What do a tinsel-laden pine tree, a jolly ol’ elf, and gift exchanging have in common with the birth of the Savior at Bethlehem? Clearly, nothing.
Today’s Christmas customs do not exist in Scripture but derive from man-made traditions thousands of years old. Come take a journey with me through history and Scripture to understand the truth about this extravaganza of holidays.
Christmas Built on a False Premise
First, we consider the premise of Christmas. Do we have evidence that December 25th is the Messiah’s birthday? According to history and scholarship, there’s no evidence that Yahshua was born on this day or anywhere close to it.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Inexplicable though it seems, the date of Christ’s birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month” (1967, “Christmas”).
The Roman Catholic Church chose December 25 as the date of the Messiah’s birth. No other evidence exists establishing that date. So we find that the very source responsible for the establishment of December 25 as the birth date for the Savior admits that the actual date is unknown!
Many other sources confirm its absence. For instance, the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature says, “The fathers of the first three centuries do not speak of any special observance of the nativity. No corresponding festival was presented by the Old Testament…the day and month of the birth of Christ are nowhere stated in the Gospel history, and cannot be certainly determined…” (1981, Christmas).
This admission is staggering. The church fathers of the first three centuries spoke nothing about the celebration of the Nativity. Clearly, the observance of the Messiah’s birth was unknown to the men who governed the church for the first 300 years.
Any reasonable person would think that such an important, historic event would have been understood by these stewards. The fact that the church fathers were oblivious to this observance shows that it has no early ties to Christianity. So if the day of the Messiah’s birth is not known even in the earliest years of the church, why did the church later select December 25th? What was so special about this day?
Worship of Saturn
This day has another past more sinister than many realize. December 25th was chosen because of its connection with pagan worship, specifically with sun worship, a religion going all the way back to ancient Babylon.
In Roman culture there were three observances that contributed to the timing and customs of Christmas. Possibly the greatest and most popular celebration was in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, hence Saturnalia, at the winter solstice. According to most historians, this festival resembled Mardi Gras and New Year’s: it was a time of decadence and confusion.
The Standard American Encyclopedia explains, “…the feast in honor of Saturn, celebrated by the Romans in December and regarded as a time of unrestrained license and merriment for all classes, even for the slaves…” (1940, “Saturnalia”).
According to the Encyclopedia Americana, “It [Saturnalia] probably originated as a harvest celebration. Under the Caesars it was celebrated from the 17th to the 23rd of December, during which period public business was closed, masters and slaves changed places, and feasting, giving of gifts, and general license prevailed” (1956, Saturnalia).
It is no coincidence that the dates of Saturnalia closely correspond to Christmas.
This Roman festival was one of the happiest times of the pagan year. It included the giving of gifts, the suspension of work, and easements in cultural norms and ethics. Slaves were given temporary freedom and certain cases of immorality were overlooked.
The Counterfeit Messiah
Another belief influencing Christmas was Mithraism. This was a cult in the Roman culture that was reserved for men only and was especially popular among soldiers.
Again the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The origin of the cult of Mithra dates from the time that the Hindus and Persians still formed one people, for the god Mithra occurs in the religion and the sacred books of both races, i.e. in the Vedas and in the Avesta. In Vedic hymns he is frequently mentioned and is nearly always coupled with Varuna, but beyond the bare occurrence of his name, little is known of him (Rigveda, III, 59). It is conjectured (Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda, Berlin, 1894) that Mithra was the rising sun, Varuna the setting sun; or, Mithra, the sky at daytime, Varuna, the sky at night; or, the one the sun, the other the moon. In any case Mithra is a light or solar deity of some sort; but in vedic times the vague and general mention of him seems to indicate that his name was little more than a memory….Mithraism was emphatically a soldier religion: Mithra, its hero, was especially a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery; the stress it laid on good fellowship and brotherliness, its exclusion of women, and the secret bond amongst its members have suggested the idea that Mithraism was Masonry amongst the Roman soldiery” (see newadvent.org, “Mithraism”).
As we see from this reference, not much is known about this cult. It goes back to when the Hindus and Persians were one people, but how and in what form this deity was worshiped is unknown. As this deity evolved over time and cultures, it found a home in Rome; it especially gained popularity among the Roman military. At this point, Mithra had been reinterpreted as a deity of war and as a result, Mithraism again took root within the Roman culture.
The connection between Mithraism and Christmas is described in the book, Mystery Religions in the Ancient World. “Mithra was the creator and orderer of the universe, hence a manifestation of the creative Logos or Word. Seeing mankind afflicted by Ahriman, the cosmic power of darkness, he incarnated on earth. His birth on 25 December was witnessed by shepherds. After many deeds he held a last supper with his disciples and returned to heaven. At the end of the world he will come again to judge resurrected mankind and after the last battle, victorious over evil, he will lead the chosen ones through a river of fire to a blessed immortality,” p. 99.
The resemblance of Mithra and the Messiah is striking. Scripture states that the Messiah is the creative Word or Logos, John 1:1-3. We also know that His birth was witnessed by shepherds and that He shared a last supper with His disciples and was afterward murdered and resurrected to heaven.
The Bible also prophesies of His return, when He will remove evil and conquer all those who oppose Him. Because of these similarities, some scholars believe that Mithraism was a major force in Christianity and a serious threat to the Church. According to Ernest Renan, a French historian and expert in ancient cultures, “…if the growth of Christianity had been arrested by some mortal malady, the world would have been Mithraic…”
Mithra was born on December 25. There’s little doubt that the date of Mithra worship played a role in the establishment of December 25th as the Messiah’s birth.
Unconquered Sun Worship
In addition to Saturnalia and Mithraism, there was another celebration called the Feast of Sol Invictus that helped solidify December 25 as the date for the Nativity. The Encyclopaedia Britannica openly states that the Church adopted this day for Christmas:
“During the later periods of Roman history, sun worship gained in importance and ultimately led to what has been called a ‘solar monotheism.’ Nearly all the gods of the period were possessed of Solar qualities, and both Christ and Mithra acquired the traits of solar deities. The feast of Sol Invictus (unconquered Sun) on December 25th was celebrated with great joy, and eventually this date was taken over by the Christians as Christmas, the birthday of Christ” (2000, vol. 11, p. 390).
There should be no doubt that Christmas is an amalgamation of ancient pagan practices later adopted by the Roman church.
This ancient celebration was nothing more than sun worship or “solar monotheism.” The term “solar” refers to the sun, while “monotheism” refers to the worship of one deity. Most ancient religions were polytheistic, meaning they worshiped many gods. To find a point in history where sun worship was a monotheistic religion is noteworthy.
On a side note, vestiges of sun worship can be seen in other areas of the Church. For example, the day that nominal worship has chosen as a day of worship comes from the Latin dies solis, meaning, “day of the sun.” According to historians, it was Emperor Constantine who officially changed Sabbath worship to Sunday; prior to his conversion this man was a sun worshiper.
Authors Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting in their book, The Doctrine of the Trinity, state, “Constantine appears to have been a sun-worshiper, one of a number of late pagan cults which had observances in common with Christians. Worship of such gods was not a novel idea. Every Greek or Roman expected that political success followed from religious adherence.
“Although Constantine claimed that he was the thirteenth Apostle, his was no sudden Damascus conversion. Indeed it is highly doubtful that he ever truly abandoned sun-worship. After his professed acceptance of Christianity, he built a triumphal arch to the sun god and in Constantinople set up a statue of the same sun god bearing his own features. He was finally deified after his death by official edict in the Empire, as were many Roman rulers.”
We also find evidence for the role that sun worship played in Christmas from the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church.
“December 25 was the date of the Roman pagan festival inaugurated in 274 as the birthday of the unconquered sun which, at the winter solstice, begins again to show an increase in light. Sometime before 336 the Church in Rome, unable to stamp out this pagan festival, spiritualized it as the Feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness,” p. 223.
According to this source, December 25th was marked as the birthday of the sun in 274 CE and about 60 years later the Church adopted this day as the birthday of the Messiah because of its inability to stamp out this pagan observance. By not doing so, history was changed forever!
A Holiday Outlawed by Puritans
Because of its paganism and the fact that Christmas resembled more of a Mardi Gras during the time of early America, many Christians rejected Christmas and its customs.
Robert J. Myers in his book, Celebrations, writes, “In England, for example, the Puritans could not tolerate this celebrating for which there was no biblical sanction. Consequently, the Roundhead Parliament of 1643 outlawed the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Whitsuntide, along with the saints’ days,” p. 312.
As noted on the History Channel, this refusal was shared by the pilgrims and other early Americans: “In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and as part of their effort cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and with him came the return of the popular holiday.
“The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings” (history.com, Christmas).
What would happen if believers took such a stand today? Much of today’s error and subsequent problems would be removed and a time of unparalleled truth would result. We need only to ask, is it sanctioned by Almighty Yahweh and His Word?
Tree Worship and a Claus for Error
Christmas is riddled with non-biblical traditions.
The evergreen tree has been an object of veneration for millennia. Scripture provides many examples of tree worship, but none clearer than Jeremiah 10.
“Hear ye the word which Yahweh speaketh unto you. O house of Israel: Thus saith Yahweh. Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven: for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them: for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good,” vv 1-5.
Does this description sound familiar? Take a closer look; 1) one cuts a tree out of the forest; 2) they deck it with silver and gold; 3) they fasten it with nails and with hammers; and 4) they stand it upright. You’re probably thinking, Christmas tree. Truth be told, this is not referring specifically to a Christmas tree, which is nonetheless a form of tree worship.
Read what Jeremiah said in verse 2: “Learn not the way of the heathen.” Does this warning also apply to Christmas? We can answer that by simply asking: Is Christmas found in the Bible or in traditions of pagans? We can safely say this warning includes Christmas. When Yahweh said through Jeremiah, learn not the way of the heathen, He meant any pagan worship, including Christmas and Easter.
In addition to the biblical record, scholarship also confirms that tree worship was common. For example, The Golden Bough states. “…Tree worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to everyone. Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct among their descendants at the present day,” p. 58.
We have the tradition of Saint Nick. According to the book, Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men, the traditional Santa Claus may have roots to Odin, a major deity in Norse mythology: “… children would place their boots filled with sugar, carrots or straw, near the chimney for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir’s food with gifts or candy. This practice survived in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some homes” (pp. 171-173).
While many believe that Santa Claus traces back to Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who lived during the 4th century, the truth is very different. The etymological roots of this figure harken back to German and Dutch folklore, but not to Scripture.
The True Birthday of Yahshua
Let’s now transition from the historical roots of Christmas to the scriptural facts about our Savior’s birth. From Scripture we find that He was likely born in the fall.
We find evidence in Luke 1:5, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”
Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, served at the temple and his course of duty was of the course of Abia. What’s the significance about this? Before we answer that, we need to understand these courses a bit better.
In the Old Testament there were 24 courses or service schedules in the temple. The cycle of courses began at Abib (the first biblical month) in the springtime and was from Sabbath to Sabbath. Each priest was required to serve twice a year. Abia was the eighth course, which would have fallen around the beginning of June.
Based on the temple duty roster, we can pinpoint that John the Baptist was conceived around early June. Scripture states that Mary conceived Yahshua six months after Elisabeth conceived John the Baptist, Luke 1:26. From this we can determine the approximate date of the Messiah’s conception and birth. If John the Baptist was conceived in early June and if Yahshua was conceived six months later, then Yahshua was likely conceived in early December, placing His birth nine months away or sometime in September and possibly during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Snowmen and Frosty Shepherds?
What about the shepherds? The traditional Christmas story says that shepherds received a miraculous message about the infant Yahshua while in the fields on December 25th. The traditional story is based on Luke 2:13-18:
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising Elohim, and saying, Glory to Elohim in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass which Yahweh hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”
The question is, were shepherds out tending flocks the end of December? This is highly unlikely. According to Adam Clarke’s Commentary, “It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the Passover, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the Passover occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our [Master] was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could he have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this disputed point.”
The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary agrees. “From this most critics, since Lightfoot conclude that the time which, since the fourth century, has been ecclesiastically fixed upon for the celebration of Christ’s birth – the 25th of December, or the midst of the rain season – cannot be the true time, as the shepherds drove their flocks about the spring or Passover time out to the fields, and remained out with them all summer, under cover of huts or tents, returning with them late in the autumn. …The nature of the seasons in Palestine could hardly have been unknown to those who fixed upon the present Christmas-period: the difficulty, therefore, is perhaps more imaginary than real.”
Three Men and a Baby’s Birthday?
Let’s consider one more piece of the puzzle – the wise men. This story is based on the second chapter of Matthew. It reads, “Now when Yahshua was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him…
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the voung child with Miriam his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh,” vv 1-2, 10-11.
Tradition says that three wise men visited the infant Yahshua in a manger to honor His birth. Do we find evidence of that here? First, Scripture says nothing about three wise men, only that three gifts were given. Second, they did not visit the infant Messiah at the manger, but the boy Messiah at His house, verse 11. And third, the wise men were not there to celebrate the birth of the Messiah, but to worship the King of the Jews, verse 2.
Other than the wise men visiting the Messiah, the traditional account is almost completely lacking in Scripture. Again, there is no mention of the number of wise men, there is no mention of a manger, and there is no mention of the Messiah’s birth. We find from verse 16 that Yahshua was around the age of two. It reads, “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he diligently enquired of the wise men.”
Scripture verifies here that Herod murdered all male children two years and under. Why did he start with the age of two? It’s likely that Yahshua was near this age when the wise men came to visit. Again we find that the traditional story of the Messiah’s birth has little basis in Scripture. The story of Christmas is not in the Bible but it was through pagan Roman tradition that the Church adopted the rituals of Christmas.
Come Out, Be Separate, Touch Not
What does our Father Yahweh say about such compromise? We are commanded in Jeremiah 10 to abstain from learning the ways of the heathen.
Paul in 2Corinthians 6:14 also warns about compromise and accepting false worship. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Messiah with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of Elohim with idols? for ye are the temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith Yahweh, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith Yahweh Almighty.”
Here in each question Paul shows the distinction between right and wrong, and between worship that is honoring and worship that is not.
Based on the facts that Christmas contains no scriptural foundation and was borrowed from pagan worship, it is clearly to be avoided by anyone who wants to honor the true Messiah.
Church. For most it means stained-glass windows and ministers preaching in monotone. It means sitting for 20 minutes in uncomfortable pews listening to platitudes while dreaming of doing something else.
Too often, passing through church doors automatically trips the mind into neutral where all critical thinking stops.
Is this how it was when the Messiah taught His disciples on the shores of the Galilee 2,000 years ago? Where was the liturgy and the doxology then? Where was the neat packaging of ritual and repetition? How could the Bible be taught in such an unfettered atmosphere?
Two thousand years of syncretizing with foreign mystery religion has today’s churchgoers looking at the truth with apprehension. Keeping the Sabbath, feast days, and the other laws is anything but conventional today. Never mind that the Savior observed and taught them, and His Assemblies in Acts faithfully followed them.
Isn’t it strange how tradition blinds us to other possibilities?
This brings to mind the woman who went back to her corner church because the new spinoff group met in a motel and it “just didn’t feel like church there.”
No doubt meeting by the seashore or on the hills of Galilee would not “feel like church” to most churchgoers. And neither does hearing such words as “law” and “obedience.” But unless we can let the truth of Scripture stand on its own in open sunshine, without centuries of mind-numbing dogma to twist and swallow it up, then our faith is disingenuous.
Yahshua said that until heaven and earth pass away, not even the least letter of the alphabet nor its embellishment would be dropped from the law. Deuteronomy 7:9 says Almighty Yahweh is faithful to keep His covenant with those who keep His commandments “to a thousand generations.” Taken literally, we still have 16,000 more years to keep the law!
A popular magazine claimed that to get gentiles to become Christians, avoiding circumcision and other Jewish laws, Paul had to bring in a new doctrine: salvation outside of the Mosaic law. Obviously this magazine writer had himself been blinded by too much stained glass. Had he only turned to 1Corinthians 7:19, he would have discovered that Paul minimizes physical circumcision in favor of the law!
Imagine how different society could be if even half the churches taught obedience to the moral law. But it is not human nature to want to submit to any authority, and so the “faith alone” bandwagon is packed full.
In a stunningly graphic prophecy, Isaiah describes the nominal world of religion in 2022: “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Yahweh: which say to the seers, ‘See not;’ and to the prophets, ‘Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits,” 30:9-10.
