Salvation from Genesis to Revelation Part 4

So far we’ve seen how the theme of salvation progressed from the Tanach (Old Testament) through a major portion of the Brit Chadashah (New Testament).  Initially, Israel was often saved from their physical enemies.  Eventually, their enemies had infiltrated their communities and influenced them to commit idolatry.  In Yeshua’s day, many people were not walking in obedience to the law despite the fact their forefathers had spent time in exile in Babylon.  It was necessary for Yeshua to save Israel from the path of death they were on by calling the Jews to repentance; He did this by encouraging them to return to the law of YHVH.

Many people in the Hebraic Roots movement are saying that salvation is a future thing.  Because of this, we looked at the tense, mood, and voice of the Greek verb for “saved” to determine whether being saved is a past event or not.  The vast majority of times this verb is used in the Brit Chadashah, it’s in the aorist tense which is a past event. It is often in the indicative mood which is a point in time event.  Only in Ephesians 2:8-9 is the perfect form used; this usage is a past completed action that has an on-going effect.  The verses with a future tense refer to something that will happen in the future when certain conditions are met.  At that point, salvation would be a past event.  If someone has convinced you to stop ignoring God’s commandments and to live a life of obedience, you have been saved or rescued from the path of destruction and death that you were on.

Even so, Israel can expect a physical salvation from their enemies during the Battle of Armageddon and during the Battle of Gog and Magog.  The purpose of salvation is to rescue people from the ultimate curse of the law which is death; the only way to do this is to take them back to the same choice between life and death that Moses set before the people and encourage them to choose life.  Choosing life requires people to accept the terms of the covenant between YHVH and Israel.  These terms will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away.

We’ve seen that salvation in Exodus preceded entering the covenant with YHVH.  In addition, we’ve looked at how to enter the new covenant; this is patterned after how people entered the original covenant. It is clear that we are saved by faith yet we are justified by our works; in other words, our works (Torah obedience which includes acts of kindness) demonstrate our faith.  In addition, Paul was right to say that we should not abolish the law because of faith; he upheld the law (Romans 3:31).

Yeshua lived righteously.  He is the Cornerstone and Gate of Salvation which allows us to enter the covenant and experience blessing (life).  We have been given the Ruach HaKodesh so we can walk in the Ruach like Yeshua did, and not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  If we are led by the Ruach, we are not under the curse of the law (death); instead we are choosing life.

What we need to know now is how Yeshua is going to firmly establish his kingdom.  This will require the future physical salvation of His people.  Remember, God shows us what is to happen in the future in the events of the past.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 says: “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”

We see the present and future in the patterns of the past.  They are thematic shadows, and not necessarily exact.  Sometimes thematic events happen in unexpected ways.  Sometimes there is opposition (the opposite of what we expect happens); this could be a result of the personal choices people make.  Sometimes a single person may play one or more roles as compared to the original pattern; the opposite is true as well.  Sometimes, the order of events might be out of order due to a particular reason.  Often what applies to an individual can apply to a corporate body; the reverse of this is true as well.  Despite this, the patterns are there.  We can see what God did in the past and understand what He intends to do in the future.

The salvific patterns we need to remember are:

  • Preservation of a Remnant
  • Messiah and Anti-Messiah
  • The Establishment of Messiah’s Reign
  • The Establishment of the Kingdom of God
  • Slain from the Foundation of the World

When you look at these, it may be helpful to read down the first column to see the sequence of events.  Then, read each row to see how the pattern was repeated or will be repeated.

The following pattern is the “Preservation of a Remnant”:

Preservation of a Remnant

Joseph

Moses

Yeshua

God sent Joseph to Egypt to:

·         Preserve a posterity for the sons of Israel in the earth;

·         Save their lives by a great deliverance.

God sent Moses back to Egypt to:

·         Preserve a posterity for the sons of Israel in the earth

·         Save their lives by a great deliverance.

God sent Yeshua to His people to:

·         Preserve a posterity (remnant) for the sons of Israel in the earth

·         Save their lives by a great deliverance

Joseph gave instructions for the collection of grain for the coming famine.

Joseph provided grain to the known world so they could live and not die.

YHVH provided manna, quail, and water for His people who were under Moses’ leadership.

He also gave them the terms of the covenant so they could choose to live and not die.

Yeshua taught the Word of God (spiritual food & terms of the covenant); preached repentance; and gave His life so the world could live and not die.

