Category Archives: THE NATION ISRAEL

What is the “senate” in Acts 5:21?

WHAT IS THE “SENATE” IN ACTS 5:21?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The term appears only once in the Authorized Version, Acts 5:21: “And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.” What is this “senate?”

In early Acts, the 12 Apostles are performing miracles to bear record of Jesus’ resurrection. Such is the case in chapter 5: “[16] There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. [17] Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, [18] And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. [19] But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, [20] Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

Notice, the High Priest—Israel’s head religious leader—is a Sadducee (verse 17). The Jewish sect known as the Sadducees did not believe in the miraculous or supernatural—angels, spirits, and resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). Consequently, they took great offense when the Apostles preached about Jesus coming back from the dead! “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead(Acts 4:1-2).

In chapter 5, the Apostles have performed additional miracles, further incensing Israel’s apostate religious leaders. Therefore, they throw the Apostles into the common prison with the worst criminals, but the Lord sends an angel to rescue them. Again, the Apostles are out preaching in public. The apostate Jewish leaders, unaware of the escape, assemble the “council” and the “senate” to try the Apostles. “Council” is the Sanhedrin, the 71-member Jewish Supreme Court (of which the High Priest was head). (For more information, see our “Sanhedrin” study linked at the end of this article.) As for the “senate,” this would not simply be a portion of the Jewish leaders but rather all of them. The full Sanhedrin—each and every member—is implied in the “senate.”

“Senate” is from the Latin word “senatus,” derived from “senex” (“old man”). All the old men leading the nation Israel have assembled to persecute God’s preachers. The Greek term rendered “senate” is “gerousia,” from “geron” (“old”). Our English word “gerontology,” the scientific study of aging and problems of old people, finds its origin here. The chief problem of these “old people” in Acts 5:21 is unbelief!

Also see:
» Who were the “elders?”
» What was the “Sanhedrin?”
» Who were the “scribes?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “chief priests?”

Can you explain “importunity” in Luke 11:8?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN “IMPORTUNITY” IN LUKE 11:8?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Certainly!

The context is the Parable of the Needy Friend, which we read now in chapter 11 of Luke: “[5] And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? [7] And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. [8] I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. [9] And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. [10] For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [11] If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? [12] Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? [13] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

After delivering the “Our Father” Prayer as presented in Luke (11:1-4), Christ Jesus further enlightens Israel’s believing remnant concerning His Heavenly Father’s will for them. In the above parable, He describes Messianic Jews awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), an event several months away. The outpouring of the Spirit of God is necessary to ratify the New Covenant, empowering Israel to be God’s people in the Earth and do His will in the Earth (cf. Ezekiel 36:25-28; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-18). Jesus knows the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant) has needs to be met, and the passage currently in view underscores His awareness of that fact.

We are interested in verse 8: “I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” Although the man in bed wishes not to answer his door, his friend is outside knocking, and he finally gives in to the request because the friend is engaging in “importunity.” What exactly is that? This English word is derived from the Latin “importunus,” simply meaning “unsuitable, troublesome, relentless.” He will not stop knocking because his need is urgent! The Greek term is “anaideia”—literally “no shame, no honor, no modesty, no bashfulness, no reverence, no regard for others, no respect.”

If a sinner will inconveniently rise out of bed at midnight to help a bothersome and rude friend, how much more will Almighty God (loving, sinless, merciful, gracious, et cetera) pour out the Holy Spirit on believing Israel during the early Acts period to enable them to accomplish His ministry? The point is well driven!

Also see:
» Should we recite The “Our Father” Prayer?
» How is the Holy Spirit “the Comforter?”
» Was the Holy Spirit really given in John 20:22?
» Why did the Samaritan believers not receive the Holy Spirit upon believing in Acts 8?
» Is the Holy Spirit a Person or a force?
» How should I pray?
» What about hindered and unanswered prayer?

» How can I have an effectual prayer life?

How could Israel welcome Messiah on Palm Sunday, but then demand His death later that week?

HOW COULD ISRAEL WELCOME MESSIAH ON PALM SUNDAY, BUT THEN DEMAND HIS DEATH LATER THAT WEEK?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What made the crowds vacillate from praising the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday to killing Him on Thursday?

Anyone familiar with Scripture knows of the so-called “Triumphal Entry,” when Jesus rode a baby donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just days before His crucifixion. (The title is a misnomer, for Christ’s true Triumphal Entry is Revelation 19:11-21!) He did this to fulfill Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Without a doubt, and entering right on schedule according to Daniel 9:24-26, Jesus was Messiah!