What about you? Do you see the Scriptures in the pure, white light of truth, or in light filtered through colored glass?
No Moon vs. New Moon – the Conjunction vs. the Visible Crescent
Does Yahweh set His months and Feasts by the total blackness of the moon? Is that what “lights in the heavens” means?
There is a belief that the biblical month should be set by what is called the conjunction rather than by observation of the lunar crescent. The conjunction is a term that describes the exact alignment of the sun, the moon, and the earth. This alignment creates complete darkness before the moon starts to be visible or waxing. It is called Syzygy in astronomy, from the ancient Greek meaning “yoked together.”
In modern astronomy the term “new moon” entered popular usage to describe this time of total darkness, but this term was never associated with darkness in history. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the new moon as “the first visible crescent of the Moon, after conjunction with the sun.”
This conjunction or darkness is not synonymous with or related in any way to the new moon in Scripture. In fact, how can it even designate a new “moon” if the moon is completely hidden by darkness? To be accurate you would call it a “no moon.” In the Hebrew this darkness (void of any celestial light) is called: chashak חָשַׁךְ and means darkness or obscurity in relation to celestial lights. Notice how Ecclesiastes 12:2 uses it: “…before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark [chashak], and the clouds return after the rain.”
In stark contrast the Torah confirms the exact opposite of darkness as it relates to setting Yahweh’s Holy Days, which is expected, being that “Elohim is light and in Him there is no darkness,” 1John 1:5.
Lights in the Sky
Genesis 1:14 uses “lights” to set the appointed times of Yahweh. “And Elohim said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred days and years.” Some translations, like the KJV, use the word “seasons.” This is imprecise according to the Hebrew. The Hebrew word here is moed מוֹעֵד and means an appointed time, place or meeting. This means Yahweh’s Sabbath and yearly festivals. The light here in Genesis 1 is maor מָאוֹר and Brown Driver Briggs defines it as: “light, light-bearer, luminary, lamp, of sun and moon.”
Genesis 1:14 provides the purpose of these lights:
1) to separate the day from the night
2) to set the appointed times
3) to set the year
Continuing “…and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth. And it was so. Elohim made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day [sun] and the lesser light to govern the night [moon].”
The year is set at the new moon of the Aviv harvest. Notice: “Observe the month [chodesh חֹדֶשׁ new moon] of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of Yahweh your Elohim, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night,” Deuteronomy 16:1. As Genesis 1:14 clearly says this maor מָאוֹר “light” sets the year.
Exodus 12:1 asserts the Aviv new moon is the first of the year, shanah: “Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.’ So if we must use light to set Yahweh’s Festivals and years, how then can the darkness of the conjunction work in any way in Yahweh’s calendar?
In fact, this time of dark conjunction can last up to 3.5 days depending on its ecliptic latitude. Modern science calls this an astronomical dark moon. To calculate this “middle darkness” in relation to your position on planet earth without the aid of a telescope would take the mathematic genius of Albert Einstein. To compute this “dark moon” you would need to know the pole orientation in relation to the moon and earth’s orbit based on your geographical location. This is called in astronomy “The apparent place” or the position in space as seen by an observer. Because of physical and geometrical complexities it may differ from the “true” or “geometric” position. This would present an insurmountable technical challenge for the ancient Israelite like David out herding his sheep.
Not Rocket Science
So ask yourself, is this how Yahweh would establish his months? Does it need to be so hard that only the U.S. Naval Observatory can figure it out? Ezekiel 46:6 instructs: “On the day of the new moon he is to offer a young bull, six lambs and a ram, all without defect.” Which day would you choose for the new moon if depending on your geographic location you had a choice of up to three and a half nights of darkness to select from?
Yahweh is an Elohim of light not darkness. Unbelievers, wickedness, and darkness are synonymous. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2Corinthians 6:14.
The Apostle Paul journeyed as far as Macedonia for over two years. How would he have calculated this dark moon for the Festival of Yom Teruah or Trumpets? Yahweh makes it easy when all Paul needed to do was witness the first thin crescent of the new moon.
Notice what Yahweh said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to Yahweh.’” Leviticus 23:24. The moon sets the month and on this Feast day we are commanded to keep it on the first day of the seventh month.
Simply See It or Not See It
Did Yahweh intend for us to be astronomers using complex mathematic formulas to be able to know when this exact middle-darkness occurs in relation to our geographical location? Of course not. This is a man-made idea that complicates, perverts and adds to the Word. Yahweh’s visible crescent is beautiful in its simplicity requiring uncomplicated sight confirmation.
The new moon is to be “observed” every month. Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month (new moon) of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of Yahweh your Elohim, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night.” The Hebrew word for observe is shamar שָׁמַר a verb which denotes an action and has the synonymous meaning of keeping, watching and preserving.
This word is a proper noun for “watchmen,” according to Brown Driver Briggs Gesenius.The Holladay Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon defines shamar 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. It could be translated, “Look carefully for the new moon of Aviv and perform the Pesach in this month…”
Those who hold to dark moon idea try to remove any semblance of “watching,” which is one of the fundamental meanings of this Hebrew word shamar. If we are commanded to “watch for” rather than calculate, then this doctrine falls apart at the seams. Watching for something that isn’t there is senseless.
The argument is that this Hebrew word simply has the meaning of “do.” If this is the case then why is the Hebrew word asah עָשָׂה (do), which is also translated as observe in scripture, not used here in Deuteronomy16?
Shamar has a much more encompassing meaning of observation along with keeping and doing. Exodus 31:16 shows both these words in context in relation to the Sabbath “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep (shamar) the sabbath, to observe (asah, do) the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” The Sabbath is kept by watching and observing the sunset and sunrise (the greater light, Genesis 1:14). The true faith is an active faith based on observation on the lights Yahweh made for us.
Ancient Jewish Philosopher Philo Attests to Crescent After Conjunction
Many historic sources back up how ancient Israel observed the new moon. A Jewish philosopher named Philo of Alexandria (20BCE-50CE) lived during the time of the Messiah. He was Greek-speaking and documented this interesting observation of how the festivals were kept. Amazingly, he even makes a distinction between the conjunction (dark moon) and the new moon!
(The Special Laws) XI. (41) “The first matter to be considered is that of the Festivals. Now there are ten festivals in number, as the law sets them down. The first is that which any one will perhaps be astonished to hear called a festival. This festival is every day. The second festival is the seventh day, which the Hebrews in their native language call the sabbath. The third is that which comes after the conjunction, which happens on the day of the new moon in each month. The fourth is that of the passover which is called the passover.
“The fifth is the first fruits of the corn—the sacred sheaf. The sixth is the feast of unleavened bread, after which that festival is celebrated, which is really the seventh day of seventh days. The eighth is the festival of the sacred moon, or the feast of trumpets. The ninth is the fast.
“The tenth is the feast of tabernacles, which is the last of all the annual festivals, ending so as to make the perfect number of ten…..XXVI. (140) Following the order which we have adopted, we proceed to speak of the third festival, that of the new moon. First of all, because it is the beginning of the month, and the beginning, whether of number or of time, is honourable. Secondly, because at this time there is nothing in the whole of heaven destitute of light. Thirdly, because at that period the more powerful and important body gives a portion of necessary assistance to the less important and weaker body; for, 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. And this is, as it seems, an evident lesson of kindness and humanity to men, to teach them that they should never grudge to impart their own good things to others, but, imitating the heavenly bodies, should drive envy away and banish it from the Soul.”
The Mishnah is a collection of Jewish oral traditions written between 20 BCE and 220 CE. It details how the new moon was judged by eye witness observation and how their testimony was scrutinized by the Beth Din בית דין or “house of judgment.” Gamaliel, who was the Apostle Paul’s mentor, and mentioned in scripture notice “But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while” Acts 5:34. The Mishnah gives this detailed explanation regarding Gamaliel:
“There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Ya’azeq, where all the witnesses met, and where they were examined by the Beth Din. Great feasts were made there for (the witnesses) in order to induce them to come frequently. At first they did not stir from there all day (on the Sabbath), 1 till R. Gamaliel, the elder, ordained that they might go two thousand ells on every side; and not only these (witnesses) but also a midwife, going to perform her professional duties, and those who go to assist others in case of conflagration, or against an attack of robbers, or in case of flood, or (of rescuing people) from the ruins (of a fallen building) are considered (for the time being) as inhabitants of that place, and may go (thence on the Sabbath) two thousand ells on every side. How were the witnesses examined? The first pair were examined first. The elder was introduced first, and they said to him: Tell us in what form thou sawest the moon; was it before or behind the sun? Was it to the north or the south (of the sun)? What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? What was the width of its disk? If he answered before the sun, his evidence was worthless. After this they introduced the younger (witness) and he was examined; if their testimony was found to agree, it was accepted as valid; the remaining pairs (of witnesses) were asked leading questions, not because their testimony was necessary, but only to prevent them departing, disappointed, and to induce them to come again often,”
In the Talmud, the Gemara (350-400CE) then references this part of the Mishnah:
Gemara: “Do not the questions (asked by the Mishna), ‘was it before or behind the sun?’ and ‘was it to the north or to the south?’ mean the same thing? Answered Abayi: (the Mishna asks) whether the concave of the crescent was before or behind the sun, and if (the witness said) it was before the sun, his evidence was worthless, for R. Johanan says: What is the meaning of the passage [Job, xxv. 2]: ‘Dominion and fear are with him; he maketh peace in his high places?’ It means that the sun never faces the concave of the crescent or the concave of a rainbow.
“What was its elevation on the horizon? Towards which side was its inclination? In one Boraitha we have learned: If (the witness) said ‘towards the north,’ his evidence was valid, but if he said, ‘towards the south,’ it was worthless; in another Boraitha we have learned the reverse. It presents no difficulty; in the latter case it speaks of the summer, while in the former it refers to the winter.
“The rabbis taught: If one (witness) said its elevation appeared about as high as two ox-goads and another said about as high as three, their testimony was invalid, but either might be taken in conjunction with a subsequent witness (who offered similar testimony). The rabbis taught (If the witnesses say): ‘We have seen the reflection (of the moon) in the water, or through a metal mirror, or in the clouds,’ their testimony is not to be accepted; or (if they say we have seen) ‘half of it in the water, and half of it in the heavens, or half of it in the clouds,’ their evidence carries no weight. Must they then see the new moon again (before their testimony can be accepted)? Said Abayi: ‘By this is meant that if the witnesses testify that they saw the moon accidentally, and they then returned purposely and looked for it, but they saw it not, their evidence is worthless.’ Why so? Because one might say they saw a patch of white clouds (and they thought it was the moon).”
Even Gamaliel had a chart on his wall showing the various moon stages used in questioning would be new moon observers:
Mishna: “R. Gamaliel had on a tablet, and on a wall of his upper room, illustrations of the various phases of the moon, which he used to show to the common people, saying: ‘Did you see the moon like this figure or like this?’” See https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tractate-rosh-hashana-chapter-2
From the Midrash we read, “On the first of Nissan, the moon begins to illuminate. As the days continue, her luminosity increases, until the 15th day, when her disk is full… Likewise is Israel. Fifteen generations from Abraham until Solomon; Abraham began illuminating… with Solomon, the moon’s disk was filled.”
The Jewish Encyclopedia explains how the Samaritans tried to confuse the Jews by lighting false signal fires during the sighting and consecration of the new moon.
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah I., surnamed ‘the Holy’ (163-193), the Samaritans, in order to confuse the Jews, set up fire-signals at improper times, and thus caused the Jews to fall into error with regard to the day of the new moon. Rabbi Judah accordingly abolished the fire-signals and employed messengers. The inhabitants of countries who could not be reached by messengers before the feast were accordingly in doubt, and used to celebrate two days of the holidays. By this time the fixing of the new moon according to the testimony of witnesses seems to have lost its importance, and astronomical calculations were in the main relied upon.”
Calculated to Break with Judaism
One of the important figures in the history of the calendar was Samuel (born about 165, died about 250), surnamed “Yarḥinai” because of his familiarity with the moon. He was an astronomer, and it was said that he knew the courses of the heavens as well as the streets of his city (Ber. 58b). He was director of a school in Nehardea (Babylonia), and while there arranged a calendar of the feasts in order that his fellow-countrymen might be independent of Judea. He also calculated the calendar for sixty years. His calculations greatly influenced the subsequent calendar of Hillel. According to Bartolocci his tables are preserved in the Vatican. A contemporary of his, R. Adda (born 183), also left a work on the calendar.”
By 300 CE the original spotting of the new moon by the Sanhedrin was replaced by calculation.
“Under the patriarchate of Rabbi Judah III. (300-330) the testimony of the witnesses with regard to the appearance of the new moon was received as a mere formality, the settlement of the day depending entirely on calculation. This innovation seems to have been viewed with disfavor by some members of the Sanhedrin, particularly Rabbi Jose, who wrote to both the Babylonian and the Alexandrian communities, advising them to follow the customs of their fathers and continue to celebrate two days, an advice which was followed, and is still followed, by the majority of Jews living outside of Palestine.
It is evident that during the time of the second Temple period and before, visual observation of the new moon was taken very seriously. Man’s adding to the Word and using calculations for the calendar starting with the dark moon came into vogue later with Hillel II, 300 years after the death of the Messiah.
If you desire to return to the scriptural paths of True Worship (Jer. 6:16), then join us every month as we commemorate the new moon crescent. yrm.org/new-moon-network
How often have you accepted something as fact and later found out it was false? The experience is too common.
Even conventional wisdom often turns out to be just smoke and mirrors built on hearsay and tradition.
Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was among the first to say that the earth was not the center of the universe, and it got him into big trouble with the church. The belief for centuries was that the universe was finite, with the earth at its center, a belief accepted by nearly everyone. To say otherwise was heresy.
The majority view is frequently in error and often proven so by facts. Just because the majority accepts a belief does not mean you should hang your hat on it.
We challenge you to prove everything from the Scriptures, and determine for yourself the truth of what we teach. In fact, when it comes to any religious teaching, don’t take someone’s word for it, including a room full of pastors, until you first verify it yourself from the Scriptures. Don’t assume it is correct and true even if your parents and grandparents believed it all their lives.
Proving what you believe is commanded in the Scriptures. If you don’t have a conviction for your beliefs, how can Yahweh judge your heart? If you are stuck in neutral and are not engaged in your beliefs then you are just riding on another’s coattails. Yahweh judges the heart.
Yahweh’s Mandate: Preach and Prove
The job of a minister is to “preach the Word,” 1Timothy 4:2. The responsibility of the hearer is to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” 1Thessalonians 5:21. Notice Paul says prove “all” things. And when you find a teaching or tenet you may not have heard before, test it by the Word. If it is true and right, then embrace it and walk in it. If not, reject it.
There are typically several interpretations for a Bible teaching. Yet, only one can be right. In Matthew 15:9, our Savior Yahshua calls doctrine that is not inspired vain, the teaching of men. Vain means worthless and without profit.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 17:11 about a people who 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.”
Their minds were open to truth and because of that they were called noble. They searched it out and proved everything for themselves. They didn’t accept a teaching simply because they had always believed it. They put it up for cross-examination.
Our Father in heaven did not give us His Bible for someone else to interpret it for us. Each of us is responsible for ourselves to study, learn, and follow the truth revealed by the Word. Peter wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of Yahweh, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. If you go by the Scriptures themselves you can’t go wrong. They lead to salvation.
Name ‘Christian’ Unauthorized in NT
Have you ever wondered, if only one way is right, where are those living and teaching it? What denomination or group of believers will one day be given a place in the Kingdom of our Savior Yahshua? Do they have a name?
A related question is, what did the early New Testament believers call themselves? These would be those who were taught by the Savior and Apostles themselves. They got their beliefs and practices directly from the source of truth.
Believe it or not, the New Testament assembly of believers did not have a specific name. They are simply called people of the way or that way in the Book of Acts.
The term “Christian” was first applied by Greek gentiles to the Apostle Paul’s Hebraic-based faith after he began to minister at Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). “Christian” is Greek and means one espousing the beliefs of the Christos or Messiah. Surprisingly, it is a name used only three times in the entire New Testament.
