth. You just might be stunned to discover what’s been hidden for 2,000 years.
Have you ever wondered why so many different Protestant denominations exist, each with contradictory teachings? Some say the total is as high as 33,000 worldwide, each claiming to teach the same Bible yet unable to reconcile their doctrines and understanding with other denominations.
One cause for the confusion is that the Bible, which teaches about man’s salvation and how to attain it, is both the world’s all-time bestseller and the least understood book in existence.
An effort to correctly harmonize all of the Bible’s teachings has been ongoing for centuries. More than 90 English translations of the Bible are in print, each with a goal to present the Scriptures better and more accurately than any other. So why is there so much disagreement about what it teaches? And why are so many traditional doctrines and practices difficult to prove from the Scriptures?
Are You Serious?
You may be astonished to learn that the Bible nowhere promises eternal life in heaven or endless suffering in sulfurous flames of hell. Nor does it command or teach the observance of the most popular holidays like Easter, Christmas, or even worship on the first day of the week.
We could hardly get away with such provocative statements if they weren’t true. Make no mistake. These are verifiable facts from Scripture itself and we challenge you to confirm everything written in this brochure by simply looking it up in your own Bible. Don’t let anything go unproved.
Increasingly rare is the church or ministry that encourages its members to study the Textbook of their faith, let alone take along a Bible to worship services and prove what the minister is saying. This pervasive malpractice is one of the reasons that popular error continues to go unchallenged and uncorrected.
What is offered as scriptural teaching today is light years away from what was taught only 100 years ago in the name of biblical truth. Many are sitting in their pews without the slightest idea that key doctrinal statements they hear week after week have nothing in common with Scriptural teaching. Just hearing a tired string of platitudes interrupted by a touching story in a 20-minute sermon is not going to cut it, either.
If you are serious about what you believe, if you care about your eternal salvation, then it is time to dig into the Word. It is time to learn the facts from the Scriptures alone.
To understand the textbook of your faith you must first read the book. You cannot rely on someone else to make the effort for you. Don’t leave to the “experts” something as important as your personal salvation. The Bible says you are entirely accountable for yourself: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12.
You are responsible for your own understanding and what you do with it. You can’t look to someone else to answer for your beliefs or the way you lead your life.
In the spirit of this Biblical command we will detail some of the more startling truths presented in both Old and New testaments. These are facts that have been hidden for centuries – some of which may absolutely shock you. And remember, don’t accept anything you hear or read without proving it first from your own Bible.
Identity Theft of the Father and Son
Imagine a baby boy born to a typical American family in Iowa being given a Russian name like Vladimir. It just wouldn’t happen! But think about this: Your Savior was born a Hebrew of Hebrew parents. Yet the Hebrew Name they gave Him was eventually stolen away and replaced with a Greek name (Jesus) that He never knew the whole time He walked this earth.
Look up the letter “J” in a comprehensive dic-tionary or encyclopedia and you will discover that the J is only 500 years old. It was the newest letter to join the alphabet – any alphabet. We must conclude that with no J in existence the name “Jesus” did not exist either – not in any language – prior to the time of Christopher Columbus.
The Book of Matthew tells us that an angel told the Hebrew Miriam (Mary) and Yowceph (Joseph) what to call their newborn son. “And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Yahshua: for He shall save His people from their sins,” 1:21. This Hebrew Name, Yahshua, means “Yah Is Salvation” (Yah-shua). In spite of this fact most Bible translations continued to promote a Greek name He never knew, which has led millions to believe it is genuine. But scholars everywhere know better, as do most ministers from their seminary training.
A good study Bible like the Companion explains that His Name is the same as Hoshea, prefixed with the word “Yah” – hence Yahoshea or Yahshua as it was pronounced at the time of His birth. (The “o” in Hoshea began to be dropped after the Babylonian captivity.) If you saw The Passion movie you will recall that the Savior was known exclusively by the Hebrew-Aramaic name “Y’shua.” The Anchor Bible explains His Name Yahshua in a note on Matthew 1:1: “The first element, Yahu (=Yahweh) means ‘the [L-rd],’ while the second comes from shua ‘To help, save’” (vol. 26, p. 2).