  • Matthew 21:6-9: “And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Mark 11:7-10: “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Luke 19:35-38: “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
  • John 12:12-16: “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.”

While Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock (Luke 12:32), was aware of Jesus’ identity—that He was Messiah/Christ—the city of Jerusalem was overwhelmingly ignorant of that fact. “And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11). To them, He was simply “another prophet.” Consequently, although there was a welcoming crowd into Jerusalem, the city itself abounded with spiritual darkness. The Lord did not receive unanimous acceptance. Most of the nation was in unbelief.

Luke chapter 19 relates the following: “And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (verses 39-40). Israel’s religious leaders were unbelieving, apostate, having thrown away the truth of the Old Testament Scripture; they so disliked the crowds paying more attention to Jesus than to them! (At Christ’s trial later that week, Pontius Pilate will sense their “envy” toward Jesus. “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him” [Matthew 27:18]. “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy” [Mark 15:10].)

We should not be surprised to find a crowd welcoming and praising the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday only to discover a crowd crying out against Him Thursday morning. Israel was already divided because Him long before the Passion Week. In fact, we see Him encountering hostile, bitter enemies throughout His 33 years of earthly life. Those last three years (His ministry) were especially perilous. From the very beginning, not all Israel believed on Him anyway. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:…” (John 1:11-12).

As Jesus stood before Roman Judaean Governor Pontius Pilate, soon to be sentenced to death, the Bible informs us of the following:

  • Matthew 27:20: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”
  • Mark 15:11: “But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.”
  • Luke 23:23: “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.”
  • John 19:15: “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”

What ultimately influenced Israel to reject Jesus as Messiah was the very men He had appointed to take care of the nation’s spiritual needs! The elders (aged men leading the country) and the chief priests were knowledgeable of the Hebrew Bible. They studied it in great detail, they memorized it, and they claimed to be “experts” in it. Yet, they did not look at it through the eyes of faith. They did not have hearts of faith. It was vain, empty works-religion—so close to the truth and yet so far from it at the same time! Had they believed those Divine words, they would have seen Jesus as fulfillment of those Scriptures. The stunning truth is that atheists did not demand Jesus’ death. Neither did harlots (prostitutes). Nor publicans (tax collectors). Who urged Christ’s crucifixion? People who had the Bible and claimed to believe and love it! It is not enough to have the Bible, read the Bible, study the Bible, or memorize the Bible. We must believe the Bible in our heart—or we really do not appreciate it!

“But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:42-47)

Also see:
» Who were the elders?
» Who were the scribes?
» Who were the Pharisees?
» What was the Sanhedrin?
» Who were the Sadducees?
» Who were the chief priests?
» At what age did Jesus Christ die?
» Was Jesus really crucified on Friday?
» How did Israel manipulate Moses to murder Messiah?
» Why did Jesus offer Himself to Israel if He knew they would reject Him?
» Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death—the Jews or the Romans?
» If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how are Christ’s murderers culpable of wrongdoing?

What does “sottish” mean?

WHAT DOES “SOTTISH” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 4:22 employs the word: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” It is such strong language, but it is warranted. The Prophet Jeremiah conducted his ministry in Judah 600 years before Christ, during a time of great apostasy—a falling away from the truth. He preached before and during the Babylonian Captivity, God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom for its persistent idolatry.

“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands (Jeremiah 1:16). “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot(Jeremiah 2:13,20).

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Saying to a stock [wooden idol], Thou art my father; and to a stone [stone idol], Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number (Jeremiah 2:26-32).

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:1-4).

Back to verse 22 of Jeremiah chapter 4. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” The Jews are spiritually senseless, insane, lunatic. Instead of heeding sound Bible doctrine—especially the Law of Moses—they are thinking like idolatrous heathen. Rather than being spiritual adults, they are mere children; immaturity has so crippled them, and their religious silliness shows throughout the Book of Jeremiah as well as much of the Old Testament Scriptures! It is in this context that the adjective “sottish” appears. The word simply means foolish, with the Hebrew term (“sakal”) translated “fool” or “foolish” in Ecclesiastes (2:19; 7:17; 10:3,14) and Jeremiah (5:21). It is therefore no coincidence “sottish” is from the Middle English word indicating “fool.”

Rejecting God’s wisdom for her (Deuteronomy 4:1-10), Israel did not guard herself from the foolishness of the evil world system around her. What was true of the Gentiles at the Tower of Babel ultimately became applicable to Israel as well! “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:20-25).