The early New Testament believers were all Hebrew, not Greek. The faith of the New Testament is Hebraic and based on the Old Testament Scriptures, the only Scriptures in existence at the time of Yahshua and the Apostles. The faith they lived and taught was not Greek but would in a couple of decades pick up Greek influence through ecumenism with pagans. That includes the name “Jesus,” a Latinized Greek name.
Whenever Yahshua and the apostles quoted the Scriptures it was only the Old Testament they used and taught from. The New Testament had yet to be written.
In Acts 26:28 we read, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost you persuade me to be a Christian.” Although Paul was the one on trial, he redirects the inquiry in an effort to convert the ruler Agrippa himself. He questions Agrippa about the ruler’s belief in the prophets. Agrippa recognizes his strategy.
The term Christian was applied to Paul by this half-Jew, Herod Agrippa II. Amazingly, we never find Paul or any of the Apostles using this name for themselves or their movement.
Paul seeks familiar ground with the ruler and the common basis he zeroes in on is that he also believed the law and prophets. In saying this, Paul links the New Testament movement with its foundation, the Old Testament.
Yahshua the Messiah never gave a name to the New Testament movement either. He refers to His followers simply as disciples and believers, followers, and friends, but does NOT designate a formal group label.
The earliest body of believers was called Nazarenes in the New Testament, or the followers of the One from Nazareth.
New Testament’s Hebraic Roots
In about the year 50 CE a crisis developed that Paul dealt with by consulting the other elders at Jerusalem. It began with those who thought converts had to change to Judaism and adopt Jewish customs before they could enter the New Covenant. Why? Obviously because of the clear Jewish heritage of the early New Covenant Assembly.
These followers of the Messiah in the New Testament believed and practiced the laws of the Old Testament. They kept the Feast days of Leviticus 23. They worshiped on the seventh-day Sabbath, just as they did in the Old Testament. They ate clean foods.
All of this is easily seen in the New Testament Scriptures. Just follow the ministry of the Apostle Paul and you will see that. Rather than believing Paul changed Old Testament mandates and made obedience unnecessary, just read what he believed, taught, and did himself.
He kept the seven annual feasts long after the resurrection of the Savior Yahshua. Why didn’t he say that those days were just for Old Testament Jews? Obviously he knew they were for him as well, and he is seen observing them.
The Messiah Yahshua told His disciples in Matthew 10:6 to go only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, meaning the Hebrews, the Jews of His day: “These twelve Yahshua sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Paul believed the priority Yahshua put with Israel. He wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Evangel of Messiah: for it is the power of Elohim unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Paul’s mission, along with the Apostle Peter’s, expanded the outreach to other nations and peoples known as Gentiles. Gentile converts faced one very real problem. They were joining a Jewish sect, and to be Jewish traditionally involved circumcision.
The issue was over circumcision, not whether to obey the law. The laws of the Old Testament were never an issue in the New Testament. It was what man added to those laws that became a problem. Many still have the same difficulty understanding Paul that they did back in the days of the New Testament, thinking he taught against Old Testament law.
Not so. He proved he was a law keeper 24 years after Yahshua. Paul says he believed all things written in the law and prophets, Acts 24:14.
Paul Never Advocated No-Law
Paul had no authority to do away with biblical law. He had no authority to trump our Savior, who said in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to do away with the law. Misunderstanding of Paul’s letters has led to the false notion that he was against Yahweh’s laws.
James in Acts 15:19 settles the matter over whether to circumcise: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to Elohim: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”
James explained that the law is preached in every synagogue all over the place. They will learn the necessity of the law eventually, but first, these newly converted gentiles needed to clean up the filth from their lives. They needed a cleansing. They must first leave their pagan ways behind. You can’t take the old baggage with you if you are taking on new truth. This age-old problem is still with us today.
There were no great sweeping transformations in going from Hebraic truths to the New Testament faith of Yahshua. In fact, according to Eusebius’ History, the first 15 Bishops of Jerusalem were “of the circumcision.” They were Jewish. The big difference comes in accepting of Yahshua as the Messiah, elimination of man-added laws and understanding the spiritual meaning of obeying from conviction, and not just knee-jerk compliance.
The polytheistic influence of the Canaanites on Israel was matched in early Christendom. In the second and third centuries there were Christians who believed in one mighty one. But there were others who insisted that there were two. Some said there were 30. Others claimed there were 365. This notion came from the influence of the religions around them, some of which had a god for every day of the year.
But one characteristic is found throughout the earliest Assemblies of the New Testament—there was explicit and total fidelity in teaching and practice to the Law and the Prophets, which pointed to Yahshua’s coming.
Yahshua was very clear that He understood Himself in that Hebraic context. In Luke 24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Early Assembly Followed a Way
Another significant truth is in what Paul said in Acts 24:14. “But this I admit to you, that according to the way [the term ‘way’ is what they called the New Testament believers–people of the way because of a specific way in which they lived and believed] which they call a sect I do serve the Elohim of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets.”
Even Paul was misunderstood by the religious majority of his day just as today. They thought he came to destroy the law and the need to obey the one they worshiped.
Following are some other references to this term “way” that was used of the New Testament church or assembly:
• Acts 9:1-2: “Now Shaul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Master, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
• Acts 19:8-9: “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of Elohim. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.”
• Verse 23: “And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the way.”
• Acts 24:22: “But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the way, put them off, saying, ‘When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.’”
Epiphanius, one of the church fathers, gives us an actual by-name for the New Testament people: the Nazarenes. His Panarion (generally known as the Refutation of All Heresies) was written during the period 374-376 CE. Panarion 29 is an extensive treatment of his sources and data on the Nazarenes, and the salient facts about them.
This is probably the earliest group of believers of which we have record outside of the New Testament Scriptures.
Traits of the New Testament Believers
Of these Nazarenes, he says: “They use both the Old and New Testaments, without excluding any books known to Epiphanius (7, 2). He writes, ‘For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old, like the Jews. For the Legislation and the Prophets and the Scriptures, which are called the Bible by the Jews, are not rejected by them as they are by those mentioned above.’”
Epiphanius continues, “They have a good knowledge of Hebrew and read the Old Testament and at least one Evangel in that language. These Nazarenes ‘have a good mastery of the Hebrew language. For the entire Law and the Prophets and what is called the Scriptures, I mention the poetical books, Kings, Chronicles and Ester and all the others, are read by them in Hebrew as in the case with the Jews, of course.’
“They have the entire Evangel of Matthew in Hebrew. It is carefully preserved by them in Hebrew letters.”
Jerome, a church father who translated the Bible into Latin, is another important source of early New Testament belief and practice. He wrote, “The most important conclusion of this chapter is that the Nazarenes were not mentioned by earlier fathers not because they did not exist but rather because they were still generally considered to be acceptably orthodox.”
According to Jerome, these early New Testament followers of Yahshua, believed the following:
• They hold to a very high belief in Yahshua (i.e. virgin birth, pre-existence.) He was of divine sonship.
• They have a high regard of Paul and the ministry to the gentiles.
• They accept the Tanakh/Old Testament and New Testament.
They were not considered heretical until Epiphanius confused them with the Ebionites.
If there is a group to whom we can draw a connection to the very original assembly of the New Testament, it would be those known as the New Testament Nazarenes.
The New Testament is a continuation of the teachings of the Old, but with deeper understanding of Yahweh’s plan for His people. It emphasizes the reason for obedience and the sacrifice of the Messiah for sin when we don’t obey.
In 1John 2:7 we read, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.”
Unless we get the foundation right, the structure will be weak and will collapse in time. The foundation for the New Testament is the Old Testament. It is what our Savior taught from, it is what His followers believed, and it is what keeps proper worship on course when we follow His lead.
These fundamental truths go untaught in our day with fateful results.
“Hosea 4:6 prophesies, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy Elohim, I will also forget thy children.”
May we not be among those cut off by deliberately ignoring truth in the Sriptures. May we have the kind of respect for Yahweh that takes His word seriously. May we enter into the joy of our Master, Matthew 25:23.
Life is short; make the most of yours by living for Him.
In shedding light on the angelic realm part 1 we looked at some general characteristics of angels, including their existence, their appearance, their knowledge, their purpose, and more. In this segment we will delve into the different types of angels based on what we find in Judaism and the Bible.
Let’s begin by reviewing how Judaism defines this hierarchy of angels. Because different Jewish scholars had diverse opinions on the hierarchy of angels, you may see different results depending on the source and unique views.
For our list we will refer to a man known as Maimonides, whose birth name was Moses ben Maimon and who lived in the 12th century. He was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most influential scholars of the Middle Ages. Part of his work included defining the following hierarchy of angels:
Chayot Ha Kodesh
Descriptions for each of these angelic classes follows. Understand that much of the information is rabbinic or traditional, and even mystic from the Kabbalah. In no way does Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry vouch for those lacking biblical attribution. The descriptions are provided for educational purposes only.
Chayot Ha Kodesh – “The living creatures, living beings, are a class of heavenly beings described in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the heavenly chariot in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. References to the creatures recur in texts of Second Temple Judaism, in rabbinical merkabah (‘chariot’) literature, and in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.” (wikipedia.com)
Ophanim – “The ophanim or ofanim (Heb. ‘wheels’), also called galgalim (‘spheres,’ ‘wheels,’ ‘whirlwinds’), refer to the wheels seen in Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot.” (Ibid.)
Erelim – “An Arel, Ar’el, or Er’el (Heb. ‘hero,’ ‘valiant one’) refers to a rank of angels in Jewish Kabbalah and Christianity. The name is seen to mean ‘the valiant/courageous.’ They are generally seen as the third highest rank of divine beings/angels below God.” (Ibid.)
Hashmallim – “The Hashmallim are angelic entities in Judaism. The word hashmal appears in the Hebrew Bible in Ezekiel 1:4: ‘I saw, and behold, there was a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it; and from its midst, like the color of the Hashmal from the midst of the fire, and in its midst there was the likeness of four Chayot (living creatures).’ ” (Ibid.)
Seraphim – “Tradition places seraphim in the highest rank in Christian angelology and in the fifth rank of ten in the Jewish angelic hierarchy. A seminal passage in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-8) used the term to describe six-winged beings that fly around the Throne of God crying ‘holy, holy, holy.’” (Ibid.)
Malakim – Hebrew for Angel
Elohim – Hebrew for Mighty One/ Mighty Ones
Bene Elohim – Sons of the Mighty One
Cherubim – “A cherub (plural cherubim) is one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God according to Abrahamic religions. The numerous depictions of cherubim assign to them many different roles; such as protecting the entrance of the Garden of Eden.” (Ibid.)
Ishim – “In Judaism. The Ishim (Heb. ‘men,’ ‘personages,’ ‘personalities,’ individuals’) or Eshim (‘fires,’ ‘flames,’ ‘sparks’) are a class of angels said to be the closest to the affairs of mortals. They are composed of fire and snow, and are described as the ‘beautiful souls of just men’ who reside in Makon, the 5th Heaven.” (Ibid.)
Satan As a Cherub
Let’s see what the Bible says about different types of angels. We’ll begin with one you may not have expected, Satan the devil.
In Ezekiel 28 we find a description of Satan before his rebellion. “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of Elohim; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of Elohim; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of Elohim: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more,” Ezekiel 28:12-19.
This is a dual prophecy with part referring to the king of Tyrus and part to Satan the devil. What’s intriguing about this passage is that we find in it a description of Satan before his fall, a being full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. These are not characteristics we generally attribute to the Evil One, yet at one point he was wise and beautiful. When you think about the fact that he deceived a third part of all the angels, it is consistent that he would have these grand attributes. Even in the New Testament, Satan is described as an angel of light.
We also see that he was in the garden of Elohim and that every precious stone was his covering. As a side note, every stone mentioned here was also on the breastplate of the high priest.
Satan is also identified as an anointed cherub. As we’ll learn later when we probe the topic of cherubim more extensively, cherubim are a special class of angels among the celestial realm.
Evidence shows that Satan was created. The Bible says that only Yahweh has always had immortality, i.e., eternity.
But Satan fell from grace when iniquity was found in him. The reason for his iniquity is in verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”
Ironically, it was Satan’s wisdom and beauty that was his ruin. He allowed his heart to become prideful and, as we see in Isaiah 14, desired to usurp Yahweh’s authority.
An Archangel Named Michael
Another angel, who was a major nemesis to Satan the devil, is Michael the archangel. In Daniel 10, starting in verse 4, we find an inciteful encounter between a messenger, a prince of Persia, and Michael.
“Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy Elohim, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel 10:8-13.
Here is an angel delivering a message to Daniel the prophet. What’s intriguing is that this messenger was restrained from coming to Daniel for 21 days while the Persian prince confronted him.
The prince of Persia is likely a fallen angel, evidently one of great strength and power. The messenger was finally able to communicate with Daniel when Michael the archangel came and removed the Persian monarch. This provides us with a glimpse of the angelic realm. Just as we humans have conflict and war, it appears that similar conflict exists in the spirit realm.
We also see indications that there are other archangels similar to Michael; however, Scripture seems to give Michael a premier ranking in the angelic sphere.
Revelation 12:7-8 provides another scene involving Michael. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”
There are many views on this passage. Some say it’s symbolic, some say it’s literal, some say it has already happened, and some say that it has yet to happen. We believe this is literally speaking about a cosmic battle between Satan and his fallen angels and Michael and his angels. Some believe it is a past event, others future. We lean toward the past, but it’s possible that this could be a future prophecy.
What’s more important, though, is not whether this is past or present, but what we find transpiring between Satan and Michael. As we read in Daniel, we once again see Michael withstanding and defeating Satan and his fallen angels. It also hints that Michael is over Yahweh’s angelic army. This further shows the special role that Michael has among the angelic realm.
A Messenger Named Gabriel
Unlike Michael, Gabriel does not appear to be an angelic warrior. Instead, he serves as a messenger angel; we find him providing prophetic messages to Daniel in chapters 8 and 9 and also to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and Miriam, the mother of Yahshua, in Luke 1. So while Michael and Gabriel are both archangels, they serve very different roles.
Our next focus is on the cherubim. Satan the devil was once an anointed cherub in the garden of Elohim and ironically the first mention of cherubim is in Genesis 3:24, in the Garden of Eden. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
After the sin of Adam and Eve, Yahweh cast them out from the Garden of Eden and to prevent them from returning, He placed Cherubim with a flaming sword on the east side. (As a side note, the “im” at the end of cherubim is plural. The singular is simply cherub.)
The cherubim are also found in the following passages:
Exodus 25 and 37 – cherubim were placed on the mercy seat upon the Ark of the Covenant.
2Samuel 22:11 and Psalm 18:10 – David describes Yahweh as riding on a cherub.
1Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 – Solomon had images of cherubim in Yahweh’s temple.
Ezekiel 9:3 – Yahweh’s glory is seen rising from a cherub.
Ezekiel 10:2 – Ezekiel is told to gather coals of fire between the cherubim.
Ezekiel 28:14 – Satan was once an anointed cherub in the garden of Elohim.
Ezekiel 41:18 – images of cherubim will be used in the Millennial Temple.
From these verses we learn that the cherubim: 1) hold a special place in the angelic realm; 2) their images were used in Solomon’s temple and will be used in the millennial Temple; 3) they have wings and can fly and often have a connection with Yahweh’s glory; and 4) Satan was a cherub in the garden of Elohim before he rebelled against Yahweh.
Beyond this, there’s a lot of speculation in Judaism and Christianity as to who and what these creatures are. As we know, most of these beliefs have no biblical basis; they are purely rabbinic or man-made.
Another type of angelic being is the seraphim, found in Isaiah 6:2-4. “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
Probably the most fantastic trait is that the seraphim have six wings – two to cover their face, two to fly, and two to cover their feet. Why they have these characteristics is unclear, although some scholars connect a symbolic meaning, that the wings covering the face indicate humility, while the wings covering the feet signify reverence.
Whatever the case might be, we see they are exceptional beings among the angelic realm. This is the only reference to seraphim that we find in Scripture, but based on this one example, it appears that seraphim may exist to honor and recognize the holiness of Yahweh. In this prophecy, we find them crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts.” As is seen in the Old Testament, when a word or phrase is repeated three times it’s normally for emphasis. In this example it expresses the supremely holy nature of Almighty Yahweh.