In Hebrew all names have meaning. Recall that the angel said that the Son would be given a specific Name because He would “saveHis people from their sins.” The last part of His Name in Hebrew means just that – “salvation.” But that is not all.
The Bible also quotes the Savior Himself saying that He came in His Heavenly Father’s Name. “I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive,” John 5:43. The prefix “Yah” in His NameYahshua comes directly from the Father’s NameYahweh. He literally and truly came in His Father’s Name!
The short family name “Yah” is found in many names in the Bible, including IsaYah (Isaiah), JeremiYah (Jeremiah), Yahel (Joel), and EliYah (Elijah). You even use it when you say the word “halleluYah”! Translators pirated away the family Name when they substituted the letter “y” with “i” or “j” in various names and words.
You will find the Father’s Name in the complete form YHWH (Yahweh) no fewer than 6,823 times in the original Hebrew manuscripts that produced the Old Testament. The Teutonic term “God” does not appear in the Hebrew Old Testament. Nor does it appear in the ancient Greek of the New Testament from which most all modern versions are derived. You can confirm this fact for yourself in any concordance. In the ancient Greek New Testament the term used is the Greek theos or a close variant thereof.
To whom are you really praying if the two most popular names used for the Father and Son are not even in the original Scriptures? Some may be saying, “Well, it doesn’t really matter. He knows who I mean.” How can the worshiper say to the One he or she worships, “I’ll decide what I will call you”? Especially when the Father is so adamant that we call on His Name! Does He need to reveal His Name more than 6,823 times before we will grasp its importance?
No one can change your name without your consent. Neither is it an option for us to call our Creator whatever may be traditional or popular – but incorrect.
Isaiah 52:6 equates being a child of His by this specific characterisitic: “Therefore my people shall know my name.” That is how important His Name is to Him, just as your name is dear to you. How annoying when someone mispronounces or otherwise misuses your name, especially when they know what your name is. Imagine how the Father in heaven feels when you substitute His Name with something else entirely. especially if that substitute name relates to a heathen deity.
Open a Bible concordance like Strong’s or Young’s to the heading “name” and note how many times the Scriptures command us to honor and glorify His Name. Names show identity. You cannot change names without altering an individual’s identity and person. Doing so is identity theft.
In Isaiah 42:8 the Father clearly says, “I am Yahweh [“YHWH” in the Hebrew]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Fourth Commandment Upgrade?
The Fourth Commandment tells us to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” meaning set apart. If there were any question about which day of the week is the Sabbath, the commandment nails it down: “Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of Yahweh your Elohim…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,” Exodus 20:9-11.
Common wall calendars show that the week ends on Saturday, the seventh day, while Sunday starts a new week. Nothing we can look to in creation tells us when the Sabbath day is. It was divinely instituted at creation by the Father Yahweh Himself, and the sequence of days has remained the same since.
The Messiah Yahshua kept the same commanded Sabbath that His Father Yahweh rested on. He went to the temple and worshiped on the seventh day of the week, as did all of His disciples all of their lives. Not a single passage of Scripture gives anyone permission to switch the day of rest and worship from the Sabbath to Sunday.
That unauthorized change was the work of Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. His edict made Sunday the official day of rest in his realm – a political move in utter disregard of the Fourth Commandment. Major encyclopedias confirm Constantine’s historical substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath. Most of Christianity has honored this unauthorized substitution ever since, justifying it by saying it was on the first day of the week that the Messiah was resurrected.
First, He was already gone from the tomb by sunset Saturday evening. Second, nowhere does the Bible say that a resurrection day creates a Sabbath day. This change was made purely on the authority of the Roman Church alone, which it freely admits.
A concordance will reveal that references to the seventh-day Sabbath appear 60 times in the New Testament. But only 8 verses out of the entire New Testament speak of the first day of the week – none of them enjoining worship on that day.
Even more questionable, none of those 8 “first-day” references is even clearly speaking of the first day of the week. The word “day” was added by translators, indicated in most translations because “day” appearing in italics. These 8 verses could just as easily mean the first part of the week rather than the firstday of the week.