Thankfully, in the Millennium, Israel will be given new spiritual leaders, people who will teach her sound Bible doctrine so she can think as the LORD God designed them to think. Pay close attention to verse 15 below (contrasted with Jeremiah 4:22).

Jeremiah 3:13-21: “[13] Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. [14] Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: [15] And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. [16] And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. [17] At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. [18] In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. [19] But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. [20] Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. [21] A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

“Sottish” can also mean “stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken.” This is another key to explaining Israel’s lack of mental acuity in the spiritual realm. Revelation chapter 17, descriptive of the Antichrist’s (future) false religious system, relays the following: “[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

The “wine” that will make the world and Israel drunken in the future under the Antichrist is false religion, Baal worship, pagan idolatry. Here is exactly what polluted the world and Israel during Old Testament times (especially throughout Jeremiah’s ministry). The Whore of Babylon is the culmination of the pagan idolatry that began at the Tower of Babel some 4,000 years ago. Even today, we believers in Christ are told not only to avoid inebriation with physical wine, but also not be drunk with figurative wine (mind-altering false teaching).

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).

Read Jeremiah 4:22 again: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” This stands in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s will for the Body of Christ in Romans 16:19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise [skilled] unto that which is good, and simple [uninformed, ignorant] concerning evil.Have we been faithful in following Romans here? Nay! Have we grasped even the basics of the Dispensation of Grace as found in Romans? Nay!

Throughout the 20 centuries of its existence, the professing Body of Christ has been skillful in reciting denominational creeds and prayers, knowledgeable of the writings of the church fathers, and mindful of intellectual gymnastics and conspiracy theories, but—after 2,000 years of having a completed Holy Bible—can it identify what Father God is doing today and what He would have us do today? Nay! Beloved, we are following in the footsteps of ancient “sottish” Israel! If we are to grow up in grace, we had better listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» What is a “lunatick?”
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» How do I know if I am maturing in the Word of God?

Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ACTS 19:13-16?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dr. Luke penned the following in Acts chapter 19: “[13] Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. [14] And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [15] And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? [16] And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” To the say the least, like many accounts in the Book of Acts, this passage is quite unusual. What is its implication? Why did the Holy Spirit include it in Holy Writ? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

If we start back at verses 11-12, we will see the contrast: “[11] And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: [12] So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” During this time of the Acts transitional period, “special miracles” in the Apostle Paul’s ministry are being witnessed. The Holy Spirit is endorsing or authenticating Paul’s apostleship (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12): what He did with Peter, He is now doing with Paul. Israel should take note of her God working amongst the Gentiles.

Remember the Apostle Peter’s miraculous demonstrations in chapter 5 of Acts: “[12] And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. [13] And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. [14] And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) [15] Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. [16] There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.”

In the case of Paul’s healing handkerchiefs or aprons, these were used to heal the sick and cast out devils. Israel’s God, once working with the Little Flock (Israel’s believing remnant), is now working with Paul and the Body of Christ. The Book of Acts is the record of God’s transition from Israel to the Body of Christ, moving from prophecy to mystery. (See our related “Acts” studies linked at the end of this article for more information.) In stark contrast to Paul casting out devils (Acts 19:11-12), the Holy Spirit speaks of vagabond Jews unsuccessfully exorcising unclean spirits (verses 13-16). This documentation further reinforces the concepts of Paul’s apostleship and Israel’s unbelief during the Acts period.

To grasp the thrust of the verses, we run through Acts 19:13-16 again, this time expounding line upon line. Verse 13 once more: “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” These Jews are “vagabond,” wanderers or drifters. Here is national Israel depicted, apostate and unbelieving, not knowing where they are going doctrinally (or what they are doing spiritually)! Presumptuous, having been audacious in assuming upon themselves some supernatural power over Satan’s evil spirit minions, they attempt to use Paul’s apostolic authority (for they have none themselves). They therefore declare to the devils, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”

Move to verse 14: “And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.” These priestly men—plus Sceva (“left-handed,” or weak) their father and leader—should be down in Jerusalem serving at the Temple. Instead, as noted already, they are roaming about near Ephesus (western Turkey). Their failure to uphold sound Bible doctrine proves fatal to their mission, as shown in verse 15: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” This evil spirit recognizes Jesus’ authority and Paul’s authority, but rightly sees the sons of Sceva as defenseless. Unsurprisingly, charlatans do not intimidate a devil! Verse 16 informs us: “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” To say the least, this failed exorcism was most embarrassing! Such a disaster proved these sons of Sceva were nothing but counterfeit miracle-workers (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).