Other instances of this usage of repetition are: Jeremiah 7:4: “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Yahweh, The temple of Yahweh, The temple of Yahweh, are these;” Jeremiah 22:29: “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Yahweh;” and Ezekiel 21:27: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”
One of the most striking and perplexing passages in the Bible is found in the prophecy of Ezekiel 1. According to Barnes’ Notes, special caution is encouraged when reading this passage. “The exposition of the fundamental principles of the existence and nature of a Supreme G-d, and of the created angels, was called by the rabbis ‘the Matter of the Chariot’ (compare 1Chron. 28:18) in reference to the form of Ezekiel’s vision of the Almighty; and the subject was deemed so mysterious as to call for special caution in its study.” Based on this warning, it’s important that we use caution when reviewing this passage.
“And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning,” Ezekiel 1:4-14.
Mentioned here are four living creatures, which in Ezekiel 10:20 are identified as cherubim. “This is the living creature that I saw under the Elohim of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.”
One difference between the cherubim in Genesis 3 and the cherubim we see here is that in Genesis they had two wings and here they have four wings. It appears that cherubim can have a different number of wings.
Another characteristic of the living creatures, or cherubim, is that according to verse 5, they had the appearance of a man, possibly referring to their general stature or the way they stood.
They also had four faces – one of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Many ask whether we should view this literally or figuratively. In other words, are we seeing an angelic being with four faces or are these faces symbolic of something else? I tend to view this literally and not just figuratively, as some do. If what we find here is indeed literal, it shows the diversity, complexity, and uniqueness of the angelic realm. If we could get even a glimpse, what we would find would totally amaze us.
We also discover that their color is like burnished brass. Revelation 1 gives a depiction of Yahshua’s divine presence and He too is described as brass that is burned in the furnace. It appears there’s something very special about burnished brass when it comes to the angelic realm.
An even more mysterious being is revealed in verses 15-24 of Ezekiel 1. “Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.”
As you can imagine, there are many ideas as to what Ezekiel saw here, including UFOs. Whereas we don’t give any credence to UFO’s, all would agree that the imagery we find here is not of this world.
We again see the four living creatures or the cherubim but we also see something else, i.e., wheels within wheels. This is one of the most mysterious beings in Scripture. How can wheels within wheels travel multiple directions without turning? For verse 17 says, “When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.”
Now we also see here a connection between the living creatures and the wheels, as the wheels would follow the living creatures. In fact, verse 21 states that the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
From verse 18 we see that the rings of the wheels had eyes all around them. It seems that the eyes here verify the wheels are some sort of angelic being. As we see from Maimonides’ list, the Jews call these beings Ophanim, from the Hebrew ophan. A more thorough description of the Ophanim is: “Members of the ophanim rank of angels never sleep, because they’re constantly busy guarding G-d’s throne in heaven. They are known for their wisdom. Their name comes from the Hebrew word ‘ophan,’ which means ‘wheel,’ due to the Torah’s description of them in Ezekiel chapter 1 as having their spirits encased inside wheels that moved along with them wherever they went. In Kabbalah, the famous archangel Raziel leads the ophanim.”
Much of this derives from Jewish rabbinic thought and even Jewish mysticism. We can only speculate what this being really looked like and what Ezekiel must have thought as he saw this vision. Verse 18 also tells us that the wheels were dreadful, which in Hebrew means to fear or to reverence. This must have been an overwhelming vision for Ezekiel.
The Glory of Yahweh
One more part of Ezekiel’s vision is found in verses 26-28: “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”
Above the cherubim was a throne with an image of man, whose appearance was of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. The word “likeness” here is from the Hebrew demuwth and according to Strong’s refers to a “resemblance; concretely, model, shape; adverbially, like.” Since the appearance was a resemblance of the glory of Yahweh, this would imply it was not Yahweh the Father. With that in mind, the only Being who could sit on a throne with the resemblance or likeness of Yahweh is the Son of Yahweh, i.e., Yahshua the Messiah.
The Son was with the Father before the universe began. In fact, Yahshua in John 17:5 said He had glory with His Father before the world was or existed.
Now whether this was the Son or the actual presence of the Father’s glory, the pinnacle of this vision is found in these last verses. The four living creatures and the wheels within the wheels are subservient to the being on the throne, who is described as the having the appearance of fire.
Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the angelic realm and the appearance of fire. Evidence of this is when Yahweh appeared before Moses in the burning bush. The bush appeared to be on fire but never burned. In this case, it was likely only the appearance of fire, similar to Ezekiel’s vision.
There are things about the angelic realm that we will never understand in our present life. But we can see enough here to realize just how incredible and amazing it is!
The Throne Room
An equally amazing prophecy is found in Revelation 4. In the RSB we’ve titled this passage, “The Throne Room in Heaven.” Beginning with Revelation 4:2, we read, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of Elohim. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Yahweh El Shaddai, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Yahweh, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created,” verses 2-11.
There are several similarities between Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4. John of Patmos was in the spirit, which seems to imply that he was seeing a vision, similar to Ezekiel. In this vision he sees a throne in heaven and one sitting upon the throne, most likely the same throne and the same being as we saw in Ezekiel 1. As already stated, this is likely the Son in a glorified state or the actual presence of Yahweh’s glory.
We also see a few other similarities, including precious stones, lightnings, and thunders. The thunders and lightnings are reminiscent of when Israel was around Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16: “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” So we see that thunders and lightnings are often connected to Yahweh’s presence.
Also seen are 24 elders who were clothed in white with crowns upon their heads. As noted in the RSB, these elders are likely angelic beings of a celestial council. According to verse 10, their purpose is to worship the One on the throne day and night, casting their crowns before Him.
We also notice that before the throne there was a great sea of glass with four creatures around the throne, full of eyes in front and behind. While many might believe that the imagery here is only symbolic, it may very well be literal.
Sometimes people are too quick to dismiss certain items and view them as only symbolic. Oftentimes this is done when they don’t understand something or it seems too difficult to believe. We need to remember Yahweh’s ways are much greater and higher than our ways. The imagery we find here is astonishing and beyond any words that we could ever convey.
But we need to recall that what we see here is a vision of Yahweh’s throne room. We should expect nothing short of astonishing when considering the majesty and glory of Yahweh. Whether we’re talking about the cherubim, seraphim, or ophanim, the spiritual realm is amazing. If we could actually see the angelic realm, we would all be totally astounded by its splendor and greatness. For those found worthy of Yahweh’s calling, they will someday have the opportunity to witness the amazing creatures that we’ve uncovered. Hopefully this small glimpse of the angelic realm will encourage and motivate us to become better disciples of Yahweh.
As December days shorten, darkness overcomes light. Frigid blasts whistle through leafless, lifeless trees. Frozen ground is covered in silence. Nothing moves. By all appearances nature has died. But then, intruding on the pervasive quiet, comes the most hyperactive frenzy of merrymaking glitz and glitter ever conceived by man. Wine flows freely, songs of cheer echo through halls strung with holly and mistletoe. Gifts are exchanged while candles and fires like a thousand points of light puncture the darkness.
Out of the throes of encroaching death springs a wild celebration of life – all in the urgent hope of awakening the gods of life and fertility.
It’s Christmas, 2,000 years before the Savior’s birth. Or, it’s today. Time has no claims on this ancient rite.
Early American Warning
Contrary to common belief, Christmas anciently was not the celebration of the birth of the Savior at Bethlehem. That connection came much later to this heathen festival celebrating life.
The fact that the holiday is deeply rooted in pagan sun worship was more than enough reason to keep the Puritans and other early American settlers seeking spiritual purity from having any part of it.
“Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen at that precise time of year, in honor of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents to Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed,” Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 93.
No Thanks to Babylon
Christmas, with its trappings of life-celebrating superstitions, stretches back to ancient civilizations.
Steeped in beliefs of reincarnation and immortality, the pagan Babylonians thought that their king and sun-god Nimrod, who had been cut down, was brought back to life in the form of a green tree.
His return coincided with the winter solstice at the end of December, when the sun returns in its astronomical cycle and days begin to lengthen once more. And so we see the burning of the yule log signifying the sun’s light and warmth, and the evergreen tree wrapped in lights.
As pointed out in the book, 4,000 Years of Christmas by Earl W. Count, “Mesopotamia is the very ancient Mother of Civilization. Christmas began there, over four thousand years ago, as the festival which renewed the world for another year,” p. 18.
Lies of Yuletide
None of the facts surrounding Christmas is a mystery. You can read about them every year in newspapers and magazines appearing in December. The total indifference churchianity has to the revelation of the heathen roots of Christmas is remarkable.
Saturnalia is the forerunner of Christmas. It was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to December 23. It was the most popular holiday in Rome and its celebrations are the source of many of the traditions we now associate with Christmas.
But by the fourth century CE western Christian churches settled on celebrating Christmas on December 25, which allowed them to incorporate the holiday of Saturnalia. Many of the traditions of Saturnalia—including giving gifts, singing, lighting candles, feasting, and merrymaking—had become absorbed by the traditions of Christmas.
Unable to refute its pagan origins and practices, they shrug, “We keep Christmas for the children. How can we deny them that?”
Think a minute. Aside from being anchored in dark, mystery worship, the perceived “biblical” side of Christmas is tethered to a series of falsehoods and distortions. Should heathen fictions be the basis for the adoration of the Son of Righteousness, even if He were born then? Jeremiah 10 clearly says not to learn the ways of the heathen.
Saint Nick has usurped the role of the Savior. Children are taught to be good for Santa’s sake (a mythological character who can do magical things), not for the righteous Judge whose birthday is presumably being honored.
Yet, we still have a big problem even if we remove Kris Kringle from the scene.
Christmas promotes covetousness in its obsession with gifts. This annual greedfest is betrayed by the fact that retailers earn up to half their yearly sales during the Christmas shopping frenzy.
What a strange birthday observance anyway — where celebrators gather to give gifts to one another and not to the one whose birthday is supposedly being honored!
Through common angel and mother-child icons displayed during the observance, both young and old are exposed to blatant idolatry. This is in flagrant violation of the Second Commandment not to make any graven image of any likeness on earth or heaven nor to bow down to them.
The tree itself becomes that image of adoration. Contests are held for the most beautifully decorated trees and homes, while churches long ago broke the barriers to the forbidden by erecting evergreens in their halls.
Christmas transfers the ancient worship of the sun to worship of the Son, violating Yahshua’s own words to Satan, “You shall worship Yahweh your Elohim and HIM only shall you serve,” Matthew 4:10.
Tradition says the shepherds came and worshiped Yahshua in the manger. The Bible, however, says they glorified Yahweh the FATHER for all that they had seen and heard, Luke 2:20.
No Command for Christmas
Nowhere does the Bible say or even hint that the Messiah was born on December 25. That date coincides with the Saturnalia, the pagan Roman feast held in December at the winter solstice in honor of the returning sun (god).
In the spirit of throwing in with what cannot be overthrown, the Roman church adopted this day of the sun’s annual rebirth as the birth of the Son of Yahweh.
Significantly, not one verse in the Scriptures commands man to remember the birthday of Yahshua’s human advent. If there were, rest assured man would virtually ignore it, as he does other direct commands of Yahweh. Ironically, this holiday conspicuously missing from Scripture tops the charts of man’s religious celebrations!
“In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” Yahshua said in Matthew 15:9.
Other truths twisted into fantasy include the fact that the wise men never came to the manger but to the Messiah’s house as much as two years later (Matt. 2:11). Neither is it clear how many came. Nor were their gifts meant as birthday presents but royal offerings for a King, of the Jews.
A Relative Latecomer
Nowhere in the entire Bible do we find that anyone kept Christmas. In fact, Christmas as a celebration of the Savior’s birth was not observed before the fourth century of the modern era. These facts alone are testimony to the absence of any heavenly command or mandated biblical practice.
As Hislop reminds us, “That Christmas was originally a pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origins. In Egypt, the son of Isis, the Egyptian queen of heaven, was born at this very time, ‘about the time of the winter solstice.’ The very name by which Christmas is popularly known among ourselves –Yule-day – proves at once its Pagan and Babylonian origin. ‘Yule’ is the Chaldean name for infant or ‘little child’ and as the 25th of December was called by our Pagan Anglo-Saxon ancestors…long before they came into contact with Christianity,” pp. 93-94.
A person who seeks only the pure word of truth will give up the solar survival of Christmas in favor of what Almighty Yahweh DOES command in His Word. Leviticus 23 lists seven annual observances that Yahweh gave man as an ordinance “forever,” but which are largely ignored today.
These are called Feasts of Yahweh, not Feasts of the Jews or of any other nationality or race. They are for ALL men everywhere in honor of the one true Creator Yahweh, the Designer and Maker of the universe. Shouldn’t True Worshipers seek to keep the days specifically COMMANDED in the Scriptures, and not the holidays man has devised – that are not?
We were once visited by a relative who knew that my wife and I were firm believers in keeping Scripture as our Savior taught. Expecting an assault on his liberal, no-law theology, he preempted an anticipated first strike by firing off a volley of tired old bromides on love and grace.
Whenever I hear these sweet nothings, my brain slips into neutral and then flames out. Why do so many replace serious study and investigation of Scripture with jargon they don’t understand themselves?
Many self-claimed teachers cling to featherweight phrases they’ve heard and now personally own – superficialities with no bearing on anything, just empty calories.
We’ll look at some of the shallow sweet nothings you often hear today and compare them with Scripture. This may prove useful if you are ever confronted with cliché abuse.
It’s the kind of message you hear in countless worship settings.
Preacher Peter steps to the pulpit. “The L-rd spoke to my heart today and He gave me this message. Brother Brad has been struggling in his marriage. Brad, just take it to Him in prayer. Just let go and let G-d.
“Brothers and sisters, what is YOUR burden today? Whatever your struggle, it’s covered by the blood! Can I get an amen? Remember, He is working things out in your favor, He will never leave you where He found you. No weapon formed against us shall stand. Every assignment has been canceled. Devil, we’re returning everything you sent signed, sealed, and undelivered!”
So did you learn anything? Were you given any fresh insights that motivate you to walk closer to Yahweh in your life?
New clichés are launched all the time. Even Bible verses can become clichés when wrenched from their context and forced to apply where they don’t belong. The worst clichés are the ones that rhyme. “My worship is anointed and appointed.” And, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”
TV evangelists are great at spinning cotton candy. Throw in some audience participation, some “Speak it brother,” and the crowd will rave, thinking it’s a great message. Platitudes abound where critical thought is absent.
Clichés live in the world of generalities, as do countless sermons today. The minute you get specific is when you must be ready to defend your beliefs and teachings.
Where in the Word do we find support for clichés? Paul said to Timothy, “Avoid profane and vain babblings which some professing have erred concerning the faith,” 1Timothy 6:20.
Let’s dig into some of the more common clichés and see what lurks there. Can we take away anything worthwhile?
“If G-d brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” So how do you know He brought you to it? As in the lesson of Job, Satan can also bring you to it. Or maybe Yahweh did bring you to it and wants you to stay there for a while and learn something.
Trials offer great learning lessons.
In 2Corinthians 4:16-17 Paul wrote, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Peter cautioned: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Messiah’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 1Peter 4:12-13.
Trials make the dedicated believer stronger. As the Companion Bible notes, the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.
“G-d wants me to be happy.” Where is that in the Bible? Happiness is driven by emotion; commitment comes by conformity to the Word, and THAT is what makes Yahweh happy. Yahshua told His disciples in John 13:17: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye DO them.” True happiness is not about us. It’s about being united with Him through following His will, which leads to wisdom and righteousness.
Worship became emotion-driven about 50 years ago, where happiness became the new goal. Happiness is not an entitlement. Getting in line with Yahweh is what leads to satisfying, real happiness in the Believer.
Peter teaches a counter-intuitive lesson on happiness: “If ye be reproached for the name of Messiah, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of Elohim rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified,”1Peter 4:14.
James 5:11 adds, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of Yahweh.” Incidentally, if the law came to an end, so did Yahweh and Yahshua, because the same word telos, meaning goal, is used for Yahshua as being the end goal of the law as well (Rom.10:4).
You can recite clichés all day long, but unless you get out of your comfort zone and do something about the faith you profess, it is just smoke and mirrors in Yahweh’s eyes.
Yahweh is a Creator of action just like the Hebrew language that He uses to describe Himself. Yahshua said in John 5, “My Father works and I work.”
To say what Yahweh is, is tantamount to saying what He does; to describe Him is to talk action and behavior. He is a mighty One of doing and achieving; clichés, on the other hand, live in a world of inertia and indolence. When Yahweh called out Israel, they were expected to start doing His will.
