Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teeth Like Swords and Knives

It's a relief to know that verses like these aren't talking about cannibalism!

There is a generation, whose
teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
Proverbs 30:14

"In the East table knives and forks were unknown until recent years. The people used their front teeth as knives to cut off pieces of meat. The reference here is to the oppressors who devour the poor and the needy. These men are known as having sharp teeth like swords. In American slang they are called "sharks."

When the Israelites forsook the way of the Lord and transgressed his commandments, their rulers and judges became wicked. They devoured the poor and corrupted justice. These wicked men had no knowledge of God, neither did they fear the Most High [Ps. 10:4].

In the East when princes or government officials defraud or exploit their people it is said, "They have devoured [eaten] the poor and the weak." Job says, "And I broke the jaws of the wicked, and snatched the prey out of his teeth" [Job 29:17, Eastern text]. Jesus used the same Aramaic metaphor: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you embezzle [Aramaic ‘eat’] the property of widows..." [Matt. 23:13, Eastern text].

Lamsa, George M. 1964. Old Testament Light. San Francisco: Harper Collins., pg 584

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Giving Good Gifts

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? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
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? Luke 11:11-13

"Bread in the East is not like what you are familiar with in the western world. Each piece is round and flat, about the size of a dinner plate. It is very thin and is cooked on both sides. . . When the bread is done it is placed on a stone which is about the same size as the bread. Ordinarily there would be several [loaves] in one stack. Then another stone would be placed on top to protect the bread. The women use ghee, which is [clarified] butter, in cooking the bread. Over a period of time the stones soak up the ghee and actually take on the appearance of the bread. . . Obviously, any Eastern father would know the difference between the stone and the bread, and he would never give the stone when his son has asked for bread."

"There are all kinds of fish in Eastern waters, and there are many serpents which look like fish. One who is unfamiliar with the fish and the serpents could easily mistake one for the other. But the Eastern fisherman knows the difference and will throw out of the net all serpents or anything else that is not fit for human consumption. The father would not think of giving his son a serpent instead of a fish."

"The body of a scorpion looks like an egg. The white scorpion, especially, could be mistaken for an egg. And if one would cut open its body, the inside is white and yellow just like an egg. So, you see, it is conceivable that a child would not know the difference. But his father knows, and the son has absolute confidence that he would not give anything that would harm him."

"The whole point is that Father knows best. . . There is also another lesson we can learn from this scripture: nothing that is harmful to us comes from God. He is more concerned about his children than earthly fathers are for theirs."

Reverend Dr. K.C. Pillai Orientalisms in the Bible

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Spirit of Adoption

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

The Greek is huiothesia, and it only occurs five times in the New Testament, all in the Church Epistles (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). According to Vine it means,

the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong.”

The Greek Lexicon by Louw and Nida says:

to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.”

Huiothesia literally means, “to place as a son.” “Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family. In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities (Charles Welch, Just and the Justifier. The Berean Publishing Trust, London, p. 212, with a fuller explanation on pp. 208-213).

Most importantly, by using the word “adoption,” God emphasizes that salvation is permanent for the Christian, which is why it appears only in the Church Epistles. Some versions translate huiothesia as “sonship,” but we believe that is not as good as “adoption.” While it is true that someone adopted into the family attains sonship (the status of a son), “adoption” is more accurate to the Greek meaning of the word, and it correctly expresses the fact that the adopted child is permanently placed in the family.

Birth seems so much more desirable than adoption that it is fair to ask why God would even use “adoption.” The answer is that the Romans recognized that when a baby was born, “you got what you got,” whether you liked it or not. This would include the sex of the child, birthmarks, etc. Thus, according to Roman law, a naturally born baby could be disowned from the family.

However, people adopting a child knew exactly what they were getting, and no one adopted a child unless that specific child was wanted as a family member, so according to law an adopted child could not be disowned. He or she was permanently added to the family. Many early believers were Roman citizens, and using the word “adoption” was one of God’s ways to let the Church know that He chose the children brought into His family, and they could not be taken from it.