A key reference to the Sabbath in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 4:9: “There remains therefore a rest to the people of Elohim.” “Rest” is from the Greek sabbatismos, which means “a keeping of Sabbath.” The Book of Hebrews tells us that the Sabbath remains the day of rest, and the day that was kept as the Sabbath at that time, as any biblical reference will tell you, was the seventh day – Saturday. The Sabbath had always been Saturday ever since Yahweh established it by resting Himself on the seventh day after creation, Genesis 2:2-3. The seventh day continued as the day of rest among New Testament believers.
As a Jew, Yahshua went into the synagogue on the seventh-day Sabbath to read and teach, Luke 4:16. In His prophecy of the last days He admonished in Matthew 24:20, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” He never would have prophesied this if He knew that the Sabbath would no longer be binding.
Following his conversion the Apostle Paul proceeded to keep the seventh-day Sabbath both with Jews as well as Gentiles, Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4. This was many years after the Savior’s resurrection.
These New Testament references tell us that we have no authority to change the day set apart as holy by Yahweh Himself. To do so is to make our worship fit our own desires.
Prophecy says that in the Kingdom all people will come to worship Yahweh “from one Sabbath to another,” Isaiah 66:23.
Heaven on Earth
The typical funeral sermon announces that the deceased is now “in a better place”– meaning in heaven – and smiling down at the gathered loved ones. Although such a statement may comfort the grieving, do the Scriptures themselves support it?
Yahshua the Messiah said plainly and clearly in John 3:13, “No one has ascended up to heaven…” Of all the millions of people who had died up to that point in history not one went to heaven. That fact is on the direct authority of our Savior Himself. Certainly there had been good people deserving of salvation who never went to a heavenly reward. Take King David, for instance. He will rule directly under Yahshua in the Millennial Kingdom, Ezekiel 37:24-25. But where is David now – in heaven?
Acts 2:29 explains about this man that Yahweh loved: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” For nearly a thousand years up to the time Yahshua walked this earth David lay in the grave, and he is still dead in the grave, having gone nowhere but to his rest for the past 3,000 years.
Paul explained that we get everlasting life only at the resurrection when our Savior returns to earth. In 1Corinthians 15:22-23 Paul wrote: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; then they that are Messiah’s, at his coming.”
After searching the Scriptures for 40 years we have not found one verse that says, “When we get to heaven,” or “I’ll see you in heaven,” or “Rejoice for you will one day be in heaven,” or anything similar. The notion of a heavenly reward stems from teachings of Greek philosophers and Gnostic traditions, ultimately embraced by the church.
What we do find in the Scriptures are many passages that speak of the earth as our reward, such as Psalm 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
We offer many more fascinating truths about the Bible and the proper worship of our Father Yahweh. We invite you to contact us.
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Yahshua the Messiah said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth your word is truth.” This powerful statement sets the standard for all who would be True Worshipers, those sanctified or set apart by the truth of Almighty Yahweh’s pure Word. They know the truth and have been set free by it, John 8:32. It is their goal to follow the narrow pathway of truth and righteousness and leave the broad way of lawlessness, sin and error. They follow the instruction of the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:17-18 where he said, “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Sovereign and Savior Yahshua Messiah. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
As seekers of truth, we must constantly be on guard against the errors that have been put forth by law-loathing men. One such error that has caused many to lose their spiritually secure position is the doctrine of Easter.
Origin of Easter
Surprisingly, Christian history is very candid about the origin of Easter. The ancient records clearly show that it originated from paganism and that it was substituted for the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread observances. Let’s take a look at some of the verifying evidence.
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary explains, “Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic (Germanic) goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox (the day in the spring when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are of equal length), sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the eighth century, the name was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Chr-st. The only appearance of the word Easter (KJV) is a mistranslation of pascha, the ordinary Greek word for ‘Passover’ (Acts 12:4).”
This source agrees completely with the Catholic Encyclopedia, which states, “[Easter] The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown, even in the Edda (Simrock, Mythol., 362); Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh.”
