Our Bible is a translation from Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Out of both superstition and misguided reverence, the Name of the Father, Yahweh, was hidden in subsequent translations. The title “Elohim” and its shorter forms “El” and “Eloah” are Biblical Hebrew terms meaning Mighty One(s), and from these terms translators concocted the English title “God.”
One belief is that “El” and “Elohim” should not be used by the True Worshiper because ancient Canaanites referred to their pagan deities by these terms. The issue hinges on one pivotal question: who used the title Elohim first, the Hebrews who spoke the heavenly language of Hebrew, or the Canaanites who spoke a related Semitic tongue?
If we accept that Hebrew was the original language of mankind, and can show that “Elohim” is found in the oldest Hebrew texts available to us, then we can know that the word was inspired of Yahweh. That means it was used first in the Hebrew and only later was usurped by the Canaanites, not the other way around.
We can do exactly that by looking at the oldest Biblical manuscripts in existence, which are the Dead Sea Scrolls. A leather scroll of the complete Book of Isaiah was found dating back 1,000 years before the Masoretic text, the oldest Hebrew transcript in existence up to that point.
Every book of the Bible is represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, except for the Book of Esther. All through these scrolls we see the terms El and Elohim in the Hebrew. From the very first verse of the Scriptures, the oldest Hebrew copy of Genesis refers to our Creator as “Elohim.”—“In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.”
In his book, The Temple Scroll (vol. 2), Yigael Yadin reproduces the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy in which Elohim is commonly used (for several examples, see Column LIV, Deut. 13:3, p. 401).
If Yahweh refers to Himself as Elohim, who is any man to say it is wrong? Would Moses, who was inspired to write the first five books of the Bible, ever use a pagan term for our Creator? The terms El and Elohim could not have “crept into” a later text of the Scriptures if they already appeared in the earliest one!
Because no manuscripts have been found that are older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, we conclude that Yahweh inspired the term Elohim. Moses wrote it and Israel used it.
Different Sources of the Biblical Text?
One theory cited by the opponents of the term Elohim says that our Bible is an editorial cut-and-paste job from several different manuscript sources. The older manuscripts, called the “J” source, contain the Tetragrammaton, while later ones, like the “E” source, employ the term “Elohim. From this they contend that “Elohim” is a later designation borrowed from the likes of the Canaanites. Opponents of the use of Elohim point to the “J” version as the oldest and more accurate one, lacking the words El or Elohim. Their argument collapses, however, in face of the following authority’s statement: “There is of course, nothing new in J’s use of Elohim” (The Anchor Bible, Genesis, Vol. 1, p. 37.)
This theory of the “documentary” view of the Bible, also known as the J-E-P-D hypothesis, was conceived by secular critics of the Bible ostensibly to bring into question the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Dead Sea Scrolls, as the oldest existing manuscripts, reveal a different story.
This hypothesis is also being discounted by modern scholarship as increasing numbers of Biblical scholars are acknowledging its fallacies.
In a 1959 interview in Christianity Today, distinguished Hebrew scholar Cyrus H. Gordon rejected the notion that the use of “Elohim and “Yahweh” as divergent names implies different literary sources (Higher Criticism and Forbidden Fruit). Yahweh’s Word is handed down to us by direct inspiration, according to 2Timothy 3:16, and is not the product of conflicting manuscripts and an editor’s scissors and glue.
Further, if we adhere to this theory, then the authenticity of Scripture itself is open to question. Is the Bible handed down by Yahweh, or given to us by way of editorial whim? That is of utmost and fundamental concern to the Bible believer. Inspiration of the Scriptures is the foundation on which our very beliefs must rest. If the Bible cannot be trusted then the Truth we hold is itself in question.
Cognate Languages, Similar Words
A key ingredient to understanding this issue is knowing that Middle East languages are all cognate or related to one another. Just how similar they are is explained in How the Hebrew Language Grew, by Edward Horowitz. He makes this statement about Semitic languages, of which Hebrew and other languages in the Mideast are a part:
“The sister languages of Hebrew are languages such as Assyrian, Babylonian, Arabic, Syrian, Ethiopic, and also, as has been lately discovered, Egyptian. With these, its own sister languages, and not with the Indo-European group, Hebrew is intimately bound up. All the common Hebrew words are found with only slight changes in all the other Semitic languages. A good Hebraist knows literally hundreds of Arabic words without ever having studied Arabic, because Arabic and Hebrew have such a large number of words in common. …All the Semitic languages go back ultimately to an ancient parent Semitic language.”
That “ancient parent Semitic language” was Biblical Hebrew. We find that Israel upon entering the Promised Land had no trouble communicating with the various Canaanite peoples already there. That was because they spoke sister languages, much as Germans can understand both High and Low German.
Is it therefore any wonder that the Canaanites, living in the Promised Land, who spoke a Semitic tongue that derived from Hebrew, would use the same word Elohim that the Hebrews used — only applying it to their deity instead of to Yahweh?
We learn that the same thing likely occurred with the use of the sacred Name “Yah” in Egypt. Notice the following from theEncyclopedia of Gods by Michael Jordan: “Yah — moon god. Egyptian. Yah may have been an import to Egypt brought by the Semitic immigrants…” (p. 291).
The practice of name borrowing was common in history. As people migrated they took their beliefs, language, and names with them and spread them wherever they went.
One argument says that the terms El and Elohim crept into the Hebrew language years after the original Scriptures were written, citing Isaiah 19:18: “In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to Yahweh of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction” (“city of destruction” is a mistranslation, and properly should have been “city of righteousness,” from the Hebrew ha-zedek).
This passage is a future prophecy concerning the conversion of Egypt in the Kingdom, when all will speak Hebrew. The verse has nothing to do with bringing a pagan Canaanite language to Israel. “Language of Canaan” is simply a poetic reference to the Hebrew tongue because of all the Hebrew-speaking Israelites who settled there (see Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature). Further, in the 8th century B.C.E., when Isaiah was writing this, the language of Canaan was Hebrew, not Canaanite.
As a footnote, in going from one language to another, the actual letters we choose to replicate the sounds in a name are essentially inconsequential, so long as those letters accurately express the sounds of the original word.
Some who think that “El” is wrong to use make peculiar substitutions, like replacing the “el” with a “yl” in words like “Israyl.” This is an effort to make it appear as if a perceived “problem” has been fixed. It is not much different when churchianity capitalizes “god” in order to make a generic title into a name.
But in this case, changing the “e” to a “y” amounts to changing the inspired Hebrew word itself by substituting a yod for the aleph in “el.” Does changing the “el” to “yl” return us to the proper, original word? If so, where is the proof that “yl” is more correct? Where is the Hebrew word “Israyl” found anywhere outside the private writings of a few detractors? Moreover, one wonders how the substitution of “y” for “e” makes any difference in the pronunciation of the word anyway.
We must never attempt to shore up our own private doctrines by changing the Bible to make it fit our beliefs, either by taking from it or adding to it. We have no authority to do so. It is Yahweh’s Book, not ours. The command in Revelation 22:19 is clear and sobering: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (see also Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:5-6).
It is clear that El, Eloah and Elohim are proper in reference to “Mighty One(s)” in the Scriptures.
Biblical Examples of ‘El’
One can make a solid case that the original language on earth, handed down from the very heavens, was Hebrew. It was the language of the heavenly messengers, who always spoke to humankind in Hebrew and to those whose native tongue was Hebrew. Yahshua spoke to His Father in Hebrew (Aramaic) while hanging on the stake, Matthew 27:46. His words were not translated in the New Testament, which is auspicious for us.
Notice what He said. “And about the ninth hour Yahshua cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is to say, My El, my El, why have you forsaken me?” “Eli” means “my El” in Hebrew (“i” stands for the possessive “my”).
If El were a pagan term and condemned by Yahweh, our Savior certainly would never have used it in calling out to His own Father.
If “El” were a pagan reference, why do so many patriarchs retain “el” in their names? Elijah (EliYah), Elisha, Eliezer, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel and many more include the legitimate Hebrew word El. If El is so wrong, why is it found in the names of the great archangels Michael (a name meaning “Who Is Like El”) and Gabriel (“El Is Powerful”)? These angelic beings existed long before the earth itself, certainly long before any pagan languages or pagan deities.
After getting the promise of a great nation in the memorable dream about the ladder, Jacob called the site where he had slept “Bethel,” a name that means “House of El” (Gen. 28:19). Later, in Genesis 35, Jacob was told by Yahweh to go to Beth-el and build an altar there. Jacob called the place of the altar “El-Beth-el,” or “El of the House of Elohim.” In Genesis 33:20 he again erected an altar, this time at Shalem, and called it “El-eloah-Israel,” or “El, the Elohim of Israel.” Certainly the eminent patriarch would never have named any place in honor of a pagan deity.
Even before this, Abram named his son Ishmael, meaning “El will hear.” The angel in Matthew 1:23 said that Yahshua’s name would be Emmanuel, meaning “El with Us.”
It is clear that the titles El, Eloah, and Elohim are legitimate Hebrew terms that were inspired of Yahweh and used by His people, including His own Son. To say they are from paganism is to believe a delusion of one’s own making.
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Since the beginning of the New Testament, the gift of tongues has been an intriguing topic for Bible scholars and students alike. Many questions surround this gift, including: What does it mean to speak in tongues? Do the modern examples of “tongues” correspond to what we find in Scripture? How is this gift used? Do we see signs of this gift today?
To answer these questions we will review (1) the modern history of tongues, (2) the Biblical definition of tongues, (3) the gift of tongues, (4) the benefits of tongues, and (5) how this gift was used in the New Testament.
Modern Tongues Movement
According to most Pentecostal references, the modern Pentecostal Movement can be traced back to a Charles Fox Parham. Parham was born on June 4, 1873 in Iowa. Through personal tragedy Parham at the age of seven made a commitment to follow his Heavenly Father.
In 1898 Parham opened his divine healing home in Topeka, Kan., which he named “Bethel.” It was Parham’s goal to provide for those seeking healing and spiritual enlightenment. Later, he was encouraged to open a Bible School. Parham believed that missionaries to other lands should be able to preach in the native tongue or language. To receive additional insight on this subject, he gave a special assignment to his students to determine the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
According to Pentecostal reports, although the students found that different gifts were given at the outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of speaking in tongues occurred in each. In a prayer service that followed, the first alleged occurrence of “tongues” was reported.
One of Parham’s students, Agnes Ozman, asked that hands be laid upon her to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At first Parham refused, as he never experienced the gift of tongues himself. Nevertheless, she persisted and Parham agreed. As hands were laid upon Ozman, it is reported that she spoke and wrote in the Chinese language. This one episode is regarded by many as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal-Holiness movement.
It is most fascinating that the first alleged modern example of tongues was from a woman who spoke in Chinese, a known language! This is precisely what we find in Scripture. Most examples of tongues that we hear today are utterances of gibberish. This is not what Parham taught nor is it what we find in the first occurrence. Parham believed that it was important to be able to evangelize in the native language and for him, tongues meant speaking in a native language. With this background let us now consider what we find within the Word about speaking in tongues.
First Account in the New Testament
We find the first recorded instance of this gift in the second chapter of Acts: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
There are several points to explore within this account. First, the occasion was the day of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks. Significantly, the outpouring of Yahweh’s Spirit happened on a Feast day. According to Jewish tradition, it was also on this same Feast day that Yahweh’s Law was given to Israel in the Old Testament, as Scripture also indicates in Exodus 19:1. If true, Yahweh’s law and Holy Spirit were both given on a day that Yahweh marked as holy or sacred.
Second, we find that this gift was through the Holy Spirit and that it was manifested as a rushing wind and fire. So we find that when this gift was given that there were physical signs that were seen and heard by those present.
Third, we find that this gift allowed those in attendance to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This third point is most important. What does it mean to speak in other tongues?
The word “tongues” comes from the Greek glossa, meaning “a language” (specially, one naturally unacquired) (Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as, “The language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.”
A third witness states: “(1) the “tongues… like as of fire” which appeared at Pentecost; (2) “the tongue,” as an organ of speech, e. g.,Mark 7:33; Rom 3:13; 14:11; 1 Cor 14:9; Phil 2:11; James 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8; 1Peter 3:10; 1John 3:18; Rev 16:10; (3) (a) “a language,” coupled with phule, “a tribe,” laos, “a people,” ethnos, “a nation,” seven times in the Apocalypse, 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15; (b) “the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without its having been learnt” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
Based on these references, speaking in other tongues refers to speaking in known languages not naturally acquired and different from one’s own. It should also be noted that the word “other” in verse 4 comes from the Greek heteros, which literally means, “another of a different kind” (Companion Bible). So from this instance we find that when the people spoke in different languages, they were all known languages; a point that is paramount. This again is very different from what is considered speaking in tongues or glossa today.
As we read on, we continue to see evidence of glossa referring to known languages. “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of Elohim. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?” (Acts 2:5-12).
In this passage we find that all those gathered heard others speaking in their native tongue or language. There were visitors from 15 nations. After they heard one another speak in different languages, followed by Peter’s dynamic sermon (Acts 2:14-36), about 3,000 were pricked in their hearts and gave their lives over to the Messiah through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38, 41).
If not for the outpouring of the Spirit and the gift of tongues, this great awaking may have never happened. This gift was for a purpose and that purpose was to increase the growth and strength of the assembly.
So from this passage we find what it means to speak in tongues or glossa—speaking in other languages acquired through Yahweh’s Spirit and different from your own. As seen, this gift is not gibberish but known languages used in the New Testament to convert nonbelievers.
A Variety of Gifts Given
We find within the Word that speaking in tongues is one gift of many. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of Elohim calleth Yahshua accursed: and that no man can say that Yahshua is the Master, but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Master. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Elohim which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1Cor. 12:1-10).
In this account, Paul lists the gifts of Yahweh’s Spirit. It is crucial to note that not everyone receives the same gift. Paul says that there are diversities or differences in gifts. We also find that all gifts are from the same Spirit. No matter what gifts we receive, they are all from the same source, Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul also says that there are differences of ministries or administrations. In other words, different gifts serve different purposes or functions.
Paul in verse 7 says that all these gifts are to be used for the profit of all and not just for the profit of one, as is often seen. Notice how some of the gifts are allocated. For example, instead of receiving both the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, a person may receive only the gift of wisdom. Proverbs speaks of wisdom and knowledge separately. We find here the same concept with the gift of tongues. Paul says that there is a gift of tongues and a gift of interpreting tongues. In other words, we find that some may have the ability to speak in other languages, while others may have the ability to interpret what is said.
As we find in this passage, Yahweh’s gifts build and benefit one another. This is precisely how the assembly functions. It is not a single person who makes a ministry successful, but the gifts of the collective body working together in harmony.
The Underlying Purpose
From Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians we find that the gift of tongues was used as a tool to evangelize the good news of the Messiah to the unbelieving or unconverted.
“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. 2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto Elohim: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the assembly. 5 I would that you all spake with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the assembly may receive edifying” (1Cor. 14:1-5).
In verse 2, Paul explains that when we speak in unknown tongues that we do not speak to man, but in mysteries. What exactly does he mean? As we learned, the word “tongues” comes from the Greek word glossa meaning languages.
This passage confirms that when we speak in a tongue or language that is unknown the words cannot be understood and are therefore considered a mystery. An example would be if we traveled to Kenya and heard a man preaching in Swahili. For the average American his language would be a mystery or unknown. This is why Paul says he who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly.
Now what does it mean to prophesy? The word “prophesies” comes from the Greek propheteuo, meaning “…to foretell events, speak under inspiration, or to exercise the prophetic office” (Strong’s Concordance). In this passage Paul was likely referring to teaching under the inspiration of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Prophecy or teaching is what is most valuable to the assembly. This is the reason Paul said that he would rather prophesy than to speak in tongues. A tongue or language serves no value if those who hear are unfamiliar with that glossa or language, unless one can interpret (v.5).
A Great Way to Teach
To understand the purpose of this gift, let us continue reading: “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1Cor. 14:6-15).
In verse 6 we find again that speaking in a tongue is of no profit unless we speak to convey a teaching or doctrine. The word doctrine is derived from the Greek word didache, meaning “instruction.” This is again one of those gifts that most benefit the assembly. When we teach Yahweh’s Word we come to a deeper knowledge of Him and through that instruction we become better disciples. Speaking in a language that is unknown, or worse yet, uttering sounds without meaning or purpose, does not edify.
Paul here uses the analogy of musical instruments and states that unless the instrument makes an identifiable sound it serves no value. In the Old Testament the trumpet was often the main method of communication for Israel, including the calling to war (Num. 10:9). If the sound of the trumpet were incorrect, confusion would have erupted. This same concept holds true when we speak in tongues or languages that are unknown to our audience.
Paul in verse 10 said that there were many kinds of languages and that none were without significance. The word “significance,” is from the Greek word aphonos, meaning to be “voiceless, i.e. mute or without meaning.” This Greek word confirms that Paul was not referring to meaningless babble, but to recognized languages. Even the angels themselves possess a tongue or known language (1Cor. 13:1), likely the Hebrew language (Acts 26:14).
Paul goes on here to say that if the tongue or language is unknown, “he that speaks shall be a barbarian….” In Greek the word “barbarian” literally means, “a foreigner.” Therefore, those who speak in different or unknown languages are as a foreigner or alien. Unless the language is understood it is of no benefit. It is for this reason that Paul states in verse 16, “Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?” In this passage Paul reiterates that if we speak in a tongue or language given by the Holy Spirit that is unknown to the audience that it is unfruitful to our natural mind.
In verse 22 we find a truth that many overlook. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1Cor. 14:22).
A Different Gift for Believers
Paul verifies that the gift of tongues is not a sign to believers, but to those who disbelieve. With this in mind it seems odd that many assemblies would base their main source of validation on a sign specifically meant for unbelievers.
However, this is precisely what we find with many charismatic assemblies today. Some believe that a person is never completely converted unless he or she speaks in tongues. This is not only unfounded scripturally, but contradicts the purpose of this gift.
If the gift of tongues is for the unbeliever, what then is for the believer? Prophecy or inspired teaching is for the believer. It provides the knowledge and instruction allowing us to become better disciples of our Father in heaven and Savior.
In verse 23 Paul asks, “If therefore the whole assembly be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?”
The word “mad” comes from the Greek word mainomai, meaning “one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This would be no different from visiting an assembly with members speaking Spanish, German, and Chinese simultaneously. They would be viewed as mad or senseless. This is why prophecy or inspired teaching is preferred or greater than tongues. As Paul states in verse 24, “But if all prophesy [teach by inspiration], and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all….” He confirms here that if we prophesy or teach, all are profited, even the new visitor, that might be new.
Examples of Tongues
Let’s now consider some of the instances of tongues we find in the Word. One of the first passages where we find this gift being used is Acts 10:44-48, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify Elohim. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Master [Yahshua]. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” When the gentiles heard the Word they received the Holy Spirit. Immediately they spoke in tongues or languages and magnified Yahweh. When it was evident that the gentiles had received the Spirit, they were then baptized into the Name of Yahshua the Messiah. Interestingly, in this example we find that the gentiles received the Spirit prior to baptism. Receiving the Spirit prior to baptism was not uncommon. In almost all other instances, the reverse occurred.