“G-d loves you.” In a television series years ago the main character, playing an angel, repeated this phrase in every program as the antidote to every problem and trial. This bromide taught the viewer that all Yahweh wants is to love you the way you are – even in your sin. How does that fit with Yahshua’s teaching in Luke 13:3, and 5: “except you repent you shall all likewise perish”?
In Acts 17:30-31 Paul explained about Yahweh to the pagan Greeks on Mars Hill, “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”
The word repent and its permutations occur 112 times in the Scriptures. That TV actor never told anyone, “Turn to Yahweh in repentance, as the Word admonishes.” Most people would run from such counsel to change their behavior. They are happy where they are in whatever faith they have found themselves, and expect Yahweh to honor that.
Rather than conform to His will they expect Yahweh to bend to theirs, and want to be assured that He is completely pleased with their anemic performance, which that TV show, as well as these clichés, promote.
Paul continues, “Because he hath ap-pointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.”
The center of gravity in Yahshua’s salvation plan includes His teachings about overcoming and righteousness. The central theme of the entire Scriptures is to conform to Yahweh’s will. We please the One we worship by changing our life, not spouting meaningless jargon.
The apostle said in 1John 2:5: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
“Where G-d guides, G-d provides.” This implies that Yahweh leads you to Truth so He can make you prosperous. Yahshua was never endowed with wealth. He said in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” This was never Yahshua’s desire.
Today’s prosperity doctrine has aban-doned this fact. The false teaching completely misses the message and example Yahshua brought through overcoming sin and the world. Speaking of false ministers in 1Timothy 6:5, Paul warned about “perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is holiness: from such withdraw thyself.”
“We are saved by faith alone – but not by a faith that is alone.” This belief nowhere exists in Scripture. The first extant writing to contain the phrase “faith alone” is John Calvin’s Antidote to the Council of Trent (1547).
“Faith alone” is a spurious twisting of James 2:17: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Also verse 24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James then tops it off in verse 26 with, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The “faith alone” doctrine was promulgated by Martin Luther in his attack on Roman church works like indulgences.
Often used is Romans 3:28, which does not speak of being set apart but of justification: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.” We are not saved by faith alone but are justified by faith alone. Faith justifies the man but works justify faith. Justification is followed by sanctification or being set apart by our actions.
“Let go and let G-d.” This cliché makes a catchy bumper sticker but can eviscerate the purpose and goal of the believer’s walk. Taken wrongly, it slams the door on obedience and forecloses on any working out of our salvation with fear and trembling, as commanded in Philippians 2:12. Those who repeat it ignore the crucial next step, which is sanctification or being set apart through obedience.
Obedience is a core teaching in every book of the Bible. Those who are called can’t let go, because they are committed to a life of active overcoming. Where in the New Testament do we find any disciple letting go of his walk and “letting Yahweh”? Yahshua never taught it. He said in Matthew 7:21 that we must do the will of His Father. Paul in Philippians 2:12 admonishes to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. James writes in 1:22 to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
First John 3:24 says, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” And He gives His Spirit to those who obey Him, Acts 5:32.
Often ignored are Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, which say we need the faith of Yahshua as well as keeping of the commandments for salvation. Revelation 22:14 teaches that if we obey then we have the right to the tree of life.
We must not confuse unconditional grace with unconditional salvation. The world thinks salvation is automatic, so they consider “Let go and let Yahweh” a great fit. At funerals you hear that the deceased is now looking down and smiling. Does anyone ever ask how he or she measured up in order to be awarded everlasting life? Let alone explain how they were judged worthy even before Yahshua could return to initiate the judgment.
Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
“Letting go” is just another way of buying into the once-saved always-saved belief and avoiding the command to follow Yahweh’s Word. Many of these superficial clichés have an anti-law, anti-obedience basis.
Yahshua further explained in Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Master, Master, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Living by the Bible’s commands, which is sanctification, is anything but passive. The true believer’s life can be taxing. He combats opposition from family, friends, employers, and others who have not been enlightened to the Truth.
Yahshua never promised a free ride down Easy Street, but rather tribulation as we follow the Word. He said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Why mention this at all if Yahweh does everything for us? Promoters of such classic clichés also discount the work of the Holy Spirit that indwells the saint and helps him to obey Yahweh’s statutes, Ezekiel 36:27.
When Paul reflects on the activities of the believer he says nothing about La-Z-Boy recliners and cozy days watching pigeons in the park. Paul’s metaphors for the walk of the True Worshiper are soldiering, tough athletic contests, and planting and farming in the hot sun. The Puritans called their walk “holy sweat.”
Paul defines the metrics clearly in 2Corinthians 5:9: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.”
“He or she is in a better place.” One of the most quoted of the clichés, this one is offered in sympathy at funerals, but also in ignorance. How can the grave be a better place? Like the old dog Rover, when we die we die all over.
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten,” Ecclesiastes 9:5. Verse 10 says further, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” At death we no longer are conscious or sentient.
Of course, this cliché assumes the deceased are in heaven. Even if the Bible taught salvation at death, only Yahshua decides who is worthy of it, and then only at the judgment, Luke 20:35. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”
Scripture says that we lose total consciousness at death. When He returns, Yahshua our Judge will raise to life those He finds worthy of the first resurrection. The dead remain dead until this resurrection event at the Second Coming, Matthew 24:30-31.
Solomon did not say the dead go to a better place. Only that the person’s breath of life, not the person’s immortal soul, goes back to Yahweh: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto Elohim who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
All thoughts perish at death, Psalm 146:4, and the dead can’t praise, Psalm 88:10.
Only Yahweh has immortality, 1Timothy 6:16. No one has it automatically.
Furthermore, the dead are RAISED incorruptible. They don’t come DOWN from heaven but rise to meet the returning Yahshua in the air when He comes to earth, John 6:40.
“There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.” This cliché is used to minimize or excuse the bad behavior of another. It says in effect, “That could have been me there.” It really says that Yahweh’s grace restrains you but didn’t quite work for them.
“Ask J-sus into your heart.” Why my heart? Why not my head as well? This is yet another emotional cliché void of nutrition. What does it mean in the practical world where we all live? Clichés like these make living by the Bible just an ethereal, emotive experience rather than, as Yahshua teaches, one that mirrors His own examples. John tells us in 1John 2:6 to walk as He walked. He says in verse 4 that to say you know Him but don’t keep the commandments makes you a liar without the truth.
The Word teaches action, doing, sacrificing of self, and working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Asking Him into your heart just doesn’t have the same ring.
“Do you have a personal relationship with the L-rd?” For the True Worshiper, an honest-to-goodness relationship with Yahshua means taking part in His death and resurrection by repenting and being baptized. It is followed by living a life befitting the example He set.
Paul admonishes in Romans 6:3: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
In John 15:14 Yahshua defined the personal relationship He wants: “You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” There is no other valid “personal relationship.”
“G-d said it. I believe it. That settles it.” This cliché serves no purpose in a discussion of doctrine or belief. It is used only to deflect any serious inquiry, and padlock the door on further discussion. It is a one-size-fits-all comeback for those who are unskilled in the Word.
Truth to tell, the Bible doesn’t actually say what they may think it says, which means they don’t in fact believe it, and so nothing whatsoever is settled.
With most of these popular clichés the thrust is antinomian, meaning faith over obedience, and passivity over action. Revelation 2:26 counters that with: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Overcome. Keep my works. These are action verbs, words of doing, dynamic words that define the True Worshiper’s life
Forget the ways of false clichés. Start living and applying Bible Truth and discover all the joy and satisfaction that you have been missing in your life.
For millennia mankind has questioned the nature of angels, including their existence, appearance, knowledge, ability, and purpose. Surprisingly, the Bible provides a great deal of knowledge about the angelic realm. In this two-part series we will take an in-depth look at angels and answer age-old questions and much more.
Are Angels Created Beings?
Let’s begin with the question, were angels created? While many believe that angels are eternal, Scripture shows that they had a beginning.
Nehemiah 9:6 states, “Thou, even thou, art Yahweh alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipeth thee.”
We see that Yahweh created everything in the heaven of heavens, including all their hosts. The word “host” is from the Hebrew tsaba. One of the definitions offered in the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon is a host of angels. From this we find that Yahweh created the angelic realm.
Based on the biblical evidence, this creation was done through Yahshua the Messiah. The Old and New testaments verify that Yahshua preexisted and through Him all things came to exist, including the angelic realm, Proverbs 30:4; John 1:1-3; and Colossians 1:15-16.
From Job 38, verses 4 and 7, we learn that angels were created before the earth. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding… When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy?” The references here to the morning stars and sons of Elohim refer to angelic beings.
As a side note, the phrase “sons of Elohim” can also refer to human beings. Evidence for this is found in Matthew 5:9; Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26.
What Angels Look Like
Let’s now consider the appearance of angels. While there is not one right answer, it appears that most angels have a human-like form. We’ll see exceptions to this in part 2 of this series when we review the cherubim and seraphim.
For now, let’s focus on one aspect, a human form. Hebrews 13:2 gives us this insight: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” If it’s possible to entertain angels without knowing it, they must appear as human beings.
One instance is in Genesis 18 with the three men visiting Abraham. In this case, one of those beings was called Yahweh, which was likely the pre-existent Messiah.
Genesis 19 offers another episode when the two angels came to Lot in the city of Sodom. Lot recognized them as being special, but the men of Sodom saw them as only men.
The New Testament gives us yet more insight with Yahshua the Messiah. After His resurrection, Mary believed that He was only the gardener, which shows that He looked like an average human being.
From these and other occurrences we learn that angels often take human form where one could not tell the difference between an angel and a flesh-and-blood human being.
Bodily Nature of Angels
In addition to the appearance of angels the Bible provides insight into their bodily nature. In Luke 24, we find several clues: “And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Master is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Yahshua himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them,” verses 33-43.
Here is a description of Yahshua’s post-resurrection body. Keep in mind that Yahshua would have shared a body similar to angels after His resurrection.
As seen in the passage, Yahshua was able to appear before His disciples. When this happened the disciples believed that it was a spirit and not the person of Yahshua. The word spirit here is from the Greek pneuma. Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines this word as “a current of air, i.e. breath; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Messiah’s spirit, or the Holy Spirit.”
Because the disciples were afraid, some commentators believe they thought He was an evil spirit and not Yahshua Himself. Eventually, though, they realized that it was indeed the risen Savior standing before them.
Yahshua said something here that is quite fascinating. In trying to convince the disciples that He wasn’t a spirit, he told them, “…for a spirit hath not flesh and bones.” Yahshua verifies that angelic beings can have flesh and bone, but not blood.
The mention here of flesh and bone is somewhat of a mystery. While angels can appear with a physical body, it seems to be different from our mortal bodies, including the flesh and bone that Yahshua mentions. While they can appear solid, they can also transcend the physical world. In reference to the blood, the Bible verifies that the blood is the life-force for humans and animals alike. But as we see here, this is not true for spirit beings or angels.
Have you ever pondered how spirit beings can appear and disappear at will, but also assume a physical form that can also eat, as we find Yahshua doing here?
Here is a theory that the late Elder Donald Mansager believed on this issue. He reasoned that spirit beings, including angels, can either speed up or slow down their molecules allowing them either to transcend or to occupy the physical world. This can be shown when boiling water changes in form to steam.
While this is only conjecture, it seems plausible, especially if you understand the makeup of an atom.
It is a scientific fact that there is more empty space than solid space within an atom. In fact, according to the site www.education.jlab.org, “A hydrogen atom is about 99.9999999999996% empty space. Put another way, if a hydrogen atom were the size of the earth, the proton at its center would be about 200 meters (600 feet) across.”
The Apostle Paul provides some insight on what it means to be an angelic being in 1Corinthians 15:42-44. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
Paul draws a contrast between the bodies we have now and the bodies given at the resurrection. He begins by saying that we were sown in corruption, but will be raised in incorruption. The word “corruption” in Greek refers to decay or ruin, while the word “incorruption” refers to unending existence or immortality.
For a moment, consider this difference: Human beings are preordained to die, but as spirit beings we live forever. The Bible describes the life we have now as a vapor and a flower that quickly fades away. But in the resurrection the saints will be like the angels in heaven and will live forever.
Paul continues and says that we were sown in dishonor, but will be raised in glory. The word “dishonor” in Greek refers to infamy, shame, or disgrace. The word “glory” comes from the Greek doxa and according to Thayer’s refers to “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true [believers] shall enter after their Savior’s return from heaven.”
There’s just no comparison between our earthly bodies and the bodies that we’re going to receive at the resurrection if we prove faithful.
Paul also says that we were sown in weakness, but will be raised in power. The word “weakness” refers to feebleness of mind or body, while the word “power” refers to force or to something miraculous. Being spirit not only will death not exist, but neither will pain or disease.
Not only do we find a glimpse of what it will be like in the resurrection, but also see what it’s like for an angel in heaven.
Self-Inherent Immortality of Angels
As the above implies, the Bible shows that angels are immortal. Yahshua reveals this in Luke 20:34-36. “And Yahshua answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of Elohim, being the children of the resurrection.”
In this passage Yahshua is describing the first resurrection at the return or Second Coming, of Yahshua the Messiah, likely to happen on the Feast of Trumpets.
The angels will gather the saints from the four corners of this earth. The righteous dead will rise first, followed by the righteous living. Both will be changed from flesh to spirit.
Those in the resurrection will live forever, as immortal, no different from the angels in heaven. They will be called children or sons of Elohim and also sons of the resurrection.
Because they are immortal angels live forever. But because they are immortal can they still be destroyed? From prophecies pertaining to Satan the devil, we believe the answer is yes.
Ezekiel 28:18 prophesies that Satan will be turned into ashes. In the Greek Paul in Romans 16:20 says that Yahshua will bruise Satan under His feet, referring to a lopping off or to complete destruction. And as we see in Revelation 20:10, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire.
If Satan the devil, an anointed cherub according to Ezekiel 28:16, can be destroyed, reason would conclude that angels too can also be destroyed. What Yahweh creates He can also destroy.
Beings with Limited Knowledge
In addition to the appearance and existence of angels, many wonder whether angels have all knowledge. Matthew 24:36 verifies this is not the case: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
Yahshua is referring to His Second Coming and the first resurrection. We learn that no one knows the exact day or hour of His Coming and this includes angels. So we see that angels are limited in what they know.
But what about Satan the devil, does he have all knowledge? While Satan is a very powerful being, we don’t see in Scripture where he has all knowledge.
In fact, the above passage shows that the only one who knows the day and hour of Yahshua’s coming is Yahweh. This also implies that Yahshua Himself is limited in knowledge, but second to the Father.
Only Yahweh, our Father in heaven, is all-knowing and all-powerful. This is one reason we perceive that the Father and Son are two separate beings as opposed to what we see from the Oneness or Trinity beliefs.
John Told Not to Worship Angels
The Bible says that we are to avoid worshiping angels. Paul in Colossians 2:18 states, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Also, we see this from Revelation 22:8-9: “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship Elohim.”
In Revelation 22 the angel tells John of Patmos not to bow down to him. The reason was that the angel himself was a fellow servant.
Even though angels are on a higher plane than human beings, in many ways we serve the same role. We are all servants and deferential to our Heavenly Father.
More specifically, just as there are angelic messengers doing Yahweh’s will, we also see earthly messengers doing the same. In fact, the Hebrew word for angel simply means a messenger and can refer to human beings as such.
Let’s change focus now and consider the different roles of angels.
How Yahweh Uses Angels
As seen in Scripture, they mainly are messengers. The word angel comes from the Hebrew malak, literally meaning, “messenger.”
We see this in Matthew 1:18-21. “Now the birth of Yahshua Messiah was on this wise: When as his mother Miriam was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of Yahweh appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Miriam thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name YAHSHUA: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
All should be familiar with this passage. We see here an angel coming to Joseph regarding the birth of Yahshua the Messiah.
As an aside, we see here that Joseph was planning to divorce Miriam because of his belief that Miriam had been unfaithful, even though they were only espoused or engaged.
The Bible shows that engagement begins marriage. This is important because only during the engagement is divorce an option. As seen in Matthew 19, when two people have come together and consummated that marriage, man is not to separate what Yahweh has joined together. Romans 7:2 tells us that when this happens, we are bound together for life.