The Roman historian William M. Ramsay writes:

“The Roman-Syrian Law-Book…where a formerly prevalent Greek law had persisted under the Roman Empire—well illustrates this passage of the Epistle. It actually lays down the principle that a man can never put away an adopted son, and that he cannot put away a real son without good ground. It is remarkable that the adopted son should have a stronger position than the son by birth, yet it was so.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fat Kidneys of Wheat

He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the
fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. Deuteronomy 32:13-14

The Hebrews regarded the fat as the choicest and best part of the animal, not to be eaten by men but to be burned upon the altar as an offering by fire to the LORD. "The two kidneys, with the fat that is on them at the loins" are especially mentioned in the law of sacrifice recorded in Leviticus 3 and 7. Hence the best part of anything was called its "fat."

"The fat of the land" which Joseph promised to his father and brothers meant the choicest products of the land (Genesis 45:18). "All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine and of the grain" (Numbers 18:12), "the finest of the wheat" (Psalms 81:16; 147:14) are phrases in which "best" and "finest" represent the Hebrew word for "fat." Therefore the strange expression, "the fat of kidneys of wheat," does not imply that there are any kidney-shaped grains of wheat; it means the kidney-fat, the best of the fat, the best of the best, of the wheat (Deuteronomy 32:14). [Donna: We would say "cream of the crop."]

(The Bible Word Book, Bridges & Weigle pg 195)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seven Kinds of Pharisees

In Matthew 23, Jesus denounced some of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and pronounced upon them a succession of seven woes. The word "woe" means overwhelming sorrow or grief. Generally a woe was pronounced as a warning of impending calamity. Jesus, however, was not the only one of that time period who condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

In rabbinic literature, the sages list seven plagues of the Pharisees. It is also important to note, however, that in both the rabbinic literature and the words of Jesus there were some good things said about the Pharisees that were good and commendable. Jesus, for example, pointed out that the scribes and the Pharisees sat in "Moses’ seat," which was a position of religious authority. He also said that the people should observe what the Pharisees taught them (Matthew 23:2-3). He warned, however, "but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not" (Verse 3).

The Jerusalem Talmud describes seven kinds of Pharisees, five of which were hypocrites, and two were good. These may be the same as the seven types of extremist Pharisees described in the Jerusalem Encyclopedia: (1) The Shoulder Pharisee paraded his good deeds before men like someone wearing a badge on his shoulder. Jesus began His diatribe against the Pharisees by mentioning the shoulder (Matthew 23:4). (2) The Wait-a-little Pharisee would ask someone to wait for him while he performed some good deed. (3) The Blind Pharisee would bruise himself walking into a wall because he had to shut his eyes to avoid seeing a woman. (4) The Pestle Pharisee walked with hanging head so as to not observe some alluring temptations. (5) The Ever-reckoning Pharisee was always counting his good deeds to see if they offset his failures. The two good Pharisees were: (6) the God-fearing Pharisee, who was truly righteous, like Job, and (7) the God-loving Pharisee, who had a true affection for God, like Abraham.

(Moseley, Ron. Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Hagerstown, MD: Ebed Publications., pgs 109-110)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Widow's Son

If you haven't seen it yet, hurry and get the BYU video about the widow of Zarephath. It is beautifully done. I thought this was an interesting Jewish tradition about the name of the widow's son.

And the word of the LORD came unto him [Elijah], saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
1 Kings 17:8-12

According to Jewish sources, "The son of the widow of Zerephath was the [Prophet] Jonah...."

(Patai, Raphael. 1979. The Messiah Texts. Detroit: Wayne State University Press., pg 129)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Satan's Rank and File

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12

Rick Renner gives us useful insights into Paul's Greek terminology:

"All serious scholars agree that the language of Ephesians 6:12 is military language. It seems evident that Paul had received a revelation of how Satan’s kingdom has been aligned militarily.
At the very top of Satan’s dark domain, there is a group of demon spirits whom Paul calls “principalities.” The word “principality” is taken from the word archas (arch-as), an old word that is used symbolically to denote “ancient, ancient times.” Furthermore, it is also used to depict individuals who “hold the highest and loftiest position of rank and authority.”

By using the word archas (“principalities”), Paul emphatically tells us that at the very top of Satan’s domain is a group of demon spirits who have held their lofty positions of power and authority since ancient times — probably ever since the fall of Lucifer.

Then Paul continues to mention “powers” as those evil forces that are second in command in Satan’s dark dominion. The word “powers” is taken from the word exousia (ex-ou-sia), and it denotes “delegated authority.”

This tells us that there is a lower-ranking group of demon spirits who have received “delegated authority” from Satan to do whatever they want to do, wherever they desire to do it. This second group of demon spirits have “delegated authority” to carry out all manner of evil and wickedness.

