Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

Why was the Temple’s veil rent when Christ died?

WHY WAS THE TEMPLE’S VEIL RENT WHEN CHRIST DIED?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Turning to Matthew chapter 27, we read these words of God: “[51] And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; [52] And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, [53] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” This tearing of the veil of Herod’s Temple is also recorded in Mark 15:38 and Luke 23:45.

Why was the veil of the Jerusalem Temple ripped in two? Various and sundry explanations have been offered. Some say the Mosaic Law ended here and the Dispensation of Grace began. Others further claim this tearing of the veil signifies the abolishment of the distinction between Jew and Gentile, all people now having equal access to the God of the Bible. Are these correct views? Could there be another reason? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

At Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple was torn in two, “from the top to the bottom.” The nature of the split indicates God did it as opposed to man: man would have torn it from bottom to top, but Divine working would have caused it to tear from top to bottom. According to the Mishnah, this curtain was 60 feet (18 meters) long, 30 feet (9 meters) tall, and as thick as man’s palm. It was so heavy it took 300 men to lift it when wet! This was the partition between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Behind it, once a year (Day of Atonement), the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place with animals’ blood and, on the Mercy Seat, make atonement for his sins and the sins of Israel (cf. Leviticus chapter 16). God’s presence—also known as “the Shekinah glory”—hovered above the Mercy Seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 25:17-22, for example).

This veil as touching the Tabernacle was first constructed according to Exodus chapter 26: “[31] And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: [32] And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. [33] And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. [34] And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. [35] And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.” You may also see Exodus 36:35-36 and Hebrews 9:1-7. A similar arrangement was followed in King Solomon’s Temple 500 years later (2 Chronicles 3:14). Zerubbabel’s Temple was constructed 500 years after that, and King Herod the Great refurbished it a few decades before Christ’s birth.

Why was the Temple veil ripped in two in Matthew chapter 27? Firstly, let us deal with the supposition the Mosaic Law was rescinded (cancelled) when Jesus died and the veil was rent. No one who reads the Bible with an open heart could ever suggest this to be true. Either they have not actually read the verses, or they have read the verses and chosen to ignore them for sake of maintaining denominational traditions! It is absolutely, categorically wrong to say the Law ended at Calvary and the Dispensation of Grace began at Calvary. All we have to do is turn to Ephesians chapter 3, and read the first two verses: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:….” If the Bible is correct—and it is!—then the Dispensation of Grace could in no wise begin until the Apostle Paul. Saul of Tarsus is a lost or unsaved man in Matthew chapter 27, and he will not be converted until a year later (Acts chapter 9).

Furthermore, the Mosaic Law was not abolished at the cross, for Christ Himself commanded His disciples to observe the Law and teach men to do the same so they could be great in the Kingdom. Matthew 5:17-19, spoken before the cross: “[17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [18] For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew chapter 23, also spoken before the cross: “[1] Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, [2] Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: [3] All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”

Matthew 28:18-20 now: “[18] And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” What were the “things” Jesus commanded them? Was it not the Law, as we just read? No one is told anywhere here, “You are not under the law, but under grace.” We do not find such language until the Apostle Paul (namely, Romans 6:14-15).

Even after Calvary, Temple worship is still ongoing. No one in these passages is under the impression that they are under grace and not law! “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:53). “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,…” (Acts 2:46). “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1). There is absolutely no question about it. Even though the Temple veil was rent, Law observance was encouraged and continued. Temple worship remained.

Now, let us deal with the claim the rending of the veil means there is no longer a difference between Jew and Gentile. This too is false, nothing more than a baseless assumption. The cross of Calvary did not abolish the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision. Again, if we have eyes to see, we can clearly see the middle wall of partition is still up post-resurrection. The nation Israel is still considered separate and distinct from the nations of the world, and God’s messengers restrict His Word to the Jews even into the early Acts period. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem(Luke 24:47). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth(Acts 1:8).

Read the Apostle Peter’s famous sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2: “[14] But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:…. [22] Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:…. [36] Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Whom is Peter addressing? The whole world? No, the nation Israel! Again, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole” (Acts 4:10). “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).

The “no difference between Jew and Gentile” is applicable beginning with the Apostle Paul’s ministry in Acts chapter 9 onward. Someone will inquire about Peter visiting Gentile Cornelius in chapter 10. Here, we will notice this followed Paul’s salvation and the beginning of his ministry (chapter 9!). God directed Peter to Cornelius’ house so that he may defend Paul’s “all-men” message in chapter 15 many years later. Paul wrote, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (Romans 3:22). “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Romans 10:12). For more information, see our Ephesians 2:18-22 article linked at the end of this study. Also, read all of Ephesians chapters 2 and 3, which speak of the difference between Jew and Gentile being removed in the Church the Body of Christ—an entity that did not exist until Paul’s salvation and ministry.