The gift of tongues here served a two-fold purpose. It was a sign of conversion to those who were filled with the Spirit and a confirmation to those circumcised Jews that witnessed this miraculous event. The gift of tongues was a sign to show that Yahweh was calling out the gentiles who prior to it were considered unbelievers or barbarians.
A second example of this gift is in Acts 19:1-8, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. And he said unto them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Messiah Yahshua. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Master Yahshua. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of Yahweh.”
This account speaks of two baptisms, a baptism of repentance and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the only instance of this difference. While John’s baptism offered opportunity for repentance, it did not offer the remission from sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit, as with Yahshua’s baptism.
In addition, a connection is also found between the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. Immediately upon baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, we find that these twelve new converts spoke in tongues or languages as a sign or validation of their conversion. As with all of Yahweh’s gifts, glossa served an important purpose. It was partly owing to this gift that 3,000 were converted at Pentecost and many other examples found in Acts.
As we have seen, Scripture does not corroborate the common understanding of tongues. This gift was not meaningless babble, but an effective tool that served a multifaceted purpose. It is a demonstration of Yahweh’s great power and confirmation of one’s conversion
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The evangelist paces back and forth across the stage like a caged tiger. With neck veins visible and sweat trickling down his cheeks, he shakes his finger at the auditorium ceiling and thunders to his audience, “Will the Father in heaven permit one of His own children, for whom the Savior died on the cross, to ever fall into the depths of hell and become lost? I’m telling you right now — the answer is NEVER! … . Give Him praise and glow-ry!”
Many professed “born-again” evangelicals would respond with a collective “Amen, brother!” to this man’s statement. There is no doubt in their minds that their salvation is already a certainty.
They believe they are destined for heavenly bliss no matter what they do or how they may sin between now and their last breath. As one evangelical describes it, “It is as if they have boarded a nonstop train bound for heaven. This faith train may pass through dark and perilous places, but it will never discharge a person with a reservation short of his glorious destination.”
The doctrine of eternal security or “once saved, always saved” is a widely believed teaching. Although no such terms exist anywhere in the Bible, what the preacher says about the belief may on first glance sound plausible, but is he right?
A representative passage very popular with those who believe in being forever saved at conversion is John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.”
“See,” they say, “once He saves us we can never perish and no one can separate us from Him. His word is absolute and He cannot lie.”
Their statement cannot be denied. The question is, when does He grant us life everlasting? Are we “saved” immediately at our conversion? Is it ever possible to fall from grace? The issue of timing is the crux of the matter.
A companion verse to John 10:27-29 and a key that unlocks it and similar passages is found in Matthew 25:32-34, speaking of the Savior on the day of judgment: “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
The setting in Yahshua’s statement is the earth at His Second Coming. When He returns he will judge the earth and at that specific time will reward the faithful, both living and dead, with salvation. He confirms this in Revelation 22:12, showing the basis on which He gives rewards: “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Two verses later He adds, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Doing His commandments — obeying His laws — is what makes us worthy for eternal life, symbolized by the tree of life. The implied opposite, then, means that if we don’t do His commandments we will not have this special right to everlasting life.
To be judged worthy by adhering to commandments and being rewarded according to works certainly doesn’t square with the popular teaching that salvation is immediate, automatic, and inevitable for the chosen. Unless we understand the truth about when and how we are saved, resting in the false notion that our salvation is forever secure could give us false security and in fact jeopardize our eternal future.
Some Believe They Have No Choice
There are those who take this idea of eternal security even a step further. They believe that because salvation is “all of Yahweh,” you are saved whether you want to be or not! Even though salvation involves both you and Yahweh, even if you decide you don’t want it Yahweh will carry you through anyway because it is His will to do so.
One such proponent explains it this way, “Eternal security, then, is the unbreakable relationship with the integrity of [Elohim]. Neither [Elohim] nor man nor angel can destroy the relationship which begins at salvation. There is no sin we can commit. There is no activity on our part that can neutralize it or destroy it. It is something we have permanently and perfectly both now and forever.”
An even more extreme position, promoted by men like Charles Stanley and Charles Ryrie, says that even if a person becomes an unbeliever, that person will still remain saved. This teaching essentially takes away any free choice from human beings. Yahweh may just as well have created humankind with an inability to sin. The whole idea of freedom to choose right over wrong that Yahweh has granted human beings since Eden is pointless in view of this extreme doctrine. He’ll save you in spite of yourself! But is that really the case?
A Scriptural truth that is not understood by many is that Yahweh does not save us in our sins, He saves us from our sins — from the death penalty that we because of our sins deserve. We cannot continue in sin and still expect Him to redeem us for His Kingdom. In fact, He makes it clear that He will not do so. “The wages of sin is death,” Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. Sins must be repented of and no longer indulged in. If we are in unrepented sin we will not be granted everlasting life. Yahweh does not reward sin. Notice: “Know you not that the unrighteous [lawbreakers] shall not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom,” 1Corinthians 6:9-10.
By definition, sin is the breaking of any of Yahweh’s laws, 1John 3:4.
Clearly, it does matter if a person remains true to Yahweh and it matters very much whether he or she indulges in the sin of this world. Paul tells us, “Be not deceived; Elohim is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting,” Galatians 6:7-8.
Was Paul Even Sure of His Own Salvation?
Surely a man like the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and had direct revelatory teaching from Yahshua (Gal. 1:11-12 ), would know whether he himself had salvation assured. If the eternal security doctrine is true, then Paul of all people believed it and taught it. Right? On the contrary.
Read the Apostle’s own statements about the doubts he entertained about his own life, and what he admonished about persevering and being faithful until the end:
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” 1Corinthians 9:27. (Castaway is the Greek adokimos, one disapproved by the judge as not having fairly deserved the prize.)
“All I want is to know [Messiah Yahshua] and the power of His resurrection…That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which [Messiah Yahshua] captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won,”Philippians 3:10-13, Jerusalem Bible.
“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves…” 2Corinthians 13:5.
“For we are made partakers of Messiah, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end,” Hebrews 3:14.
Knowing exactly when the saints are saved will reveal the error of both the once saved, always saved doctrine and the popular understanding about being “born again” at conversion. Neither teaching is scriptural, based on what the Bible says about how and when salvation occurs.
How Salvation Actually Works
What few today grasp is that saving is a process, which starts with being begotten of the Holy Spirit at baptism and ends with being born again at the resurrection. An analogy about being saved is helpful here.
Let’s say a bush pilot crashes his plane in the cold wilderness of the arctic. Injured, he sends out an SOS, sets off flares, and radios for help. After some days he hears the distant drone of another plane. “I’m saved!” he cries.
But is he really saved? His exact location has not even been pinpointed by the rescuers.
What he means is that he now has the hope of being saved, the same thing Paul said he had in Philippians 3. He is technically not saved until he is safe and recovering in a hospital bed. For all he knows, his rescue plane itself may hit bad weather on the way back and be forced down. The ambulance picking him up at the airport may crash on icy roads. He may succumb to his injuries. All sorts of things could happen between now and the time he is in fact saved and on his way to recovery. As the popular expression goes, “It’s not over till its over.”
Yahshua said that men would hate the truth, “but he that endures to the end shall be saved,” Matthew 10:22. We may have hope of salvation, but it isn’t assured until the “end”— either the end of our lives or the end of this age when Yahshua comes to gather His elect.
Why? Because at any point we could become apostate. We could fall from grace by slipping back into the world through its many sins and temptations. If that happens to us we are in jeopardy, because Yahweh does not save sinners. Rather, he saves those who have repented of sin and turned to walk in His ways. Yahweh said through the prophet, “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die,”Ezekiel 18:21.
We learn from 1Corinthians 3:16 that Yahweh will destroy those who once knew the truth but become defiled. “Know you not that you are the temple of Elohim, and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of Elohim, him shall Elohim destroy; for the temple of Elohim is holy, which temple you are. Let no man deceive himself.” Even though the last verse of this passage, 23, says that we are Messiah’s, Paul shows that the possibility still exists that we could fall.
We see abundant evidence in the Scriptures that even though we are called His, we can still become debased through our choice to sin, and therefore jeopardize our eternal reward.
Those that do fall through disobedience will be cut off. “Be not highminded, but fear: For if Elohim spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not you. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of Elohim: on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness: otherwise you also shall be cut off,” Romans 11:21-22. “Goodness” means moral excellence. To fall from moral excellence is to disobey, as verse 30 reveals (“have not believed” means to disobey, see ASV and Rotherham).
Justified and Sanctified: The Key
Most who hold to the eternal security teaching dread what they call “works salvation.” They believe that Yahweh requires nothing of His people but faith alone. Any hint of the necessity of obedience sends them into paroxysms of distress and incredulity.
Certainly we are not saved by our works. The Scriptures are clear on that. We are not justified by keeping the law, Romans 3:20, but by His grace, v. 24. Justification means “just as if” we had not sinned. Nothing we can do will “earn” us righteous standing in His sight because we have all sinned and are nothing but filthy rags, Romans 3:23.
Once we are justified by His grace, however, then we are set apart for a holy purpose, which is called sanctification. Through sanctification Yahweh expects His people to live pure and righteous lives. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of Elohim,” 2Corinthians 7:1. Notice the verse does not say, “Let Yahweh cleanse us,” but rather, “let us cleanse ourselves.” Live purely. Overcome the pulls of sin.
In the same vein we are commanded to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12. If one is already saved, no fear and trembling would be necessary! Neither would there be a need to work out any salvation.
A sanctified individual not only lives a life apart from sin, but also is obedient to what Yahweh tells Him to do. “For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous,” 1John 5:3. He has commanded His people to keep His laws, including His Feasts and Sabbaths. They do so not because they are earning their salvation, but because they now live for Him and are in the process of taking on His very nature. We reflect His nature when we do what He would do and follow His direction. He is the Father and we His children. We obey Him just as we obey our earthly parents. We don’t obey our parents for a reward, but because they are our parents and they demand obedience. Our love for them makes us want to obey them.
Backsliders Will Slide on Out
Yahweh is adamant about the failure of those who once accepted Him but now turn back to sin. He will not save them in spite of themselves. He will, in fact, judge them!
The prophet Ezekiel warns, “But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die,” 18:24.
Does this passage just apply to ancient Israel? Ezekiel and other prophets prophesied not only for their day but also for our day and beyond. Yahweh does not change, Malachi 3:6. What was true of His people anciently is true of His people today. He has but one standard. Paul said that all that happened in the Old Testament was for our example, 1Corinthians 10:11.
Backsliding is as hazardous to the people of Yahweh today as it was with Israel of old. Read in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of Elohim, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they impale to themselves the Son of Elohim afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
Stark and serious words. To throw away the truth once you know it is as grave as it gets. Obviously such a result leaves no room for being eternally saved.
The Bible is filled with assurances that Yahweh will reward His chosen according to their deeds. Both an obedient life and a sinful life will be rewarded accordingly, Romans 2:6-9.The final book of the Bible shows that the saints are those who keep the commandments of Yahweh and have the faith of Yahshua, Revelation 14:12. Faith and obedience go hand in hand Clearly, it is the obedient — who are faithful until the end — who are saved, Hebrews 5:9, and not those who flout His commands and live the life they choose still expecting a Kingdom reward.
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If you were to invent the easiest and most popular religion in the world, you would probably do the following:You would tell your followers that their only obligation is to believe. You would teach them that there is no need to conform to any commands, because that would be bondage.You would constantly remind them that all obligations of righteousness, including lawkeeping, have been met for them by a personal Savior. (Never mind that after keeping all the law perfectly Himself, He commanded us to do the same.)
Finally, in your religion no one would need to worry that their faith would ever be tried, or that they may have to defend their convictions or suffer for their beliefs. When the end-time tribulation comes, they will be miraculously whisked away to a heavenly sanctuary, while everyone else who is not of the faith — including perhaps family and close friends — will still be on earth suffering unspeakable horrors. Your faithful, however, will watch all the pain and death from a safe and glorious paradise in the sky, granted to them simply by divine caprice.
Imagine how attractive your religion would be! Who in his or her right mind would not want to have the ultimate in blessings — all for doing nothing? And when testing comes, they will be immediately removed from the conflict without having to answer for or defend their faith. Is it any wonder that so many people choose to accept these same teachings?
But there is a problem. The Scriptures nowhere support any of this. In fact, the exact opposite is the case.
Nowhere in the 66 books of the Bible do we find that all we need is faith alone. No such statement exists or is implied. On the contrary, James 2:17 reads, “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.”
The doctrine against doing any kind of “works” (sometimes called “works righteousness”) springs from the writings of the Protestant Reformation, many of which were in defiant response to Roman Catholic excesses and demands of onerous penance on the people.
Nowhere in the pages of the inspired Word, however, is there any example of or statement relating to being in “bondage” because of obedience to the higher standards of the Scriptures.
Neither is there even one sentence saying that because Yahshua the Messiah met the requirements of obedience, that we don’t need to. On the contrary. We are told that His perfect obedience was an example for us, and we are to follow in His footsteps,1Peter 2:21-22.
And finally, we are never promised an oasis from the trials of life. Paul wrote to young Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live righteously in Messiah Yahshua shall suffer persecution,” 2Timothy 3:12. Overcoming trials is what being a True Worshiper is all about, and it leads to eternal reward, James 1:12.
The Word ‘Rapture’ Is Missing
We are nowhere told in the inspired Word to expect to be snatched away to heaven to watch our earthbound loved ones suffer and die agonizing deaths during the worst-ever disasters and conflagration prophesied to engulf this planet. In fact, the word “rapture” never appears in the Scriptures.
Are we any better or more privileged than the prophets of old, who suffered for their faith? James 5:10 says that their lives and experiences are patterns for us, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of Yahweh, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”
So what of the idea of a rapture, in which the saints will allegedly be removed from the earth before end-time tribulation? Is there Scriptural support?
The rapture doctrine says that the Messiah will return and either secretly whisk away the saints or take them openly to heaven with Him. There they will spend either 3 ½ or 7 years in safekeeping while tribulation rocks this planet.
The rapture teaching rests heavily on 1Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of Yahshua shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep [dead]. 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.”
Trying to make this passage refer to a pre-tribulation rapture of protection is incongruous, considering that the dead are said to go first. The dead don’t need to be raptured to safety because they are dead. Their souls, according to the rapture teaching, will already be up in heaven. In truth, this passage is speaking of the final day when Yahshua returns to earth to set up His Kingdom, and all the saints, living and dead, will be gathered to be with Him to rule in a thousand-year period on earth.
The timing of the event is critical. Are the saints taken before or after the Great Tribulation? We will find out momentarily.
Other questions that need answering: where is the support for a silent, secret rapture — which some believe will occur — amid “a shout,” “voice of an archangel,” and a trumpet blast? Is there perhaps a “silent” Second Coming and then a Third Coming? If so, where is the Scriptural evidence?
Let’s learn the whole truth and see whether the entire rapture teaching squares with the plain and clear teachings in the Word of Yahweh.
As in the Days of Noah
In Matthew 24:30-33, Yahshua in His own words reveals what will happen when He returns to earth: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”
Here we see that when Yahshua returns, the final trumpet will sound and He will gather His elect from one end of heaven to another (not huddled all together in one place, as some teach).
Continuing with verses 37-39, we read, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Yahshua tells us that people everywhere will be carrying on their lives oblivious to what is about to happen, just as they were before the earth was inundated by water. Noah and his family were the bright lights amid all of the dark, earthly evil. They are called righteous by Yahweh in Genesis 7:1.
But notice. We read that the final events will be just like those in Noah’s day. And what happened with righteous Noah and his family? Were they raptured from the planet just before the devastating flood? No, on the contrary, they remained on earth. Yahweh had guided Noah to prepare a place of earthly safety and protection — a giant ark floating on the flood waters.
Now note what happened to the wicked. We read that Yahweh “took them all away.” They were taken and destroyed in the waters and only Noah and his family remained.
Yahshua said it will be the same way at the end of the age: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In the same manner as in the days of the flood, at Yahshua’s coming the wicked will be removed first and the righteous will remain.
The disciples asked Him where these “taken” ones, meaning the wicked people, will go. For the answer we go to a parallel account inLuke 17:35-37, where Yahshua said. “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Master? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”
What did He mean by “body” and “eagles”? This verse has a translation difficulty in the KJV which, once cleared up, makes understanding crystal clear. Let’s go back to Matthew 24. This passage about the coming of the Messiah is an improved rendering of the same account we just read in Luke 17:35-37.
“For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
Here the translators used the more correct “carcase” in translating the word ptoma, which in Greek means “ruin, lifeless body, corpse.” The word for “eagles” refers more accurately to vultures. Eagles are not carrion eaters as are vultures.
Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says about the word eagles in this passage, “Eagles. Rev. puts vultures in margin. The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power. Aristotle notes how this bird scents its prey from afar, and congregates in the wake of an army,” p. 75. There will be millions dying when the angel comes to separate and destroy the wicked first.
The New English Bible translates Matthew 24:28: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Goodspeed reads, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will flock.” The New International Version reads, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”
Does this sound like a glorious place of safety where the saints will be taken up in a rapture? On the contrary, Yahshua told His disciples that those taken, meaning the wicked, will be destroyed, not whisked off to safety in heaven!
Tares Separated First
In His parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, Yahshua corroborates what we have confirmed in Matthew 24, that the rapture is the exact opposite of what most people think.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30).
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (40-42).
“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (49-50).
But couldn’t Yahshua have already come and gathered His elect to safety by this time? some may be wondering. Obviously, if the righteous were already raptured, they would not still be on earth among the wicked when the wicked are removed.
The rapture doctrine says that Yahshua will come in two stages: “for” His saints, represented by the Greek word parousia, and the second stage being “with” His saints, revealed in the Greek word apokalupto. In fact, New Testament usage makes no distinction between these two Greek words. The doctrine says that the word parousia in 1Thessalonians 4:15-16 is an initial coming “for” His saints before the tribulation. However, parousia is also used in 2Thessalonians 2:1 and 8, where His coming clearly is at the end of the tribulation.
Similarly, parousia and apokalupto are found in Matthew 24:37 (coming) and Luke 17:30 (revealed), respectively. Both speak of this same coming of Yahshua using the context of the days of Noah where the wicked are removed first.
In all three verses in John 6:40, 44, and 54 Yahshua tell us that the righteous will be raised up at the last day. The “last day” occurs after the tribulation, not before. The last day refers to the final resurrection of all believers, John 11:24. That is the timing of1Thessalonians 4:15-17.
Protection Right Here on Earth
Just as Noah was protected on earth during the catastrophic flood, and Israel was protected in Egypt during the passing over of the death angel, Yahweh promises the same kind of earthly protection for His people in the last days:
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:-16).