Next, Paul mentions “the rulers of the darkness of this world.” What an amazing word this is! It is taken from the word kosmokrateros (kos-mo-kra-te-ros), and is a compound of the words kosmos and kratos. The word kosmos denotes “order” or “arrangement,” while the word kratos has to do with “raw power.”

When these two words are compounded together into the word kosmokrateros, they depict “raw power that has been harnessed and put into some kind of order.” This word was technically used by the Greek to describe certain aspects of the military.

Why did the ancient Greeks use the word kosmokrateros to depict certain aspects of the military? Because the military was filled with young men who had a lot of natural ability — raw power, if you will. In order for that raw power to be effective, it had to be harnessed and organized (kosmos).

Thus, young soldiers with abounding energy were taught to be submitted, disciplined, ordered and perfectly arranged. This is the picture of rank and file. In the end, all of those men, with all of that raw ability, were turned into a massive force.

Now Paul uses this same idea! By using the phrase “rulers of the darkness of this world,” he tells us that the devil deals with his dark legions of demon spirits like they are troops! He puts them in rank and file, gives them orders and assignments, and then sends them out like troops who are committed to kill....

Finally, Paul mentions “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The word “wickedness” is taken from the word poneros (po-ne-ros), and it is used to depict something that is “bad,” “vile,” “malevolent,” “vicious,” “impious” or “malignant.”

It is important that Paul would save this word until the end of this verse. By saving this phrase until the last, he is telling us the ultimate aim of Satan’s dark domain: these spirits are sent forth from the spirit realm to afflict humanity in a “bad, vile, malevolent, vicious, impious and malignant” way."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Big Changes after Savior's Death

Here's some additional information about a previously posted
topic...and then we'll move on tomorrow to other subjects.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Hebrews 9:12

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Every year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of Israel entered the Most Holy Place (also known as the Holy of Holies) to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed goat as an offering for the sins of the people. A second animal was designated as the scapegoat and a red sash was tied around its horns. The priest then laid his hands on the head of the scapegoat and it was sent away in the wilderness, symbolic of sending away the sins of the people. It was escorted to the wilderness by a priest, who waited to release the goat until a specific sign from God was given: the red sash would turn to white, signifying that God had accepted the sacrifice and forgiven the sins of the people.

This transaction was repeated annually without fail—the sash always supernaturally changed color—until one very eventful year. It was the year of the death of Jesus. The Talmud makes this incredible concession: “Forty years before the Holy Temple was destroyed, the lot of the Yom Kippur goat ceased to be supernatural; the red cord of wool that used to change white now remained red and did not change, and the western candle in the menorah in the sanctuary refused to burn continually, while the doors of the Holy Temple would open of themselves.[note: these huge doors usually needed TEN priests to open them!]

Some eye-opening things were taking place, among them the sign that God no longer accepted the Yom Kippur sacrifice. The red sash now remained red because the acceptable sacrifice had been fulfilled in the death of the suffering servant, the Messiah. And the Talmud itself confirms that this change occurred around 30 C.E.

(Peterson, Galen. 1995. The Everlasting Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications., pgs 94-95)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dressing the Incense Lamps

And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he
dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. Exodus 30:7 See Exodus 27:21.

Incense had a symbolic significance, as is evident from Ps. 141: 2, “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee.” It became a metaphor for fervent and contrite Prayer. The Rabbis explained that the four letters of the Hebrew word for incense stood for holiness, purity, pity (compassion), and hope—a wonderful summary of the prerequisites of Prayer and of its spiritual results in the lives of men.

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 339)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Acceptable Sacrifice

I always wondered how Cain knew that his sacrifice wasn't acceptable. Apparently, Abel's sacrifice was consumed by a fire from Heaven as a token of being accepted by the Lord. Elijah also demonstrated this with his water-soaked offering. Such "divine fire' was considered a manifestation of the Lord's presence among the people. That this was a pattern is shown below.

And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
Leviticus 9:24

In this case, portions of sacrificial flesh still upon the Altar-hearth were suddenly consumed by Divine fire—a sign that the sacrifice and what it denoted found favor in the sight of God; cf. 1 Kings 18: 38.