Having handled the misconceptions, we can now offer two reasons why the Temple veil was ripped apart when the Lord Jesus died.

Firstly, back in Matthew chapter 23, Christ had told Jerusalem, “The Temple is now your house!” Notice: “[37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! [38] Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” No longer was the Temple His house (Matthew 21:13) or His Father’s house (John 2:16). With the veil rent, it is clear to all in the Temple that the Shekinah glory of God is absent! They have rejected Him, and they have rejected His Son (crucified Him), and now He has given them over to the error they so passionately desired. The Temple vacated, the Antichrist can enter and occupy (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)!

By the way, at the time of Christ dying and the Temple veil rending, the priests would have been there offering the animal sacrifices. No doubt they knew God Himself took that veil and tore it. While not recorded in the Bible, it is said they stitched the veil back together and continued with their vain religious system!

The second reason the Temple veil was rent is found in the Book of Hebrews, information God revealed many years after Calvary. Go over to chapter 10: “[19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; [21] And having an high priest over the house of God; [22] Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. [23] Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised; ) [24] And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: [25] Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

When the writer of Hebrews speaks of “a new and living way,” he refers to something beyond the Mosaic system. This is the transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In fact, read chapters 8-10, carefully noting 8:7-13, 9:1-28, and 10:1-25. As explained in Hebrews 10:19-20, the Temple veil being split was a picture or symbol of Christ’s flesh—His death—opening the way for Israel to approach God differently. Through Christ’s shed blood, the New Covenant can now be ratified. It will be instituted at His Second Coming, as seen in the following two passages (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Romans 11:25-27: “[25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Acts 3:19-21: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

CONCLUSION

Why was the Temple veil rent in Matthew 27:51? Contrary to popular belief, it was not because the Dispensation of Law ended and the Dispensation of Grace began. Also, it was not because the middle wall between Jew and Gentile was abolished. These are true with respect to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, which is over a year away. The veil was torn because it was a sign of God judging Israel, His absence from the Most Holy Place now evident. No glory or presence of God is visible in Herod’s Temple because this is the way Israel has chosen it to be! Through later Divine revelation unveiled in Hebrews—information not known at the cross—we learn the veil symbolized Christ’s flesh. With the shedding of His sinless blood, the New Covenant can be confirmed and the Old Covenant can pass away.

Also see:
» Could you please clarify Ephesians 2:18-22?
» Does Hebrews 10:25 really teach we must attend church?
» Why did Jesus curse the “poor” fig tree?

What are “groves?”

WHAT ARE “GROVES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, there seems to be much confusion as to what “groves” are in Scripture. Hopefully, we can make sense of this topic for you.

THE KING JAMES BIBLE SPEAKS

The word “grove” appears 41 times in the Authorized Version. Before we look at these verses, we must note one exception. Genesis 21:33 contains the first occurrence: “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” This “grove” is in a positive light, as Abraham is a Bible believer. The Hebrew word is “’eshel” (Strong’s #H815), a tamarisk or myrica tree [Tamarix orientalis]. It was rendered “tree” in 1 Samuel 22:6 and 1 Samuel 31:13. This fact will prove useful to us later.

As for the remaining “grove” verses (40 in all), they are negative. We present them now, reminding you the reader to sense the associated evils:

  • Exodus 34:13: “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:….”
  • Deuteronomy 7:5: “But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”
  • Deuteronomy 12:3: “And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.”
  • Deuteronomy 16:21: “Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.”
  • Judges 3:7: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”
  • Judges 6:25: “And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:….”
  • Judges 6:26: “And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.”
  • Judges 6:28: “And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.”
  • Judges 6:30: “Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.”
  • 1 Kings 14:15: “For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.”
  • 1 Kings 14:23: “For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.”
  • 1 Kings 15:13: “And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.”
  • 1 Kings 16:33: “And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
  • 1 Kings 18:19: “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.”
  • 2 Kings 13:6: “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)”
  • 2 Kings 17:10: “And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:….”
  • 2 Kings 17:16: “And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.”
  • 2 Kings 18:4: “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”
  • 2 Kings 21:3: “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”
  • 2 Kings 21:7: “And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:….”
  • 2 Kings 23:4: “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.”
  • 2 Kings 23:6: “And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.”
  • 2 Kings 23:7: “And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.”
  • 2 Kings 23:14: “And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.”
  • 2 Kings 23:15: “Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.”
  • 2 Chronicles 14:3: “For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:….”
  • 2 Chronicles 15:16: “And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.”
  • 2 Chronicles 17:6: “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.”
  • 2 Chronicles 19:3: “Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.”
  • 2 Chronicles 24:18: “And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.”
  • 2 Chronicles 31:1: “Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.”
  • 2 Chronicles 33:3: “For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”
  • 2 Chronicles 33:19: “His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:3: “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:4: “And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.”
  • 2 Chronicles 34:7: “And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.”
  • Isaiah 17:8: “And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.”
  • Isaiah 27:9: “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”
  • Jeremiah 17:2: “Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.”
  • Micah 5:14: “And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.”