Why did Easter become a substitute for Passover and who had the authority to make such a drastic change? Certainly not the Apostles. The Apostolic congregation in Jerusalem and all other locations always observed Passover and never Easter. The Apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians wrote about the Passover observance, exhorting them to keep the feast.
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8; NKJV).
Paul had instructed the Corinthian brethren in the proper observance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread that follow it. He never switched the Biblical observances to Easter or even intimated or envisioned such a thing for the future.
Eastern Bishops Disagree
A controversy developed in the 2nd century C.E. concerning when to observe Passover. A Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Easter Controversy,” quotes Eusebius, a 4th century writer on church history: “We read in Eusebius Hist. Eccl., V, xxiii): ‘A question of no small importance arose at that time [i.e. the time of Pope Victor, about A.D. 190]. The dioceses of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving pasch.’”
The eastern believers were, at this time, still observing Passover on the 14th of Abib (the first scriptural month). In a letter from Polycrates (the head of the eastern bishops) to Victor the bishop of Rome, Polycrates insisted that they observe the ancient tradition that was passed on to them by a long line of bishops all the way back to the Apostles.
They refused to observe any day for Passover other than the 14th of Abib. For their refusal to break from keeping Passover and switch to the unscriptural Easter, Victor, bishop of Rome, excommunicated the eastern bishops.
The Roman Church had taken a sharp turn from the narrow way of truth and started down the slippery slope’s broad way to destruction. The church had no scriptural mandate or authority to make such a switch. Yahweh Word tells us that the Passover observance is everlasting. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever… You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever” (Ex. 12:14, 24: RSV).
The correct opinion of the eastern bishops, as well as the truth put forth in the sacred Scriptures, had no effect upon those who favored the pagan Easter over Passover. The controversy continued for the next 135 years when, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, Emperor Constantine imposed his view that all the various congregations should observe Easter, on Sunday, in opposition to the Jews whom he held responsible for the Messiah’s death.
Once again we read in the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The text of the decree of the Council of Nicaea which settled, or at least indicated a final settlement of, the difficulty has not been preserved to us, but we have an important document inserted in Eusebius’s ‘Life of Constantine’ (III, xviii sq.). The emperor himself, writing to the Churches after the Council of Nicaea, exhorts them to adopt its conclusions and says among other things: ‘At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day. . . And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin. . . for we have received from our Saviour a different way. . . And I myself have undertaken that this decision should meet with the approval of your Sagacities in the hope that your Wisdoms will gladly admit that practice which is observed at once in the city of Rome and in Africa, throughout Italy and in Egypt. . . with entire unity of judgment,’” “Easter Controversy.”
At this time in his life Constantine was a sun worshiper. It is understandable that he would give his support for this “Sun”-day observance.
Why the break from thousands of years of tradition and embrace Easter over Passover? In a bid for new converts, Roman Church leaders integrated heathen customs of the masses with their worship. Their disdain for anything they deemed Jewish was clear as well, making certain that the church calendar never had Easter fall on the same day as the Passover. Apparently they forgot that Yahshua the Messiah and all the Apostles were Jews who kept the Passover as an example for us. They had forgotten what Yahshua told the Samaritan woman in John 4:22, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”
Easter’s Pagan Past
As shown, the Easter celebration was originally a heathen fertility rite for the worship of the female deity Eostre or Estre. The pagan celebrations attached to this deity were quite offensive to True Worshipers.
In the book The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop provides eye-opening information about Easter and its pagan practices.
In chapter three, section two, we read, “Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, “the priests of the groves.” Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, who, centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin-mines of Cornwall. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and it has everywhere left indelible marks of the strong hold which it must have had on the early British mind. From Bel, the 1st of May is still called Beltane in the Almanac; and we have customs still lingering at this day among us, which prove how exactly the worship of Bel or Moloch (for both titles belonged to the same g-d) had been observed even in the northern parts of this island.”