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 445)

Such "fire from before the Lord" was preserved and used as "divine fire" to light the Menorah and later offerings in the Temple.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corruption of Herod's Temple

"By Jesus’ day, Herod had greatly enlarged the temple at Jerusalem. To give you some idea of the size Herod’s temple mount (the temple platform with the colonnades) is 35 acres while David’s City is 13 acres in size. The simplicity of the temple was already beginning to be lost in Solomon’s temple. The tabernacle altar was 3 x 5 cubits. The altar in Solomon’s temple was 32 feet wide and 16 feet tall while Herod the Great’s altar was 45 feet tall!

...Let me summarize a few issues related to the temple. In Jesus’ day the office of the high priest went to the highest bidder. Whichever priestly family could pay Pontius Pilate the most money became the high priest. Most of the priestly families that controlled the temple in Jesus’ day were Sadducees rather than Pharisees. They owned all the shops on the south side of the temple where the buying and selling occurred. Everything was over priced and the priests got kickback commissions on all the buying and selling.

In the temple, people were making a racket out of the worship of God; just as late night TV Christian programs do in this country. Priests during the time of Jesus dedicated the morning offering to the emperor. This was not remembering your rulers in your prayer bur rather dedicating the morning offering to the emperor. There was supposed to be a morning and an evening offering to the Lord. In Herod’s temple, the morning offering was dedicated to the emperor. Religious Jews plugged their ears when the priests said that phrase.

In 66 A.D. when the Zealots drove the Romans from Jerusalem, the first thing they did was to stop the morning offering. As Richard Nixon would say, "To make one thing perfectly clear, this is revolt. There ain’t any prayer dedicating the offering to the emperor." The Bible says, "Thou shalt have a morning and an evening offering." They could have just stopped the prayer dedicating the morning to the emperor and kept the offering, but they wanted to make sure Rome knew this was a rebellion and so they stopped the morning offering completely.

The second thing they did was to kill most of the priests. The Zealots killed most of the priests, which lets you know that the wealthy, priestly aristocracy was completely alienated from the population. It was a very popular thing Jesus did when he turned the moneychangers’ tables over on Palm Sunday. It was not something that only Jesus was thinking about. This would have been greatly acclaimed by most of the people because of the corruption that came to the temple."

Fleming, James W. 2002. Desert Spirituality. Biblical Resources Conference Lecture Series, June., pgs 64-65

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stones Most Precious

I'm aware that there is disagreement among scholars regarding the colors of stones mentioned in scripture. Possibly some might argue about this quote, but I really like the way this writer thinks.

Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Revelation 21:11

"The jasper of the Revelation is not the opaque stone we know by that name. It is later described as a crystal (chapter 21:11). It is probably the diamond, the most brilliant of all the precious jewels. The other stone is blood red, and may really be the ruby. Thus the two together give the idea of glory and sacrifice.

Remembering that many of the first readers of the Revelation were converted Jews, we might ask, what would these stones suggest to them? Surely every instructed Hebrew would instantly recall that they were the first and last stones in the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:17-20). As these stones bore the names of the tribes of Israel, arranged according to the births of the twelve patriarchs, the one would suggest at once the name of Reuben, “behold a son,” and the other Benjamin, “son of my right hand.” It is Christ enthroned; the Son about to reign in power Who was before the seer’s vision.

(Ironside, Dr. Harrry A., Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 12th ed., Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1942, pgs 80-81)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Amazing Temple Incense

"In April 1992, Vendyl [Jones] and his team discovered 600 kilos of "reddish-brown organic substance" in a carefully sealed rock silo in another part of the Qumran cave complex. Subsequent...analysis determined that this reddish-brown substance contains traces of at least eight of the eleven spices that were used in the manufacture of the Incense Mixture and burned in the Temple. In 1994, the incense spices were presented to Rav Yehudah Getz, late Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Places in Israel. A sample was also given to Rav Ovadiah Yoseph. Rav Ovadiah had his own chemist analyze the mixture to confirm its organic nature.

Then both rabbis requested that Vendyl Jones "burn" some of the incense for scientific purposes (not with fire but with hydrochloric acid). At their suggestion, he had the spices combined together with the Sodom Salt and Karshina Lye which were also found stored separately in the cave in Qumran. The results were astonishing. Although the spices had lost some of their potency over the two millennia (!!) since their burial, it was still powerful. The residue of its fragrance lingered in the vicinity for several days following the experiment. Several people present reported that their hair and clothing retained the aroma.