THE BIBLE DICTIONARIES SPEAK

As we just saw, the term “grove” appears 41 times in the King James Bible’s Old Testament. The first one was the Hebrew “’eshel,” also rendered “tree.” Regarding the last 40 instances, it was the Hebrew word “Asherah” (Strong’s #H842). The term is defined as: “from H833 [happy]; happy; Asherah (or Astarte) a Phoenician goddess; also an image of the same:—grove. Compare H6253 [Ashtoreth, the Phoenician goddess of love (and increase)].”

Smith’s Bible Dictionary has the following entry for “grove:”

“1. A word used in the Authorized Version, with two exceptions, to translate the mysterious Hebrew term Asherah, which is not a grove, but probably an idol or image of some kind. [ASHERAH.] It is also probable that there was a connection between this symbol or image, whatever it was, and the sacred symbolic tree, the representation of which occurs so frequently on Assyrian sculptures.

2. The two exceptions noticed above are Gen. 21:33 and 1 Sam. 22:6 (margin). In the religions of the ancient heathen world groves play a prominent part. In the old times altars only were erected to the gods. It was thought wrong to shut up the gods within walls, and hence trees were the first temples; and from the earliest times groves are mentioned in connection with religious worship. Genesis 12:6, 7; Deuteronomy 11:30; Authorized Version “plain.” The groves were generally found connected with temples, and often had the right of affording an asylum.”

You will notice the critical (anti-King-James) position the “scholar” usually takes. The 1611 translators are once again deemed unskilled, allegedly “mistranslating” the Hebrew “Asherah.” What they considered “groves” the Bible dictionary editor believes something else. Dear friends, what is the authority? The Bible, or the Bible dictionary? Is not the Bible dictionary a derivative of the Bible? Why is more emphasis placed on the offshoot than the original? People are so quick to believe books about the Bible than they are to believe the Bible. This, dear friends, is the nonsense often found in Bible scholarship. There are competing authorities. Educated people do not want to submit to God’s Word; they want God’s Word to submit to them. This is unbelief, not faith, and yet that attitude is found in nearly all places of leadership within Christendom (seminaries, Bible colleges, churches, authors, commentators, and so on).

CONCLUSION

Pay very close attention as to how the King James Bible disproves the Bible dictionary. “Grove” is most definitely a correct translation of “Asherah,” even if doubters and unbelievers choose to remain in spiritual darkness! The Oxford English Dictionary says of “grove:” “a small wood or other group of trees.” The last 40 instances of “grove” in the Authorized Version are simply a garden of trees encircling an idol, and the LORD God spoke of destroying these! Such a practice underlies a common architectural practice of erecting a statue and then planting bushes or shrubbery around it, forming a “courtyard” within the confines of floral walls. We can find shrines and religious grottos (small caves) as centerpieces of various so-called “gardens of contemplation” even today—at hospitals, church buildings, cemeteries, et cetera. Of course, modern English versions obscure this reference to trees and wood because they often leave the word untranslated (reading “Asherah poles,” “Asherahs,” “Asherim”) and thus reducing it to nonsense for English readers. “Groves” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew!

SUPPLEMENTAL: ANOTHER TREE ROOTED IN PAGANISM

Although highly offensive, while we are on the subject of trees and pagan idolatry (idolatree!), we might as well remind ourselves of the ancient “Christmas tree” rooted in Jeremiah chapter 10, some 600 years before Christ!

“[1] Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: [2] Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. [3] 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. [4] They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. [5] 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. [6] Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

“[7] Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. [8] But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. [9] Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

“[10] But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. [11] Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. [12] He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”

Also see:
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» How could God forbid Jeremiah to pray for His people?
» Should I display a Christmas tree?

Who were “the sons of the prophets?”

WHO WERE “THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The title appears nine times in the Authorized Version (King James Bible)—once in 1 Kings, and the others in 2 Kings. A synonym is “children of the prophets,” a word found once. Usually, they are associated with the Prophet Elisha’s ministry—about 800 years before Christ. They mysteriously appear in the record of Scripture, and disappear just as inexplicably.