The news of this spread to nearby Ephesus, as verse 17 relates: “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Finish the rest of the account: “[18] And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. [19] Many of them also which used curious arts [witchcraft/occult/idolatry/philosophy] brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. [20] So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” This is actually the start of the church at Ephesus, to which Paul would write the Book of Ephesians many years later. Once these pagans heard how the evil spirit acknowledged Jesus’ power as well as Paul’s apostolic power, but refused to obey the sons of Sceva, these heathen converted to Paul’s ministry. Verse 15 again: “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”

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 s 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:
» Could you explain Acts 19:1-7?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during Acts?
» Can you explain Peter and the 11’s ministry from Acts chapters 7 through 15?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?
» Should we use the word “demons?” Are they the same as devils?
» Why could the disciples not cast out the devil in Matthew 17:14-21?
» Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to Heaven? Do not the devils believe?

Who were the “Libertines?”

WHO WERE THE “LIBERTINES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The title is found a single time in the Authorized Version, Acts 6:9: “Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.” Exactly who are these “Libertines?”

As their name implies, they are liberated. In Latin, they are known as “libertini,” meaning “freedmen.” According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Libertines “were probably Jews who, having been taken prisoners by Pompey [106–48 B.C.] and other Roman generals in the Syrian wars, had been reduced to slavery, and had afterward been emancipated, and returned, permanently or for a time, to the country of their fathers.”

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon supplies additional insight concerning Libertines: “Jews who had been made captives by the Romans under Pompey but were afterward set free; and who, although they had fixed their abode at Rome, had built at their own expense a synagogue at Jerusalem which they frequented when in that city. The name Libertines adhered to them to distinguish them from the free-born Jews who had subsequently taken up their residence at Rome.”

Ironically, the Libertines were physically free but spiritually bound—captive to sin and Satan. Instead of listening to Stephen and converting to Jesus Christ, they argued with him and conspired to get him in trouble with the common Jewish people in Jerusalem! They blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, apostate (unbelieving) Israel subsequently killed Stephen and contributed to their fall in Acts chapter 7. (See our related studies linked below.)

Also see:
» What does “suborned” mean in Acts 6:11?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Did Acts 7:60 predict the Dispensation of Grace?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

How did Israel manipulate Moses to murder Messiah?

HOW DID ISRAEL MANIPULATE MOSES TO MURDER MESSIAH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In chapter 3 of Acts, the Apostle Peter preached to unsaved Israel: “[13] The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. [14] But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; [15] And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. [16] And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. [17] And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. [18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

Focus on verse 17: “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” How could Israel have been so blind in rejecting Jesus as Messiah, the God-Man who fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies? Simple. It was willful ignorance (like the millions today who still reject Him). They do not want to know the truth. Ignorance is bliss—they are happy exactly where they are spiritually. You could share verses with them until you were hoarse, and you would get nowhere with them.

Deuteronomy chapter 13 explains how Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

“[6] If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [7] Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; [8] Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: [9] But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. [10] And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. [11] And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.”

When Israel’s religious leaders saw Jesus performing miracles (verses 1-5), and all His followers worshipping Him (verses 6-11), they used Moses (quoted above) to justify killing Jesus and His disciples. Jesus was seen as a fraud, a blasphemer. Their deluded, unbelieving hearts could not see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law! Interestingly, yet future, the Antichrist will use Deuteronomy 13:1-11 to justify his killing of believing Jews. Indeed, if not handled properly, the Bible can be a dangerous book! Ironically, unbelieving Israel applied this death penalty to the true Messiah, Jesus the Lord. Viewing Him as a deceiver and blasphemer, they had no problem killing Him at Calvary. But, that is not the end of their spiritual insanity!

When the Antichrist, the false Christ, comes yet future (John 5:43), Israel will accept him as true (when Moses above was really telling Israel to kill him!). If not believed as a whole, the Bible can be a dangerous book! We must never rip verses from their context! In his farewell epistle, the Apostle Peter mentioned people who “wrest” the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16): they distort the meaning or interpretation of Bible verses so the verses seem to support to their opinions or views (“private interpretations;” 2 Peter 1:20). However, the Bible has been turned into a lie at this point. Before you think about Christendom’s excessive mishandling of the Holy Bible to create thousands upon thousands upon thousands of denominations, remember that the Scriptures were often largely misused long before Christianity.