Returning to Matthew 1 we again see that an angel came to Joseph in a dream, told him not to fear, and to take Miriam as his wife. The angel explained that what was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. As we know, the birth of Yahshua the Messiah was not by man, but by the power of Almighty Yahweh.
As a side note, we also see here that an angel communicated to Joseph in a dream. So not only can angels communicate to us when we are awake or conscious, but also when we’re unconscious or asleep.
We can see many more instances like this one throughout Scripture. The use of angels as Yahweh’s messengers is recognized throughout the Old and New testaments.
In addition to serving as messengers, we also see angels protecting mankind. In 2Kings 6:15-17 we find a miracle involving Elisha and an angelic host: “And when the servant of the man of Elohim was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Yahweh, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
The Syrian army had entrapped Elisha in the city. In response to this threat, Elisha says something very powerful to his servant. He tells him not to fear and reveals in vision the overwhelming army of Yahweh. Obviously the horses and chariots of fire were angelic beings and they were there to protect Elisha from the Syrian army.
This is one of the few times we are given insight into the spirit realm. This also reveals that much of what we see in the physical seems to be an image of the spiritual. In this case, it appears there are horse-like creatures within the angelic sphere. In many ways it appears that the angelic realm is more like our physical realm than what we may realize. Even we were created in Yahweh’s image.
Guardians of Human Beings
Finally, the Bible seems to show that all human beings have guardian angels. We see this in Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15.
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 18:10.
Here Yahshua intimates that children have guardian angels as “their angels do always behold the face of my Father…” This appears to support the idea of guardian angels generally.
There is also evidence that even adults have guardian angels assigned to them. “And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel,” Acts 12:15. It was assumed that it was not Peter at the door, but his angel.
Clearly, Peter may have had a guardian angel. If Peter had a guardian angel it is possible that all adults or possibly all believers also have guardian angels.
In part two we will consider specific types of angelic beings, including cherubim, seraphim, and ophanim. We will also explore how Judaism defines the angelic hierarchy, along with some amazing examples of spirit beings found in Scripture
On the topic on Angels, we received a Q&A on the topic of Angels in Noah’s Time. Check it out here>>
While some may interpret the contents and conclusions of this article as anti-Semitic, this could not be further from the truth. Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry supports the nation of Israel and believes that the entire nation of Israel, including the traditional Temple Mount area, forthrightly belongs to the Jewish people. This article is only interested in the truth and how the facts impact Yahweh’s prophetic Word.
Many assume that the Temple Mount within the old city of Jerusalem is where the Jewish or Old Testament temple originally stood. However, what if this was not the case? What if the temple was located elsewhere? The truth could affect the location of a future third temple.
There is a theory gaining popularity that places the temple not on the traditional Temple Mount, but instead within the city of David. In this publication we explore several points of this theory, including the connection between the City of David and the biblical temple mount, the critical role of the Gihon Spring, the destruction to the temple and to the city of Jerusalem as prophesied by Yahshua and chronicled by antiquity, existence of Fortress Antonia, and much more.
This Theory’s Impact
However, before launching into the evidence supporting the temple as being located within the city of David, let us consider the importance of this theory. While this is not a salvational belief, it may have a far-reaching impact on prophecy.
The traditional Temple Mount contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Both of these buildings are sacred to Islam. For this reason it’s impossible today for the Jews to build a third temple on the Temple Mount. As a side note, Muslims call the Temple Mount the Haram esh-Sharif, meaning, “the Noble Sanctuary.”
While it may not be possible for the Jews to rebuild a temple on today’s Temple Mount (Matthew 24:15), nothing would hinder them from rebuilding within the City of David. However, for this to occur the Jews would also have to acknowledge that the current Temple Mount is not the location of the temple. Considering that the Temple Mount and its Wailing Wall, which is believed to be the outer western wall to the ancient temple, is the holiest site in Judaism, such acceptance would not be easy.
For the Jews to accept that the temple was not on the Temple Mount, but instead within the city of David, evidence would have to be found so conclusive that even the most ardent Jew could not reject this realization. While this may never happen, considering the current excavations occurring within the city of David, the thought of such evidence being found is within the realm of possibility.
Reviewing the Geography
In the picture Above we can see several important geographical features, including the Mount of Olives, the traditional Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley, the Central Valley, the Gihon Spring, and the current site for the city of David. Below is additional information on each of these locations:
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. At one point it had olive trees covering its slopes. Today there is a Jewish cemetery with approximately 150,000 graves. This mountain ridge was a significant location during Yahshua’s ministry. It was the place where He delivered His Olivet Prophecy and where He retreated hours before His death in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The traditional Temple Mount is where many believe the Jewish temple once stood. Both the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock reside on the traditional Temple Mount.
The Kidron Valley separates Jerusalem, including the city of David and the traditional Temple Mount, from the Mount of Olives. This valley continues east through the Judean Desert and toward the Dead Sea.
The Central Valley, also called the Tyropoeon Valley and the Valley of the Cheesemakers, is a rugged ravine on the west side of the City of David or the ancient city of Jerusalem and marks its western boundary, as the Kidron Valley does on the east.
The Gihon Spring is along the Kidron Valley near the ancient City of David. The name “Gihon” comes from the Hebrew gihu, meaning, “gushing forth.” It is one of the world’s largest intermittent springs and made life possible for ancient Jerusalem. While the water from the spring was used for irrigation in the Kidron, it was also central to temple worship. We will explore the Gihon further in this publication.
(The lookout above is approximately where the temple would have stood. City of David, Jerusalem)
The City of David is the location for the ancient Jebusite city that David conquered and renamed the City of David or Jerusalem. It is approximately 12 acres in size. It begins at the Millo (i.e., a ravine that separated the City of David from the Ophel, which Solomon filled in during his reign) and extends southward.
Today the City of David is an Israeli national park and a major archaeological site. Archaeologists have discovered many subterranean tunnels, reservoirs, and possibly an ancient room that was used for animal sacrifices. Also discovered beneath the City of David is Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Gihon Spring. On the southwest side of the city is the Pool of Siloam.
City of the David = Zion
We begin our investigating of the real temple mount by turning to the Bible. As with so many other truths, Yahweh’s Word holds the key in unlocking the truth as to where the original temple stood. Following is a compilation of Scripture confirming that the City of David and Mount Zion (i.e., the location of the temple) are synonymous:
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David,” 2Samuel 5:7. This passage clearly states that Zion and the city of David are the same. This point is critically important, as Scripture also shows that Mount Zion was the location of the temple.
“And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David,” 1Chronicles 11:5. As noted in the previous passage, 1Chronicles 11 confirms that Zion is also the City of David. The word “castle” here comes from the Hebrew matsuwd and refers to a place of defense. Because Jebus was located between the Kidron and Central valleys, it was a well defensible area.
“In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion,” Psalm 76:2. The word “Salem” derives from the Hebrew shalem. Strong’s states that this word is “an early name of Jerusalem.” This passage is critically important, as it shows a connection between the ancient City of David, the temple, and Zion and offers indisputable evidence for the temple location within ancient Jerusalem and not on the Haram esh-Sharif, or Temple Mount.
Remember that the old City of David was only a 12-acre plot of land between the Kidron and Central valleys. It did not include the 36-acre Temple Mount located a third of a mile north. The current Temple Mount platform was developed much later.
Using only the Bible as a roadmap and knowing the location for the ancient City of David, a strong case can be made that the temple was within the City of David and not on today’s Temple Mount. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
The Akra, Millo, and Ophel
When it comes to the location of the temple, there are three terms to understand – the Akra, Millo, and Ophel. The Akra was another name of the City of David. The Millo was a ravine that King Solomon filled in. And the Ophel is where the temple was likely located.
In 2Samuel 5:9 we find a description of the boundaries of ancient Jerusalem during the reign of King David: “So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.”
The word “fort” refers to the impregnability of the City of David. This was owing to its location between the Kidron and Tyropoeon valleys. We see that David built his city from the Millo inward. This ravine separated ancient Jerusalem from the Ophel.
Scripture shows that Solomon later filled in this ravine: “And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father,” 1Kings 11:27.
The word “repaired” here comes from the Hebrew cagar and is a primitive root, meaning, “to shut up,” Strong’s. By filling in the Millo, Solomon connected the City of David with the Ophel.
This is why Psalm 122:3 describes Jerusalem as a city “compact together.” The word “compact” comes from the Hebrew chabar and according to Strong’s means to “join.” When Solomon filled in the Millo, he enlarged the City of David by joining it with the Ophel.
According to 1Maccabees 13:52, the Ophel is the location of the temple. The KJV with Apocrypha reads, “…Moreover the hill of the temple that was by the tower he made stronger than it was, and there he dwelt himself with his company.” As a secondary reference, the Catholic Study Bible states, “…He also strengthened the fortifications of the temple mount alongside the citadel, and he and his people dwelt there.”
Even though Maccabees is not considered inspired or part of the canon of Scripture, it still offers invaluable historical insight during the time of the Maccabees and Hasmoneans.
This citation says the biblical temple mount or “temple hill” was located alongside the tower or citadel. This is conclusive evidence that the temple was alongside the City of David. This also places the biblical Temple Mount approximately a third of a mile south of the traditional Temple Mount.
Temple Built Over a Threshing Floor
Another biblical clue to the location of the temple is the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, found in 2Chronicles 3:1, “Then Solomon began to build the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where Yahweh appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
The mention here of Mount Moriah is important. As Zion was synonymous with the City of David, Zion was also synonymous with the location of the temple, i.e., Mount Moriah. Therefore, the Bible connects the City of David, Zion, and Mount Moriah.
The threshing floor where Solomon built the temple belonged to a Jebusite. This fact suggests that it was likely within the borders of the Jebusite city. So, this would place the threshing floor within the City of David and not on today’s Temple Mount. Remember that what is called the Temple Mount today is a third of a mile from the ancient Jebusite city.
(Example of a threshing floor at Jorge Island, Azores)
A threshing floor was an area where farmers would separate the grain from the straw and husks. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia states, “The threshing-floors are constructed in the fields, preferably in an exposed position in order to get the full benefit of the winds. If there is a danger of marauders they are clustered together close to the village. The floor is a level, circular area 25 to 40 ft. in diameter, prepared by first picking out the stones, and then wetting the ground, tamping or rolling it, and finally sweeping it. A border of stones usually surrounds the floor to keep in the grain. The sheaves of grain which have been brought on the backs of men, donkeys, camels, or oxen, are heaped on this area, and the process of tramping out begins. In some localities several animals, commonly oxen or donkeys, are tied abreast and driven round and round the floor. In other places two oxen are yoked together to a drag, the bottom of which is studded with pieces of basaltic stone. This drag, on which the driver, and perhaps his family, sits or stands, is driven in a circular path over the grain.”
The surface of a threshing floor had to be flat, smooth, and hard to allow oxen to tread the grain. It must also be in a location where there would be sufficient wind to separate the grain. This is key as it pertains to the temple.
Most believe that Ornan’s threshing floor was under the Dome of Rock on the traditional Temple Mount. The problem is, as seen in the photo Below, the rocky floor of the Dome of the Rock is not flat or even. This fact alone makes it highly unlikely this area served as a threshing floor.
Since the Temple Mount location is the highest of the three hills when compared to the City of David and Ophel, many claim that with the wind conditions the threshing floor would be better suited on the Temple Mount. While it’s true that the elevation of the traditional Temple Mount is higher than the City of David and Ophel, such elevation is not mandatory as the wind blows everywhere.
Jagged and uneven rock floor inside the Dome of the Rock – how can this be a threshing floor?
Another issue with the threshing floor being located on the traditional Temple Mount is that threshing floors were prone to thievery. “Threshing-floors are in danger of being robbed (1Sam 23:1). For this reason, someone always sleeps on the floor until the grain is removed (Ruth 3:7). In Syria, at the threshing season, it is customary for the family to move out to the vicinity of the threshing-floor. A booth is constructed for shade; the mother prepares the meals and takes her turn with the father and children at riding on the sledge,” Ibid, Threshing-Floor.
Does it make sense that Ornan and his family would place their threshing floor a third of a mile from the “fort”? Keep in mind that during this time the traditional Temple Mount contained no walls or defense. It was completely open to attack. It is far more likely that Ornan’s threshing floor was within the confines of the old Jebusite city and not on an unguarded hill a third of a mile away.
The Gihon Spring and Necessity of Water
One of the most compelling reasons for the temple being located within the City of David is the location of the Gihon Spring. This spring sits along the Kidron Valley near the ancient City of David. The Gihon is one of the world’s largest intermittent springs and made life possible for ancient Jerusalem. While the water from the spring was used for irrigation in the Kidron, it was also central to temple worship.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary speaks to the ancient and modern history of this famous spring, “The intermittent spring that constituted Jerusalem’s most ancient water supply, situated in the Kidron Valley just below the eastern hill (Ophel). This abundant source of water was entirely covered over and concealed from outside the walls and was conducted by a specially built conduit to a pool within the walls where a besieged city could get all the water it needed. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find abundant water?’ the people queried in the time of Hezekiah (2 Chron 32:2-4). Hezekiah’s Tunnel, 1,777 feet long, hewn out of the solid rock and comparable to the tunnels at Megiddo and Gezer, conducted the water to a reservoir within the city. From the top of Ophel the ancient Jebusites (c. 2000 B.C.) had cut a passage through the rock where waterpots could be let down a 40-foot shaft to receive the water in the pool 50 feet back from the Gihon. Early excavations at Jerusalem by the Palestine Exploration Fund under the direction of Sir Charles Warren (1867) resulted in finding the 40-foot rock-cut shaft. It is now known as Warren’s Shaft. Conrad Shick in 1891 discovered an ancient surface canal that conveyed water from the Gihon Spring to the old pool of Siloam, located just within the SE extremity of the ancient city. Isaiah seems to have alluded to the softly flowing waters of this gentle brook when he spoke poetically of ‘the gently flowing waters of Shiloah’ (Isa 8:6),” “Gihon.”
Without the Gihon there would have been no Jebusite city for David to conquer. Jerusalem today would likely not exist without this spring. The Gihon Spring is just east of the Ophel, which joins the ancient city of David. Knowing that the Gihon is the only major water source in Jerusalem, does it make sense that Israel would have built their temple on the traditional Temple Mount a third of a mile away from their only water source?
This is especially perplexing considering the thousands of animals that Israel sacrificed on the Sabbath and annual Feast days for which thousands of gallons of water would have been needed then and daily.
History says that Rome built aqueducts from Bethlehem to the Temple Mount. While this theoretically could have provided a water source for Herod’s temple, it could not have for Solomon’s. So while there is evidence for ancient reservoirs beneath the traditional Temple Mount dating to the time of Rome, there is no evidence of a water source prior to Rome’s rule. This presents a real problem for the traditional Temple Mount site.
Ancient Witnesses to Temple Location
History speaks of 70 Jewish families who relocated from Tiberius to Jerusalem in the 7th century CE. Tiberius is located in northern Israel along the Sea of Galilee. Reuvin Hammer, in his book Jerusalem Anthology, describes this relocation: “Omar decreed that seventy households should come. They agreed to that. After that he asked: ‘Where do you wish to live within the city?’ They replied, ‘In the southern section of the city, which is the market of the Jews.’ Their request was to enable them to be near the site of the Temple and its gates, as well as to the water of Shiloah, which could be used for immersion. This was granted them by Omar, the Emir of the Believers.”
Omar was the companion of Mohammed and the second caliph or Islamic leader in Islam.
Several important points need to be made here. These Jewish families insisted on the southern section of the city, near the Pool of Siloam. There is only one section of Jerusalem that is in the southern portion and contains the Pool of Siloam and that is the ancient City of David.
According to these Jewish families, this was also the area where the temple once stood. This is hard evidence for the temple location within the City of David and not on the traditional Temple Mount. This author also states that the water from the Pool of Siloam could be used for immersions, which would have included ceremonial washings. That water source was the Gihon Spring.
The fact that water from the Gihon could be used for ceremonial purposes verifies that not all water was equal. It also adds credence to the importance of the Gihon for temple worship. Again this begs the question why the Jews would have built their temple so far from their only water source. Such an idea seems completely preposterous.
A Gushing Spring
The smoking gun for the temple as it relates to the Gihon Spring is eyewitness testimony of a spring-like reservoir within the temple precincts. Two men provide evidence for this.
The first eyewitness to confirm this fact is a man named Aristeas, a Jew who lived during the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. Eusebius, the 4th century church historian, records his account.