Notice:

  • 1 Kings 20:35: “And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.”
  • 2 Kings chapter 2: “[3] And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace…. [5] And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace…. [7] And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan…. [15] And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”
  • 2 Kings chapter 4: “[1] Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen…. [38] And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.”
  • 2 Kings 5:22: “And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.”
  • 2 Kings 6:1: “And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.”
  • 2 Kings 9:1: And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:….”

The likely explanation is that “the sons of the prophets” refers to men who had studied under the Old Testament prophets/preachers themselves. Someone would wonder about the priests and other Levites in Israel. Were they not to teach the Word of God to the Jewish people? Indeed! “And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses” (Leviticus 10:11; cf. 1 Samuel 12:23; Ezra 7:10,25; Malachi 2:7). Alas, many apostates existed in Israel’s religious leadership—like a good many so-called “Christian” preachers today! The Priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas are three prime examples of corruption prior to Samuel’s ascension to the office of Prophet-Priest-Judge (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12-36; 1 Samuel 3:1-14). The LORD directly chose Samuel to replace Eli and his perverted household.

One idea is that Samuel himself established Bible schools throughout Israel’s land about 1,000 B.C. Although not explicitly stated in Scripture, this may be the origin of “the sons of the prophets.” They were Jewish men trained in the Law of Moses and other Divine (Scriptural) teachings. Dr. Scofield refers to them as “theological students”—although we certainly do not want to confuse them with modern seminary graduates who are oftentimes religion/philosophy students instead of Bible students!

Also see:
» How did Eli honor his sons more than he honor God?
» Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?
» Is there a geographical error in 2 Kings 2:2?

How did synagogues originate?

HOW DID SYNAGOGUES ORIGINATE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our English word is a transliteration of the Greek “sunagoge,” meaning “meeting, assembly, congregation” (“sun–,” “together;” “agein” “bring”). According to Jewish tradition, a minimum of 10 Jewish men—a “minyan”—was needed to form a synagogue.

According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: “…an assembly of Jews formally gathered together to offer prayer and listen to the reading and exposition of the Holy Scriptures; assemblies of the sort were held every sabbath and feast-day, afterward also on the second and fifth days of every week (see references below): Luke 12:11; Acts 9:2; Acts 13:43; Acts 26:11…. Synagogues seem to date their origin from the Babylonian exile. In the time of Jesus and the apostles every town, not only in Palestine but also among the Gentiles if it contained a considerable number of Jewish inhabitants, had at least one synagogue, the larger towns several or even many. That the Jews held trials and even inflicted punishments in them, is evident from such passages as Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12; Acts 9:2; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11.”

When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and razed Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:8-9; 2 Chronicles 36:19), the Jews no longer had any formal place of worship and religious study. Prior to King Solomon, they had the Tabernacle dating back to Moses’ time. The Jews assembled around these structures for religious services. Now removed from the land of Palestine during the 70-year Babylonian Captivity, the Israelites began establishing houses of worship throughout the foreign territories to which they had been scattered. While a remnant of Jews returned to the land of Israel during the ministries of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, the majority remained in Gentile domains. Some 500 years after the return from Babylon and the building of Zerubbabel’s Temple, the nation Israel was still dispersed around the world. Hence, we read the following concerning the Day of Pentecost: “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5).

A few decades before Christ’s birth, King Herod the Great renovated and expanded Zerubbabel’s Temple, and this (“Herod’s Temple”) functioned until the Roman troops destroyed it in A.D. 70. This was the Temple operating during Christ’s earthly ministry. In the 2,000 years since its demolition, synagogues have played an integral role in Judaism (Jewish religion).

Being Bible students, we are most familiar with synagogues because of their prominence during Christ’s earthly ministry and the Apostle Paul’s “Acts” ministry. For example, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35). “And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:39). “And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee” (Luke 4:44). “Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20).

As noted earlier, synagogues were places where Jews gathered to read and study Holy Scripture (Old Testament only). “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:21). Look at Luke chapter 4: “[16] And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. [17] And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, [18] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, [19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. [21] And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

In the case of the city of Philippi, there was no synagogue (see next paragraph). Remember, according to Jewish tradition, a synagogue needed a minimum of 10 Jewish men (“minyan”). One historical authority continues, “Where the Jews were not in sufficient numbers to be able to erect and fill a building, there was the proseucha, or place of prayer, sometimes open, sometimes covered in, commonly by a running stream or on the seashore, in which devout Jews and proselytes met to worship, and perhaps to read.”