Hislop links Easter to Astarte, Beltis (the queen of heaven), Ishtar and Bel (or as known to the Israelites, Baal). Astarte and Baal were two of the most reprehensible idols that the Israelites worshiped. These idols competed with Yahweh as Elohim. In 1Kings Chapter 18, the story of the Prophet EliYah and his competition with the priests of Baal and Asherah shows how serious a threat they were to the true worship of Yahweh. Ancient Israel’s proclivity for leaving the worship of Yahweh for the abominable worship of Baal and Asherah continues today in the rites of Easter.
Hislop describes how these ancient pagan traditions became part of the Easter celebration. “Such is the history of Easter. The popular observances that still attend the period of its celebration amply confirm the testimony of history as to its Babylonian character. The hot cross buns of Good Friday, and the dyed eggs of Pasch or Easter Sunday, figured in the Chaldean rites just as they do now. The ‘buns,’ known too by that identical name, were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the g-ddess Easter, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens—that is, 1500 years before the Christian era. ‘One species of sacred bread,’ says Bryant, ‘which used to be offered to the gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun.’ Diogenes Laertius, speaking of this offering being made by Empedocles, describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed, saying, ‘He offered one of the sacred cakes called Boun, which was made of fine flour and honey.’”
The prophet Jeremiah took a strong stand against these abominations: “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18).” He then goes on to describe in more detail the pagan practices which have been attached to Easter. The Jewish people of Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s day had incorporated sun worship into the worship of Yahweh. We have already read of their worship of the Queen of Heaven and Tammuz, but Yahweh also showed Ezekiel other abominations that were going on.
After revealing the women weeping for Tammuz, Yahweh said to Ezekiel, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn yet again, and you shall see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east,” Ezekiel 8:15-16.
As the sun rose in the east the Jewish leaders were turned to face the east, worshiping the rising sun. Judah was corrupting the true worship of Yahweh by introducing false, paganistic sun worship into their fellowship.
Yahweh’s temple was built facing eastward just as the tabernacle in the wilderness faced east. This positioning was for a purpose. Sun worshipers would begin their daily worship by facing the rising sun in the east. Yahweh’s temple and tabernacle faced the east so that a True Worshiper would turn away from the rising sun in the east to face the temple or the tabernacle in the west. This was a symbol of repentance. One had to turn away from sun worship to the True Worship of Yahweh.
Such is the status of those steeped in paganistic Easter sunrise worship today. One must turn, repent of such things, and shift to the True Worship of Yahweh. “Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated.” The Two Babylons.
These revolting customs were ushered in by the Roman Catholic Church without even the slightest admission of wrongdoing. Once again we quote the Catholic Encyclopedia in the article “Easter.” “Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by J-sus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter.” Concerning the Easter rabbit, the Catholic Encyclopedia says in the same article: “The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility” (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).
How sad it is that mainstream Christianity has left the truth to follow the fables of ancient paganism. The Apostle Paul warns Timothy of such happenings in 2Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” The facts speak for themselves. The Easter celebration has more to do with pagan fertility rites than it does with Yahshua’s death and resurrection as the Son of Yahweh.
No Mandate for Resurrection Celebration
Nowhere in the Scriptures exists a command or example for observing the Savior’s resurrection. He indeed was slain, buried and resurrected, but it is not a matter to be celebrated after the ways of the pagans. The resurrection is not justification for devising our own observance, nor is it grounds for Sunday worship. There are, however, clear mandates for observing the day of His death.
The Scriptural way we remember the Savior’s resurrection is through our own baptism. Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-5: “Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua the Messiah were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”
Paul repeats to the Colossians that the believer is “buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of Elohim, who has raised him from the dead,” (Col. 2:12). As we come up out of the watery grave into a new life in the Savior, we portray His rising from the tomb and changing to spirit.
Lent: Loaned from the Heathens
Another custom linked with Easter is Lent. The word is derived from the Old English lencten, meaning spring. Today it is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday until Easter, reserved by churchianity for penitence and fasting.
Most of the self-denying practice of fasting during Lent has given way to giving up something—usually something that should be given up anyway, like tobacco or drinking to excess. But where did this custom of Lent originate? The Two Babylons explains, “The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshipers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, ‘in the spring of the year’ is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshipers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians….Such a lent of forty days was observed in Egypt…held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god,” pp. 104-5.