Again, consider how the nation Israel (mis)handled Deuteronomy 13:1-11. They chose to use those few verses to condemn and kill Jesus Christ, all the while ignoring over 300 Old Testament prophecies that justified and validated Him as their God manifest in the flesh! Aptly, Jesus said that they did not believe Moses. Had they believed Moses they would have believed Jesus because Moses wrote about Jesus (John 5:39-47)—animals killed to clothe Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark as salvation from divine punishment, Abraham offering his only begotten son Isaac, Joseph’s betrayal by his brethren, the Passover lamb killed to ward off the death angel, and the whole law system (priesthood, sacrifices, tabernacle, holy vessels, feast days, et cetera), all depicted the Lord Jesus in some way. Israel ignored the fact that Jesus arrived exactly when Daniel predicted Messiah would be born (9:24-26), disregarded Micah’s prediction about Messiah’s birthplace (5:2), and ignored Isaiah when he described Messiah’s ministry, message, and miracles (35:3-6; 53:4; 61:1-2). On and on we could go, but these must suffice.

Who was leading Israel’s rebellion against the Lord Jesus? Saul of Tarsus! First Timothy 1:13 is the Apostle Paul’s reflection on his early years, when he served in the Devil’s ministry: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (cf. Acts 3:17). What grace and love God poured out on Saul (verse 14), when he deserved God’s wrath poured out on him! Yes, Saul had led Israel in manipulating Moses to murder Messiah, but to him, God’s goodness gave great grace!

Israel knew they were killing the Lord Jesus. It was great spiritual insanity. When God opened our Dispensation of Grace in Acts chapter 9, a twofold benefit arose. Firstly, the Gentiles whom God had consigned to Satan could now be saved by Jesus’ finished crosswork. Secondly, the Jews who were still in unbelief—the very ones who deliberately killed Jesus Christ—could also be saved by simple faith in Calvary’s crosswork. Saul of Tarsus was in the latter group. Upon meeting the ascended Lord outside Damascus, Saul realized and trusted Jesus Christ’s righteousness and he forgot all about his foolishness in works-religion. God certainly came back in Acts chapter 9, not to pour out His wrath, but to pour out His grace and start the Church the Body of Christ! The leader of the world’s rebellion against Jesus Christ, Saul, the one who mercilessly imprisoned and slaughtered God’s Messianic Jews, Saul, was now saved unto eternal life.

Decades later, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “[15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” If God saved such a rebel as Saul of Tarsus, a wicked and bloodthirsty theologian, there is no person “too far gone” in unbelief and sin, whom God cannot save in a literal heartbeat today. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound(Romans 5:20). For nearly 2,000 years, God has offered salvation freely to all, Jew and Gentile alike, by His grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood for our sins, death, burial, and resurrection. The Gospel of the Grace of God, the heart of the Dispensation of the Grace of God, is the only way we can approach Almighty God today!

Also see:
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!”
» If they were fulfilling Bible prophecy, how are Christ’s murderers culpable of wrongdoing?
» How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?

» Who was more responsible for Jesus’ death—the Jews or the Romans?

What will Israel’s future re-gathering be like?

WHAT WILL ISRAEL’S FUTURE RE-GATHERING BE LIKE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers (Jeremiah 16:14-15). If you think God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was spectacular, just wait until you see what He has in store in prophecy!

A survey of the so-called “Old Testament” (Genesis through Malachi) yields numerous references to the standard of God’s power concerning His dealings with Israel. One way JEHOVAH God reminded Israel of His power was to mention their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Pharaoh had so horribly treated their ancestors and he refused to release them, but, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had used Moses, the great “Law-giver,” to forcefully deliver and lead Israel to freedom in their Promised Land! So many centuries of hopeless oppression have given way to a magnificent exodus out of Egypt. For brevity’s sake, we will quote the verses without commenting.

“I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6). No idol had delivered Israel; however, JEHOVAH had. Therefore, in the First Commandment, He instructed them to worship Him alone. Israel was to lead a separate and unique life, for God had separated her from the world, particularly Egypt. Leviticus 11:45: “For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” It was what God did for them, not what they did for Him! Leviticus 26:13: “I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” Let us proceed to look at other related passages.

The nation Israel is God’s great “sign” nation in Scripture. Miraculous demonstrations—physical, visible manifestations of God’s power—are Israel’s national birthright, meant to teach her doctrine (Exodus 4:1-9; Psalm 74:9; 1 Corinthians 1:22; et cetera). The standard of God’s power to Israel was His delivering them from their Egyptian bondage. Scripture makes many references to that event, particularly the parting of the Red Sea.