Acts chapter 16 provides an example: “[12] And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. [13] And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. [14] And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. [15] And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Synagogues were often constructed of stone, and, if possible, set on the point of highest elevation in the city. They were always oriented so people entering them would be facing Jerusalem (as King Solomon instructed in 1 Kings 8:29,30,35 and 2 Chronicles 6:20,26). Toward the synagogue’s “Jerusalem end” was a chest or box that held the Old Testament Bible scrolls—like the Ark of the Covenant contained such holy documents in the Jerusalem Temple (see Deuteronomy 31:25-27). Within two centuries before Christ, the Pharisees began to lead synagogues (see John 12:42).

Near the middle of the synagogue building was a raised pulpit where guests could speak or read, as revealed in Acts chapter 13: “[14] But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. [15] And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. [16] Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.”

Regardless of the synagogue’s size, at least two officials were present. One was “the ruler of the synagogue” (see Mark 5:22,35,36,38; Luke 8:41,49; Luke 13:14; Acts 18:8,17). He oversaw the building and property, organized the public service and kept order, selected people to read Scripture and pray, and asked visitors to speak to the group. Some synagogues had more than one ruler (Acts 13:15). The other synagogue official was the “minister” or attendant, paid to care for the building and furniture. Undoubtedly, his most important role was looking after the Old Testament scrolls—handing them out to speakers and putting them away after use (see Luke chapter 4, quoted earlier—especially verses 17 and 20).

Never forget, Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry and the Apostle Paul in the Acts period visited synagogues because they were where Jews had gathered for worship service and Bible study. Synagogues were the best place to reach Israel concerning the Scriptures, as they would have been most receptive to spiritual truths. Unfortunately, despite all that exposure to the Holy Bible, there was overwhelming unbelief in Israel. It was dead, worthless religion! Had they been studying their Hebrew Scriptures in faith, they would have seen Jesus as Christ, a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies. Through the Apostle John, the Lord Jesus applies a most uncomplimentary title to these Jewish unbelievers! “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9). “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Revelation 3:9).

Saul of Tarsus—Paul the Apostle when he was a lost man, before he trusted Christ—visited synagogues to arrest and execute all Messianic Jews (those who trusted Jesus as Christ). “And [Saul] desired of him [the high priest] letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). “And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee” (Acts 22:19). “And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:11).

Then, Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9—and Saul trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour! “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). For the Apostle Paul’s other visits to synagogues as he preached the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Acts 20:24), read Acts 13:14-42, Acts 14:1-4, Acts 17:1-17, Acts 18:4-8, Acts 18:19-21, and Acts 19:8-9. As Acts chapter 18 shows, the first members of the Church the Body of Christ at Corinth came from the synagogue literally next-door!

Also see:
» What does “joined hard” mean in Acts 18:7?
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?

Does God suffer from Alzheimer’s disease?

DOES GOD SUFFER FROM ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

According to the American National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s disease is “an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” It is absolutely ironic to find Bible verses that describe God “remembering” Israel’s sins and other verses that speak of Him “not remembering” them. After all, is He not omniscient? Does He not know everything? Then how should we handle these passages? Does Alzheimer’s disease afflict God’s mind? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

GOD REMEMBERING ISRAEL’S SINS

  • Jeremiah 14:10: “Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.”
  • Hosea 8:13: “They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.”
  • Hosea 9:9: “They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.”

Here, the LORD God certainly brings Israel’s sins to mind. He will not let them escape the consequences of their breaking the Old Covenant. Curses or punishments must follow, as per Deuteronomy chapter 28: “[14] And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. [15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….”

GOD NOT REMEMBERING ISRAEL’S SINS

  • Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
  • Jeremiah 31:34: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
  • Hebrews 8:12: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
  • Hebrews 10:17: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

While Israel broke the Old Covenant with her repeated idolatry, God will make another agreement with her. This is the New Covenant first promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and repeated in the Book of Hebrews (chapters 8 and 10). Yet, how can God simply overlook Israel’s transgressions? What does He do with those sins? He cannot just pretend like they are not there, like they never occurred. Why, He does not remember those sins because He places them under the shed blood of Jesus Christ! Once He ratifies the New Covenant at Christ’s Second Coming (Romans 11:25-29), He will not see Israel’s sins but rather Christ’s righteousness applied to their national account! Instead of concentrating on Israel’s filthy past, He will focus on them washed in the blood of Christ!

Hebrews chapter 10 pronounces: “[1] For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. [2] For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. [3] But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. [4] For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

“[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

“[11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; [13] From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. [15] Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

“[18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. [19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; [21] And having an high priest over the house of God; [22] Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Are we under the New Covenant today?
» Does the New Covenant take away Israel’s free will?

How shall Elijah “restore all things?”

HOW SHALL ELIJAH “RESTORE ALL THINGS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things (Matthew 17:11). “And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought” (Mark 9:12). In what sense will Elijah “restore all things?”