 

This pattern shows what Yeshua’s goals were in the first century.  In Joseph’s and Moses’ time, the people are entering, in, or coming out of Egypt.  By Yeshua’s day, YHVH’s people are in a kind of spiritual Egypt.  YHVH provided the means to preserve and save them.  Note that in each column there is some kind of nourishment (whether it was grain, manna, or the Word of God) that accomplishes the goal of preserving or sustaining life.  Instructions or terms of the covenant were for everyone.  Life or death was dependent on whether or not people followed the instructions or terms of the covenant.  You cannot have a covenant without terms; the terms of the original and new covenant are the same.

 

The following is the pattern of the Messiah and Anti-Messiah.

Messiah and Anti-Messiah

Pattern

Past

Future

YHVH’s

Anointed  Shepherd

 

Cyrus, king of Persia

(5th century BCE)

Yeshua, the

Branch of Righteousness;

Good Shepherd

Son of Joseph and David

(1st century CE)

Anti-Messiah

 

Antiochus Epiphanes IV

(1st century BCE)

False Prophet

 

Horn [Agent] of Salvation

 

Yeshua, the

Branch of Righteousness

Son of Joseph;

Son of David

(1st century CE)

Faithful & True;

Word of God (Yeshua)

 

 

This pattern shows that YHVH’s anointed shepherd was/will be followed by an anti-Messiah.  This person was/will be followed by a certain horn/agent of salvation.  As the pattern repeats itself, the same horn/agent of salvation is none other than Yeshua HaMashiach.

Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 describe Cyrus as YHVH’s anointed shepherd.  Based on our chart, he prefigures Yeshua.  Several centuries after Cyrus allowed the Jews return to Israel, Antiochus Epiphanes IV wreaks havoc among God’s people.

KJA  1 Maccabees 1:10  “And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.”

1Maccabees 1:41-50  Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, 42 And every one should leave his laws… 45 And (he) forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days: 46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:  47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts:  48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:  49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.  50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.”

In Jeremiah 23:1-6, YHVH promised He would gather the remnant of His flock and set decent shepherds over them.  He promised to raise up to David a Branch of Righteousness.  This Branch would be a king who would reign and prosper.  This man would/will be called “YHVH Our Righteousness.”

During the time of the Roman empire, Yeshua HaMashiach was born.  He was conceived of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and adopted by Joseph who was of the line of David.  Matthew’s genealogy seems to indicate that Yeshua is the prophesied Branch of Righteousness who was raised up to bypass the curse of Jeconiah, a descendant of David and be the rightful heir to the throne. (See Jer. 22:28-30; 23:5)

Yeshua was anointed at His baptism (Matthew 3:16), and later He described Himself as the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11-14).

Revelation 13:11-17 describes the coming false prophet (anti-Messiah) like this:  “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

The Horn of Salvation that is to come is described in Revelation 19:11-15:  “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”

I think this pattern shows us that God always intended for Yeshua to come twice, and not just once.  In addition, there would be a leader who would oppose the covenant and lead people astray.

 

The following is the pattern of the “Establishment of Messiah’s Reign.”

The Establishment of Messiah’s Reign

Pattern

Past

Future

A son of David died in/on a tree and was thrust through with 1 or 3 spears. Absalom Yeshua
An Anti-Messiah (an un-anointed person) was exalted and gained authority. He was followed by others. Adonijah Beast of Revelation and the False Prophet
A son of David was anointed (mashach) as king and had a peaceful reign/he spoke peace. Solomon (1 Kings 1:39, 43) Yeshua

 

In 2 Samuel 18:14, Absalom was killed by Joab while he hung in a terebinth tree with his hair caught in the branches.  Joab thrust him through with 3 spears.  Note the visual similarity of the crown of thorns Yeshua wore on his head with Absalom’s hair being caught in the tree branches.

In 1 Kings 1:5 and 7-8, Adonijah said, “I will be king.” Then he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and they followed and helped Adonijah.

In 1 Kings 1:39-40,  Zadok the priest anointed Solomon as king according to David’s command.

In Acts 5:30-31, Yeshua was crucified on a tree but was resurrected by the Father to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

In John 19:34, a soldier thrust Yeshua through with a spear so that blood and water flowed out before he was taken down from the tree.

Revelation 13:3 and 7 describe the Leopard-Bear-Lion Beast which was from the sea:  “And all the world marveled and followed the beast…It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.”

Revelation 13:15-17 describes the Beast from the earth that had 2 horns like a lamb, and spoke like a dragon:  “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

It may still be too soon to tell but I think we may be starting to hear the False Prophet encouraging the worship of the Beast.