The terms “wilderness,” “flood,” and “earth” demonstrate unequivocally that the saints will find protection on earth, not in heaven. Satan certainly has no power to chase the saints around in heaven!
Yahshua specifically prayed in John 17:15 that the righteous not be taken from the world, but that they be safeguarded. His prayer directly contradicts the notion of a coming rapture to heaven. In Matthew 24:22, the Messiah said that for the sake of the elect, the last-day tribulation will be shortened, otherwise no flesh would be saved. This tells us that the elect will still be on earth and it is because of them that Yahweh will make an end to destructive events.
It is impossible to reconcile with the Scriptures the idea that the saints will be protected in heaven from end-time tribulation. Bible prophecy clearly maintains that there will be many who will be martyred for the Truth in the last days (see Dan. 8:24; Matt. 24:9;Rev. 13:7 and 20:4).
In Revelation 12:17 Yahshua revealed, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Yahweh, and have the testimony of Yahshua the Messiah.” Obviously there are saints obedient to Yahweh yet on earth — not in heaven —and still subject to attack by Satan. Revelation 6:9-11 plainly shows that many True Worshipers will undergo end-time martyrdom.
Daniel was protected from lions even while right in their midst in the lion’s den. His three friends escaped destruction of the fiery furnace by miraculous protection while still in the furnace itself. Israel had to endure the first three Egyptian plagues in the land of Goshen, and only then were they protected (while still in Goshen, on Egyptian soil).
Revelation 7 reveals a similar destiny for the people of Yahweh in the last days. Before the angel releases divine plagues that will devastate the earth, the saints of Yahweh will be sealed in their foreheads for protection, verse 3. That sealing is His Name, we read in Revelation 14:1 and 22:4. As with Israel in Goshen, however, there is nothing stating that the people of Yahweh will not have to endure the man-made tribulation that will come first. This is detailed in Revelation 6:1-8.
Another passage that directly rebuts a rapture is Revelation 7:14, where one of the elders inquires of the identity of all those people dressed in white robes. “And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These saints proved faithful and stood fast in the coming tribulation and they are now granted a position in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
Rewards are not given to those who escape, but to those who endure and overcome (Rev. 2:26). Revelation 20:4 says there will be martyrs who refuse to worship the beast who will be beheaded for the witness of Yahshua. Are we to assume that these martyrs are the evil people left behind on earth during the Tribulation? Obviously not. They are the saints, whose preaching, teaching, righteous example, and martyrdom will convert many to the truth during the reign of the Antimessiah.
The next verse presents a real problem for the doctrine of the rapture. Most rapturists maintain that the righteous living and righteous dead will be raptured off to heaven before the tribulation (a teaching known as the pretribulation rapture). But notice: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection,” Revelation 20:5. Had there already been a rapture, this would be the second resurrection, not the first.
Does the Savior Make a U-turn?
Yahweh promises protection for the righteous, although some will be called on to give up their lives as a witness of faith to others. Resurrecting them to life again is no problem with Yahweh, and they will be the first to rise at the last trumpet blast when Yahshua returns.
A key question that needs to be answered is, where will Yahshua the Messiah go when He comes in the clouds and raises His saints? Will He return to heaven? That is what the rapture teaching says.
We read in 1Thessalonians 4:17 that the righteous will “meet the Savior in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Savior.” Does He take the saints and return to heaven for as much as seven years for the duration of the Tribulation?
The word “meet” is the Greek apantesis and is used in only two other places in the New Testament. One such place is Matthew 25:6, where the virgins meet the Bridegroom (meet here is apantesis) and they continue on to the wedding feast. He does not reverse direction and take the virgins back to heaven where He came from. Verse 13 tells us that this meeting is “the day and hour when the son of man comes” at the Second Coming.
The other instance where apantesis is used is in Acts 28:15. Paul is heading to Rome and a delegation of Roman brethren go to meet (apantesis) him. Paul approaches, they meet and continue on to Rome, his destination. He did not reverse course.
Yahshua’s destination is the Mount of Olives, not a return to heaven, Zechariah 14:4. His intent is to set up his throne at Jerusalem “in that day.” He does not reverse direction and head back to heaven with the newly gathered saints.
Rapture: A Perilous Teaching
The rapture doctrine is just another aspect of the modern, false idea of gain without pain. Something for nothing. No effort or overcoming is necessary. Such an idea is completely foreign to Scripture. In the Book of Acts we read, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Elohim, ”Acts 14:22.
The rapture doctrine is not only unscriptural, but it will also prove to be sinister. Instead of spiritually preparing people for what is coming, which is the whole reason we are given Bible prophecy in the first place, people are being led to believe the lie that they will be delivered out of it all.
Revealed prophecy is not given so that we can become lax and lackadaisical. Prophecy is intended to draw us closer to Yahweh: “…those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law,”Deuteronomy 29:29. Notice as well what Romans 16:25-26 tells us: “…according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting Elohim, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
How will millions react when they find themselves facing the biggest challenge of their lives and they are completely unprepared? Yahshua tells us how: He says that at that time men’s hearts will be “failing them for fear”! (Luke 21:26).
May we not be deceived into false confidence by a teaching that does not exist in the Scriptures.
We need to heed Yahshua’s admonishment about the last days, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man,” Luke 21:34-36
It is time to find the promised protection and salvation that come from knowing and following the truth, and escape the destruction that results from the misguided doctrines of man.
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Turn on the TV or browse the Internet and you will find many indications pointing to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy, whether in the continued conflicts in the Middle East, the economic woes of the United States and Europe or the decline of morality in general.
Yahshua in His parable of the fig tree explained how these signs will precede His coming. “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh. So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt 24:32-33). As nature reveals the coming of the seasons, Yahshua states that prophecy reveals the timing of His return.
Two specific forewarnings of the tribulation are found in the Olivet Prophecy and the vision of the Four Horsemen. These mirror and detail each another and foretell the events of the first three-and-a-half years of a seven-year covenant that the Antimessiah, commonly called the Antichrist, will establish (Dan. 7:29).
The first sign that stands out in both the Olivet Prophecy and the Four Horsemen narrative is deception. Yahshua in His Olivet Prophecy states, “…Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Messiah; and shall deceive many…For there shall arise false Messiahs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” Matthew 24:4-5, 24.
During this time there will be deception as never before. Many false prophets and false messiahs will surface and do astounding things. The word for “signs” is derived from the Greek semeion and refers to a miracle. Many will witness these great wonders and believe in the authenticity and power of these false men. Their signs will be so remarkable that even the most sincere may be deceived. Yahshua put it this way: “…if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” Matthew 24:24.
Because of these dangers, this time will require complete faith in and devotion to the One we worship. If we are deceived by a false prophet or false messiah we will forfeit our eternal salvation. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name,” Revelation 14:9-11.
Those who forsake Yahweh for the worship of the Beast or Antimessiah will pay with their eternal life. Scripture warns that they will drink of the wine of the wrath of Elohim. Our Father will destroy the Antimessiah and those who follow him. This includes those who receive the mark of the Beast on their right hand or forehead.
How will we avoid such deception? We must know the signs that our Savior gave in the Olivet prophecy and to John of Patmos in the book of Revelation. These serve as a roadmap of that which we’re to avoid as believers. As the end becomes closer these threats become more real and dangerous!
In fact, the Apostle Paul prophesied of a great falling away that would precede the revealing of the Man of the Sin. He wrote, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Master Yahshua Messiah, and by our gathering together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Messiah is at hand. 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,” 2Thessalonians 2:1-3.
This same admonition is as relevant to us as it was to the people of Thessalonica. We are not to be soon shaken. In other words, we must hold firm to the promise and truth of Scripture. This is why it’s critical that we as believers prove all things, as Paul instructs in 1Thessalonians 5:21. An intense desire to learn the truth characterized the Bereans, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” Acts 17:10-11.
The consequence of not proving all things can lead to deception and even defection from the truth. Paul prophesied of a great falling away that would occur before the exposing of the Man of Sin. Will we be one of the deceived or one of the elect who was not quickly shaken in faith?
The answer lies in our willingness to study and prove what we believe from our Father’s Word. If we simply coast through life without confirming our core beliefs, then what makes us think that we will have the spiritual stamina and strength to hold firm to the end? If we are unsure why we believe as we do, that belief can be quickly snatched away by deception and error.
The life of a believer requires action and this was the message of our Savior in His Olivet Prophecy. This is why He again warned first about deception. He knew that this would be the most destructive. Obeying the commandments and holding to the faith of Yahshua the Messiah, our Savior, will strengthen our resolve and dedication. Any man claiming to be a prophet and trying to persuade that Yahshua is not the Messiah is to be avoided.
Now we might think that we could never be deceived by a man claiming to be a prophet or the Messiah. Then why did Yahshua say that false prophets and false messiahs would show great signs and wonders and if possible, deceive the very elect of Yahweh?
For this reason, it is incumbent to put on the whole armor of Yahweh: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of Elohim, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the good news of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Elohim,” Ephesians 6:16.
Notice that Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as Yahweh’s Word. The greatest defense against deception will be the knowledge of the truth found in the Scriptures. Without it, we will have no way of knowing whether something is true or false. It is for this reason that we must study and prove all things. This doesn’t only apply to prophecy, but to all aspects of our worship.
The First Horseman
In Revelation 6:2 we find the first horseman and manifestation of the Messiah’s warning about deception in the Olivet prophecy: “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”
There is debate among scholars as to what or who this horseman represents. Some say it is the Messiah, based on Revelation 19:10-15: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Yahshua: worship Elohim: for the testimony of Yahshua is the spirit of prophecy. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of Yahweh. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of El Shaddai.”
While similarities exist between Yahshua and the first horseman, there are also significant differences. First, the timing of these passages is different. While the first horseman appears at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation, Yahshua arrives at the end. Second, Yahshua has a different weapon. Unlike the first horseman holding a bow but no arrows, Yahshua holds a sharp sword.
For these reasons, a far more likely interpretation for the first beast is the Antimessiah and his campaign of deception. Another reason for this view is the parallel between Yahshua’s Olivet Prophecy and the four horsemen.
As Yahshua began His prophecy in Matthew 24 with a warning against deception through false messiahs and false prophets, we find here the same message. There is one last parallel to consider. While both Yahshua and the beast wear a crown, the crown of the beast indicates kingship through Satan the devil. The Antimessiah will go forth conquering (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:4) and will rule this earth as the ultimate despot (2Thess. 2:4; Rev. 17:12-13).
War and Rumors of War
Along with deception, Yahshua also warns against coming conflict. “And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7a).
As we near the end we will see an increase in war. The Messiah verified that nation would be against nation and kingdom against kingdom. The word “nation” comes from the Greek ethnos and means a race or tribe, referring to tribal conflict and civil wars. Since 1550, over 100 civil wars have been fought around the world. At present, we see such conflicts in Colombia, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somali, Yemen, Chad, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Syria.
Yahshua also said that kingdom would be against kingdom. This word is from the Greek basileia and means, “royalty, i.e. (abstractly) rule, or (concretely) a realm (literally or figuratively)” (Strong’s). The word “kingdom” then refers to sovereign nations. Are we seeing wars between nations today? Absolutely! As of early 2013, news of continued conflict was reported in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, where forces of the United States, Europe, and Australia were still fighting insurgents.
Besides active wars, our Savior also said there would be rumors of wars. It may be only a matter of time until Israel strikes a nuclear Iran, which according to some could begin a world war. From a Fox News article dated February 2, 2013, war with Iran may be imminent:
“Judging by its expanding nuclear program, harsh sanctions against Iran have done little but impose hardship on its people, while diplomacy has also failed to slow the Islamic Republic’s atomic progress. And while more talks are planned for later this month, there is a growing sense that the nuclear standoff between Iran and the international community is reaching a tipping point.”
The analysis continues, “But Iran shows no sign of budging, and Israel’s threat to hit Tehran’s nuclear targets if negotiations fail stands, as does the possibility that such a move would draw the United States into the conflict. Iran could enrich uranium to arm one weapon within half a year even though analysts say it would take years longer for it to actually create a full working nuclear weapon.”
Beyond Iran there is also the un-predictable North Korea. Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has followed in the footsteps of his father, Kim Jong-il. Instead of pursuing peace with South Korea and its neighbors, he continues to take provocative steps that only amplify the current concerns of the international community. In a recent move, Kim Jong-un has threatened nuclear war with the United States. While some experts believe that their nuclear arsenal is not ready for such a bold move, the threat remains and will inevitably grow.
An article from the New York Daily News dated April 3, 2013, states, “Ratcheting up the rhetoric, North Korea warned early Thursday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the U.S. using ‘smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear’ weapons. The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen the region’s protections against a possible attack.”
As our Savior prophesied, we continue to hear of threats of conflict. Instead of arrows and spears, however, it’s now nuclear war, which has the potential of wiping out hundreds of thousands, if not millions!
Warring Against the Saints
In addition to war in general, the Antimessiah will specifically target Yahweh’s saints, i.e., those who observe the commandments of Yahweh with the faith of Yahshua the Messiah, Revelation 14:12. In Revelation 13:7, John of Patmos provides this frightful warning, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
We also find a second warning in Daniel 7:25: “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Prophecies show that this time will be especially dangerous for those who follow Almighty Yahweh. The first Beast of Revelation 13, the Antimessiah, will murder some of the saints. He will do this in a time of transition for a space of three-and-a-half-years, as confirmed in Daniel’s prophecy. It will require incredible spiritual stamina to hold firm to the end.
Martyrdom is also seen in the fifth seal of Revelation, “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,” 6:9-11.
Some will be called to sacrifice their lives as witnesses or a testimony to their faith. If that is our destiny will we have the boldness to remain faithful? Those who do will be given white robes. The white robes represent the salvation of the saints. Those who faithfully serve Almighty Yahweh unto death will be assured eternal life. Yahshua said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it,” Luke 9:24.
Protection in the Wilderness
Even though some of the elect will be martyred, death is not certain for all. Scripture states that many of the faithful of the Father, symbolized by a woman, will be protected in the wilderness: “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent,” Revelation 12:14.
The wilderness symbolizes a place of refuge on earth for the last three-and-a-half-years of the Great Tribulation. Here, the elect will find safety and provision (nourished). This word comes from the Greek trepho and means, “to stiffen, i.e. fatten (by implication, to cherish (with food, etc.), pamper, rear)” (Strong’s).
During this time, Yahweh promises that He will feed His assembly in the wilderness, as He did for Israel in the Old Testament during a similar time of escape. This will likely be done with manna, as the risen Messiah prophesied to the Pergamos assembly, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the assemblies; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it,” Revelation 2:12.
In addition to Revelation, we find two additional passages in the Prophets promising protection. The first is in Isaiah 26:20: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
The word “chamber” is the Hebrew cheder and also means, “a room, parlor, an innermost (or inward) part, within” (Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon). This “chamber” or room represents a place of refuge for Yahweh’s elect.
The second example is in Zephaniah 2:3: “Seek you Yahweh, all you meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be you shall be hid in the day of Yahweh’s anger.”
The day of Yahweh’s anger here is a reference to the Great Tribulation. Although He will hide His people during this time, it is not a rapture. The Bible indicates that this protection will be a place on earth, in the same way He protected His people in the Old Testament. We also see that there is a prerequisite for those found worthy of this protection.
The prophet says to seek righteousness and meekness. The word righteousness derives from the Hebrew tsadaq and refers to doing what is right or just. Paul states, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good,” Romans 7:12. In addition to obeying our Father’s Word, Zephaniah says that we are to be meek and humble. Yahweh will reject all who are proud.
The Second Horseman
In Revelation 6:3-4 we find a parallel to the horsemen prophecy: “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
This second horseman rides a red horse, likely symbolizing the blood of war. According to Strong’s, the word “power” is not found in the ancient text; however, based on the context this can be assumed. This horseman is given authority to cause death through the act of war, which is symbolized by the great sword.
As we also found in the Olivet Prophecy, before Yahshua’s Second Coming this earth will suffer horrific conflict. It will begin in the first three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation, also known as Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7). The Antimessiah will likely leverage these global wars to bring peace (Jer. 6:14) and unite all nations under him for the last three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation.
Armageddon – the Final Battle
Yahweh’s Word speaks of one last battle, which will occur at the end of this age. Many call it Armageddon. While this word appears in Revelation 16:16, it does not describe the place of the last battle. Instead, Armageddon is a staging location in southwest Jezreel (“El sows”) Valley on the plains of Esdraelon where the armies of the world will gather before the age-ending battle of the ages.
In that colossal conflict the world’s armies will attack Jerusalem. Zechariah 12:2-3 states, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
For those who come against this holy city, Yahweh will make it a burdensome stone. As prophesied by Zechariah, He will defend and aid the people of Judah and Benjamin: “In that day, saith Yahweh, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in Yahweh of hosts their Elohim. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. Yahweh also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall Yahweh defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as Elohim, as the angel of Yahweh before them,” 12:4-8.
Those who attack Jerusalem will be stricken to the very core of their being. Yahweh will smite every horse with astonishment and rider with madness. The word “astonishment” is from the Hebrew timmahown and refers to a “bewilderment or confusion.” Horses, which are still used in modern warfare, especially in the Mideast, will become confused or disoriented when they come against Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. The riders will be rendered insane.
If this were not enough, Yahweh will empower and strengthen His people. The governors will be like a hearth of fire among the wood, consuming those who oppose them. Even the most feeble or weak will become strong like David the warrior. Possibly the greatest revelation here is that those of the house of David shall be as Elohim. There is only one other place where man is given such a position. In Exodus 4:16, Yahweh promises Moses that He would be to the people as Elohim. There is not an army in the world now or in the future that will be able to defeat Yahweh and those He empowers through the strength of His Spirit.
Widespread famine is in both the Olivet and the Four Horsemen prophecies. In Matthew 24:7 Yahshua prophesied, “…and there shall be famines…” Before the Great Tribulation occurs, there will be a shortage in foodstuffs in part because of war.
Famine is devastating wherever it occurs, and historically has been most difficult in the Middle East. Egypt was hit particularly hard both in the days of Joseph and in 1064-71 CE, both famines lasting seven years. When human beings are under a prolonged famine, they will do about anything to survive, even to the point of what McClintock and Strong call “indescribable enormities”: “Parents consumed their children; human flesh was, in fact, a very common article of food” (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 3, p.480).
As inconceivable as it is, Yahweh issues a famine prophecy against Jerusalem that has similar but more severe implications. He said of Jerusalem through Ezekiel, “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.”
Now notice verse 10 and the consequences of this severe famine: “Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.” Along with what Yahweh calls “the evil arrows of famine,” He promises even an increased famine severity, evil beasts, pestilence, and war, vv. 16-17.
Famine is one of the greatest threats to life today. According to Bread for the World, “a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad”: “[In] 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition. Malnutrition is not having enough nourishing food, with adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and calories to support physical and mental growth and development. Children who survive early childhood malnutrition suffer irreversible harm—including poor physical growth, compromised immune function, and impaired cognitive ability.”