Our best option in interpreting this is to appeal to the original Old Testament passage being quoted, the final two verses of Malachi chapter 4: “[5] Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: [6] And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

The Word of God, if permitted, would have brought societal unity in the nation Israel. However, the Jews allowed spiritual error—false religion (pagan idolatry)—to creep in and it destroyed them from the inside out. In Malachi’s day, some 400 years prior to Christ’s earthly ministry, Jewish fathers and children are at odds with each other. Micah chapter 7, written over three centuries before Malachi, says: “[5] Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. [6] For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.”

Christ quoted Micah in the Book of Matthew, chapter 10, when He commissioned His 12 Apostles: “[21] And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. [22] And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. [23] But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. [24] The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. [25] It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?….

“[32] Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. [33] But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. [34] Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. [35] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [36] And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

As touching John the Baptist’s ministry, an angel of the LORD told his father Zacharias in Luke chapter 1: “[16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John the Baptist conducting his ministry “in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah]” meant he, like Elijah eight centuries earlier, would be fighting against Israel’s apostate leadership (see 1 Kings chapter 17–2 Kings chapter 2). As a believing remnant was formed because of Elijah’s message, so a Little Flock of believers would be created in Israel when John preached. John’s converts would be ready to accept Jesus Christ.

Combining all the foregoing information, we take Elijah “restoring all things” as meaning thus: (1) the Holy Spirit will use his ministry to “recover” and proclaim truth that has been pushed aside because of false teaching, and (2) the Holy Spirit will reestablish the spiritual and social stability in Israel lost because of said false teaching. The truth unites people; it is error that divides. Unfortunately, a majority in Israel will retain their error, which will further divide Jewish families. This was true in Elijah’s day, it was applicable during John the Baptist’s time, and it will be true even beyond our dispensation leading up to Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew chapter 10).

Revelation chapter 11 prophesies of “two witnesses” who will have ministries during the reign of the Antichrist. As the Lord Jesus Himself confirmed, Elijah will be one of these men who will precede His Second Coming (cf. Malachi 4:5-6 and Matthew 17:11). Therefore, as Elijah of old preached sound Bible doctrine that unified Jews spiritually, as John the Baptist proclaimed sound Bible doctrine that united Jews spiritually, so Elijah (who never physically died) will be brought back to Earth in the future to preach sound Bible doctrine that unifies Jews spiritually. This believing remnant in Israel formed will then make way for Messiah Jesus to return and usher His earthly kingdom.

Also see:
» Was John the Baptist really Elijah?
» How could John the Baptist question if Jesus really is Christ?
» As Christians, should we hate our parents?

Who were the “Rechabites?”

WHO WERE THE “RECHABITES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

These mysterious characters appear a solitary time in Scripture—Jeremiah chapter 35. In short, the Rechabites were nomadic Gentiles living in Jerusalem several centuries before Christ. The LORD God directed the Prophet Jeremiah to use them to teach his Jewish brethren a critical spiritual lesson. We can learn from this as well.

We open with two simple verses:

“And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot” (2 Kings 10:15).

“And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only” (2 Kings 10:23).

One Bible dictionary says: “…It was from this Rechab that the tribe of the Rechabites derived their name. In 1 Chron. 2:55 the house of Rechab is identified with a section of the Kenites, a Midianitish tribe who came into Canaan with the Israelites, and retained their nomadic habits. The real founder of the tribe was Jehonadab. He and his people had all along been worshippers of Jehovah, circumcised, though not looked upon as belonging to Israel, and probably therefore not considering themselves bound by the Mosaic law and ritual. The worship of Baal was offensive to them.”

We can now move to reading Jeremiah chapter 35, where the Rechabites appear:

“[1] The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, [2] Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. [3] Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites; [4] And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door: [5] And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.

“[6] But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: [7] Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. [8] Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; [9] Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: [10] But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. [11] But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.

“[12] Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, [13] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. [14] The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me. [15] I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. [16] Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: [17] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. 

“[18] And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: [19] Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.”

Returning to the aforementioned Bible dictionary: “Jehonadab inaugurated a reformation and compelled a more rigid adherence than ever to the old Arab life. They were neither to drink wine, nor build houses, nor plant nor have any vineyard. All their days they were to dwell in tents. Jer. 35:6,7. This was to be the condition of their retaining a distinct tribal existence. For two centuries and a half they adhered faithfully to this rule. The invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, in B.C. 607, drove the Rechabites from the tents to Jerusalem, where they stood proof against temptation, and were specially blessed. Jer. 35:2-19.”