Note more examples. Exodus 32:11: “And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?” And, 2 Kings 17:36, “But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.” Jeremiah 32:21: “And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror.” Finally, Ezekiel 20:9,10: “[9] But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. [10] Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.” Why did God manifest His power to Israel in this manner? How did Israel respond? Let us search the Scriptures and find out!

For centuries, Egypt held helpless Israel captive. However, JEHOVAH God would save them. It would be His power, not their efforts. As Exodus indicates, He poured out 10 mighty judgments on Egypt and her gods. Then, He destroyed Egypt’s armies with the Red Sea. Israel had simply let her God defeat Egypt by Himself. With Aaron’s help, only a few weeks after leaving Egypt, Israel made and worshipped a golden calf idol: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt(Exodus 32:4,8). Israel forgot that JEHOVAH, the living God, had delivered her. Instead, they credited the work of their hands as their deliverer. Insanity! They had forgotten JEHOVAH their Deliverer once there at Mount Sinai. Forty years later, they were warned not to forget JEHOVAH God again (Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:14).

Just before Joshua’s death, Israel said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed” (Joshua 24:16-17). Centuries later, under evil King Jeroboam, Israel made two golden calves, saying again, “Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt(1 Kings 12:28). Israel had again forgotten the LORD God their Deliverer. Soon, His wrath would fall on them, and they would be forced out of His land, scattered worldwide!

Just before Israel was expelled from the Promised Land, just before she entered captivity among the Gentiles (nations), the LORD voiced a controversy against her in Micah 6:3-4: “O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” God wanted ungrateful Israel to speak up as to why she had abandoned Him in favor of worthless, lifeless idols. “What, O what, Israel, have I done to you that you want nothing to do with Me?! Did I not deliver you from Egypt, from bondage?!” (You can sense God’s broken heart.)

Israel had reached her sin limit. She had broken the Covenant of Law for centuries. Pagan idols polluted God’s land through and through. And so, with Israel refusing to reform and return to JEHOVAH God, the fifth course of judgment fell. Just as Leviticus 26:27-43 said, God let Gentile armies come in and take Israel captive again. He drove Israel so forcefully from that land of Canaan. “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste” (verse 33). Historically, the Jews were gradually removed between 722 and 586 B.C., scattered worldwide. The Assyrians and Babylonians took them as prisoners of war. Israel was—and still is today—in bondage again. Jeremiah 16:14-15 says JEHOVAH God has a mighty deliverance planned for Israel. It will dwarf her release from Egypt!

Originally, God brought Israel out of Egypt so she would be His people: He would be their God and they would do His will in His land, the Promised Land. Yet, they were not interested. They wanted to do what they wanted. They preferred sin! Once they entered the Promised Land, they waxed worse and worse, until finally, God had enough of their idolatry. He ultimately evicted Israel, but not forever. For over 2,500 years now, the Jews have been scattered worldwide, living in and among the Gentile nations. Nationally, they have no Promised Land to own, no Davidic government to protect them, no earthly blessings to enjoy, no forgiveness of sins, nothing. All those centuries ago, they broke JEHOVAH God’s laws and commandments. They refused to turn back. In accordance with the final round of chastisement (Leviticus chapter 26), God permitted the Gentiles to come in and violently remove the Jews from Canaan.

Verses 44 and 45 of Leviticus chapter 26 are God’s promise to Israel: “And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.” No matter that fifth course of judgment, Israel’s dispersion and Gentile captivity, God would not destroy Israel. He would bring her back (Jeremiah 16:14-15)!

At Mount Sinai, the Jews had agreed to do “all” that the LORD had spoken (Exodus 19:8). Alas, an empty promise! They disobeyed Him for centuries. Whether you read the “Old Testament,” or secular history books, you learn that Israel failed under that Law Covenant. God, in order to cleanse His Promised Land, exiled the idolatrous Jews into foreign nations. Even today, the Gentiles dominate Israel and her land. This will continue until Jesus Christ returns.

God knew all along Israel—like all sinners—could never keep His commandments, but Israel was in denial and had to be taught it. Even though Israel failed miserably under the Law, it was only a temporary agreement. Long before Israel’s works were involved, God had promised to make Abraham’s seed His people forever (Genesis 12:1-3). Regardless of their works, God had promised to give Abraham, and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, the Promised Land forever (Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21). One day, Israel will learn once for all that she will receive God’s promises by God’s grace, not by her works!