As we approach our Savior’s Coming, famine will become more common, directly related to an increase in war and other plagues. Can you imagine a day when you are unable to provide food for your spouse and children? Even though hard to contemplate in this nation of plenty, the future possibility isn’t only probable but prophesied.
Reminders from the Great Depression
In the 1930s this nation underwent the Great Depression. Prior to the Crash was a time of great prosperity. It was unthinkable that such an economic calamity was imminent. But with the fall of the stock market in 1929, the unimaginable became real. Mothers were unable to provide for their families, fathers were unable to find work and food was either nonexistent or so expensive it was nearly out of reach for most families, and especially for those who did not farm.
From National Public Radio come two personal accounts of the Great Depression:
“Unfortunately, we lost the house. I can remember to this day — and I become emotional when I think of it — literally being placed on the sidewalk [with] every last possession that my poor mother had because she wasn’t able to supposedly pay the mortgage. And an incredible number of people came to my mothers’ aid, literally wheeling wheelbarrows of coal to help warm the house.”
“It was always a challenge to keep warm — we hugged each other on the floor. We had little beds that open and close. When I think about it, it was horrible. It was horrible. And then the sanitation of the community — garbage was just put in the alley — and did that create a condition? Yes it did: TB [tuberculosis].”
These are just two accounts from the millions who suffered during the Great Depression. It was a blessing to simply have food for your family during those difficult days. Those old enough to remember this time still tremble at the thought of these challenges. Could a time such as this one occur again?
A Second Great Depression
With the national debt increasing rapidly, coupled with a lethargic economy, such a scenario does indeed exist. Wayne Root, former Presidential candidate and the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, explains why such a situation is not only possible, but also why today’s economic disaster might be much worse:
“….This time the results are going to be dramatically worse than 1929. This time we are facing The Greatest Depression ever. Why? Because The Great Depression had NONE of the structural, economic, and social problems, nor the massive obligations we are now facing. Read the facts:
In 1929 America was not $16 trillion in debt, and facing over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s over $360,000 in debt per citizen.
In 1929 most states were not bankrupt, insolvent and dependent on federal government handouts to survive….
In 1929 we did not have 21 million government employees with bloated salaries, huge pensions, and free health care for life. Today 1 out of 5 federal employees earns over $100,000.
Today, 77,000 federal employees earn more than the governors of their states.
Staggering numbers of federal government employees retire at a young age with $100,000 pensions for life.
Unfortunately on the state and local levels it’s even worse. There is now nearly $4 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities for state government employees.
Protected by their unions and the politicians they elect, government employees are bankrupting America. In Illinois there are retired government employees making over $425,000 per year.
In 1929, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid didn’t exist. The federal government had no such obligations threatening to consume the entire federal budget within a few years.”
With all these uncertainties, this nation and much of the world are teetering on crises. If this day ever arrives, such a disaster would usher in famine and other prophetic signs that our Savior predicted would come to pass before His coming.
The Third Horseman
The plague of famine is also seen in the third horseman of Revelation 6: “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine” (vv. 5-6).
“Balances” is key here. According to Barnes’ Notes, “This word properly means a yoke, serving to couple anything together, as a yoke for cattle. Hence it is used to denote the beam of a balance, or of a pair of scales—and is evidently so used here.” These balances indicate the shortage and scarcity of food. The word “penny” refers to the denarius, a Roman coin that was worth about one day’s wages. A quart of wheat or three quarts of barley is considered the rations for one man, specifically a soldier. The prophesied famine will be so severe that it will require an entire day’s wage to purchase the rations for one man. Where will this leave millions of families with children and those tending to the needs of others? It is not hard to envision a population that will do just about anything to obtain for themselves whatever food is available.
Now, why is this horseman told not to hurt the oil and wine? This passage has led to several interpretations. Some scholars point out that these represent discretionary items typically reserved for the rich and will be abundant. Key food staples like wheat, corn and barley, on the other hand, will be extremely scarce.
Death from Disease
The last plague is death from pestilence. In Luke 21:11, a parallel to Matthew 24, Yahshua prophesied, “…and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.” The word “pestilence” comes from the Greek loimos and means a plague or disease. Before Yahshua’s coming, diseases will increase.
Some of the most common diseases today include: cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In addition to these, there are several more ominous maladies such as the bird flu and mad cow disease.
One of the worst plagues in our modern age is the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of transmission is homosexuality and drug use. From CDC’s Fact Sheets, “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have [relations] with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2009, MSM accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections, and MSM with a history of injection drug use (MSM-IDU) accounted for an additional 3% of new infections. That same year, young MSM accounted for 69% of new HIV infections among persons aged 13–29 and 44% of infections among all MSM. At the end of 2009, an estimated 441,669 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the US were MSM or MSM-IDU.”
Homosexuality and drug use are diametrically opposed to Yahweh’s Word; homosexuality being called an abomination (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27; 1Cor. 6:9). Is this simply a coincidence or a curse for not following our Father in heaven?
Ironically, we find that those who worship the Beast’s image will also suffer from a horrific plague, “And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image,” Revelation 16:2. The word “sore” is derived from the Greek helkos and refers to an ulcer or to an open wound. We also find a similar curse in the Old Testament: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Yahweh thy Elohim, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…Yahweh will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed,” Deuteronomy 28:15, 27.
The Fourth Horseman
The parallel account to this sign is found in the final of the four horsemen. “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Rev 6:7-8).
The word “pale” is from the Greek chloros and means, “greenish” (Strong’s). Some scholars attribute this pale-greenish color to sickness and disease. The rider on the horse is called Death, being derived from this Greek hades, symbolizing its purpose. The word “hades” simply refers to the grave. In addition to representing pestilence, the fourth horseman likely represents the cumulative death that will befall mankind during the Tribulation. He is given power to bring death by sword, by famine and by disease. In essence, he is the cumulative impact of the previous three.
As Israel had to endure the first four plagues of Egypt, it appears that the saints will suffer from these Four Horsemen. Consequently, it is imperative that His people remain strong in Almighty Yahweh and Yahshua the Messiah. We must place our trust in the One we worship. If we falter in faith, we may lose the very hope that we treasure.
John in Revelation 2:10 wrote: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Even though this was written historically to the assembly in Smyrna, the message is also prophetic for the last days. Yahshua says here to not fear death. Those who overcome and are faithful to death will receive a crown of life. There is not a greater promise in Yahweh’s Word. No matter what we may suffer in this life, it is inconsequential when compared to the promise of Yahweh’s Kingdom.
As believers what must we do to be saved? We must obey the commandments and have faith in Yahshua the Messiah. We find this in several passages in the book of Revelation: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Yahweh, and have the testimony of Yahshua Messiah,” 12:17.
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua,” 14:12.
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city,” 22:14.
From these three key passages we find that we must obey our Father in heaven and believe or have faith in the testimony of Yahshua the Messiah. They go hand-in-hand and are not mutually exclusive. Contrary to popular belief, obedience and faith are not at odds with each other. James explains that faith and obedience work in concert. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works,” James 2:17-18. We show our faith by our life actions, including obedience to our Father in heaven.
Those who obey the commandments and have faith in Yahshua the Messiah will be tested as never before. For this reason it’s incumbent that we stand strong and hold firm unto the end! Those who do will be blessed immeasurably.
As Yahshua prophesied in His Olivet Prophecy, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” Luke 21:25-27.
Even though the Great Tribulation will bring unparalleled deception, war, famine, and disease, for the faithful the end will be one of great blessings. As Yahshua with His angels descend from heaven, those who stand firm unto the end will look up and see their redemption or salvation drawing near. At this time, those who died in Messiah will arise and those alive will be caught up together with them to meet Yahshua the Messiah in the clouds as He descends to the earth, 1Thessalonians 4:16-17.
If you yearn for the blessings of our Father in heaven and Savior, then the time is now for us to fully dedicate our lives to them. Salvation comes not through passiveness, but through an earnest desire to wholly commit our lives to Almighty Yahweh and our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah!
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A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and like the chain, a society is only as strong as its basic element. The basic element for any civilization is the family. Without a proper family structure the culture will collapse like a house built on sand.
Yahweh in His great wisdom realized that to be strong and unified the family must have a leader — a person who will take responsibility for the physical and spiritual welfare of that family. Neither a family nor Yahweh’s assembly can function properly without a head, and Yahweh has chosen the husband to be that head in the family relationship.
In the beginning when Adam was created Yahweh saw that He was incomplete and needed a help mate, thus the creation of the first woman. From that point the relationship of husband and wife, as his helper, was defined.
Yahweh told Eve, “…Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16). Yahweh clearly says here that the man is to lead the family. Yahweh also emphasizes that the husband must love, respect, and care for his wife as if she were his own flesh. Spousal abuse is never warranted, either mentally or physically.
If this loving behavior — ordained by Yahweh Himself — were followed in all marriages, we would not see the discord, heartache, and broken homes that plague our culture today. The husband and wife are each given a special role to fill and they will find happiness by meeting Yahweh’s expectations for each of them.
In the Scriptures a token sign of this sacred relationship is the veil or headcovering. In ancient times it was customary for the woman to have her head covered. This physical concealment of the hair was a sign of love and respect for her husband.
Paul wrote, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Messiah; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Messiah is Yahweh” (1Cor. 11:3).
Here, Yahweh extends His jurisdiction to this earth through His authority. The apostle explains the proper relationship ordained by Yahweh between the Father, His Son, man, and woman. Yahweh is the Head of His spiritual family, with His Son immediately under Him. Paul says that man and woman also have their appointed places in respect to this authority.
The Apostle shows that the man is subject to Messiah even while being head of the woman. That means that the man is to be governed by Yahweh’s laws in respect to his relationship with his wife. Peter writes that wives are to “be in subjection to your own husbands,” 1Peter 3:1, and also that the man is to honor the wife “as unto the weaker vessel,” 1Peter 3:7.
Proper Roles Through the Covering
Continuing in 1Corinthians 11, the word “head” denotes authority, which is Paul’s topic in verse 3. It is significant that this topic concerns the actual head as an object lesson in Biblical leadership.
Paul continues, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” (1Cor. 11:4-6).
The man is not to have his head covered in a worship setting. To do so would misrepresent and confuse his proper role. On the other hand, being under the man’s authority the woman is to have her head veiled to show that distinction.
The word covered in verse 4, referring to the man’s covering, is from No. 2596, kata in the Greek. Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament says: “having his head covered.” Clearly, the Greek word kata found in verse 4 refers to a physical veil or covering.
The word covered that refers to the woman in verse 6 is from another Greek word, which is derived from No. 2619, katakalupto, and is defined by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: “to cover wholly, i.e. a veil:— cover, hide.”
The two words that are used for our English word covered in verses 4 and 6 both carry the same meaning —to cover. However, when it pertains to the woman the Greek seems to be more precise when it defines a veil that covers her hair, hiding this natural covering which was given to her by Yahweh as a sign of beauty and power.
Recognized scholarship defines the substance of these verses in the following explanations:
• Adam’s Clarke’s Commentary note on 1Corinthians 11:6 states, “For if the woman be not covered. If she will not wear a veil in the public assemblies, let her…be shorn — let her carry a public badge of infamy; but if it be a shame — if to be shorn or shaven would appear, as it must, a badge of infamy, then let her be covered — let her by all means wear a veil.”
• The Harper Collins Study Bible note on 1Corinthians 11:5 reads, “Unveiled, or more generally ‘uncovered,’ perhaps with loose, flowing hair (typically associated with promiscuous women or priestesses of pagan cults).”
• Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary on 1Corinthians 11:6 explains, “A woman’s hair is given her by nature, as her covering (vs. 15), to cut it off like a man, all admit would be indecorous: therefore, to put away the head-covering, too, like the man, would be similarly indecorous. It is natural to her to have long hair for her covering: she ought, therefore, to add the other (the wearing of the headcovering) to show that she does of her own will that which nature itself teaches she ought to do, in token of her subjection to man.”
• Barnes Notes commentary on 1Corinthians 11 says, “With her head uncovered. That is, with the veil removed which she usually wore. It would seem from this that the women removed their veils, and wore their hair dishevelled, when they pretended to be under the influence of divine inspiration. This was the case with the heathen priestesses; and in so doing, the… women imitated them. On this account, if no other, Paul declares the impropriety of this conduct. It was, besides, a custom among ancient females, and one that was strictly enjoyed by the traditional laws of the Jews, that a woman should not appear in public unless she were veiled.”
• Finally, the Companion Bible note on verse 5 states, “If she discards the covering which is the symbol of her position, she may as well discard that which nature has given.”
By voluntarily covering her hair during worship, a woman demonstrates her desire to comply with her special role toward her husband and to Yahweh. Not to do so would in effect be placing herself equal with her uncovered husband, which is forbidden by Yahweh.
The statement in verse 6, “but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” is taken directly from the teachings of the Torah. In Deuteronomy 21 Yahweh explains that it was a dishonor to shave a woman’s hair and trim her nails, which Paul uses here to illustrate those women who refused to submit to their husband’s authority. This shows that the covering of the hair, which all women have by nature, is not what Paul is talking about in this chapter, but a covering placed willingly over the hair. He says that if she won’t do that, she may as well shave her head.
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of Elohim: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man” (1Cor. 11:7).
The Apostle reveals here why the man is not to cover his head. Paul says that man is created in Yahweh’s image, and because of that fact the man is not to wear a covering or veil. However, since the woman was created from the man and in man’s image she is to wear a veil to show that she is taken from man and is under his leadership.
Male Caps from the Pagan Greeks
The Jewish tradition of the male kepha or yarmulke derives from a heathen Greek custom of wearing a beanie-like cap in sports competitions (see 2Maccabees 4:10-13). Greek philosophers wore the hat of the pagan god Hermes to show they were educated, a custom still seen in the beanie under the tasseled mortarboard worn at graduation ceremonies.
In the Scriptures, the male headcovering was a sign of mourning, as seen in 2Samuel 15:30; 19:4, and Esther 6:12. Had the average man customarily worn headcoverings, the Scriptures would have no need to make special mention of it in these passages.
Man is to reflect the glory of Yahweh and the woman the glory of man. “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels” (1Cor. 11:9-10).
Verse 9 reaffirms the fact that the woman came from man. Therefore, she is not only to have her head covered for her husband, but also for the angels. Some believe this speaks of the rebellious angels who refused to be subject to Yahweh’s authority and threw in with Satan, while others maintain that it refers to accepting the proper role Yahweh has given, just as do the angels in His hierarchy.
“Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in Yahweh. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of Elohim” (1Cor. 11:11–12).
Paul maintains that even though the woman is under the man’s authority, that both are equally dependent upon each other, and that without the other each would be incomplete. Even though the man has the leading role, Paul notes that the man is formed in the woman’s womb, and both are always subject to Yahweh in all things. Men are commanded to love their wives, Ephesians 5:25.
“Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto Yahweh uncovered?” (1Cor. 11:13). The word uncovered in the above passage is from the Greek, akatakaluptos (No. 177 in Strong’s) and is defined by Strong’s as “unveiled or uncovered.” This Greek wordakatakaluptos means to be physically uncovered, without a veil or headdress. Paul asks, is it right for a woman who is worshiping Yahweh to have her head uncovered? By Paul’s question we see that he certainly wanted to make known the importance for a woman to wear a veil while worshiping Yahweh.
Is Long Hair a Woman’s Covering?
The one concept that has not yet been examined is what a woman’s long hair represents. The majority of Biblical scholarship today will explain that long hair for a woman represents beauty and a gracefulness that Yahweh endowed her with upon the creation of Eve. Consider the following :
• “Women’s hair was a common object of lust in antiquity, and in much of the eastern Mediterranean women were expected to cover their head” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary note at 1Corinthians 11).
• “For a woman taking off her head covering in public and exposing her hair was a sign of loose morals and sexual promiscuity” (TheNIV Study Bible note at 1Corinthians 11:5).
From the biblical sources above we find that a woman’s long hair represents beauty, and by not wearing a headdress she is placing her beauty, or the power which Yahweh has given her through that natural covering, over her husband. She would essentially be placing her authority if not over, then equal to her husband’s.
Yahweh has given long hair to a woman as a thing of beauty. By refusing to hide that beauty in a worship setting she is outshining her husband, which is not permissible in Yahweh’s Word.
“Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering” (1Cor. 11:14-15).
Paul is admonishing the Corinthian men here not to have long hair, because such was intended naturally for the woman. This word covering does not mean a physical covering and cannot replace the added covering that the woman is commanded to wear while praying or prophesying. The word covering in verse 15 is from the Greek peribolaion (Strong’s No. 4018), and is defined by Strong’sas “something thrown around one, i.e. a mantle or veil.” The difference between the covering mentioned in verse 6 and here in verse 15 is that the covering in verse 6 is not a natural covering from Yahweh, but a man-made
object used to cover the head. The covering in verse 15, which is a natural covering that frames the face and serves to enhance the woman’s beauty, is not a man-made covering, but one given by Yahweh. Notice the following comments on verse 15:
“Long hair is given to her as a covering. This is not the same word as that used in verses 5-6. The point here is that as the hair represents the proper covering in the natural realm, so the veil is the proper covering in the religious” (Ryrie Study Bible note at1Cor. 11:15).
“Her hair…for a covering — Not that she does not need additional covering. Nay, her long hair shows she ought to cover her head as much as possible. The will ought to accord with nature” (Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary note at 1Cor. 11:15).
Reasons Women Are to Be Covered
Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible note at 1Corinthians 11 gives the following reasons, some historical, that a woman is to be covered in worship:
• “It was a Jewish law that no woman be seen in public unveiled. Among Greeks, Romans, and other nations it was also the custom.
• “Only public prostitutes in the East went without veils, hence to pray or prophesy without a veil would be identifying [True Worship] with harlotry.
• “If a woman appeared in public without a veil she would disgrace her head – the husband. It would be the same as women who had their hair shorn off as punishment for whoredom and adultery.
• “The man was not to wear a veil because he was the image and glory of [Yahweh]. The women needed one because she is the glory of the man being created for him. The woman needed to wear her veil on her head as a sign of her husband’s power over her…
• “The woman needed to cooperate fully with the husband and keep the customs as being equally blessed of [Yahweh].
• “It was becoming for a woman …to be veiled and not common for a [righteous] woman to pray or prophesy unveiled. That would make her like the heathen priestesses who prayed and delivered the oracles bareheaded or with dishevelled hair.
• “It was natural for women to have long hair, thus indicating they should be veiled.”
In today’s society that is being driven in many respects by the liberation movement, the concept of the headcovering may seem out of place. Yet, only 40 years ago it was not considered out of place by devout worshipers who understood the significance of the headcovering in worship. As a people called out for the hope of becoming a kingdom of priests, we conform to a higher calling,Revelation 5:10. We submit to the One we worship with the hope that we would be pleasing to Him.