The LORD God instructed Jeremiah to take the Rechabites into the Temple complex in Jerusalem and offer them wine to drink (verses 2,5). These men replied, “We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever… Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;…” (verses 6,8). JEHOVAH God then instructed Jeremiah to go to the men of Judah and tell them about his exchange with the Rechabites. Whereas the Rechabites followed their father’s commandments, the men of Judah did not obey their Heavenly Father’s commandments. This is a stunning rebuke! (Judah’s rebellion will lead to their removal from the Promised Land in just a few years, the 70-year Babylonian Captivity.)

Never should we look down upon the men of Judah for their deliberate sinfulness and hypocrisy. Millions upon millions of Christians today use their lips to claim to “love the Lord” but then deny Him with their worldly mindset and lifestyle. Just as Israel failed to listen to Moses, God’s spokesman to them, so we as the professing Church have ignored the Apostle Paul, God’s spokesman to us. To the extent the Rechabites hearkened unto their father Jonadab, to the degree the Jews should have listened to God’s Word through Moses, so we should obey by faith God’s grace principles laid out in Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

Why did God command Abraham to physically circumcise Ishmael?

WHY DID GOD COMMAND ABRAHAM TO PHYSICALLY CIRCUMCISE ISHMAEL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Physical circumcision is, without a doubt, the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. It indicates death to the flesh, a testament to man’s inability to accomplish God’s will in his own strength. Hence, God ordered Abraham to physically circumcise his son Isaac—the father of the Jewish people. Abraham’s male children through Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob were to undergo this ritual forever. It was a signification that they were the heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet—and this is most unexpected—God also ordered Abraham to physically circumcise his descendants through his elder son Ishmael too. Why should the Ishmaelites be physically circumcised? Are they also heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant—possessing just as much right to it as the children of Isaac? Recognizing the sequence of events is tantamount to making sense of this matter.

GENESIS CHAPTER 12. Although occurring historically in chapter 11 (cf. verses 27-32; Genesis 15:7; Acts 7:2-5), God promised childless Abram that He would make a nation of him. Here is the Abrahamic Covenant: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

GENESIS CHAPTER 16. Abram and wife Sarai are still without children, still waiting 10 years since the original promise (cf. 12:4 and 16:16). Finally, Sarai suggests Abram marry and have a child through her Egyptian slave girl, Hagar. Ishmael is thus born to Abram when is 86 years old. Please note this was Sarai and Abram’s plan, not God’s instructions.

GENESIS CHAPTER 17. Verse 1 says Abram is 99 years old now. The LORD God appears to him and changes his name from “Abram” (“exalted father”) to “Abraham” (“father of many;” verse 5). Here, the issue of a covenant reappears. JEHOVAH GOD is working to build on His promise He gave over two decades earlier in chapter 12. He also renames Abraham’s wife “Sarah” (verse 15), promising to give Abraham a son through her (verse 16). This worries Abraham that He might slay 13-year-old Ishmael (verse 18).

Read from Genesis chapter 17: “[7] And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. [8] And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. [9] And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. [10] This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. [11] And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. [12] And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. [13] He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. [14] And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

“[15] And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. [16] And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. [17] Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? [18] And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! [19] And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

Having looked at Isaac, we turn to Ishmael now: “[20] And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. [21] But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. [22] And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

“[23] And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. [24] And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. [25] And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. [26] In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. [27] And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.”

Abraham’s descendants through Isaac continue the ritual today in Judaism because it was later incorporated into the Mosaic Law: “And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3). Although different from the Jewish custom, modern Muslims practice male circumcision too. While the Abrahamic Covenant (“the covenant of circumcision;” Acts 7:8) passes from Abraham to son Isaac to grandson Jacob and 12 grandsons, the LORD God promised not to forget about Ishmael. He would bless Ishmael too, but Ishmael would not inherit the covenant (Muslims disagree, generating the Jewish/Muslim conflict we know all too well). Still, why did the LORD command Abraham to physically circumcise Ishmael? In Scripture, physical circumcision—the cutting off the male’s physical foreskin—signifies death to the flesh (see next paragraph). Abraham struggled to produce a son in his own strength (Ishmael), but that was not God’s promised son for him. Therefore, the LORD instructed Abraham to be circumcised, in effect saying: “Abraham, your labor, your legalism, your works-religion, can never substitute for My grace, My efforts, My gifts.” (This is borne out in the Book of Galatians, chapters 3 and 4, as well as the Book of Romans chapter 4.)

Romans 2:28-29 identifies the reason for physical circumcision: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” The outward/physical circumcision is to be a reflection of an inward/spiritual truth. In the future, under the New Covenant, God will remove Israel’s sin nature and replace it with a new nature, a new heart, a new spirit (see Ezekiel 36:25-28 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel). Deuteronomy 30:6 says to this point: “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Here—in their restoration, in their kingdom—He will accomplish His will in and through them. They will no longer be guilty of idolatry, but will rather be His vessels to reach the nations with His Word.