Now let’s look at several verses which describe Yeshua’s reign and the theme of peace:

Zechariah 9:9-10:  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Luke 1:31-33  “And behold, you (Miriam/Mary) will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus (Yeshua). 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

 

The following pattern of the “Establishment of the Kingdom of God.”

The Establishment of the Kingdom of God

Pattern

Under Solomon

Yeshua (Past)

Yeshua (Future)

A man riding an animal; followed by an announcement 1 Kings 1:33-40

Solomon rode David’s mule. Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’

Matt 21:7-9 (fulfillment of Zech. 9:9)

Yeshua rode a donkey and colt into Jerusalem.  The multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:  “Hosanna to the Son of David!

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”

Revelation 19:11, 17-18

Faithful and True rides a white horse, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. …An angel invites all the flying birds to “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God…”

 

Death

 

1 Kings 2:25

Solomon had Adonijah put to death for attempting to usurp David’s throne.

 

Matt 27:1-2

All the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Yeshua to put Him to death.  The sign placed above His head called Him the King of the Jews.

Revelation 19:19-21

The beast and the false prophet were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.

The rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.

Exile and/or replacement/exchange/release 1 Kings 2:26, 35 

Solomon exiled Abiathar the priest to Ananoth for siding with Adonijah. He was replaced by Zadok.

 

Matthew 27:20-22

The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for BarAbbas [“son of father”] to be released from prison instead of Yeshua [the Son of the Father].

(note: Yeshua replaced BarAbbas)

Revelation 20:1-3

An angel took the dragon [the serpent of old, the Devil, Satan] and bound him and sealed him in the abyss (a picture of exile).

He was released after a thousand years to deceive the nations to gather them for the Battle of Gog and Magog.

Death for ___ innocent blood

 

1 Kings 2:31

Solomon had Joab put to death for siding with Adonijah and shedding innocent blood.

Matthew 27:3-5

Judas confessed saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  He left, and went and hanged himself.

 

Revelation 20:7-10

Battle of Gog and Magog:  Satan and the nations will gather to surround the camp of the saints (who are innocent) and the city of Jerusalem [to destroy them]. God will devour them with fire. The devil will be cast into the lake of fire.

Jerusalem and/or Judgment

 

1 Kings 2:36 

Since Shimei did not stay in Jerusalem as he’d been commanded and warned, Solomon had him put to death for cursing King David when he’d gone to Mahanaim to escape Absalom (2 Sam. 16:5).

 

Acts 1:4-6

Yeshua commanded the disciples to stay in Jerusalem, and to wait for the baptism of the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit].

 

It was not time to restore the kingdom to Israel [not time for judgment].

Revelation 20:11-15

After the Great White Throne Judgment, the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire

 

The righteous will enter the New Jerusalem.

 

Throne

 

1 Kings 2:12

Then Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.

 

Hebrews 10:12-13

Yeshua, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God [who is seated on His throne] Yeshua is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.

 

Revelation 22:3-5

The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the New Jerusalem And they shall reign forever and ever.

 

Revelation 3:21

Yeshua will let him who overcomes sit with Him on His throne, as He also overcame and sat down with His Father on His throne.

 

The sequence of events that took place when Solomon became king set the stage for what would be necessary for Yeshua’s kingdom to be established. As you can see, this will take place in two stages.  The first stage has past, and the second is yet to come.

 

The question has been raised:

  • Why was Yeshua slain from the foundation of the world?

I believe the answer is:

  • So that YHVH’s work of salvation would always come before sin ever took place.
  • To establish a pattern that would be repeated several times in Scripture.
  • To show us this was always YHVH’s plan from before the very beginning.

 

Slain From the Foundation of the World

Pattern

Adam

Joseph

Moses

Yeshua

Revelation

Innocent slain

 

Yeshua was slain before foundation of the world

 

Picture of death: Joseph was lowered into a pit & later raised up to life.

Joseph’s father believed he had been killed by a wild beast.

Innocent Hebrew babies were killed by throwing them into the Nile

 

John the Baptist was beheaded

 

Babylon the Great was drunk with the blood of the martyrs

Souls had been beheaded for their witness to Yeshua and for the word of God.

Sinned or Accused of Sin Adam & Eve sinned by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Accused of adultery

 

Moses killed an Egyptian

 

Accused of blasphemy

 

Beast committed blasphemy

 

Death Animal(s) killed in order to provide clothing for Adam & Eve

 

Joseph’s brothers killed a kid of the goats to deceive their father.