Paul wrote that when it comes to True Worship, we must not let the world, its ways or customs dictate how we will honor Yahweh: “I entreat you, then, Brothers, by the mercies of [Elohim], to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to Elohim, for this is your rational worship. Do not conform to the fashion of this world; but be transformed by the complete change that has come over your minds, so that you may discern what [Elohim’s] will is — all that is good, acceptable, and perfect,” Romans 12:1-2, The Twentieth Century New Testament (TCNT).
Paul completes his discourse on the headcovering in 1Corinthians 11 by enjoining: “If, however, any one still thinks it right to contest the point — well, we have no such custom, nor have the [Assemblies of Yahweh]” (TCNT).
Neither do we. Our desire as Yahweh’s people is to honor Him in all things, putting our own interests and wants secondary regardless of whether it may conflict with popular practice or social dictate. In so doing, we show our humility and willingness to conform to Yahweh’s Word, while resting in the assurance that He will honor our worship.
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Many call themselves “New Testament Churches” and say they have no use for the Old Testament. But what Bible did the writers of their New Testament quote from, refer to, and base their teachings on? It is time to rethink some critically important fundamentals!
Picking up a Bible, the first thing you notice is that it is divided into two parts, an Old Testament and a New Testament. Because of the very names given to these two sections it seems that the Bible has an obsolete first part, bestowed with the title “Old,” which has been totally supplanted with a second part called “New.”
Most students of the Scriptures have been taught that what is found in the Old Testament is not actually intended for them but is only for Jews, while the New Testament is off limits to Jews and is approved only for Christian use.
Still, no one can explain why Christian Bible publishers continue to bind the Old and New Testament Scriptures into a single volume, as they have done for centuries. If the Old has been obsolete for 2,000 years, then why not just drop it? Clearly something fundamentally important has kept these two testaments together for 2,000 years.
A Website describes the popular understanding this way: “The Bible is mainly divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains books relating to the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel . The New Testament contains books and letters relating to the new covenant between Yahweh and the New Israel, the Church.”
Tertullian, 2nd century “father of the Roman church,” was the first to use the terms vetus testamentum or old testament and novum testamentum or new testament. He also introduced the term Trinity to the church vocabulary – nearly 200 years into the New Testament. But it is the regrettable use of the terms “old” and “new” (testaments) that has resulted in the most serious consequences.
The most far-reaching of them all is that two separate religions and faiths have ostensibly grown out of the same book – both worshiping the same Heavenly Father! But the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 expresses that the Father is of one mind and understanding, a characteristic the Son shares, John 17:11, 22.
Many would have us believe that Yahweh made a huge misstep in requiring Israel to obey Old Testament teachings, only to correct that error in the New Testament by requiring just faith alone.
Yahweh never intended that the Old Testament and New Testament present two completely different worship modes and requirements creating two different options for salvation. This was never how it was with the early Assembly as guided by the Apostles. Yahweh never wanted his Bible to be divided into two different belief systems for two distinct groups of worshipers.
We are going to see that despite some administrative changes, the Old Testament and New Testament agree on a single salvation plan for all people. Further, we will see how the writers of the New Testament looked to the writings of the Old Testament as the basis of Truth, and how the disciples, and even Yahshua Himself, based their teachings and practices on what is found in the Old Testament, the only Bible they had. When they used the term “Scriptures” they meant the Old Testament. There were no other Scriptures in existence.
The viability of the Old Testament is one of the most significant truths you will ever learn about proper, Biblical worship. Its implications are enormous. It means that if Old Testament truths are still in full force and effect, then what Israel was told to observe remains largely unchanged and therefore applies to today’s Believers as well. It means nothing less than that the foundation for our beliefs and practices must rest in the Old Testament – which even our own Savior called “the Scriptures.”
Paul Dynamites a Myth
Over the centuries the popular notion has developed that there exists two different paths to salvation for two different groups of people in two conflicting sections of the Bible. This myth has caused two different religions to spring from the same book. Paul categorically refutes this in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: For you are all one in Messiah Yahshua.”
Here is the champion of Christianity – none other than the Apostle Paul himself – refuting a fundamental Christian belief! Here is the supposed founder of modern church teaching telling us that there is no basic difference between the Jew and the gentile. All are united in Yahshua. So how does that work in everyday reality?
Most Bible believers see it this way: the Old Testament is useful and edifying in relating Yahweh’s actions with Israel – so long as it stays focused exclusively on Israel . It has some good history and individual lessons and examples that can also be nice for us to know. But for them it doesn’t have the same level of authority or relevance for the believer as does the New Testament.
This means that anyone in the Old Testament era was at a great disadvantage just because they lived at a different time. It means in essence that they were second-rate believers; their salvation, if indeed they had it, was inferior because they did not know New Testament truth.
We need not go beyond Hebrews 11 in the New Testament to see the error in this thinking. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David will have exalted positions in the Kingdom – probably much higher than you and I and anyone else holding the New Testament, except Yahshua. And all that any of those patriarchs had to go by was the Old Testament. There they will be – sitting in high positions of authority in Yahweh’s government nevertheless.
Can we say, then, that the Old Testament is of inferior quality or has less merit than the New Testament? Remember, it was the only Bible possessed of the patriarchs who will rule in the Kingdom of Yahweh .
One Truth and Only One Way to the Kingdom
Paul has something else to say about mistaken notions concerning the Old Testament.
First, from Galatians 3:28 we learn that salvation is not exclusive to any one race or group. In Yahweh’s eyes believing Jews and believing Gentiles are on equal footing. This is true no matter your perspective. Verse 29 says you are the seed of Abraham if you are Yahshua’s and therefore have the salvation promise.
And neither is there a difference when it comes to the avenue leading to life everlasting. There is only one truth and one way to salvation. In Ephesians 4:5 Paul confirms that there is “one faith, one hope, one baptism,” not two truths, one for the ancient Jew and the other for the modern Christian.
In Jude 3, Yahshua’s brother tells us we must return to the original faith once given to the saints. And what is that? Ephesians 2:20says that faith is built on the Apostles and prophets, or in other words it encompasses both Old Testament and New Testament.
In Revelation 14:12 that true faith is defined by those who keep the commandments and have faith in Yahshua. In Revelation 3:8 it also means those who have not denied His Name.
These are also truths taught fundamentally in the Old Testament.
The fact is, the “church” does not replace Israel but joins with it through the taking hold of the covenant promise that Yahweh proclaimed for all His people. We learn in Romans 11:1-2 that Yahweh did not discard Israel and start over with the New Testament. Israel is still key to His salvation plan, Romans 11:26. All who seek everlasting life must be grafted into the Israelite promise,Romans 11:17 clearly teaches.
In Yahweh’s master plan the Old Testament was never the special Bible for just Jews or Israel but was and is intended for all who seek Him. The same goes for the New Testament. If the Scriptures recognize that there is no difference between Jews and the “church,” then the Feasts, Sabbaths, and laws cannot be exclusively for Jews, Israel or restricted to any other particular people.
John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you have heard from the beginning,” 1John 2:7.
Our Savior’s Bible Was Also the Old Testament
This is consistent with what we find in New Testament practice. The Savior and His followers all kept what was heard from the beginning, meaning the Old Testament instructions and commands. They recognized the continuity between Old Testament command and New Testament performance by observing the seventh-day Sabbath, annual Feasts, and laws Israel kept.
Yahshua Himself kept them, and commanded us to follow what He did, Revelation 2:26. He knew the basis of New Testament faith rests in the Old Testament. He said in John 5:46-47: “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My words?”
By Paul’s crystal clear statement on equality, ordinances given to Israel must also be observed by everyone, or else there is only favoritism and no equality. Jew and Gentile must follow the same Truth, because there is only one Truth. Notice that this fact is brought out later in His letter, where Paul tells the Galatians, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:26, 28).
Jerusalem as the capital of the Israelite nation is “mother” to all those seeking Yahweh, including the Galatian gentiles in the New Testament to whom Paul was writing. Furthermore, Paul says the covenant promise we are under was shared by the Old Testament patriarch Isaac. Both peoples are part of the covenant.
Already we are seeing proof that Old Testament promises apply in the New Testament.
Most people are unaware that the Old Testament contains teachings on a number of what are considered New Testament doctrines. For example,
Yahweh has no pleasure in sacrifices, but says obedience is better, Hebrews 10:6.
In the New Testament, whenever Yahshua and the apostles referred to the “scriptures,” they were in nearly every case referring to the Law, the Prophets and the Writings that make up the Old Testament.
They taught from them and about them; they used the Old Testament to support their position and make their points; they relied on Old Testament prophecies and used its teachings.
Yahshua even confounded Satan by quoting the Old Testament (Matt. 4:7-10). Why didn’t Satan say to Him, “Why are you quoting that outdated and dead book?” Even the Adversary knew the Old Testament was alive!
In short, the Old Testament was not only the textbook of the New Testament patriarchs, but also their guide to living the life acceptable to Yahweh.
This begs the quintessential question: Why would New Testament, Spirit-inspired teachers and writers, including Yahshua Himself as the greatest among them, refer hundreds of times in their teachings to a collection of writings known as the Old Testament that was either obsolete or very soon to be obsolete?
And why would Yahweh – for 2,000 years – delude millions of New Testament people by inspiring the direct quoting of 300 Old Testament passages that were obsolete?
In fact, one in every 22.5 verses of the New Testament is a direct quotation from the Old Testament. The New Testament refers to “Moses” no fewer than 80 times, and it mentions the Sabbath 60 times, despite modern attempts to say keeping the Sabbath is unnecessary. These solid facts contradict the idea that the Old Testament had no influence after Yahshua walked this earth.
If you take only Scriptural references or allusions into consideration, the numbers are much higher. Roger Nicole in his book, Revelation and the Bible says one estimate is that there there are as many as 1,640 allusions to the Old Testament in the New Testament, while another estimate he says totals 4,105 passages referring to Old Testament Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958). As high as 1 out of every 10 verses in the New Testament is either a direct citation of or an allusion to the Old Testament
If the Old Testament has been dead for 2,000 years, why did Yahweh inspire it to be quoted, referenced thousands of times, and included in the same Bible with the New Testament?
It is only natural that Yahweh would inspire the use of the Old Testament because the Old Testament was just as alive and central to truth when Paul preached it as it is today. Paul even told Timothy: “But continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; And that from a child you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yahshua” (see Rev. 12:17). Further Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of Elohim may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2Tim. 3:14-17).
Yahweh doesn’t inspire “all Scripture” only to rescind two-thirds of it later on. Hebrews 8 explains that it was not the fault of the Old Covenant but of disobedient Israel that caused Yahweh to open up the covenant promise to others. Yahshua echoed that same truth in his parable of those who would not come to the wedding supper, so he invites anyone traveling by to come in.
Paul Observed the Old Testament’s Teachings
Let’s look at some instances of direct reliance on the Old Testament by believers living in the early New Testament era.
When Paul commended the New Testament Bereans for diligently searching the scriptures to see whether what he was preaching to them was true (Acts 17:11), he referred to their study of what we call the Old Testament: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
But to them it was not the “Old Testament.” As far as the Bereans were concerned, they were merely searching Yahweh’s Word, which included the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, to confirm that what they were hearing from the New Testament apostles was true.
Remember, the Old Testament was the only Bible they had. It was the foundation of their faith and belief, and Paul even applauded them for double-checking with the Old Testament first before believing anything they read in the New Testament writings!
All of which screams one especially important fact: the New Testament does not contradict the Old Testament.
Why did not Paul say, “Listen people, don’t bother with those old writings that are now out of date. Just read my letters and do what they say and forget that Old Testament. I am all the Bible you need now.” He knew that teaching such a thing, which churches everywhere do believe and teach today, would be an enormous falsehood. He himself based Truth on the Old Testament Scriptures.
Note how Paul supported and taught the law and the Old Testament:
In Acts 24:14 Paul adamantly confirmed that he believed “all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Old Testament).
To prove that he lived “in observance of the law,” Paul agreed to undertake a ritual purification at the temple, at which time he proved that he kept the law (Acts 21:24-26). Born a Benjaminite, he was instructed by Gamaliel “according to the perfect manner of the law,” Acts 22:3.
In diametric opposition to what most clerics teach today, Paul said he was not against Old Testament teachings and did nothing to violate them, Acts 28:17.
As a matter of fact, Paul taught the people about Yahshua from morning to night “out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets,” (Old Testament) Acts 28:23.
In Acts 25:8 Paul maintained that he never broke any laws of the Jews or the temple.
All the books of the Old Testament except Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are quoted in the New Testament.
That Old Testament that is used only occasionally for a children’s Bible lesson or for reading of an infrequent Psalm or Proverb is a lot more important than most people think. Yahshua, the apostles, and the earliest converts relied on the Old Testament as the basis for their teachings. They constantly alluded to it and defined their faith in light of what it said.
Once you have all the facts, then you are prepared to make informed, correct choices. People urgently need this truth about the Old Testament so that their worship can be corrected and aligned with the same Truth the prophets, Apostles, and Yahshua the Messiah followed. Sadly, most don’t want the truth of the matter. They love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) for fear of what they might discover that could alter their beliefs and impact their lifestyle. They are comfortable and satisfied in their traditional beliefs no matter how erroneous.
Yahshua Taught Old Testament Precepts
Yahshua made many references to the Old Testament and its laws. He even directly commanded us to study the Old Testament, the only Bible in existence: “Search the Scriptures; for in them think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me,”John 5:39.
It is very important that in Matthew 23:2-3 Yahshua said the Scribes and Pharisees had the authority of the Old Testament commands when it came to teaching what you must observe. “Moses seat” is a euphemism for the Old Testament and its laws. The authority to obey Old Testament commands and laws comes right from Yahshua’s own mouth!
Let’s just look at a few of the many Old Testament truths that Yahshua taught:
Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament in matters of divorce (Matt. 19:8);
Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament in matters of the law (Matt. 5), saying that not even the smallest part of the law would be done away until heaven and earth themselves pass away, verse 18.
Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament regarding salvation (Luke 16:29). In this reference Yahshua was telling the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. He ended it by saying, verse 31, that if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, then it won’t matter to them even if one rose from the dead (meaning Himself). His lesson is clear – if they are not grounded in Yahweh’s laws and have no concern for the prophets’ warnings about sin, then Yahshua will have no influence them either. They won’t listen to Him, because His message is virtually the same as the Old Testament message brought by Moses and the prophets.
Some might argue, yes, but this was before Yahshua’s death changed everything and switched the focus from the Old Testament system to the New Testament. However, many years after Yahshua was come and gone Stephen launched into a speech before the Sanhedrin that highlighted Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham and how Moses was born to fulfill that covenant, and how the plan was continually obstructed by the people who refused to obey and listen to the prophets, Acts 7. And now he says you are doing the same thing as you kill Yahshua and disobey the law (Acts 7:51-53). Why would Stephen use the Old Testament as the context for their present rebellion unless it were still alive and in force?
Once Heretical Teachings Now Accepted
Was it the Roman Church that decided from the Scriptures themselves to throw out the Old Testament? Not on your life. There were many dark forces at work early on to derail True Worship, not the least of which were influential heretics like Marcion. Marcion was a second century teacher formally declared a heretic by the Roman church in 144 CE. Influenced by Gnosticism, Marcion taught that Yahweh of the Old Testament was an entirely different Mighty One from Yahweh of the New. Up until then, the traditional Church had considered the Old Testament to be sacred and assumed that Christianity was a fulfillment or continuation of Judaism. Hence they condemned doctrines that proclaimed such things.
Marcion’s rejection of that idea affected many different doctrines and beliefs. For more than 100 years Christians had been using the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, and even the most sacred documents of Christians referred to and relied heavily on, the Old Testament. The solution for Marcion was to completely reject the Old Testament and establish a canon that de-emphasized Christianity’s Old Testament and Jewish roots as much as possible.
For Marcion and others, the Old Testament Creator of the world was obsessed with law, while the New Testament Mighty One redeemed the world and was characterized by love and grace. Marcion not only threw out the entire Old Testament but also any New Testament books that seemed to him to emphasize law or good works at the expense of grace. Paul, with his perceived focus on grace, was by far Marcion’s favorite Apostle.
At the time, Marcion’s views disclaiming the Old Testament were not very influential. Amazing, isn’t it, that the essence of the teachings of a man who was pronounced a heretic by the early New Testament Assembly are today universally believed and tacitly applied to modern doctrine. Those teachings include emasculating the Old Testament and redefining grace as a replacement for obedience.
It is a sad commentary that so many have been deceived into thinking that the Old Testament is only for Jews, when in actuality it forms the very foundation for what is taught in the New Testament.
The New Testament categorically endorses Old Testament law. For instance, sin is clearly defined in the New Testament as transgression of Yahweh’s law (1John 3:4; Rom. 7:7). Throughout the New Testament the believer’s perpetual moral duty is that of love, and yet love is defined by the New Testament in terms of Yahweh’s law (Matt. 22:40; Rom. 13:10; 1John 5:2-3). Consequently the New Testament message and its morality are squarely founded on the operation of Yahweh’s law.
Both Old and New testaments teach Yahweh’s people to live by every word from His mouth, for Yahweh does not alter the words of His covenant. Every one of His ordinances, we are taught, is everlasting. Accordingly, Yahshua emphatically taught inMatthew 5:17-18 that His coming did not in the least abrogate one jot or tittle of Old Testament law. According to His own teaching, even the minor specifics of the law were to be observed — as a measure of our standing with Yahweh.
Paul maintained that every Old Testament Scripture has moral authority for the New Testament believer, and James in chapter 2 said that not one point of the law was to be violated.
We see both Old and New testaments coming together in a prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6: “Behold, I will send you Eliyah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
What does he mean? In Genesis 18:19 it means to teach children the statutes of Yahweh. It means that before the return of Yahshua, there will be a remnant who will turn back to the original truths of the Bible and restore them in their worship and lives. They will be keeping His laws, commandments, and ordinances, just as they did in the early New Testament assembly. Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry seeks to do just that.
Yahshua the Messiah magnified the law, not abolished it. As we have seen, He taught it and showed us its greater significance in our spiritual development.
Oftentimes the people who are introduced in the New Testament as blessed or favored by Yahweh are character-ized as obedient to His law — for instance, Elisabeth, Zacharias, Joseph, and Miriam (Luke 1:6; 2:21-24, 27, 39). During his ministry on earth Yahshua often appealed to the law of Elohim to bolster His teaching (John 8:17), vindicate His behavior (Matt. 12:5), answer His questioners (Luke 10:26), indict His opponents (John 7:19), and give concrete identity to the will of Yahweh for men (Matt. 19:17).
In all of these ways without elaborate introductions or explanations for departing from a general principle or perspective – the New Testament simply assumes the standing authority of every command of Yahweh found in the Old Testament. If the Old Testament law were invalidated by Yahshua, the preceding examples would be incredibly contradictory.
The New Testament writers used Old Testament quotations in their sermons, in their histories, in their letters, and in their prayers. They used them when addressing Jews or Gentiles, assemblies or individuals, friends or rivals, new converts or seasoned believers. They used them for argumentation and augmentation, for illustration, for instruction, for documentation, for prophecy, and for reproof. They used them in times of stress and in deep contemplation, in liberty and in prison, at home and abroad. They were always ready to defer to the impregnable authority of the “law and the prophets.”