It is important to note the LORD God did not instruct Abraham to be physically circumcised in Genesis chapter 12 or chapter 16. Ishmael was born in chapter 16, and physical circumcision was implemented in chapter 17, and Isaac’s birth came to pass in chapter 21. Physical circumcision with respect to Ishmael meant he—the product of Abraham’s flesh (works-religion)—was not heir of the covenant. He had been “cut off” in chapter 17. Abraham, now circumcised, then impregnated Sarah to result in Isaac’s conception. Physical circumcision as touching Isaac meant he—the result of God’s work (grace)—was heir of the covenant (reaffirmed concerning Isaac’s birth, not Ishmael’s).

Also see:
» Are the Jews supposed to still get circumcised in the Dispensation of Grace?
» Why did Paul circumcise Timothy but not Titus?
» Why did Abraham say what he did in Genesis 17:18?

Can you explain Matthew 10:41-42?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 10:41-42?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We read in Matthew chapter 10: “[41] He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

These are the closing verses of the first installment of the “Great Commission” (the other installments are in chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24, John chapter 20, and Acts chapter 1). In order to get the context, let us start at the beginning of the chapter: “[1] And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. [2] Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; [3] Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; [4] Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

“[5] These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. [9] Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, [10] Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

“[11] And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. [12] And when ye come into an house, salute it. [13] And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. [14] And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. [15] Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. [16] Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Skip to verses 41-42 now: “[41] He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

The idea here is Jews receiving Jewish preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom—especially inviting the 12 Apostles into their homes. Firstly, when the Bible says, “in the name of a prophet/righteous man,” it is in the sense of “in the authority of a prophet [spokesman for God]/righteous man [saint], because he is a prophet/righteous man.” They are acknowledging the office the man is holding. Secondly, when Scripture says “he shall receive a prophet’s/righteous man’s reward,” it refers to sharing in the eternal reward of that prophet or righteous man. There is a reward system of which all Jewish believers in Israel’s prophetic program partake. Let us consider the following sample of verses.

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven…. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly…. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly…. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:1,4,6,18).

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works (Matthew 16:27). “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:23). “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be(Revelation 22:12).

The reward is a particular role or job to play—a governmental office to hold—within God’s earthly kingdom. Go to Matthew chapter 19: “[28] And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. [29] And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

See now Luke chapter 19, which also applies to the restructuring of Israel’s government when Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom on Earth: “[11] And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. [12] He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. [13] And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. [14] But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 

“[15] And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. [16] Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. [17] And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. [18] And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. [19] And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. [20] And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: [21] For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. [22] And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: [23] Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? [24] And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. [25] (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) [26] For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. [27] But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

In a similar manner, when we as members of the Church the Body of Christ support (with prayer, money, time, et cetera) a pastor, missionary, or Bible teacher, we are sharing in his reward. Our resources were useful in him publishing God’s Word—especially the Gospel of Grace. His converts are not only his fruit but our fruit too. We share in his ministry, so we will share in his reward. As touching the Body of Christ, the reward is a role or job within Heaven’s governments (see Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Ephesians 3:10-11; Colossians 1:16-20). There is a reward system in both the prophetic program and the mystery program.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 4: “[14] Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. [15] Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. [16] For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. [17] Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. [18] But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” Paul was not a greedy man, yet he gladly received the gifts or offerings from fellow saints. These Christians were taking the opportunity to serve him, and were really accumulating reward in Heaven. Like us, they will see their reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Colossians 3:23-25)!

Also see:
» Would God want me to share the Gospel?
» “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”
» Are there modern-day apostles and prophets?

Who is “Jeshurun?”

WHO IS “JESHURUN?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The name (or a variation) appears four times in the King James Bible:

  • Deuteronomy 32:15: “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
  • Deuteronomy 33:5: “And he [Moses] was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.”
  • Deuteronomy 33:26: “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.”
  • Isaiah 44:2: “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.”

A transliteration of the Hebrew word “Jeshuruwn”—simply meaning “upright”—it is a symbolic name for Israel, the position of honor JEHOVAH God desired for her. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines it as such: “a poetical and (at the same time apparently) a tender and loving appellation of the people of Israel.” Of course, as verified in Deuteronomy chapter 32, national Israel did not live up to that high calling. Nevertheless, Deuteronomy chapter 33 and Isaiah chapter 44 encourage Israel: her salvation unto becoming God’s kingdom of priests will depend solely upon His efforts as opposed to hers. One day, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, Israel will truly be “Jeshurun!”

Also see:
» “All Israel shall be saved?”
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Have we been “grafted into Israel?”