Osiris’s counterpart is the Greek Demeter and the Babylonian Tammuz—both deities of fertility and life. As Hislop observes, “Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing…To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgameted, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity—now far sunk in idolatry—in this as in so many other things, to shake hands,” p. 105.
Yahweh’s Salvation Plan in His Observances
Observance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread holds the key to understanding Yahweh’s plan of salvation. It was never Almighty Yahweh’s intention to link His Son’s death and resurrection to a pagan festival in honor of a fertility idol. Instead, Almighty Yahweh ordained the observance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread to point toward the salvation that comes through His Son.
By dying on Passover day and being resurrected during the Days of Unleavened Bread, Yahshua became the Savior of mankind. Yahweh never tells us to observe the Savior’s resurrection. Nor is Easter commanded anywhere in the Scriptures. We never see Yahshua or His disciples coloring and hiding eggs, eating hot-cross buns, or worshiping the rising sun. Nor did it ever happen among the Savior’s apostles even after His death and resurrection. The simple, verifiable fact is that Easter is man-made, not Yahweh inspired.
Yahshua’s death to pay the penalty for our sins is memorialized by the Passover, and this observance is explicitly commanded, honored, and kept throughout the Bible. The New Testament included. The Scriptures are the inspired Word, 2Timothy 3:16. The words were breathed by Yahweh as if He were talking face-to-face with us, which is the meaning of inspiration in this passage. If He commands us to keep certain days at certain times then we simply have no authority to do anything differently.
Yahweh’s feasts fulfill their intended purpose of pointing to Yahshua’s redemptive work. As True Worshipers we must do as the Apostle Paul taught in 1Corinthians 5:7-8, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (NKJV).
Choosing the Passover Lamb
As sanctified believers we must choose Yahshua as our Passover lamb. In order to find salvation we must recognize him as the Lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sin of the world, John 1:29. Without Passover, Yahshua could not have fulfilled the Scriptures which pertain to His Messiahship. To reject Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread is to reject Yahshua as the Messiah. Let us look at some of the crucial scriptures that prove this point. First, as the Lamb of Yahweh, Yahshua fulfilled the scriptures regarding the first Passover observance in Egypt. The Passover Lamb of Exodus chapter 12 prophetically points to our Savior as the Lamb of Yahweh. Let us look at this passage and learn how Yahshua fulfilled it. “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat” (Ex. 12:3-4).
Just as the lamb was selected on the 10th day of the month, so the Lamb of Yahweh was selected by the Jews to be their offering on the same day. In Christianity this is referred to as Palm Sunday. This event actually took place on the weekly Sabbath that preceeded the Passover. We read about this in Matthew 21:6-11, “The disciples went and did as Yahshua had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Yahshua sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh! Hosanna in the highest!’ When Yahshua entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Yahshua, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’”
The people were totally unaware that they were in fact choosing Yahshua as their Passover Lamb. Four days after this occurred some of the same people who heralded Yahshua’s entrance into Jerusalem were crying out for His death. How ironic!
We next learn how the Passover lamb was to be killed on Passover day (Abib 14) and how its blood was to be applied to the lintel and side posts of the door of the house where the lamb was eaten (Ex. 12:5-7). Prophetically this points to Yahshua’s suffering and death on Passover day. Consider Yahshua’s suffering.
Yahshua began the day (scriptural days begin at sundown) by gathering with the Apostles to eat the Passover. “They left and found things just as Yahshua had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Yahshua and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’” It was at this time that he humbled Himself as a servant and washed His disciples feet thereby giving us the example of humility (John 13:1-20).
Then Yahshua instituted the new Passover meal and emblems. He gave His disciples unleavened bread to represent His Body and the juice of the grape to represent His shed blood. “While they were eating, Yahshua took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of Yahweh’’ (Mark 14:22-25).
After discoursing and praying with His disciples, they all departed to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Here is where His suffering as the Passover Lamb began. All of those events took place on Passover day. From the time that Yahshua began to sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane until His death on Golgotha, Yahshua shed His blood as atonement for sin. He fulfilled the scriptures regarding the Passover Lamb and proved Himself to be the Lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sin of the world.