The “Old” Testament is indeed “older” than the New, but so is a foundation older than the structure that rests on it. The Old Testament Scriptures establish a basis for the New Testament, providing legitimacy and giving it meaning and structure. It does the same for the True Worshiper who realizes that his faith is no different from the faith of the Apostles and Messiah Yahshua.
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Yahweh in His wisdom has given us a calendar in the sky for all to see. He uses the sun and moon to establish days, months, years, and also His appointed observances, Genesis 1:14. A critical component to His calendar is the new moon, which starts each Biblical month. Yahweh commanded special offerings on each new moon, and one special new moon is even a Feast day called the Feast of Trumpets,Isaiah 66:23.
Yahweh uses the new moon to establish moedim, or commanded observances, Psalm 104:19. Special offerings were also given on the new moons, 2Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 23:31.
Apostolic Believers, who remained true to His Word, continued to honor new moon days as well as observe Feast days in the New Testament, Acts 18:21; 27:9; 1Corinthians 5:7-8.
Further, we learn from Ezekiel’s prophecy (46:3) that new moon days will be kept in the coming Kingdom: “The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before Yahweh on the sabbaths and on the new moons.”
Make no mistake. The Biblical admonition to observe the new moon as a special marker in the Biblical calendar is not a pronouncement about worshiping the moon itself. Yahweh prohibits worshiping any celestial body: “And beware, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which Yahweh your Elohim has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deut. 4:19). At the same time He commands us to watch for and observe the new moon each month so that we honor and follow His unique calendar and the setting of His special holy days.
What Constitutes a New Moon?
What exactly is a new moon according to the Scriptures? The Jewish calendar creates some confusion because it uses the conjunctions of the moon (Hebrew molad) in setting the beginning of each month. Also somewhat confusing, a certain verse of Scripture seems to equate the new moon with the full moon.
If you are baffled about what the new moon is, we hope this study will settle the issue for you.
Let’s first look at the astronomical conjunction. A lunar conjunction is when the sun, moon and earth are directly in line. Because the sun is behind the moon, no sunlight is reflected from the lunar face. The moon is a total blackout during a conjunction. No part of the moon can be seen in an astronomical conjunction.
The average wall calendar portrays the conjunction with a large black dot and calls it a “new moon.” But in reality it is a “no moon.” It is invisible, and a “no moon” conjunction is not what the Bible means by a new moon, which we will see.
The Bible uses the same Hebrew word for both “new moon” and “month.” Therefore, the new moon is linked to and sets the beginning of the month. But on our Gregorian wall calendars the “no moon” conjunction floats all over the 12 calendar months. Modern calendars completely ignore the Biblical way of setting the first day of the month by the visual new moon, even though the word “month” is derived from the word “moon” and should be oriented to the moon as it was intended by the Creator.
Historically, new moon spotters in Israel watched for the thin crescent to establish the beginning of each month. Once seen they reported their sighting to the calendar court authorities of the Sanhedrin. Note what one authority says, “Originally, the New Moon was not fixed by astronomical calculation, but was solemnly proclaimed after witnesses had testified to the reappearance of the crescent of the moon,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 12, p. 1039.
The switchover from watching for the first visible crescent to calculating conjunctions to determine the month’s beginning came with Hillel II’s calendar revisions in the 4th century C.E. “By the middle of the fourth century, the sages had established a permanent calendar and the public proclamation of the New Moon was discontinued” (Ibid).
Going by the calculated lunar conjunction contradicts the command in Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month [chodesh, new moon] of Abib and keep the Passover…” Here, the word “observe” in the Hebrew is shamar and also means “look narrowly for, search” (No. 8104 in Strong’s). The Holladay Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon defines it as watching in the sense of looking. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words includes the definitions “mark, watchman, wait, watch, look narrowly.” The command is to look for, wait for, watch and mark the new moon.
The problem is that you cannot see a moon that is completely black or dark, as it is during a conjunction. It would be lunacy sending out new moon watchers on the night of a conjunction to look for a moon they cannot see. To visually confirm the new moon there must be something to identify. Obviously, the invisible conjunction is not that something.
Another predicament is created by the use of the conjunction because during the period surrounding the conjunction there are as many as two or even three nights when no moon is visible. This leads us to wonder which three invisible moons are we commanded to “look narrowly for”? On which of three invisible starting points does the month begin? Yahweh’s calendar is based on observation. Man’s calendars are based on calculation.
No U.S. Naval Observatory existed in the time of the prophets or Apostles. The ancients had to have something tangible to go by that was visible on only one day each month. They needed to see the first thin crescent of a moon as it began its building or waxing phase.
Philo was a prominent Jewish leader who lived in Alexandria from about 20 B.C.E. to about 50 C.E. and was a contemporary of both Yahshua the Messiah and Paul. He was aware of what the Savior and His followers considered was the new moon. In his Treatise on the Special Laws, Book II, XI (41), Philo discusses the Biblical observances. Note how he describes the new moon:
“[It] is that which comes after the conjunction, which… [is] the day of the new moon in each month.” In his detailed discussion of the new moon, Philo describes what constitutes a new moon: “…at the time of the new moon, the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders.”
As Philo noted, the new moon follows the conjunction but it is not the conjunction itself. His observation reveals to us what was considered the new moon in Yahshua’s day and what the Savior Himself also observed as the new moon. That is all we need to know to realize what still constitutes the Biblical new moon today.
Does ‘New’ Mean ‘Full’?
Some read Psalm 81:3 and conclude that the new moon is a holy feast day, and also (because of mistranslation) that the new moon is the full moon and not the first light of the moon. The KJV reads, “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” Time “appointed” is the Hebrew kacah and means “to plump, i.e. fill up hollows” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words). This appointed time is a full moon totally filled with light and on which a solemn Feast day occurs. Does that mean that the new moon is the full moon?
The New King James and some other translations add to the confusion by not translating Psalm 81:3 precisely enough: “Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day.” One immediate problem we note is that nowhere in Scripture is the regular monthly new moon referred to as a Feast day, nor is it a full moon, as we shall see.
Other translations clear up the problem by showing two completely different and separate observances in this verse: “Sound the ram’s horn at the new moon, and when the moon is full, at the day of our feast” (NIV).
In Psalm 81:3 Yahweh is speaking of a new moon as well as another observance or appointed time that comes at a full moon. During each of these separate times the trumpet was to sound.
The Hebrew in fact reveals two distinct clauses in this passage, making a definite division of thought. The first is the trumpet as applying to the new moon. The second is the trumpet as it applies to a solemn feast day, which is by Biblical definition different from a regular monthly new moon.
From the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, one would translate Psalm 81:3 this way: “Blow the trumpet at the new moon, and in the fullness of our festival day.”
The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament also makes a differentiation between the two clauses of verse 3: “Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast.”
The Complete Jewish Bible reads: “Sound the shofar at Rosh-Hodesh [new moon], and at full moon for the pilgrim feast.”
The Psalms for Today: A New Translation from the Hebrew into Current English translates the verse: “Sound the trumpet at the new moon, and at the day of our festival, when the moon is full.”
These Hebrew-based translations show that the new moon is different from the full moon and different from a Feast day. The Hebrew shows that the new moon and the full moon are not synonymous. The first is barely visible, the second totally visible. Different words are used for each.
The Hebrew word levanah meaning white, occurs three times in the Hebrew text and poetically refers to the white brilliance of the full moon (see Song of Solomon 6:10; Isa. 24:23; 30:26). And the Hebrew word kehseh, meaning fullness, is twice translated full moon (Ps. 81:3; Prov. 7:20). Chodesh, on the other hand, refers to the new moon and is never used for full moon.
Counting Backward from the Full Moon?
Some postulate that all that is necessary is to wait for the full moon and then count back two weeks for the beginning of the month.
First, such a method ignores Scriptural mandate and practice. Why would one need to “narrowly look for” and diligently search for a full moon? A full moon is in plain sight all night long.
Second, by this reckoning there would historically have been no need for special moon watchers to search the evening sky and report their findings to the Sanhedrin.
Third, those moons immediately preceding and following a full moon have nearly full lumination and are difficult to distinguish from the actual full moon without side-by-side comparison and an expert, discerning eye. This is not the case with a new moon crescent that is either seen or not seen, as by a shepherd boy like David out in the sheep fields.
Fourth, the astronomical full moon does not consistently fall at the exact midpoint between two lunar conjunctions. The full moon may follow the lunar conjunction by as little as 13 days, 21 hours and 53 minutes, or by as much as 15 days, 14 hours and 30 minutes. That is why months vary in length between 29 and 30 days. This anomaly is because the moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular.
Fifth, this method is based on the conjunction, which we have shown is not the Scriptural new moon.
Consequently, determining the new moon by counting backward from the full moon is anything but scripturally ordained and at times quite inaccurate. And in one special case doing so would even be out of the question: the Feast of Trumpets, itself a new moon and the first day of the seventh month, would be two weeks past by the time the full moon arrived and the backward count is made.
Scimitar-shaped New Moon
Scholars who know the Hebrew language also know that the new moon is defined as a thin, crescent moon. Vine’s says, “Chodeshmeans ‘new moon,’ ‘month.’ The word refers to the day on which the crescent reappears.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testamentsays of (c)hodesh, “Although this word properly means ‘new moon,’ it is commonly used as an equivalent to our word ‘month’ because the month began when the thin crescent of the new moon was first visible at sunset.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says hodhesh (chodesh) means “‘new,’ ‘fresh.’ As the Hebrews reckoned their months from the actual first appearance of the young crescent, hodhesh is most frequently translated ‘month’ ” (Vol. 1, p. 303).
The verb form of (c)hodesh is hadash, a primitive root meaning to rebuild, renew, repair, refresh. This gives us additional proof as to what constitutes a new moon. A full moon is not in the rebuilding or renewing stage. It is already rebuilt, complete, and as full as it will get before waning back down to nothing, where it starts to re-grow from complete blackness once more.
According to Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon the word hodesh derives from a word which means to be new, or to polish a sword. Etymologists have observed that the basic sense is that of cutting and polishing. And the significance of newness relates to a polished sword. The new moon resembles a scimitar or curved sword.
The New Brown Driver Briggs Gesenius says chodesh is rooted in the meaning of conceal, as in “to conceal behind a curtain.” A full moon is anything but concealed. A crescent, on the other hand, is nearly all concealed by a curtain of darkness except for just a curved sliver of light along the right edge.
An Act of Worship
Looking for the new moon crescent each month is, above all, an act of worship. It is axiomatic that we cannot let our worship be done by someone else. James tells us, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only…” 1:22. Do we have the dedication to go out and search the evening sky for a sliver of moon that is often very difficult to locate? Or do we just rely on others in our area or in some other part of the world to do it for us?
As we learn through hundreds of lessons in the Scriptures, True Worship takes effort and self-sacrifice to search out Yahweh’s ways in order to honor Him. It takes no effort or sacrifice to see a full moon or follow computer calculations.
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The Bible’s yearly calendar of feasts is based in agriculture and Israel was an agrarian culture. The Feasts are also agriculture-based. Salvation itself is awarded to those spiritually called firstfruits. They will be resurrected first in a harvest of faithful ones to serve in His coming Kingdom. “These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto Elohim and to the Lamb,” Revelation 14:4. The importance of firstfruits in the biblical calendar cannot be over-stated.
The series of seven annual Feasts begins with the month Abib, a name describing the first green grains of ripening, firstfruits barley. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is designated “the Abib” (haAbib), a definitive term for a specific stage of barley growth. It was in the new-year month of Abib when Israel kept the Passover just before coming out of Egypt, Deuteronomy 16:1. All the annual feasts are set by the critical first month of Abib, the month of green barley ears, Exodus 12:2. To establish Abib as the first month we must find the ripening firstfruits of barley grain. This beautiful harvest calendar is a lesson for in faithful obedience and reliance on Yahweh’s mercy and blessings and not fixed, calculated dates for personal convenience.
Calendars are as common as wristwatches and you probably see at least one every day. Odds are, the calendar you see is the Gregorian calendar, named for Pope Gregory XIII, who updated the earlier Julian version in 1582 to align it more closely with the spring season. Gregory added rules for leap years, which insert an extra day in February. His rules have kept this calendar synchronized with the solar year to within one day in over 3,300 years.
Other calendars are in use today as well. Two of these are very important to those who observe biblical feast days. The Bible specifies exactly which days of the year the feasts are to be observed – and it does not use the Gregorian calendar.Without a proper calendar keyed to the Bible it is impossible to observe the feast days on the correct days of the year, and the Bible stresses that having the correct days is very important for proper worship.
This study examines the original calendar of the Scriptures (the biblical calendar), and the modified calendar derived from it (the calculated Jewish calendar).We will actually address three calendars: the biblical calendar (based on natural observations), today’s Jewish calendar (based on calculations), and the transition between these two – a calendar that started with observations, began supplementing them with calculations, and after 2,000 years finally metamorphosed into today’s Jewish calendar.
Keeping the Right Day Is Paramount
Of all calendars, the true biblical calendar is one of the easiest to understand and the one True Worshipers follow today in observing scriptural days. It is so logical that any rational person can easily comprehend its structure. It requires no complicated calculations or arbitrary rules to keep it aligned with the seasons of the year. It is a lunisolar calendar, which means that both moon and sun play a part in its construction.The rules for that construction come entirely from the Bible and are so simple that after reading them for yourself you should be able to understand and explain them to anyone.
Without an accurate understanding of His biblical calendar, Yahweh’s people would be unable to obey Him. Yahweh told His people they were to assemble at certain times of the year to observe His Feast days, and He did not mention “April” or “October” or any of our other Gregorian calendar months. He used words like “the tenth day of the first month” and “the first day of the seventh month” to pin down Feast day observances (moedim in Hebrew).He says, “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbears to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of Yahweh in his appointed time, that man shall bear his sin” (Num. 9:13).
We learn that Yahweh instructs us to observe all His feast days at precise times (Lev. 23:2), not holidays of our making at times we choose. We sin if we don’t observe them at the commanded day and time. If True Worship means keeping Yahweh’s commands, how do we determine when the fifteenth day of the seventh month is (Feast of Tabernacles)? There are varied arguments among various Feast keepers about the correct day for Passover and Pentecost, and it is certainly prudent to prove what is right (as any good Berean would), rather than blindly accept the opinions of others.
Yahweh tells us rather plainly how to deduce the correct days from a “calendar” in the sky. Note Genesis 1:14: “And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”
How Would YOU Create a Calendar?
Calendars record the days of the year, laid out in a format that usually spreads them over months and weeks (not all calendars use 7-day weeks, incidentally). A basic calendar relates four time elements: day, week, month, and year.Of these elements the day is foundational. How does Yahweh determine the length of a day? “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth… And Elohim said, Let there be light: and there was light.And Elohim saw the light, that it was good: and Elohim divided the light from the darkness.And Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:1-5. The New International Version reads, “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.”)
One evening and one morning equal one day. Why did Yahweh start His day at the “end” of it?We are so accustomed to starting our days at midnight that we think it illogical to start a day at any other time.What could be more illogical than midnight?
If you were living in ancient times and interested in creating your own calendar, at a time unencumbered by our modern society’s need to define and calculate everything exactly, would you not start your days at an easily observable time? What would you use as a starting point for the day?Noon is no good because it is hard to tell when noon is. Midnight is even worse. Sunrise is okay, but most people are asleep then, and even if not, determining just when the sun peeks over the horizon is much harder than determining when it drops below it because you can see it in the process of going down but not coming up. So sunset is a natural time to start, as well as end, the day.
Now isn’t that a coincidence? The Bible tells us exactly that: “The evening and the morning were the first day.” In many places, including the first part of Genesis, Scripture tells us that days begin and end at sunset. Evening is metaphor for night, morning means daylight in Hebrew.
How many of these days do we string together to make a week? Why do we count off seven days, then, and call them a week?The Hebrew word translated “week” is shabua, and it signifies completeness, or perfection.The week was also introduced to us early in Genesis (2:3): “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.”The word translated “rested” here is from the Hebrew root word shabath, Strong’s Concordance No. 7673 – the Sabbath. That Yahweh uses a seven-day week is clear throughout the Bible (Lev. 23:15).
How many days would you put in a month?Remember, you are an ancient observer and you are observing a couple of heavenly bodies for extended periods. The sun rises and sets and the days go by.The moon is doing something a little different.It also rises and sets but the amount of it you can see varies – sometimes it is not visible at all. But it does follow a cycle.
You notice over time that the moon starts as a very thin crescent on one side, gets fuller and brighter, then recedes to a very thin crescent on the other side. Then it disappears for a little while, only to repeat these phases. You count the number of days from one point to the next identical point and you notice there are about 29½ days for the moon’s cycle to complete itself. But when do you start your moon cycle count?
You conclude that starting with the first crescent sighting makes the most sense and sidesteps unnecessary calculations. You decide to use this moon cycle for your calendar because just marking off solar days one at a time doesn’t seem to be of much practical use.
You also notice something interesting from watching the moon. From the time you can just barely see the new crescent until the moon is at its brightest (full moon) takes 14 days.Each quarter (first, second, third, fourth) marks a seven-day period.You decide this is handy – you can count days in a package of seven by looking closely at the moon.Surprise!That’s the way Yahweh created it!
Does Yahweh include months in His calendar? Again, as with weeks there are many biblical references – but three are sufficient, starting with Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto Yahweh Elohim: for in the month of Abib Yahweh Elohim brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”In Hebrew, the word translated “month” is Strong’s2320, chodesh, which means “the new moon; by implication, a month.”
Yahweh not only includes months, but He also starts them with the sighting of the new moon. This verse literally says, “Look for the new moon of Abib, and keep the Passover.…”The Passover is to be observed on Abib 14 (Ex. 12:6): “And you shall keep it (the paschal lamb) up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”
The second reference to months and their timing is Psalm 104:19:“He appointed the moon for seasons.”The third reference is also in Psalm 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.”Here the only feast that begins on the first day of a month (Ethanim) is mentioned – Trumpets.Other “chodesh” verses abound in the Bible (over 200 of them), all meaning “new moon.”
As you observe about a dozen moon cycles, you notice that the sun seems to be moving along the horizon at its setting time, going from south to north and back to south. As soon as you realize this, you pick out an object on the horizon near the setting sun, and in a few days you begin to get an idea about how fast it is moving away from your object.Over time you also notice the world around you is getting warmer, then cooler, then warmer again.
You count the days from the sun’s position at your marker object until it returns there, going in the same direction. Your count is 365 days. This number, representing the cycle of the sun, and the number representing the cycle of the moon (29½), are not evenly divisible.A little basic math tells you a solar year will not exactly equal 12 lunar months. The difference between 12 months of 29½ days (354 days) and the length of a solar year (365) will cause the four seasons to move around through the year.