“There is an inexhaustible reservoir of water, as would be expected from an abundant spring gushing up naturally from within; there being moreover wonderful and indescribable cisterns underground, of five furlongs, according to their showing, all around the foundation of the Temple, and countless pipes from them, so that the streams on every side met together. And all these have been fastened with lead at the bottom of the side-walls, and over these has been spread a great quantity of plaster, all having been carefully wrought,” Eusebius’ recording of Aristeas, chapter 38.
Aristeas was an eyewitness to the temple location from the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. This was not Herod’s temple, but the temple of Ezra and Nehemiah. Aristeas said that there was an “inexhaustible reservoir of water, as would be expected from an abundant spring gushing up naturally from within.”
The only spring within Jerusalem is the Gihon. If what this eyewitness said is true, the only possible location for the Temple would be within the City of David and above the Gihon Spring.
Remarkably, Aristeas is not the only eyewitness of a spring-like reservoir within the temple area. Tacitus, a Roman historian dating to the 2nd century CE, describes a similar account. He states, “The temple resembled a citadel, and had its own walls, which were more laboriously constructed than the others. Even the colonnades with which it was surrounded formed an admirable outwork. It contained an inexhaustible spring; there were subterranean excavations in the hill, and tanks and cisterns for holding rainwater. The founders of the state had foreseen that frequent wars would result from the singularity of its customs, and so had made very provision against the most protracted siege,” The History of Tacitus, p. 199.
Before describing what Tacitus saw, it should be noted that this man lived nearly 400 years after Aristeas and was not a Jew, but a Roman. He would have also been referring to Herod’s temple and not to the temple during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. However, even with these differences, both men refer to an inexhaustible spring within the temple. Again, the only spring they refer to is the Gihon, as the only spring and major water source within the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Tacitus also describes subterranean excavations or tunnels in the hill along with cisterns for holding rainwater. There are many subterranean tunnels and cisterns within the City of David. The sheer size and number of tunnels is astonishing. This provides additional credibility to the ancient City of David and not the traditional Temple Mount.
Along with these eyewitness accounts, Joel 3:18 provides a prophetic description of the future temple and shows similar evidence of a spring. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine,and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of Yahweh, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”
This is a future prophecy of the temple within the millennial Kingdom. Joel confirms here that a fountain will spring forth from underneath the temple, i.e., house of Yahweh. Not only do we have ancient eyewitness testimonies that the temple contained a spring-like reservoir gushing up from underneath the temple precincts, but a similar account is also provided by the prophet Joel as to the future temple.
These facts present a real problem for those who claim that the temple was on the traditional Temple Mount. The only way to reconcile the accounts from Aristeas, Tacitus, and the Book of Joel is to relocate the temple from the traditional Temple Mount to the Ophel, near the Gihon Spring.
Not One Stone Left on Another
Possibly the greatest evidence for the temple’s real location are in the prophecies spoken by Yahshua the Messiah. “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Yahshua answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down,” Mark 13:1-2.
Mark 13, along with Matthew 24 and Luke 21, is known as the Olivet Prophecy. This passage begins with a disciple admiring the stones of the temple. In response, Yahshua said that these great buildings would be torn down with not one stone remaining.
Yahshua used the word “buildings.” Many who believe that the temple was located on the traditional Temple Mount will contend that Yahshua was referring only to the inner sanctuary and not to the entire temple complex. They do this to explain why the western wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, still stands.
This wall is the holiest site in Judaism. Tradition says that this wall was part of the outer western wall of Herod’s Temple. As a side note there’s debate as to whether this wall was even built by Herod. Eli Shukron, an archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, found a coin at the base of the Wailing Wall dating back to around 18 CE, 20 years after King Herod. Based on this, this wall was likely not built by King Herod, but by Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson.
When Yahshua gave this prophecy, Mark 13 records that He and the disciples were on the Mount of Olives looking back to the temple. From this location He would have viewed not only the inner sanctuary of the temple, but the entire temple precincts. With this in mind, along with the fact that He uses the word “buildings,” it seems unlikely that He was referring only to the inner sanctuary. It is far more probable that He was referring to the entire temple platform, which would have included the outer western wall. And remember, He stated that not one stone would remain upon another. Based on this prophecy and the known facts, how is it possible that the Wailing Wall remains today? There is no satisfactory explanation. Either Yahshua exaggerated or the Temple Mount is not the location of the ancient temple and this wall belongs to something else entirely.
Antiquity Supports Destruction
In addition to Yahshua’s prophecy, there is extensive evidence from antiquity to the destruction of the temple. Both Jewish and Christian sources confirm similar ruin. In fact, not only do they validate what Yahshua stated, but do so in a manner that verifies the destruction included not only the inner sanctuary, but also the entire platform, with the outer walls. One of the most well-known accounts is by Flavius Josephus.
Josephus lived between 37 and 100 CE and is one of the most renowned scholars and historians of the first century. He lived before and after the temple was destroyed. Therefore, this man
Flavius Josephus 37–100 CE
provides invaluable firsthand testimony of this destruction. Josephus in War of the Jews recounts, “I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy city demolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our Holy Temple dug up, after so profane a manner” (Book VII, ch. 8).
The reference to “profane” here verifies that the Romans had no reverence for the temple. Even more importantly, Josephus states the foundation stones themselves were dug up and removed. Based on this extreme destruction, it’s hard to believe that Rome would have allowed the foundation stones of the current Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall to remain standing.
Evidence for the destruction of the entire temple platform is also found from Epiphanius of Salamis, a fourth century bishop in Cyprus. In his work, On Weights and Measures, he testifies to this destruction. “It was the second year of his reign when he [Hadrian] went up to Jerusalem, the famous and much-praised city which had been destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. He found it utterly destroyed and God’s Holy Temple a ruin, there being nothing where the city had stood but a few dwellings and one small church,” pp. 17-18.
Epiphanius records the eyewitness account of Emperor Hadrian. He states that Hadrian visited Jerusalem two years into his reign, approximately 119 CE. When he arrived, he was amazed at the devastation the city suffered under the Roman General Titus. He confirms that the temple was in ruins and that Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. Considering this, is it reasonable to believe that Titus would have allowed the foundations of the Temple Mount along with a large portion of the western wall to remain? This is highly unlikely. Another who provides insight into the temple’s destruction is Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius lived during the fourth century and was a historian, scholar, and bishop of Caesarea Maritima. He is one of the most well-known historians of the early church. In his work, Proof of the Gospel, he states the following: “Mount Sion was burned and left utterly desolate, and the Mount of the House of God became as a grove of the wood. If our own observation has any value, we have seen in our own time Sion once so famous ploughed with yokes of oxen by the Romans and utterly devastated, and Jerusalem as the oracle says, deserted like a lodge”
(Bk. VI, ch.13, sect. 273).
1910 aerial view of Jerusalem. The City of David is literally farm land.
Eusebius laments how such a place could have been so devastated that it was reduced to a plot of farmland where the oxen ploughed. Considering this description from Eusebius, is it realistic to believe that the foundation stones along with the western wall of the current Temple Mount were intact after the invasion of the Roman army? As we saw from Josephus and Epiphanius, such a conclusion is nearly impossible to draw. Later in this same work, Eusebius states, “The hill called Sion and Jerusalem, the buildings there, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else there was dedicated to the glory of God, [has] been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfillment of the Word” (Book VIII, ch.3, sect. 405). Eusebius states that the total destruction included the temple, the Holy of Holies, and all that was considered holy–hence the entire temple complex, including the outer walls. Eusebius astoundingly states, “Their ancient holy place, at any rate, and their Temple are to this day as much destroyed as Sodom” (Ibid, Book V, ch.23, sect. 250). Eusebius compares the destruction of the temple to the devastation of Sodom in the Old Testament. During our 2016 pilgrimage to Israel we visited what many believe is the ancient city of Gomorrah. As we know, Gomorrah suffered the same fate as Sodom.
As can be seen below in the image of Gomorrah, nothing remains of this ancient city, now reduced to rubble. Except for ash and a few remaining sulfur balls, Gomorrah today is a wasteland. Assuming that Eusebius was not exaggerating, is it possible that the Roman army left the foundation of the temple and Wailing Wall unscathed? Doubtful.
Jerusalem Itself Razed
In addition to the temple, Yahshua also prophesied a similar fate for the city of Jerusalem. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had
only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another,’” Luke 19:41-44, NIV.
Possible sight of Gomorrah, near Masada
Yahshua’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction was fulfilled. It’s amazing how history validates the Bible. Archaeology and scholarship have overwhelmingly confirmed the accuracy of the Bible.
Similar to what Yahshua said about the temple, He says here regarding Jerusalem. He verifies that not one stone would be left upon another. And as we know through antiquity, Jerusalem’s destruction was so great that the city was hardly identifiable.
According to Josephus in Wars of the Jews, “And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor if anyone that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again” (Book VI. ch.1).
Rome’s destruction of the city made Jerusalem unrecognizable. This once grand city had been reduced to rubble. Josephus describes the city as “desolate.” He goes on to say that even those who were familiar with the city would not have known it after Rome’s destruction.
Knowing that the temple was the central focus of Jerusalem, how is it possible to reconcile this description with the remaining foundation of the traditional Temple Mount and the western wall? Considering that these objects would have been well known and easily identifiable, how is it possible that even those who were familiar with the city before would not have recognized it afterward?
Josephus also describes this destruction in Book VVI, chapter 7, “As he came to Jerusalem in his progress, and compared the melancholy condition he saw it then in, with the ancient glory of the city with the greatness of its present ruins (as well as its ancient splendor). He could not but pity the destruction of the city … Yet there was no small quantity of the riches that had been in that city still found among the ruins, a great deal of which the Romans dug up; but the greatest part was discovered by those who were captives, and so they [the Romans] carried it away; I mean the gold and the silver, and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had, and which the owners had treasured up under ground against the uncertainties of war,” Ibid.
Not only was the entire city of Jerusalem destroyed, but much of it was dug up. After Jerusalem fell to the Romans, the army began looking for valuables, including gold and silver. To hide many of these valuables, many Jews buried them. So not only was the city completely demolished, but they also excavated the very foundation stones, including within the temple precincts, looking for plunder. This confirms Yahshua’s prophecy that not one stone would remain, including the foundation stones. Based on this, it’s hard to fathom how anything substantial would have remained within the city or temple platform, especially considering the ornateness of the temple. It’s likely that the temple was ground zero for many of these Romans who desecrated the holy place for personal gain.
In addition to the Jewish historian Josephus, we also find evidence for Jerusalem’s destruction from the early church. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century bishop and Nicene Father, also gives an account of Jerusalem’s desolation, “Up to the time of the manifestation of Christ the royal palaces in Jerusalem were in all their splendor: there was their far-famed Temple, … [but now] no traces even of their Temple can be recognized, and their splendid city has been left in ruins, so that there remains to the Jews nothing of the ancient institutions; while by the command of those who rule over them the very ground of Jerusalem which they so venerated is forbidden to them,” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, p. 940.
Gregory of Nyssa states that no traces of the temple were left. We know that the Temple Mount foundation along with the Wailing Wall existed during the fourth century. How is it possible that such prominent landmarks were missed? How is it possible that no traces of the temple remained if large portions of the foundation and walls of the temple remained? The logical answer is, what is called the Temple Mount today is not the location of the temple.
South end of the Western Wall.
The Remaining Monument a Roman Wall
We find a clue as to what the Temple Mount was from Josephus in Wars of the Jews. He states, “And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but that monument of it preserved, I mean the camp of those that hath destroyed it” (Book 7, ch. 8).
Josephus, quoting Eleazar Ben Ya’ir, commander and leader of the Sicarii, painted a dreadful picture of the ancient city of Jerusalem. He described how the once crown jewel of the Jewish nation had been demolished down to its very foundation and how only one monument remained, i.e., the camp.
What camp was Josephus referring to? From a historical standpoint, the only possible answer is Fortress Antonia. This was the Roman camp or fort that existed during the time of the Messiah and after the destruction of Jerusalem. So according to Josephus, the only substantial structure that remained after Rome’s demolition of Jerusalem was this Roman fort. Everything else within the city was demolished.
Where was Fortress Antonia located? The only plausible answer is the traditional Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are located. Again, Josephus confirms that the only remaining structure was the Roman fort and there is only one major structure that still exists today within the city of Jerusalem from that time period – the traditional Temple Mount platform. This means that the current Temple Mount along with the Wailing Wall was not part of the temple, but of Fortress Antonia.
Before we go any further with Fortress Antonia, let’s first review the Roman Tenth Legion.
Rome’s Tenth Legion Stationed There
From newhistorian.com we learn about the location and history of this military power: “Bricks from the bathhouse were stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion, which was part of the takeover of Jewish Yerushalayim. Its soldiers were garrisoned there until 300 CE. The Tenth Roman Legion (Legio X Fretensis) was created by Augustus Caesar between 41 and 40 BCE, specifically to fight in the civil war which marked the beginning of the end of the Republic of Rome. The tenth legion existed until at least the 410’s,” Reminders of the Tenth Roman Legion Unearthed in Jerusalem.
A key fact is that the Roman Tenth Legion was an actual legion, coming from the Latin legio. We’ll see later why this is important. We also find here that the Tenth Legion was stationed in Jerusalem until about 300 CE and existed until the 410s. Long after Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Romans, the Tenth Legion remained there for nearly 200 years.
Imperial Roman legionaries in formation
A Legion Is Like a City French author, Yann Le Bohec, describes the number and complexity of a typical Roman camp: “With almost 5000 men, a legionary camp was the equivalent of a town. Consequently everything that was essential for the daily life of such a community — hospital, stores, workshops, baths, as well as public lavatories — was to be found,” The Imperial Roman Army, p. 160.
Besides the 5,000 men was the support staff. According to some, a support staff would have added several thousand more. A legionary camp was equivalent to an average town, including stores, workshops, baths, and many other necessities.
The Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature states, “The legion appears to have originally contained about 3000 men, and to have risen gradually to twice that number, or even more. In and about the time of Christ it seems to have consisted of 6000 men, and this was exclusive of horsemen, who usually formed an additional body amounting. to one tenth of the infantry,” Vol. V, “Legion,” p. 329.
In all, a typical Roman legion could have had as many as 10,000 people.
Now why is this number important? It verifies that the current model of Fortress Antonia as shown by scholarship could not be right. As seen in the model of Fortress Antonia as displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, it would be impossible to accommodate more than a few hundred troops (see image page 25).
So how does scholarship explain this discrepancy? Many claim that the Roman Tenth Legion was not a legion, but a cohort, containing about 600 men. There are two issues with this: (1) By definition, the Tenth Legion was not a cohort, but a legion, coming from the Latin Legio X Fretensis, meaning, “Tenth legion of the Strait” and 2) a typical legionary camp or fortress was the size of a city. Therefore, based on this evidence, the traditional model at the Israel Museum is likely incorrect.
Recreation of the legionary fortress of Deva. Notice how small the amphitheater looks in comparison
Besides the inaccuracies we have already seen, Josephus, an eyewitness to this Roman fortress, provides several important facts that modern scholarship seems to overlook.
First, Josephus states in Antiquities of the Jews, “Now on the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel was built by the Kings of the Asamonean race, who were also High Priests, before Herod; and they called it the tower…But for the tower itself, when Herod the King of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius; who was his friend, and the Roman ruler; and then gave it the name of the tower of Antonia” (Book XV, ch.11).
Thirty-six acre Harem El Sharif, originally Fortress Antonia
Josephus further provides somewhat of a lengthy but crucial description of Fortress Antonia in War of the Jews: “Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two cloisters of the court of the Temple; of that on the west, and that on the north. It was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a great precipice. It was the work of King Herod, wherein he demonstrated his natural magnanimity. In the first place, the rock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it. Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits. The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be composed of several cities.
By its magnificence it seemed a palace. And as the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high, that from thence the whole Temple might be viewed, but on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the Temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion) went several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make any innovations; for the Temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the Temple, and in that tower were the guards of those three. There was also a peculiar fortress belonging to the upper city, which was Herod’s palace, but for the hill Bezetha, it was divided from the tower Antonia, as we have already told you, and as that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three, so did it adjoin to the new city, and was the only place that hindered the sight of the Temple on the north.” (Book 5, ch.8).