More amazing, the area in which the spices were burned changed. It had been infested with a variety of flies, ants, moths and other insects. After the Qetoret (incense) was burned, no sign of these pests was seen for quite a while. This is reminiscent of the Mishnah in Avot (5:5) which states that there were no flies in the area of the Temple, nor was a snake or scorpion ever able to harm anyone anywhere in Jerusalem as long as the Temple stood.

Rabbi Avraham Sutton

Friday, September 11, 2009

Water From Under Temple Mount

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.
Ezekiel 47:1

Some problems are created by certain enigmatic aspects in Ezekiel. Chapter 47 relates in detail that one day water will come out "from under the threshold of the temple towards the east" and will rise until it is "deep enough to swim in", causing "a great number of trees" to grow on each of its banks. The Dead Sea, at that appointed time only about two kilometers from Jerusalem at its nearest point, will be full of "fish of many kinds–like the fish of the Great Sea [the Mediterranean]."

This, according to scientists, is possible at any time, if the so-called "East African Rift", which begins in far-off Tanzania and comes up through the Red Sea to the Dead Sea depression, were for some reason to split. I have myself seen detailed maps which show how the situation is being followed by seismographic and other methods. There are channels in the Red Sea basin in which the water temperature is as high as 50 degrees centigrade because of the thinness of the earth’s crust, and the shores of the Aqaba bay, for example, are continually moving away from each other at a significant rate. Joel 3:18 and Zechariah 14:4-8 offer similar descriptions of mystical water-miracles in the Last Days. Geological research shows this all to be quite possible.

(Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Jerusalem: Yanetz Limited., pg 178)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Death at the Hands of Heaven

Another wonderful quote by Karen Boren:

In The Shocken Book of Mystical Testimonies a selection from The Zohar tells about a chain with scarlet thread wound through it which was attached to the High Priest: “Rabbi Isaac said: A chain was tied to the leg of the Priest as he went in so that if he died there they could pull his body out.” Remember, no one except the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, even to remove the body of the current High Priest should he be striken dead there.

It was no small thing to approach the Lord in the Holy of Holies if you were not worthy. What would happen to the man who had “purchased” the office of High Priest for wealth and prestige? Rabbi Judah Nadich notes that the high priests who served in the First Temple period were righteous so there were only 18 to hold this office. But during the time of the Second Temple wealthy men bribed their way into office so there were many more who held this position—Nadich estimates between 80 and 85. After deducting 141 years of service for four righteous High Priests (about 35 years each, a number fitting for what was supposed to be a lifetime position), Nadich suggests

it can be seen that none of the rest completed even one year of service. This was because they rose to the office not through merit but through bribery. For example, Martha, the daughter of Boethus, brought a measure full of dinars to King Alexander Yannai to persuade him to nominate her husband Joshua ben Gamla, for the high priesthood.

And Abarbenel notes: “Many unworthy Kohanim met their death by the hands of Heaven in the Holy of Holies.” The priests officiating in the Temple had every right to suspect that their High Priest might have been killed if he tarried too long after entering the Holiest Place! And now that you know that the office of High Priest, which was supposed to be a lifetime job, was rolled over to the highest bidder, can’t you detect a wee note of sarcasm in John’s remark about Caiaphas being the high priest “that year”?!

(Boren, Karen, Messiah of the Winepress Christ and the Red Heifer, Beit Parah Publishing, Provo, UT, 2002, pgs 138-139)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Temple and Missionary Service

I love the connection between missionary work and Temple service that Alfred Edersheim makes in this quote.

Other Rabbinical ordinances, however, are not so easily explained, unless on the ground of the avoidance of every occupation and undertaking other than worship. Thus ‘no man might go on the Temple Mount with his staff,’ as if on business or pleasure; not yet ‘with shoes on his feet’–sandals only being allowed; nor ‘with the dust upon his feet;’ nor ‘with his scrip,’ nor ‘with money tied to him in his purse.’ Whatever he might wish to contribute either to the Temple, or for offerings, or for the poor must be carried by each ‘in his hand,’ possibly to indicate that the money about him was exclusively for an immediate sacred purpose.

It was probably for similar reasons that Jesus transferred these very ordinances to the disciples when engaged in the service of the real Temple. The direction, ‘Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves,’ must mean, Go out in the same spirit and manner as you would to the Temple services, and fear not–‘for the workman is worthy of his meat’ (Matt. 10:9, 10). In other words: Let this new... service be your only thought, undertaking, and care.