This may be of no importance to you whatsoever – why should you mind if spring comes in the first month or the second month or the third month?But Yahweh minds. Yahweh told Moses in Genesis 12:2, “This month (Abib) shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Abib is the Hebrew name for this month, and it means “green ears” of grain. It is the month in which green ears of grain appear. But which grain? Turn to Exodus 9, where we read of one of the plagues Yahweh visited upon Pharaoh.
“And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and Yahweh rained hail upon the land of Egypt. … And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field…And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up” (vv. 23, 25, 31-32).
The grain that Abib refers to is barley, the one crop already “in the ear,” and the month in which the first Passover took place is Abib, the green ears of barley month.The month of Abib and the state of barley are tied closely together. If barley is not in the proper stage at that month, that month cannot be Abib.
Turn to Leviticus 23. Here Yahweh explains the concept of firstfruits to the Israelites, and tells us what shape barley must be in during the month of Abib: “And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings” (Lev. 23:14). The Israelites were not permitted to harvest their crops of barley until the firstfruit sheaf was waved before Yahweh by the priest.
Barley is planted in November and takes about four months to mature. It must be in the green ear stage during the first month, and at least some of it ready for harvest by the time of the wave sheaf offering that occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.We know it occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread because these verses explain how to count forward from the wave sheaf to the Feast of Weeks. Yahweh keeps the seasons aligned with the months by having us observe the maturing barley.
An interesting find in Israel called the “Gezer” calendar shows that the Israelites were an agrarian society that based its months from agriculture.
In the March-April 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review on page 45 we read, “A different clock governed everyday life in ancient Israel. The society was agrarian— virtually everyone was a farmer— so people naturally regulated their daily lives by the rising and setting sun. Likewise the yearly calendar was defined by seasonal activities related to farming and herding. This small limestone tablet, found in 1908 at Gezer and called the Gezer Calendar, associates the months of the year with activities like sowing, pruning and harvesting, and gives us a glimpse into a way of life very different from ours— a life strongly tied to the earth and it’s natural rhythms.”
Written in Paleo-Hebrew, the Gezer Calendar dates from the 10th century BC, the time of the construction of Solomon’s Temple. It contains the following text:
“Two months of harvest
Two months of planting
Two months are late planting
One month of pulling flax
One month of barley harvest
One month of harvest and feasting
Two months of pruning vines
One month of summer fruit”
This calendar lays out the fundamental importance of the agricultural cycle in King Solomon’s day, this can be seen in the temple festivals of Shavuot (“Feast of weeks”) or First Fruits in early summer (the “month of summer” fruit in line 8), and the Feast of Ingathering (the harvest) in the fall which culminates to the Feast of Tabernacles. The mention of feasting reflects the pilgrimages festivals which involved feasting.
Yahweh’s Calendar – Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4
We have worked our way through the rules for the biblical calendar and discovered that they are simple and logical:
1.Start and end days at sunset (Genesis 1:5).
2.Start weeks at day one and end on day seven, the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16).
3.Start months with the sighting of the new moon (Deuteronomy 16:1).
4.Start years in the month barley will be harvestable by the middle of that month (Leviticus 23:4-14).
These rules require you to observe Yahweh’s creation – sighting a sunset or a new moon and looking at a barley crop. Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear Yahweh: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” Is there a better way than to get outside and look at some of these awesome, timekeeping sights of creation?
The ‘Original’ Jewish Calendar
That the biblical calendar given by Yahweh was with us from creation seems logical, but Yahweh’s revelation of it to Moses took place just before the exodus, about 3,500 years ago, as Yahweh explained the Passover, its significance and timing. In the first five books of the Bible, the Torah (all written by Moses), the rules for the “original” biblical calendar were given by Yahweh to the people of Israel by oral and (later) written instructions.
Today’s modified Jewish calendar, however, is one of the more difficult to comprehend. It has added and revised rules that move dates without biblical authorization. The original Hebrew calendar was the biblical calendar of the exodus. For over 40 years in their journey from Egypt to the Jordan River crossing the Israelites in the desert determined their years exactly in accord with the four rules declared by Yahweh through Moses. What happened from then until now?
To answer that we will need to consult non-biblical sources.Be careful!Unlike the rock-solid Word, there are many sources of “fact” written by men, and where there is man-made “fact” there is man-made counter-fact.
The Talmud is a combination of fact, teachings, traditions, analyses, ideas, opinions, and in some cases outright prejudice – which are considered “facts” by many Jews today.During the Talmudic period, observation of the moon and crops evolved toward calculation.First, the Israelites would have noticed that the new moon appeared either every 29 or 30 days – never shorter, never longer.Simple counting, then, gave them the ability to anticipate the actual observation.
After settling in the Promised Land they would have noticed something about the year, also. The maturation of their crops of barley could be correlated with the position of the setting sun on the horizon. The seasons are very important to agrarian peoples. Knowing proper planting times is crucial to survival, and fixing the beginning of a season, particularly spring, is advantageous.
Yahweh decreed that the year was to begin in the month when barley would be ready for harvest. The Israelites quickly noticed this happened very near or in the spring season, and that the beginning of spring could be determined from the sun’s setting position on the horizon. Over time the observation of the sun’s position replaced the observation of barley. The pagan Egyptians and later the Romans also observed a solar calendar.
Today’s Calculated Jewish Calendar
Beginning with their possession of the Promised Land, the Israelites became more scattered and communications with Jerusalem’s priests (who observed moons and waved grains) became increasingly difficult. Later, the Israelites of the Dispersion generally took up the civil calendars of their conquering countries and were informed by messengers from Jerusalem of coming feasts. Certainly by the end of the Talmudic period, and most probably hundreds of years before, the Jews had accumulated sufficient knowledge to convert a calendar based on observation to one based on calculation alone.
According to the Apostle John, Yahshua’s Passover meal was eaten the night before the Passover meal was eaten by His Jewish accusers – this indicates that two ways of determining dates existed at the time of the impalement. That the new moon of Abib could have appeared on two different days is, of course, impossible.
In any case, the separation of Israel’s peoples made it increasingly difficult for those not residing in the Holy Land to stay in synchronization with their brothers.Indeed, after the failed Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 CE the Sanhedrin – the post-exile Jewish supreme council – was barred from meeting. Something had to be done to preserve holy day observance, and about 359 CE patriarch Hillel II revealed a method of Jewish calendar calculation that contained many elements obviously learned from places like Babylon.According to Hillel, and to the many Jews and others who believe that the methods of calculating this calendar were divinely presented to the Israelites, this calendar was in place from the very creation.
Here are some facts about the calculated Jewish calendar:
• A month is determined by the calculation of the conjunction of the moon (Hebrew molad, a point in the moon’s orbit exactly between the earth and the sun – and invisible to us), not new moon sighting; hours are added to the molad to determine when the new moon should or should not be visible.
• The first molad occurred 5 hours and 204 chalokim (3 1/3 seconds) after sunset at the beginning of day 2.
• Every molad is calculated from this point by adding 29 days, 12 hours, and 793 chalokim.
• A nineteen-year cycle of months of 29 and 30 days is employed, together with leap months inserted in seven of the years, to keep the seasons in line with the solar year; the cycle consists of regular and leap years as follows: R-R-L-R-R-L-R-R-L-R-L-R-R-L-R-R-L-R-L.
• The cycle is not exactly the length of nineteen solar years – it is a little over 2 hours longer; every 216 years this adds up to a whole day, and there are no corrections in the calculations to prevent spring from moving away from Abib; if the calculated Jewish calendar had existed at the beginning, this error would have already moved the seasons 26 days away from Abib – one entire month.
• The year begins with the seventh month (Ethanim), not Abib; the first day of Ethanim is Rosh Hashanah.
• Postponement rules for Rosh Hashanah are required such that an annual Sabbath is never juxtaposed with a weekly Sabbath (prevents two consecutive non-work days); these rules are not simple – here is one of them: if the molad of a year following a leap year which begins on Tuesday is later than Monday, 15 hours and 589 chalokim, Rosh Hashanah of the second year is postponed from Monday to Tuesday.
• The calculated molad can sometimes start a month before the new moon is visible, and the postponements can actually cause a month to begin the day after the new moon is sighted.
• The entire calendar, from the beginning to any point in the future, is fixed by its starting point, the length of a molad, and the postponement rules; no observation is necessary.
No Biblical Basis for Changes in the Calendar
All these rules and calculations keep the seasons and the solar year rather closely aligned, without a single observation of a new moon or a series of sunsets. They are very handy for Jews but not a single bulleted item we’ve noted is mentioned in the Bible, and using this calendar means you will be celebrating feast days at times different from those the biblical calendar specifies.
Did the perversion of the biblical calendar start in Talmudic days, or was it later, around Hillel’s time? Yahweh confirmed the importance of the biblical calendar at the beginning of the Exodus (Lev. 23), and that is the time Satan began his work to pervert it.Isn’t it amazing howSatan has twisted everything in the Bible to his advantage?Yahweh gave us laws to live by while Satan tells us they are just for ancient Israelites.
Because His Feast days are important to Yahweh’s plan for mankind, Satan replaces them with those important to his plan. He also derails Yahweh’s inspired calendar by man-made calendars.
If we must have a Messiah to be saved from sin’s death penalty, then the adversary causes churchianity to refute Him by convincing them to celebrate Easter! They take the very first inspired time of the sacred year and celebrate it with sunrise services, egg-laying rabbits, and leavened hot-cross buns. To top it off, Satan puts it on the wrong day.For those who escape this trap, he lays another one.When Numbers 9 says observing Passover on a particular day and at a particular time is very important, Satan confuses time itself.
If the bulleted items on pages 12-13 seem a bit convoluted and confusing compared to the four rules Yahweh originally gave the Israelites, it is because they are.Whenever Satan works, things always get complicated.
Why Not Use the Vernal Equinox to Start the Year?
Some ignore barley altogether and set Abib 1 according to the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is that instant when the sun is directly above the earth’s equator while going from the south to the north (for inhabitants of the northern hemisphere). It is the time that most consider the beginning of spring.
Those who employ the vernal equinox point to Genesis 1:14, claiming that the sun, moon, and stars set the year’s beginning. It is true that the sun divides day from night and inaugurates the seasons by the earth’s tilt, while the new moon sets the beginning of months. Yet, nowhere in the entire Bible can one find that the vernal equinox establishes the first month Abib. Nowhere in the Bible is there even any mention of the vernal equinox. To say that Genesis 1:14 refers to the vernal equinox is reading into Scripture what simply isn’t there.
Passover is related to spring through the growing cycle of crops. First and foremost, it must occur in the month of Abib. And Abib is a condition of grain as much as it is a time of the year.
The King James Version has led some astray in the way it translates moed in Exodus 13:10, Num. 9:2, 3, 7, and 13. The KJV uses “season” in these verses, causing some to believe that the command is specifically for springtime, and therefore must involve the vernal equinox. In reality, the Hebrew moed simply means “set time” or “appointed time.” Yahweh has set Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread by the criteria of ripening crops, not by the vernal equinox.
The vast majority of Jews gradually got away from actively looking for the green ears of barley, going instead by a calculated calendar that involved the vernal equinox. This was done for the sake of convenience. But Yahweh tells us that His growing cycle reveals the proper month for His Feasts. The first month of the year, Abib, means a green ear (of grain), not vernal equinox.
McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 3, p. 13, under Easter states: “Many of the Church fathers are of opinion that, according to the original calculation of the Jews up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, the 14th of Nisan had always been after the spring equinox, and that it was only in consequence of a miscalculation of the later Jews that the 14th of Nisan occasionally fell before the equinox. They therefore insisted that the 14th of Nisan, which for both parties within the church determined the time of Easter, should always be after the equinox.
“As the year of Jews is a lunar year, and the 14th of Nisan always a full-moon day, the Christians who adopted the above astronomical view, whenever the 14th of Nisan fell before the equinox, would celebrate the death of [Messiah] one month later than the Jewish Passover.”
Christianity Sets Its Own Rules
Note that the Christian “Church fathers” established their own rules by relying upon the vernal equinox as did the pagans, instead of the green ears of barley as the Bible requires (Deut. 16:1).
Another authority writes, “That the vernal equinox occurred in Nisan [Abib] is attested by Josephus (Ant. 1. x. 5) and also in cuneiform literature (Muss-Arnolt p. 77) Nisan corresponded to the first zodiacal sign (Aries) in which the vernal equinox fell. The sacred year was determined by the annual festivals and the first of these festivals was henceforth fixed by the Passover moon.” “Equinox and the Calendar,” Dictionary of the Bible, James Hastings, p. 765.
Nothing is mentioned here about letting the equinox determine the month of Nisan. The vernal equinox fell within the month of Nisan [Abib] which means the new moon of Nisan came BEFORE the equinox. That is, the new moon came establishing the month of Nisan (Abib), then came the equinox, then the Passover. Therefore, those who insist upon keeping the Feasts a month later are out of harmony with Yahweh’s calendar.
Fausset’s Bible Encyclopedia, under “Year [Hebrew year] reads, “They began it with the new moon nearest to the equinox, yet late enough to allow of the firstfruits of barley harvest being offered about the middle of the first month. So Josephus (Ant. iii. 10,5) states that the Passover was celebrated when the sun was in Aries” (p. 727).
Vernal Equinox and Historic Paganism
When the Roman church deliberately acted to separate Easter from Passover, it ruled in 325 CE in the Council of Nicaea that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. This setting of an observance was entirely man-made, and it is appropriate that it applied to a man-made holiday called Easter. The Roman church on its own volition, therefore, bestowed a legitimacy on the vernal equinox as a calendar marker where it had none before – at least not in any kind of biblical context.
That does not mean, however, that the vernal equinox had no significance among historic pagans and their calendars. Note the following:
• “Easter, too, celebrates the victory of a god of light (J-sus) over darkness (death), so it makes sense to place it at this season. Ironically, the name ‘Easter’ was taken from the name of a Teutonic lunar goddess Eostre (from whence we also get the name of the female hormone, estrogen). Her chief symbols were the bunny (both for fertility and because her worshipers saw a hare in the full moon) and the egg (symbolic of the cosmic egg of creation), images which Christians have been hard pressed to explain. Her holiday, the Eostara, was held on the Vernal Equinox Full Moon. Needless to say, the old and accepted folk name for the Vernal Equinox is ‘Lady Day.’ Christians sometimes insist that the title is in honor of Mary and her Annunciation, but Pagans will smile knowingly.” – Lady Day: The Vernal Equinox, by Mike Nichols.
• “The vernal equinox has long been a significant event in the lives of agricultural peoples as it symbolizes nature’s regeneration, fertility, growth and bounty. The word equinox comes from Latin and means ‘equal night’ (Tag- und Nachtgleiche). On this day, night and day each last twelve hours. The Vernal Equinox used to be considered the beginning of the Pagan New Year. It was a time of joy called forth by the resurrection of the ‘Light of the World’ (sun god) from the underworld of the winter, from where he arose to join his goddess Eostre.” –by Ruth Reichmann, Max Kade German-American Center, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.
• “Babylonians and Assyrians placed greater importance on the Equinoxes than the solstices. The most important festival in Babylonia was the New Year, which occurred at the Spring equinox. This was the akitu, a twelve-day ceremony in which the King, as the son and representative of the divinity, regenerated and synchronized the rhythms of nature, cosmos, and human society.” –Tales of the Vernal Equinox, by Robin DuMolin
• “Modern Pagans also celebrate the universal principle of Resurrection at the Equinox – which is named for Eostre, a Pagan goddess. She is the goddess of Spring to whom the offerings of cake and colored eggs were made at the Vernal Equinox. Rabbits, especially white ones, were sacred to her, and she was believed to take the form of a rabbit. She is also said to be the goddess of the East, that being the direction of rebirth. Since the sun rises in the East, she is linked with the sunrise. Traditional Easter services stem from this association,” Ibid. “Easter is supposed to be derived from Anglo Saxon Eostre, the name of the Norse goddess whose festival is celebrated by the pagans at the vernal equinox.” – A Book About the Bible, George Stimpson, p. 180.
• “Ostara, also known as The Spring or Vernal Equinox, the Festival of Trees, Alban Eilir, Ostara, the Rites of Spring, and the Rites of Eostre, occurs between March 19 and 21 and marks the first day of true Spring. Day and night are equal on this day, hence the name Equinox. It is observed by Pagans throughout the world.” –from The Witches’ Web
• “Pagans revere the G-d and G-ddess through rituals or ceremonies of various kinds. Pagans of the western traditions celebrate eight festivals or Sabbats each year. They comprise the four solar quarters i.e. the two solstices (longest and shortest days) and the two equinoxes (day and night are the same length) plus four Celtic seasonal festivals. All these mark important events in the cycle of life. They are: Ostara (Easter), the spring equinox, 21st March: Return of the sun from the south, springtime proper. Some celebrate a holy union between G-d and G-ddess.” –from What Do Pagans Do?
Vernal Equinox as the ‘Tequphah’?
The argument has been attempted that the vernal equinox corresponds to the Hebrew word “tequphah,” which is found several times in the Bible. The definition of tequphah (Strong’s Concordance No. 8622) is: “A revolution, i.e. of the sun course (of time) lapse: circuit, come about, end.” From the definition, we find it next to impossible to attach any firm connection of tequphah to a spring equinox. The evidence, in fact, points to the end of the year, not the beginning.
The following passages contain the Hebrew word tequphah as well as its meaning, as indicated by the quotation marks:
• Exodus 34:22 (Feast of ingathering at the “year’s end”)
• 2Chron. 24:23 (Syria attacked Judah at the “end of the year”)
• 2Chronicles. 24:23; 36:10 (“end of the year/year was expired”)
Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon defines the tequphah (Strong’s No. 8622) as: “coming round, circuit;–Ex. 34:22, adv., at the circuit (completion) of the year, so 2Chron. 24:23= pl. cstr. 1Sam. 1:20; sig. Sf. Of finished circuit of sun.” p. 880. This source says about the root of tequphah: No. 5362 naqaph: 1. An intransitive verb meaning to surround something… (Isa. 29:1, let feasts go around, i.e. run the round (of the year). 2. make the round, i.e. complete the circuit. Job 1:5 when the days of feasting had completed their circuit.
The closest we have in the Hebrew to spring as a season is 6779, tsamach, a primitive root meaning to sprout, bear, bring forth, bud, grow, cause to spring (forth, up). Yahweh again reveals that the time for His Feasts is based on the growing of crops, not to the vernal equinox.
Ancient Israelites were farmers and herders, not astronomers. It stands to reason that Yahweh would zero in on their crops as a starting point for their annual Feast calendar. The calculated calendar does not work with the command to give Yahweh the firstfruits.
Yahweh’s Calendar v. Jewish Calendar
Let’s sum up the differences between what Yahweh said about keeping time and what the Jews of today do with the calculated Jewish calendar.
• Yahweh said begin the year with Abib when crops are green and growing. Jews begin with Ethanim in the autumn.
• Yahweh said begin Abib by checking the barley crop. Jews check the date of the vernal equinox and add hours.