His blood was upon the torture stake just as the blood of the Passover lamb was placed upon the side posts of the Israelite’s dwellings. To separate Yahshua’s sacrifice from Passover and to relink it with Easter is a sacrilege of immense proportion and an insult to Yahshua. The observance of the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread was ordained by Almighty Yahweh in perpetuity as the memorial of Yahshua’s death and resurrection.
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance…So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance… And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever” (Exodus 12:14, 17, 24; NKJV). Through Yahshua’s sacrifice we are freed from the bondage of Egypt (sin—Heb. 11:25).
Yahshua ordained that His followers observe Passover with the new emblems of His body and blood. “For I received from the Master what I also passed on to you: The Master Yahshua, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Master’s death until he comes” (1Cor. 11:23-26).
More Evidence Against Easter Sunday Resurrection
One of the main arguments put forth to support Easter is the erroneous belief that the Messiah was resurrected at sunrise on Easter Sunday morning. The truth is revealed by a close examination of Matthew 28:1-2. Here we read, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of Yahweh descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” (KJV)
Notice the underlined words in the passage. In Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary of the New Testament this is No. 2020— epiphosko (ep-ee-foce’-ko); a form of NT: No. 2017; to begin to grow light: It has been translated in the KJV as: begin to dawn, draw on. This word is used twice in the New Testament, here and in Luke 23:54. There we read, “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on” (KJV). Again it must be pointed out that the scriptural (Jewish) day begins and ends at sundown. In Luke 23:54 the statement “and the Sabbath drew on” obviously means that it was close to sundown. The same can be said about Matthew 28:1, “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” Once again, this would refer to sundown. That being the case, Yahshua was resurrected when the earthquake took place at the end of the weekly Sabbath and not Sunday morning at sunrise.
This is very significant because it further proves that we must observe the Days of Unleavened Bread. Concerning Yahshua’s resurrection, we read in 1Corinthians 15:20-23, “But Messiah has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Messiah, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
The Messiah is the first of the firstfruits of the resurrection from the dead. As such, by being resurrected at the end of the weekly Sabbath, He was presented to Almighty Yahweh as the firstfruit wave sheaf. The wave sheaf of cut barley was waved, as an offering, by the priest on the day after the weekly Sabbath which fell during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Consider Leviticus 23:9-14, “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before Yahweh so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to Yahweh a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil — an offering made to Yahweh by fire, a pleasing aroma — and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your Elohim. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.’”
No Wave Sheaf on Easter
Yahshua the Messiah is our spiritual, firstfruit wave sheaf offering. After His resurrection from the tomb, He presented Himself to Almighty Yahweh on the day after the weekly Sabbath and thus gave new significance to the wave sheaf offering. As the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:15-17; Psalm 110:4), Yahshua also would have offered a physical wave sheaf to Yahweh. He must have still been holding it when He was met by Miriam Magdalene, as she assumed that He was the gardener.
“But Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Yahshua’s body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Master away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Yahshua standing there, but she did not realize that it was Yahshua. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Yahshua said to her, ‘Miriam.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Yahshua said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my Elohim and your Elohim.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Master!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:11-18).
Yahshua would not let Miriam touch Him at this time because He had not yet ascended to His Father to present Himself as the first fruits offering.
Once again, the scriptures are very clear in showing the significance of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Yahshua, as our spiritual, first fruits wave sheaf, presented Himself to Almighty Yahweh as our offering. Because He has been resurrected from the dead, we have hope for our own resurrection when Yahshua returns.
The Apostle Paul declared this in Romans 6:3-11: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Messiah Yahshua were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was impaled with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Messiah, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Messiah was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to Yahweh. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to Yahweh in Messiah Yahshua.”