As Israel needed God to deliver her from Egypt so He could bring her into His Promised Land, Israel needs Him to bring her back from Gentile captivity so she can enter that Promised Land forever. This prophetic return will be much grander than history. She was confined to one nation (Egypt); now, she is scattered worldwide. Her Egyptian bondage was just a few centuries; her worldwide captivity has lasted over 2,000 years. It looks hopeless, as if Israel will never return. Yet, the deliverance from Egypt was all a rehearsal for the future!

Although Israel messed up God’s purpose and plan for them once they came out of Egypt, Jeremiah 16:14-15 loops back to show us God will still fulfill His will with them (cf. Leviticus 26:44-45). Jeremiah chapter 16 resembles a passage descriptive of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to be Israel’s King. Jeremiah 23:5-8: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. [7] Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; [8] But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”

Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was glorious, but there is a greater deliverance yet future. The famous “Valley of Dry Bones” passage (Ezekiel chapter 37), which you should read in your own time, illustrates how God will bring redeemed Israel back from all those foreign nations. They will finally enjoy God’s earthly kingdom… they should have experienced it after leaving Egypt! Regardless of their failures, God will still be faithful to them. He will make them His people, fill them with His Spirit forever, and they will never disappoint Him again!

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).

Also see:
» “All Israel shall be saved?”
» Why did Jesus tell Israel they do not know the date of His return?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

Why was Moses ordered to be shoeless?

WHY WAS MOSES ORDERED TO BE SHOELESS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

We are all aware of that classic passage of Moses meeting the LORD God in the burning bush. Why did the LORD God order Moses to remove his shoes, and why was Moses “afraid to look upon God?” Let us search the Scriptures to find out.

The passage is Exodus 3:4-6: “[4] And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. [5] And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. [6] Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. As we have already stated, everyone familiar with the Bible has heard of Moses meeting the LORD in the burning bush. Unfortunately, meaningful details of the account have usually been overlooked. Let us begin reading chapter 3 of Exodus at the beginning—the context of our main text—and proceed to expound it.

“[1] Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. [2] And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. [4] And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. [5] And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. [6] Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

In the decades previous to Moses, his nation Israel multiplied in the land of Egypt. A new Pharaoh—fearing the Jews would outnumber the Egyptians and side with their enemies during wartime—ordered his people to kill the Hebrew baby boys (Exodus chapter 1). Chapter 2 chronicles Moses’ birth and his mother’s attempt to spare his life by placing him into a basket in the river; Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and raises him as her own son (verses 1-10).

According to Acts 7:23, “And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.” Return to Exodus chapter 2: “[11] And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. [12] And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. [13] And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? [14] And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. [15] Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.” Another 40 years pass!

Indeed, at the time of Moses meeting the LORD in the burning bush, he was 80 years of age. He had spent his first 40 years in Egypt, before fleeing to live in the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula for another 40 years. What was his reason for departing? The Prophet Stephen, speaking as the Holy Ghost led him, revealed the motive in Acts chapter 7: “[23] And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. [24] And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: [25] For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. [26] And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? [27] But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? [28] Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? [29] Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. [30] And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.”

Moses left Egypt because he had abandoned Israel. Remember, 40-year-old Moses, when he had approached his Jewish brethren in Egypt, was rejected. Again, recall Acts chapter 7: “[24] And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: [25] For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. Exodus chapter 2, verses 13 and 14: “And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.”

Moses left Egypt because he had given up on Israel! Remember the Jews’ hardships under “the king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8)? They are slaves, oppressed and seemingly forsaken of God. Moses attempted to help them, “but they understood not,” so he, rejected, fled to Sinai. Forty years later, Exodus chapter 2 says: “[23] And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. [24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. [25] And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”

God now appears to Moses in the burning bush. Continue reading in Exodus chapter 3: “[7] And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; [8] And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. [9] Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. [10] Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.”

Moses feared to look upon God because he knew he had abandoned Israel in Egypt. God appeared to remind him that, contrary to what Moses believed, He had not forgotten Israel, and that he (Moses) was negligent in forsaking Israel 40 years earlier. Concerning “the burning bush [that] was not consumed” (verse 2), that pictured Israel undergoing intense persecution in Egyptian bondage and yet not being annihilated. Moses had to be taught that God was still preserving her in that “iron furnace” (Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51; Jeremiah 11:4), and now it was time for Moses to return to Egypt and rescue her from Pharaoh. Moses was to bring them into God’s land, the Promised Land.