• Yahweh said begin months by sighting the crescent moon. Jews calculate from a molad (invisible conjunction).
• Yahweh said nothing about not putting two Sabbaths back-to-back.Jews create postponement rules.
• The rules laid down by Yahweh automatically adjust for what’s going on in the solar system.
The Jews’ calculations have built-in errors that must sooner or later be corrected. Yahweh never said that months should be 29 days long or 30 days long or
any exact number of days.He said new moon to new moon was a month, Isaiah 66:23. Yahweh never said how many months were in a year, either – just that they started with new moons, Ezekiel 45:17-18. The words for “molad” or “equinox” or even spring, when used as a season, do not appear in the Bible.
The critical difference between the biblical calendar and the calculated Jewish calendar is that they produce different days for observing the feasts. One is correct, the other is wrong. One obeys Yahweh, the other does not.
Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the major reasons offered by some for using the calculated Jewish calendar to determine feast days and times, and their counter-arguments.
• Yahweh committed the oracles to the Jews and we should follow their lead.
This argument comes from the Apostle Paul’s writings to the Romans. “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 Yahweh” (Romans 3:1-2). What were the “oracles”? The proponents of the calculated Jewish calendar include the rules for calendar-making in these oracles – but that logic could include anything they added, including the Talmud.In Acts 7:38 the same Greek word for “oracles” is used – (No. 3051), where it says, “This is he (Moses), that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Here oracles refers to the law given Moses on Mt. Sinai.The oracles or laws were all given to all of Israel as is recorded in Deuteronomy, not just to the Levites or to any one tribe.
•The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses seat, so we must obey them.
This argument comes from Yahshua’s words in Matthew 23:1-3: “Then spake Yahshua to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not after their works: for they say, and do not.” According to Yahshua, this metaphor means they read the law to the people on the Sabbaths, just as Moses transmitted the law.Reading the law and doing what it says are two different things, as Yahshua pointed out, but this argument usually omits the part about “do notafter their works: for they say, and do not.” Someone who says one thing and does another is a hypocrite. Did Yahshua follow the Pharisees’ interpretation of when the Passover should be observed (remember, they kept the Passover on the 15th)? Clearly He did not.
•The Jewish calendar is a complicated calendar, and although the rules for its construction are not given in the Bible, the Levites were given these rules in order for them to relay correct dates to the people.
That the calculated Jewish calendar is complicated is true.Its rules are not in the Bible, and it should not be logically concluded from this that they were given orally to the Levites. If the Levites were given the correct rules for calculating the Jewish calendar, then why do their calculation tables today use a solar year that is 365.25 days long? That figure is about eleven minutes longer than the solar year really is. Also, the 19-year cycle is longer than 19 solar years by over two hours.
If Yahweh gave the Levites the rules, why did He not also tell them the correct value for the mean length of a solar year, and also give them rules to adjust the cycle to prevent future problems with the months and the seasons, like adding a periodic 13th month? Why would a perfect Creator give us imperfect rules? And why would He have told only the Levites something so important? In just about every instance, when Yahweh spoke to Moses, He started out with a phrase something like, “Say to the house of Jacob,” or “Tell the people of Israel,” or “Speak unto the children of Israel.” If you read the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, where the feast requirements are laid down, this is particularly true.There is no place in the Bible that says that Yahweh told Moses to tell the Levites to in turn tell the people something.
Turn to Deuteronomy 1:3.Here, just before the people were to cross over the Jordan and into the Promised Land, Moses made his farewell speech to the Israelites. “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that Yahweh had given him in commandment unto them.” Notice that he was not talking to the Levites alone, but to all the Israelites. Also notice the word “all” in this verse.It is the Hebrew kole, Strong’s 3605, “from 3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense):—(in) all (manner, [ye]), altogether, any (manner), enough, every (one, place, thing), howsoever, as many as, [no-] thing, ought, whatsoever, (the) whole, whoso (-ever).” The root word (3634) means, “to complete, make perfect.” The verse does not say Moses withheld words for the Levites’ ears alone.
In chapter 16 verse 1 of this book is the commandment for observing the moon of Abib, to keep the Passover. It is very significant that Moses gathered every tribe together and explained again everything they needed to know before possessing the land. No one tribe or person was to have this knowledge exclusively. They all started out equally in the Promised Land. They would not be able to blame any other person or tribe for their mistakes.
•Not everything Yahweh taught the Levites is recorded in the Bible.
It seems logical that Yahweh could have said and done things not recorded in the Bible. But is it logical that Yahweh would have omitted something so important to His worship, depending only on the instructions of a special group to relay His requirements? He never did that with any of His other instructions and commands.
•Postponements are not condemned in the Bible; the calculated Jewish calendar does not violate one Scripture.
In Deuteronomy Moses was making his wrap-up speech to the Israelites before they parted.Read Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh Elohim which I command you.” See also Revelation 22:18-19. If we are told not to add anything to the Word, and doing so changes the very day a Feast is observed, and as a result I am cut off from my people, it is clear I have violated something in the Scripture.
• The Bible does not define what a new moon is, so we are not instructed how to watch for the new moon.
This argument is made in support of substituting the astronomical conjunction for the actual sighting of the new moon.
Let’s look again at Deuteronomy 16:1, paraphrased as closely to the Hebrew meanings as Strong’s dictionary allows. “Look narrowly for the new moon of the green ears of grain and keep the Passover.” Once again, Moses was speaking to all of Israel here. He told them to look for the new moon of Abib. He did not tell them to check with the Levites about molads. A molad (conjunction) as we have already learned, is when the moon is exactly between the earth and the sun. This argument substitutes the molad, a moon you cannot see, for the new moon crescent, which you can.
Imagine a desert-dwelling shepherd from the tribe of Dan trying to figure out when the molad of Abib would occur!He definitely would not have “looked narrowly for” a dark moon that he could not possibly see! Saying that we were not instructed in how to look for a new moon is ridiculous. Saying we are to look for a black moon is ludicrous.To equate the words “new moon” to “molad” is even more ridiculous. If I asked you to observe my “new car,” and I pointed to an empty parking space, what would you think? Apply the same logic to the phrase “new moon” and then go out and try to spot the conjunction. It’s impossible.
The biblical calendar can be projected, but it is confirmed only by observation of barley and the new moons. Just as Yahweh planned when He created the “lights” in the sky, Genesis 1:14, we are to establish His appointed times (moed) by the monthly lunar cycle and tostart at that particular time of year when the sun causes barley to grow and begin to produce grain in the ear.
When we follow the scriptural calendar, all the complications that calculated calendars try to overcome just disappear. And we rest assured that we are observing the days Yahweh commands – at the proper time He commands them.
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Throughout history a debate has raged concerning the proper timing of Yahweh’s Passover. Many observe the Passover on the 14th of the first month (Abib) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Others believe that both the Passover and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are on the 14th. Still others observe the Passover and first day of the Feast on the 15th of Abib. Why so much confusion? It need not be.
This study will harmonize both Old and New testaments to show that the two observances are clearly separate and distinct.
Part of the error is historical. After Judah and Benjamin went into Babylonian exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, these two Israelite tribes combined what is known in the Bible as the Passover and the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
No one knows exactly when these two observances were combined, but what is known is that it happened during the Exile in Babylon. Israelites picked up a number of errors while under Babylonian influence, and the joining of Passover with the Feast was one of them. Because of this error some believe Passover is also the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Encyclopaedia Judaica confirms the mistake committed by these Jews: “The feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the [Babylonian] exile they were combined,” Vol. 13, p. 169.
The book, The Torah, by W. Gunther Plaunt, corroborates, saying, “The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread rituals were originally two separate observances which were combined sometime between the events of the Exodus and the redaction of the text” (p. 445).
Clearly, the Scriptures proclaim that the 14th of Abib marks the Passover memorial, while the 15th of Abib starts the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But two particular deviations from this truth exist. One is that the Passover is the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and falls on the 14th of Abib. The second is also that the Passover is the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but occurs on the 15th of Abib.
One central fact plainly obvious in Yahweh’s Word is that the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are separate observances. Consider the following passages (from the NIV):
“[Yahweh’s] Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month [Yahweh’s] Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast” (Lev. 23:5-6).
“And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of [Yahweh]. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten” (Num. 28:16-17). Other translations are just as plain, including the KJV.
Clearly, the Passover is on the 14th of Abib, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th of Abib and advances through the 21st day of Abib, making a seven-day Feast.
Ten Plain Proofs
At least 10 clear distinctions separate the Passover from the high day or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows it.
1 The first proof that Passover is a separate memorial comes when Moses was told that Israel could not keep a feast among the Egyptians. He emphasized twice to Pharaoh that he could not stay and hold a feast where Israel was living at that time in Egypt, in a region called Goshen:
— “Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, This is what Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel, says: Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert” (Ex. 5:1).
— “Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, go, sacrifice to your Elohim here in the land. But Moses said, That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer Yahweh our Elohim would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us?” (Ex. 8:25-26).
Moses knew that holding the Feast of Unleavened Bread among the Egyptians would be disastrous. First, Yahweh prohibited it. Second, the Egyptians were notorious for animal worship. They held sacred some of the same animals that Israel was required to sacrifice during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Moses realized this fact and knew that by sacrificing these animals that he would be signing his own death warrant.
Among other animals, the Egyptians worshiped bulls and cows to the god Hathor. They even venerated crops to honor Osiris, the god of vegetation and maker of grain. No wonder Moses could not hold Yahweh’s Feast among them, with all of the daily animal and meal offerings that were required of Israel during the Feast.
Moses told Pharaoh that it was not possible to hold a Feast at that location. Still, they kept the Passover there in Egypt. Yahweh had commanded Israel to hold a feast to Him in the wilderness, not among the Egyptians where they observed that Passover. How, then, could Passover be the first day of the Feast?
2 Another difference between the two observances is the characteristic mood of each. The Passover symbolizes a day of suffering and pain, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a time of joy. Let us detail these differences.
Two major events contribute to the solemnity of Passover. First, Passover is the day that the death angel passed over Egypt destroying all firstborn of both man and beast. Second, this is the day that Yahshua our Savior was impaled on the torture stake for our sins.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is memorable for one great event. It is the day on which the Israelites were freed to leave and were no longer serving the Egyptians as slaves. Their harsh, brick-making days were over.
3 A third reason that Passover could not be a High Day is that there was only one sacrifice offered on Passover, while many sacrifices were commanded for the Feast days.
In Numbers 28:24-25 Yahweh commands Israel to offer various sacrifices during the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to Yahweh; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”
Here is an unmistakable command for additional offering for all seven days of the Feast. Nowhere in the Bible do we find these sacrifices commanded or offered by Israel or any other people during the Passover.
How could the Passover be the first day of the Feast, with no evidence of these other offerings given on the Passover?
In addition, the unleavened bread on Passover specifically represents Yahshua’s sacrificed body given in death for us (Matt. 26:26). But the unleavened bread of the Feast has a different meaning. Paul writes in 1Corinthians 5:8 that the unleavened bread of the Feast stands for “sincerity and truth.” Confusing these by combining the two observances perverts the different purpose and design for these unleavened symbols.
4 A fourth fact is that Passover is never called a Sabbath or High Day. InExodus 12:25-26 and Exodus 13:5 Passover is called a “service.”
The Hebrew word for service is No. 5656, abodah in Strong’s Concordance, and is defined as “work of any kind.” How could the Passover be a Sabbath when the Hebrew word that depicts the Passover means to engage in work? Work is strictly prohibited on a Sabbath or Feast High Day.
5 A fifth and often overlooked criterion for Passover as a non-High Day is that the Passover is referred to as a Preparation day for the Feast in the New Testament.
In Mark 15:42-43 Joseph of Arimathaea asks for the body of Yahshua the day before the first high Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “And when even was now come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a councilor of honorable estate, who also himself was looking for the kingdom of [Elohim]; and he boldly went in unto Pilate, and asked for the body of [Yahshua]” (American Standard).
Yahshua was impaled on the Passover, which is called the Preparation day, the day before the High Sabbath or the first High Day of the Feast.
Joseph of Arimathaea knew that he had to remove Yahshua from the stake before sunset, which started the first High Sabbath of the Feast.
Another passage that validates the Passover as a day of preparation is Luke 23:53-54. In this passage Joseph of Arimathaea removed the body of Yahshua from the stake and prepared it for burial: “And he took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was hewn in stone, where never man had yet lain. And it was the day of the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew on” (American Standard).
Note the plain statement that the Passover was the Preparation day while the High Sabbath was yet to come. The Hebrew word for Preparation in Strong’s Greek Dictionary is No. 3904, paraskeue, “as if from No. 3903; meaning, to make ready or prepare one self.” The day of Preparation is the Preparation day for the Feast that follows the Passover.
The Passover is a day to make ready for the Feast of Unleavened Bread by removing all leavening from one’s premises. Remember that Passover is also called a service, pertaining to work.
“Drew on” is epiphosoko in the Greek and literally means “to begin to” or draw on toward.” The High Day was about to begin, not come to an end, after Yahshua was taken down and put in the tomb.
If the women would not so much as visit the tomb on the weekly Sabbath (Luke 23:56-24:1), how could Joseph of Arimathaea, a Jewish follower of Yahshua, literally work to take the body down and prepare it for burial on a High Sabbath?
6 A sixth distinction that eliminates the Passover from a High Sabbath of the Feast is that the commandment of the Passover was only for the circumcised, while the Feast and Sabbaths were commanded for ALL in the household to observe, circumcised as well as uncircumcised.
In Exodus 12:19 Yahweh commands all of Israel, including the uncircumcised stranger, to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born” (NIV).
Yahweh says in Exodus 12:43, however, that no stranger or alien may partake of His Passover. All must be circumcised: “[Yahweh] said to Moses and Aaron, These are the regulations for the Passover: No foreigner is to eat of it” (NIV).
7 A seventh factor that clearly separates the Passover from a Sabbath or High Day is the strict prohibition against working on the Sabbaths.
This regulation can be seen in two passages. In Exodus 20, starting with verse 8, we have the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son nor daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Yahweh commanded no work whatsoever be done on His Sabbath day. This command is the same for the High Days of the Feast in passages found in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23.
In Luke 23:26 Simon of Cyrene comes out of the country — a literal field — on Passover day. “And when they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the stake, to bear it after [Yahshua]” (American Standard).
The Greek word for country in this passage is No. 68, agros. Strong’s defines agros as: “a field (as a drive for cattle): generally the country, spec. a farm, i.e. hamlet.” Incidentally, from agros we get our word agriculture.
Here one of Yahshua’s own disciples comes out of the agros or field on Passover day, indicating that Simon was working in the fields on Passover day. Neither Simon nor any other disciple would have done this on a Sabbath or High Day because of the strict prohibition against work on a High Day.
8 An eighth factor witnessing against a High Day Passover is that no buying or selling is permitted on a High Day. When Israel returned to Jerusalem under Nehemiah, Nehemiah commanded them not to buy or sell on Yahweh’s Sabbath or Holy Day (Neh. 10:31): “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day” (NIV).
We find an additional proof in John 13:26-30, when Yahshua dips the bread (“sop” means a morsel, not a slice of leavened bread) and gives it to Judah Iscariot, the one that was soon to betray him. Yahshua said, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish. Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judah Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judah took the bread, Satan entered into him. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Yahshua told him, but no one at the meal understood why Yahshua said this to him. Because Judah had charge of the money, some thought Yahshua was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judah had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
We see two key facts within this passage. One is that Yahshua’s disciples acknowledged that the Feast had not yet begun, therefore the statement, “to buy what was needed for the Feast.” Remember that this was the start of Passover night. The other fact is that Yahshua’s disciples thought that Yahshua gave the money to Judah Iscariot in order to purchase supplies. But that would violate the commandment not to buy or sell on a High Day or the Sabbath. Would Yahshua have prompted his own disciple to break Yahweh’s law if this Passover were a High Day?
By His own instructions to Judah Yahshua shows that the Passover is neither Sabbath nor High Day. Nowhere does the Bible contain a prohibition against buying or selling on Passover.
9 A ninth fact is found in the Seder service held by the Jews today. The Jews hold a Seder on the 14th of Abib to commemorate the Passover meal. The Seder service consists of prescribed foods, each of which symbolizes some aspect of the first Passover in Egypt. For example, they partake of horseradish, which signifies the bitterness of the first Passover. They also eat a blend of chopped nuts and apples, which symbolizes the building mortar used by the Israelites in their slavery. Also during this memorial the account of Exodus is retold and prayers of thanksgiving are offered to Yahweh. The entire family always observes the Seder service together.
What is interesting is that the Seder service is not a High Day service, but a memorial on the 14th, just as was the Passover.
On the one hand the Jews today honor the 14th Passover by observing the Seder service as a memorial, but at the same time they hold Passover on the 15th of Abib. Clearly we see a blending of the true Passover on the 14th with a tradition of keeping the 15th Passover that emerged from their Babylonian captivity.
10 A tenth reason why Passover is not a High Day or the first day of the Feast may be found in two passages contained in Matthew 26:5 and Mark 14:2:
— “When [Yahshua] had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away — and the Son of Man will be handed over to be impaled.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest [Yahshua] in some sly way and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people’ ” (Matt. 26:1-5, NIV).
— “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest [Yahshua] and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot’” (Mark 14:1-2, NIV).
The Jewish religious authorities were planning to take and kill Yahshua, but they knew that it would not be possible to do so on a Feast day, for that was against the Law of Moses. Therefore, they knew that He had to be taken and killed before the Feast. Instead, they accomplished their deeds on Passover itself, proving it was not a Feast High Sabbath.
Let’s Review the Facts:
The Passover is commanded for the beginning of the 14th of Abib, at dusk, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes on the 15th. The Passover is a memorial separate from the first day of the Feast. We have detailed in this booklet the following ten points, which offer unmistakable proof of this fact:
Yahweh said Israel could not keep a Feast among theEgyptians; they were able to keep the Passover in Goshenbecause it was not a Feast. Passover is a memorial ser-vice of the death angel’s Passing over as well as thedeath of Yahshua under the renewed Covenant.
Passover is a time of pain and suffering; the Feast is atime to joyfully celebrate freedom.
Passover had only one sacrificial offering, while each dayof the Feast had many commanded sacrifices.
The unleavened bread of the Passover service has dif-ferent meaning and significance from the unleavenedbread eaten each day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Work was done on the Passover; work was prohibitedon the High Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Only the circumcised could observe Passover; all werecommanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Passover is never called a High Day or Sabbath. Rather,it is called the Preparation day for the Feast.
Commerce was done on Passover day; commerce wasprohibited on all Feast High Days.
The Seder on the 14th is a throwback to the true Pass-over and is not a High Day.
The Jewish leaders would not take and kill Yahshua on aHigh Day; but they did do so on the Passover.
Our desire is to keep the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread properly as commanded in the Scriptures. If we take all the evidence into consideration, we are left with only one conclusion: Passover is on the 14th, the Feast of Unleavened begins with a High Day on the 15th.
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