 

Death of Egyptian firstborns

 

Yeshua executed for blasphemy

 

 

Beast and false prophet were cast into the lake of fire;

The 10 kings and their armies were killed and eaten by birds of prey.

Exile/

Prison

Adam & Eve were exiled from the garden of Eden. Joseph was carried away from Canaan and exiled in prison in Egypt. Mixed multitude left Egypt and entered the wilderness. Yeshua left earth and returned to the Father. The dragon was cast into the pit for 1000 years.
Death Abel died Baker died Egyptian army was killed in Red Sea. Thief #1

Will not be in paradise.

Those not written in Book of Life were cast into the lake of fire.
Life Cain lived Cup bearer lived Mixed multitude crossed the Red Sea and lived. Thief #2

Will be in paradise.

Those written in the Book of Life can enter the New Jerusalem.

 

Yeshua was slain before the foundation of the world so that the work of salvation could take place BEFORE Adam and Eve ever sinned.

We can look at this in two ways:

  • The decision was made for Yeshua to die at that time.
  • Yeshua really was slain in the heavenly realm at that time to provide atonement for all mankind so He could be the cornerstone and gate of righteousness. This view considers the idea of similar parallels between what goes on in heaven and on earth. Obviously, Yeshua would eventually be slain in the physical realm in order to conquer death and be the propitiation for sin.

Finally, we have death and life.  During Adam’s time Abel died and Cain lived.  Now I’m aware that Abel was innocent and that Cain was not, but what we need to see is that the theme of the pattern is that one person died and the other lived.

Life and death are the choices that have been set before mankind.  I am echoing the words of Moses found in Deuteronomy 30:19-20:  “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

We’ve seen that the theme of salvation is consistent throughout Scripture.  We have seen that salvation:

  • took place in the past to preserve a posterity for the sons of Israel
  • is on-going in the present to preserve a remnant for the kingdom of God.
  • and that it will take place in the future to protect this remnant from their enemies and to firmly establish the kingdom of God.

Praise YHVH.  “You (YHVH) went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed.  You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck.”  (Habakkuk 3:13)

 

 

The New Heavens and Earth

In Isaiah 64, the prophet pleaded for YHVH to come down from the heavens to make His name known to His adversaries.  He said that since the world was made, men hadn’t heard or seen any God besides YHVH.  The prophet acknowledged that YHVH was angry because His people had sinned; in fact, they continued to sin and needed to be delivered.  He admitted their righteousness was worthless.  He said no one calls on YHVH’s name; He had hidden His face from them because of their iniquities.  They acknowledged YHVH is the potter and they are the clay, and the prophet asked YHVH not to be angry with them forever.

YHVH responded in Isaiah 65:  “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ To a nation that was not called by My name.”  Who is YHVH referring to here?  Paul, in Romans 10:19-21, implies Isaiah was referring to the Gentiles, then, in verse 22, Paul said Isaiah began to address Israel.  YHVH said He had His arms out to the Jews but they were a rebellious people; they wouldn’t listen to Him.  They provoked YHVH to anger by committing idolatry and necromancy (contacting the dead).  They ate pork and drank broth from abominable things.  It is evident here that it is not just the meat of unclean animals that is offensive to YHVH.  They even considered themselves holier than YHVH.  Could it be they felt this way because of their self-righteousness?

YHVH intends to repay them for their evil in proportion to their iniquities but for His servant’s sake He didn’t intend to destroy all of them.  He indicated there would be a remnant from Judah; they are His elect and His servants. 

Many years later, Paul confirmed in Romans 11 that God had not cast His people away.  Paul points out how Elijah pled with God against Israel.  At that time, YHVH told Elijah there were 7000 men who had not bowed their knees to Baal.  Paul explained that even in Elijah’s day, there was a remnant according to the election of grace (favor).  This remnant seeks YHVH today.  This remnant keeps the commands of YHVH and trusts in Yeshua.

If we are part of this remnant, we must be careful not to quit seeking YHVH; we must not forsake Him for other gods.  In Isaiah’s day, there were people who worshiped Gad, a god of fortune; and Meni, a god of luck.  Today we don’t necessarily have physical idols by these names but we certainly see the worship of materialism, and many people hope for luck.  In Revelation, the worship of materialism is a component of the mystery religion, Babylon the Great.  We are told the merchants of the earth will become rich through the abundance of her luxury.  We are called to come out of her before it’s too late.  Is it possible there are non-physical idols in your life that you are worshiping?  If so, repent!