After Moses met the LORD in the burning bush, chapter 4 of Exodus reads: “[24] And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. [25] Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. [26] So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.” Why did God want to kill Moses? Moses, while in the wilderness 40 years, saw the Abrahamic Covenant as invalid. Contrary to God’s commandment in Genesis 17:9-14, he had not physically circumcised his son!

Once Moses heard “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” was addressing him, he recalled the Abrahamic Covenant. Although Israel was suffering in Egypt, their God had not forgotten them: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Exodus 2:24-25). When Moses encountered God, he was terrified. It was more than a sinful, mortal man seeing a holy, righteous God. The LORD ordered him to remove his shoes, for not only was Moses standing on “holy ground,” he had been in unbelief! Since Moses forsook Israel in Egypt four decades earlier, he was to take off his shoes. In Israel, the shoeless man was confessing his failure to fulfill his duty (see the levirate marriage situation of Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and Ruth 4:1-8). Now, Moses was ready to return to Egypt.

Moses had forgotten the LORD’S words to Father Abraham centuries before Israel’s Egyptian bondage: “[13] And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. [15] And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. [16] But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again [the Promised Land!]: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:13-16).

Now, God’s message to Abraham in chapter 17: “[6] And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. [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.” Moses was in unbelief when he left Israel in Egypt. God had not forsaken them as assumed. Despite their temporary captivity, the Abrahamic Covenant was permanent. As per God’s faithfulness, they would return to the land in which Abraham sojourned.

CONCLUSION

Once he met the LORD in the burning bush, Moses—although corrected with the removal of his shoes—reluctantly confronts Pharaoh. After intentionally delaying even more to judge sinful Egypt, God finally frees Israel with a mighty hand. For the final 40 years of his life, Moses leads Israel from Egypt to the eastern edge of the Promised Land. (The trip that would have lasted a few weeks was greatly lengthened after Israel’s unfaithfulness and subsequent wilderness wanderings!) Upon Moses’ decease, Joshua becomes Israel’s new leader and brings them westward across the Jordan River. Through a series of victorious wars, God enables them to conquer Palestine’s Gentile inhabitants.

Almost three decades later, aged and dying Joshua counsels Israel in Joshua chapter 23: “[4] Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward. [5] And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you. [6] Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;….” Alas, Israel forsook the LORD once she settled Canaan—worshipping and serving idols, and ultimately being scattered around the world!

Where Moses failed, God was faithful; where Israel was unreliable, God will be reliable. She will return to the land of her fathers in due time!

Also see:
» Why was the levirate marriage important in Bible times?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Who are the “lawyers” in Scripture?

Why was the levirate marriage important in Bible times?

WHY WAS THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE IMPORTANT IN BIBLE TIMES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The levirate marriage was the practice in ancient Israel whereby a widowed woman married her late husband’s brother. Such a union would produce at least one child to take the dead man’s place in the land. (“Levir” is Latin for “brother-in-law,” although, depending on the limitations of the situation, the woman could have even married her husband’s nephew, cousin, et cetera.) While we, of a different culture and time, consider this revolting, if we understand it as touching their conditions, there was nothing perverted or inappropriate about it.

In the Law of Moses, Deuteronomy chapter 25, the LORD God outlined the rules for this levirate marriage: “[5] If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. [6] And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. [7] And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. [8] Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; [9] Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. [10] And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.”

Blood lines were very essential in Israel, as land allotted to the 12 tribes was to stay within their respective tribes and not be transferred to other tribes. The death of a childless man meant his bloodline would cease, jeopardizing his inheritance, the estate possibly being lost to another tribe if his widow married a man of another tribe. If his surviving wife married his blood relative (brother, cousin, et cetera), however, the firstborn child of this new union would take the place of the deceased man. The birth of this new child, of the same bloodline as the man who died, would cause the inheritance/land to remain within the original family or tribe.

The classic example of a levirate marriage in Scripture is Ruth’s marital relationship with Boaz, her husband’s relative. Read the Book of Ruth for more information. Some bungled levirate marriages in the Bible are in Genesis 38:8-14—although this was long before the Law of Moses formally sanctioned such arrangements. By the way, the levirate marriage was the basis for the captious question the Sadducees posed to Jesus in an unsuccessful attempt to trap Him (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38).

Also see:
» Why was Moses ordered to be shoeless?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Who are the “lawyers” in Scripture?