(Edersheim, Alfred. 1994. The Temple: Its Ministry and Services. Updated edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers., pg 40)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Priestly Garments

And you shall make sacred garments for Aaron your brother, for honor and for beauty. And you shall speak to all who are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a quilted undercoat, a mitre, and a girdle; and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, and his sons, that he may minister to me in the priest’s office …” (Ex. 28:2–4)

"Moses was instructed by [God] that the garments of the priests were to be both dignified and beautiful; as precious as the garments of royalty. Indeed, the Talmud informs us that when the wicked Persian king Ahasuerus made a feast for his advisors and officers and sought to impress them with his greatness (as recorded in the scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim) he put off his own royal vestments and donned the uniform of the High Priest…which was more precious than his own. These priestly garments were in his possession since the First Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. ...

The Garments Possess An Intrinsic Holiness

No priest, neither lay nor the High Priest himself, is fit to serve in the Temple unless he is wearing the sacred garments. As the Talmud states, “While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them(BT Zevachim 17:B). Conducting the service without these garments would render the priests the same as those who are not descendants of Aaron—all of whom are unfit for service in the Temple. ...

Actually, the Hebrew expression which we are translating as “sacred” or “holy” garments also means “garments of the Temple;” that is, the garments themselves show that their wearers are standing in the Divine service.

See rest of the article at (

Monday, September 7, 2009

Heartbreaking Put-down

In the Fourth Century, after the Church took over the Empire, the Christian rulers thought of a graphic way to demonstrate Justin Martyr's claim that God's covenants were under new management. They began forcing the Jerusalem residents to dump their daily garbage on the Temple Mount.

When the Moslems took Jerusalem in 638, the Omayyad caliph Abd al-Malik wanted to build a monument on the Temple Mount, but the mountain of rotting refuse rose so high and spread so far that they could not find the ruins of the Temple. An old Jew living nearby promised to show him the exact spot if the caliph would swear to preserve the Western Wall. "So the king straightway put his hand on the thigh of the old man and swore by oath to do what he demanded." The caliph personally helped clean up the ruins and then built the Dome of the Rock directly over the spot the old man pointed out.

Hammer, Reuven. The Jerusalem Anthology. The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1995.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Drink Offering

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 2 Timothy 4:6
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 2 Timothy 4:6 [NIV]

"Twice Paul refers to himself as a “drink offering,” here and in Philippians 2:17. In the Old Testament, a drink offering was a small portion of wine poured around the base of the altar of the animal sacrifice. It was a small thing compared to the carcass of the animal that was being sacrificed, but it expressed the worshiper’s thankfulness to God.

Paul sees himself in the same way, particularly as he knows his life is ending. His service to God is an insignificant thing in comparison to the sacrifice of Christ, but it is freely offered to God in gratitude."

(General Editor Jean E. Syswerda, NIV Women of Faith Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mischigan, 2001, pg 1980)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Scapegoat

A wonderful quote by gifted LDS author and researcher, Karen Boren:

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
Leviticus 16:7-10

The special service for atonement and forgiveness is described in Abarbanel’s commentary where he writes there were two goats “for a sin offering, belonging communally to the nation, one of which was sacrificed and one of which was sent to Azazel, the wilderness.”

Before the scapegoat (and that’s just exactly where this term came from) was sent out to die (carrying the sins of Israel), scarlet wool was tied to the goat’s horns and also to the door of the sanctuary. Abarbanel writes of this scarlet wool tied to the goat’s head and notes that rather than the door of the sanctuary, the wool was tied to the temple gate from which the goat is sent out. Regardless of which door or gate it was on, this scarlet wool was key to Israel knowing if their sins had been forgiven them for that year.

In the Mishnah (Yoma 6, 8) it says: They said to him – to the High Priest – “The he-goat has reached the wilderness.” And whence did they know that the he-goat had arrived at the wilderness? — They used to set up sentry stations and wave with cloths, and thus they knew that the he-goat had reached the wilderness…R. Ishmael says, “And did they not have another sign?—A strip of crimson wool was tied to the door of the sanctuary and when the he-goat reached the wilderness [and was killed] the strip turned white; as it is said, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as the snow.’”

(Boren, Karen, Messiah of the Winepress Christ and the Red Heifer, Beit Parah Publishing, Provo, UT, 2002, pg 138)