We learn a great deal from these two accounts from Josephus. Below is a summary highlighting the major or crucial points:
• Fortress Antonia was originally a fortress built by the Hasmoneans, i.e., Maccabees.
• Herod further fortified the fortress to protect the temple and gave it the name “Fortress Antonia” in honor of Mark Anthony.
• The temple and Fortress Antonia were connected by two cloisters, i.e., covered bridges, (Wars VI, 2, 144 confirms this distance at 600 feet).
• A typical Roman fortress contained all kinds of conveniences (e.g. courts,
places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps), similar to an actual city.
• Fortress Antonia had four distinct towers at its four corners measuring 50
cubits (75 feet), except for the southeast corner, which measured 70 cubits (105
feet) high, from which the temple could be viewed.
• Fortress Antonia housed the Tenth Roman Legion, of approximately 6,000
• As the temple was to guard Jerusalem, Fortress Antonia was to guard the
• Fortress Antonia was located on the highest of the three hills.
• Looking from the north, Fortress Antonia blocked the view of the temple.
Several points here are inconsistent with the model at the Israel Museum in
Jerusalem. (See below.)
Missing Connectors and Hills
Josephus mentions two covered bridges that connected the temple and Fortress Antonia. No such bridges exist in the Avi-Yona model at the Israel Museum. Also, the description of the fort resembling a city and housing a 6,000-man army does not fit the current model, as it is far too small. We also find inconsistencies with the towers. The towers depicted on the model have four equal-length towers, while Josephus clearly states that the tower overlooking the temple was 25 additional cubits. He also stated that the fort obscured or blocked the view of the temple from the north. This is certainly not depicted by the model. Another major problem between the model and Josephus’ account is the fact that the fortress was on the third highest hill.
Neither of these last two points is depicted by the model at the Israel Museum. However, if the temple was within the City of David on the Ophel, and Fortress Antonia was on the Temple Mount or the Haram esh-Sharif, everything falls into place. When you survey the City of David, the Ophel, and the Temple Mount area, the Temple Mount area is on the third highest hill and also obscures the Ophel and the City of David from the north.
Roman siege camp F can still be seen today from Masada, Israel
Roman Fortresses Built Alike Another indication for the traditional Temple Mount being the location of Fortress Antonia is the fact that it shares similar dimensions with other legionary camps. The Temple Mount platform is 36 acres in size with the eastern wall measuring 1,541 feet, the southern wall measuring 918 feet, the western wall measuring 1,601 feet, and the northern wall measuring 1,033 feet. While the Temple Mount resembles a rectangle, it is in fact a trapezoid.
This shape is similar to other Roman forts. For example, there is a Roman fortress in Caerleon, Wales, dating to 75 CE. It measures a total of 50 acres. It is believed that this particular fort housed the Second Roman Legion, of approximately 5,500 men.
Another is in Neuss, Germany, dating to 80 CE. The size is 59 acres and possibly housed the Nineteenth Roman Legion. There are remains of a Roman fort from Haltern, Germany, with a total size of 85 acres. It’s thought this fort housed two Roman legions.
The size and shape of these Roman fortresses strongly resemble the area known as the Temple Mount. Could this only be coincidence? It is highly doubtful. It is far more likely that these similarities offer additional evidence for the Temple Mount platform being the location of Fortress Antonia. One fact is certain: the model at the Israel Museum does not fit the description from Josephus or what archaeology confirms regarding a Roman fort or legionary camp.
The Paul Dilemma
A final piece of evidence for the Temple Mount being the location of Fortress Antonia comes from the 23rd chapter of Acts. “The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks…Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, ‘Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight,’” vv. 10, 23, NIV.
Due to a dispute caused partially by Paul, the Romans were forced to fetch Paul from the temple to the barracks, i.e., Fortress Antonia. Notice that the men who retrieved Paul came DOWN from the barracks to the temple. This shows that the Roman fortress was at a higher elevation than the temple and verifies Josephus’ account that Fortress Antonia was on the third highest of the three hills.
We also see here that Rome provided two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to escort Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea, a total of 470 men. Again, some theorize that the Tenth Legion was not a legion, but a cohort. In other words, they claim that instead of 6,000 men, Fortress Antonia housed only 600 men.
Knowing that Rome provided Paul with 470 men, is it reasonable to assume that the Roman Tenth Legion consisted of only a cohort? If true, this means that they gave 78 percent of their military force to escort one man and leaving only 22 percent to guard the entire city of Jerusalem. This is highly improbable! However, assuming that the Tenth Roman Legion was an actual legion of 6,000 men, 470 men is possible, especially because Paul was a Roman citizen.
While this theory of the temple’s actual location is not salvational, it is a belief that may hold a crucial key to future prophecy. The Bible is clear that a third temple will be rebuilt before Yahshua’s coming.
Yahshua in Matthew 24:15 states, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:).” The phrase “holy place” is an allusion to the Holy of Holies within the temple.
Paul also describes a temple in 2Thessalonians 2:3-4: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called Elohim, or that is worshipped; so
that he as Elohim sitteth in the temple of Elohim, shewing himself that he is Elohim.” Paul clearly states here that the son of perdition or anti-messiah will sit in a temple exalting himself as elohim or as a god to be worshiped.
As a final reference, John of Patmos in Revelation 11:1-2 records, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of Elohim, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” John not only confirms here a temple, but also describes the outer court.
Based on this and the two previous accounts, there is little doubt that a third temple will be rebuilt prior to the return of Yahshua the Messiah. Assuming that the temple was originally located within the City of David, as indicated by the evidence, and Jewish scholarship accepted this conclusion, this could radically impact future prophecy.
It is for this reason that this theory is important. While many are looking to the traditional Temple Mount as the location for the third temple, the actual location may be elsewhere. If this is the case, as seems to be supported by Scripture and antiquity, and is ever accepted by the Jews, this could provide an alternate location for the temple and shock millions in the process.
In our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land we visited Tel Dan, an ancient city in the northeast corner of Israel. It was originally called Leshem and Laish. After the Philistines forced the tribe of Dan from central Israel, they relocated to this area and renamed it Tel Dan. Along with the city of Bethel it was here where Jeroboam placed and worshiped the golden calf.
Where the alter would have stood at Tel Dan.
This account is found in the 12th chapter of 1Kings: “Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their sovereign, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah,” verses 25-27.
Jeroboam compromised out of fear– he was afraid of losing the people, his position, and in the end his life. He realized that if the people went back to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh that they would also return to Rehoboam. For Jeroboam this wasn’t something he could bear. So how did he prevent it from happening?
Beginning with verse 28: “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy mighty ones, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi,” vv. 28-31.
Jeroboam did the unthinkable; he made two idols for Israel to worship. To prevent the people from going back to Rehoboam, Jeroboam compromised Yahweh’s worship.
Amazingly, we still find this being done today. For 2,000 years the Church has compromised worship for self-preservation, numbers, and other self-seeking interests. As shown through history, it’s very hard for mankind to remove self from the equation and to simply follow Yahweh as He commands.
Even believers are susceptible to such compromise. This is why we must always be on guard against false doctrine and the traditions of man. When we do it Yahweh’s way, sacrifices will be made. While some are willing and able to do this, the reality is that most are not.
Beyond the idols Jeroboam also made priests of the lowest of the people. As for the qualifications of ministers, the Bible says that they must meet a high standard. In 1Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, the Apostle Paul says that a bishop or elder must be blameless. James in his epistle also states that ministers will receive the heavier condemnation or judgment.
Where the King’s throne sat at the city entrance. (2 Kings 23:8)
Consequently, one of the worst things we can do is to compromise leadership, as did Jeroboam. This compromise will negatively impact the body of Messiah. As goes the leadership, so goes the assembly. For this reason we must ensure that our worship and those who minister before us meet the standards of our Father’s Word.
Continuing on, we find that Jeroboam made one more fatal mistake. “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense,” verses 32-33.
In addition to setting up idols and making priests of those unqualified, he also changed Yahweh’s worship. Instead of observing the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month, he moved it to the eighth month. The people worshiped on a day that Yahweh never appointed. In other words, instead of doing it Yahweh’s way, they did it man’s way.
The sad reality is, we find many cases of apostasy in today’s worship, including: Sunday worship, man’s holidays (e.g. Easter, Halloween, Christmas), Trinity, Rapture, and the list goes on. The Bible shows that Yahshua and His Apostles observed the true seventh-day Sab-bath along with the annual Feast days, as appointed and as established by Yahweh. Like Jeroboam, the Church com-promised the truth from the beginning, and for 2,000 years since.
This is why we at YRM strive to strip away the traditions of man and to simply worship Yahweh according to His Word. We all have a choice; we can follow the example of Jeroboam and compromise our Father’s worship or we can worship Him as He commands.
What many don’t realize is that Jeroboam’s compromise began with Solomon’s negligence, as seen in 1Kings 11:4-9: “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other mighty ones: and his heart was not perfect with Yahweh his Elohim, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the elohim of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and went not fully after Yahweh, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their mighty ones. And Yahweh was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from Yahweh Elohim of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.”
When Solomon took the throne he was humbled and sincerely desired to follow Yahweh. He prayed to Yahweh for wisdom. Because his motives were noble and pure, Yahweh blessed him with incredible wisdom along with great wealth and abundance.
The Bible says that Solomon was the wisest man and that his wisdom exceeded even those in the east and Egypt. Besides the Messiah, Solomon was likely the wisest man in the Bible.
Even though he possessed incredible wisdom in the end he still forsook Yahweh. When he was old his wives turned his heart away from Yahweh and to other mighty ones.
The Bible says that he allowed and promoted the worship of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Molech, and other pagan gods.
Through Solomon we find that wisdom alone is not sufficient; we must also have a heart of obedience. As believers we should realize that we’re also susceptible to this type of influence and deception.
What was the result of Solomon’s apostasy? “And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other mighty ones: but he kept not that which Yahweh commanded. Wherefore Yahweh said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1Kings 11:10-13).
Because of Solomon’s sin Yahweh would tear apart the kingdom of Israel during the reign of his son, Rehoboam. Because of Yahweh’s love for David he could have one tribe, i.e., Judah. Rehoboam actually received two tribes, i.e., Judah and Benjamin, along with a portion of the Levites.
We pay a penalty when we deviate from our Father’s Word. In the case of Solomon, his sin impacted not only him but also an entire nation. Sin can do the same to families and to an assembly or body of believers. When we choose not to follow Yahweh’s righteous standards we will suffer the consequences.
This is why it’s important that min-isters follow the standards established by Yahweh. Nothing will cause more problems than when the requirements of leadership are lowered.
This is also true for parents. If a father or mother doesn’t have right virtue and character, this deficiency will negatively impact families and likely future gener-ations.
The Sons of Aaron Rebel
The Bible provides us another case of compromise in the tenth chapter of Leviticus: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Yahweh, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from Yahweh, and devoured them, and they died before Yahweh. When Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that Yahweh spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace,” verses 1-3.
Instead of worshiping the way Yahweh commanded, Nadab and Abihu took it upon themselves to change worship. For that Yahweh consumed them with fire. Consider this: these were the sons of the High Priest. If anybody would have been faithful to Yahweh’s Word, logic would say that it would have been these two men. But that wasn’t the case.
Moses told Aaron after Yahweh killed his sons that Yahweh would be sanctified by them that came near. In other words, those who minister before our Heavenly Father must be especially careful to follow Him.
In truth, this principle applies to all positions of leadership. Consider again the impact of Solomon and Jeroboam – because of their negligence the entire nation suffered. This is one reason why the Torah commanded that the king write a copy of the Law. Not even the king of Israel was above Yahweh’s divine commandments. So whether it’s a civil or religious position, both must hold to the Word of Almighty Yahweh and be a person of virtue and character.
The simple truth is this: when more is given, more is expected! This is why James states that a minister will receive the greater condemnation.
Making a Separation
The Apostle Paul in 2Corinthians 6:14-16 shows that as believers we must make a distinction in worship: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Messiah with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of Elohim with idols? for ye are the temple of the living Elohim….”
Here Paul conveys the great contrast between believers in the Messiah and the world. He states emphatically that we are to make a distinction in worship. When we follow Yahweh closely, the separation will come automatically.
One of the most frequently asked questions of the Ministry is: Can we worship in the common titles in lieu of the actual names of the Father and Son? While it’s our desire to promote fellowship within the body, we cannot support worship outside the Truth that is diluted with compromise. The fact is, both the titles “Lord” and “God” have questionable etymological roots. More importantly, the Bible mandates that the Names of Yahweh and Yahshua are key to proper worship.
Those baptized into Yahshua’s Name represent Yahweh’s temple. The Old Testament allows no room for compromise regarding worship in the temple (or tabernacle). Since believers now represent His temple, this same policy applies to us today. As Yahshua’s disciples, we must make a distinction between the holy and the common.
The Church has gone astray in a myriad of ways, solidifying error into tradition. Tradition often proves hardest for believers to deal with. It’s difficult to go against the majority, but if we desire to follow our Heavenly Father without compromise, there is no other choice. Either we do it His way or we do it man’s way; it’s not possible to please both. If we try, we will not succeed with either.
One Man Against 400
Elijah or EliYah (meaning, “My El is Yah”) was a prophet who knew the cost of worshiping Yahweh. In 1Kings 18:20 we find him all alone against 400 prophets of Baal: “So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if Yahweh be Elohim, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word,” verses 20-21.
Before we consider what Elijah says here, it’s important that we understand the events which led up to this point. Prior to this passage, Elijah prayed to Yahweh that it would not rain upon the land. This was in response to the sin of King Ahab and Jezebel. Yahweh answered his prayer and three years of drought followed. Through the prophet Obadiah Elijah then calls a meeting with King Ahab. He asked that the king, along with the prophets of Baal, meet him at Mount Carmel. Elijah’s plan was to show the power and supremacy of Almighty Yahweh.
In verse 21 the stage was set. All of Israel was gathered at Mount Carmel including King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. The test for supremacy was simple: take a bull as a burnt offering, place it upon wood, and see which mighty one world consume the burnt offering.
First up was the 400 prophets of Baal; they danced, chanted, and cut their own flesh in their futile attempt to call down the power of their mighty one. Needless to say, nothing happened except that they made a mockery of themselves and the one they worshiped.
Next up was the prophet Elijah. Before praying, he asked that four barrels of water be poured on the sacrifice and wood. This man wanted to show beyond a shadow of doubt who reigned supreme. After this was done he prayed to Yahweh and at that very that moment the fire of the Almighty came down from heaven and consumed both the water and burnt offering. Seeing this the people of Israel fell upon their faces and said, “Yahweh, he is the Elohim.” Then they killed the 400 prophets of Baal.
Let’s now return to verse 21. In this passage Elijah asks the people how long they will flip-flop between two opinions? How long will you continue to compromise worship?
As the people of Israel had to choose, we too must choose whether we’re going to worship Yahweh as He commands or to compromise His Word. We know from this story that the people of Israel chose Yahweh, but only after Elijah gave a demonstration that they would not soon forget.
Understand that this question is just as relevant to us as it was then. Whom do we serve today? Are we faithfully following our Father in heaven or are we allowing ourselves to compromise His truth?
The Cost of Total Commitment
Another man fully devoted to his Father in heaven was Joshua, the son of Nun. In Joshua 24:15 we find just how resolute Joshua was. It reads, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve Yahweh, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the mighty ones which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the mighty ones of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.”
We find here Joshua’s resolute devotion to His Father in heaven. Regardless of what the people of Israel chose, we see that this man was going to stay the course. Joshua is one of the best examples of personal commitment in all of Scripture. No matter who or what, nothing was going to distract this faithful servant from his focus and service to his Father Yahweh.
What about us, is our Father in heaven the first focus in our lives? Are we going to follow Him no matter what? At the beginning of this passage, Joshua said to the people, choose you this day whom you will serve.
Even though the truth is not a democracy, we see that we still have a choice. We can choose to serve Him or to reject Him. We can worship as He commands or we can compromise and follow man, as Israel did with Jeroboam.
Are we going to demonstrate the character of Joshua by fully committing to Yahweh or are we going to compromise? Our Heavenly Father is calling out a select people; He wants the cream of the crop. If we’re found worthy, it’s going to be because we followed Him without compromise and deviation. This is the only path that will ensure His blessings and the prize of everlasting life in His Kingdom.
For more info on our Trip to Israel please check out this video: https://youtu.be/FPxIXBdQmJ0