Obviously from these Scriptures Yahshua was not resurrected on Easter Sunday morning. He was resurrected at the end of the weekly Sabbath just before sundown. As the first day of the week began, He cut the firstfruits wave sheaf and, as Yahweh’s High Priest, He offered it. Then, He ascended up into the heavens and presented Himself as our spiritual wave sheaf, the first of the firstfruits of the resurrection, before Almighty Yahweh our Father. To reject the Days of Unleavened Bread, and especially the wave sheaf offering day, in favor of Easter is to reject Yahshua as our resurrected Messiah. Our hope of the resurrection lies in Yahshua’s fulfillment of the scriptures in regard to the Lamb of Yahweh that takes away the sins of the world.
Three Days and Three Nights Mystery
It is truly ironic how mainstream worship has abandoned Yahshua’s Messiahship by embracing the observance of Good Friday and Easter. Despite all the great miracles that our Savior preformed that showed that He was the Messiah, He stated that there was only one sign that would prove Him to be the Messiah. That sign was that He would spend three days and three nights in the grave. Let’s consider this as found in Matthew 12:38-40: “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see amiraculous sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”
No matter how you count it, it is impossible to get three days and three nights from a late Friday afternoon death and burial to a Sunday morning resurrection. Appendix 144 of Dr. Bullinger’s The Companion Bible states the following: “The fact that ‘three days’ is used by Hebrew idiom for any part of three days and three nights is not disputed; because that was the common way of reckoning, just as it was when used of years. Three or any number of years was used inclusively of any part of those years, as may be seen in the reckoning of the reigns of any of the kings of Israel and Judah. But, when the number of ‘nights’ is stated as well as the number of ‘days,’ then the expression ceases to be an idiom, and becomes a literal statement of fact.”
This is a surprising statement in light of what is taught by most. All the confusion comes about because Christianity has mistakenly believed that the day after the Passover (Abib 14) was the weekly Sabbath. In fact, it was the first high holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This can be verified in John 19:31, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the torture stake on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”
The error that the day after the Passover impalement was the weekly Sabbath disappears upon examining Yahweh’s command concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Leviticus 23:6-8, “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it” (NKJV).
How clear the sequence of days becomes when you understand that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a high holy Sabbath day like the weekly Sabbath. We have already learned that, according to Matthew 28:1-2, our Savior was resurrected at the end of the weekly Sabbath. Now, by counting backwards three days and three nights, we learn that Yahshua died on a Wednesday afternoon and was placed in the tomb just before sundown. Wednesday at sun down would have begun the first high holy day of the feast. Friday was the preparation for the weekly Sabbath and the weekly Sabbath was a holy day.
We count the three days and the three nights as follows: Wednesday just before sundown to Thursday just before sundown—day one, Thursday just before sundown to Friday just before sundown—day two, and Friday just before sundown to Sabbath just before sundown—day three. This completely agrees with what is found in Matthew 28:1-2. Yahshua was resurrected from the tomb when the earthquake took place toward the end of the weekly Sabbath.
When it comes to the question of Easter or Passover the simple facts speak for themselves. Christianity openly admits to having taken an ancient pagan fertility celebration and applied its meaning and customs to the resurrection of the Messiah. This is totally contrary to what is found in the Bible and opposes what was taught and observed by our Savior, the Apostles, and the saints of the New Testament.
After examining the Scriptures concerning Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, it is clear that Almighty Yahweh intended for these days to be celebrated by all True Worshipers in remembrance of Yahshua’s death and resurrection as the Lamb of Yahweh. The true meaning of the plan of salvation can only be fully understood by the observance of Yahweh’s sanctified feast days. Yahshua is the first of the first fruits. Because He died and was resurrected according to the Scriptures we have a hope of being in the first resurrection when He returns at His second coming. The apostle wrote, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the good news I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this good news you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1Cor. 15:1-4).
Those who believe in Yahshua as the Messiah will remain in the truth of His Word and will be found worthy as His disciples. All sincere followers of truth will be in the first resurrection when Yahshua returns. They have gained freedom from the false teachings of this world. Because they have chosen to follow the teaching of Yahshua, they observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread rather than the pagan feast of Easter. “To the Jews who had believed him, Yahshua said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).
True Worshipers must hold to the teachings of our Savior. Yahshua’s life, death, and resurrection are based upon the truth of Yahweh’s Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread and not upon the pagan customs of a fertility rite.