In Isaiah 65, YHVH said that those who were worshiping Gad and Meni would be slaughtered by the sword because they did not answer His call or hear Him speaking to them.  Instead, they did evil in His eyes.  They chose lawlessness instead of righteousness.  These are the same themes present in Revelation 19.  A sharp sword will go out of Yeshua’s mouth with which He will strike the nations.  Only those who keep the commandments and the faith of Yeshua will get to eat of the tree of life and enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem.

As Isaiah 65 continues, YHVH begins to compare His true servants to those who had been committing apostasy.  YHVH’s servants will not be hungry or thirsty; they will rejoice and sing for joy.  We are told YHVH’s servants will be called by another name.  There is mention of this in Revelation 2:17; a new name will be written on a stone and given to those who hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Those who commit apostasy will be hungry and thirsty; they will be ashamed. They will cry, for their hearts will be full of sorrow and their spirits will be full of grief. Their name will be a curse to YHVH’s chosen people; YHVH Elohim will slay them.  Don’t find yourself in the same situation; do not forsake YHVH and His commandments!

By Jschulman555 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jschulman555 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

At some point, the former troubles will be forgotten and hidden from YHVH’s eyes.  Obviously, YHVH will rejoice in Jerusalem and take joy in His people; there will be no crying.  This is what we can expect when YHVH creates new heavens and a new earth.  Second Peter 3:13 says, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  I long for that day to come.  However, I must be honest here; I find myself questioning what follows here in Isaiah 65.  Revelation 21:1 says a new heaven and new earth will be made after the first heaven and earth passed away.  This will take place after the judgment at the great white throne.  Heaven and earth will not be remade twice—just once.

You may be wondering why I’m emphasizing that.  Isaiah 65:20 says, “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.”  Why would a child die at one hundred years old?  Why would a sinner even exist much less be one hundred years old?  Has the prophet switched time periods?  Is this a reference to what can take place during Yeshua’s millennial reign and not a reference to the time following the judgment at the white throne?

I tend to believe these references point to the time of the millennial reign of Yeshua.  I’ve noticed that it’s not unusual to see a switching back and forth between time periods in Isaiah.  Sinners who do not die in the Battle of Armageddon will be on the earth during the millennial reign of Yeshua.  They could die during this time.  We can see that Isaiah 25:8 says, He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.”  Revelation 21:4 says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Both of these verses show us there will be no more death after the new heaven and earth appear.  Revelation 21:27 says, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  The sinners will have been thrown into the lake of fire by that time; this is the second death.

YHVH’s elect will build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  Since the curse of the law will no longer be in effect, their enemies will not take over and inhabit their dwellings or eat their food.  YHVH’s elect will enjoy the work of their hands for a very long time and their labor will not be in vain.  YHVH will hear and answer them quickly.  Perhaps this is because they heard and heeded His voice while those who committed apostasy did not.  The wild and domesticated animals will eat together and they will not cause hurt or destruction in YHVH’s holy mountain.  This sounds wonderful; it’s how I imagine the Garden of Eden.  

As previously mentioned, 2 Peter 3:13 says, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  Do you look forward to this promise?  I do.  In the meantime, as we wait for that time to come, don’t be too discouraged by what’s going on around you; keep obeying YHVH’s commandments and keep the faith of Yeshua. 

Hezekiah’s Impending Death

Around the time that the king of Assyria sent his men to King Hezekiah, Hezekiah was about to die from a boil.  The Lord spoke through Isaiah to tell Hezekiah to set his house in order because he was going to die.  Second Chronicles 32:25 indicates this illness was the result of pride.

At the time, Hezekiah did not have a son that would become heir to the throne.  Many thoughts must have passed through Hezekiah’s mind as he thought about his impending death.  Isaiah 38 describes his petition to the Lord for life.  Second Chronicles 32:26 says he humbled himself before the Lord so that the Lord’s wrath would not come upon him and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  As a result of Hezekiah’s prayer, the Lord turned back time and granted Hezekiah another 15 years to live.

According to Isaiah, the Lord temporarily spared Hezekiah from the pit of corruption (mishachat beliy)—a place of death and decay (Isaiah 38:17).  This is most likely a reference to sheol (Greek is hades) in verse 18 which is often translated as the grave or hell.  Hezekiah says that the grave is a place where one cannot praise or celebrate the Lord. There appears to be an ellipsis here; perhaps he would have added “like you can among the living.”  Hezekiah continued by saying that those that go there can’t hope for the Lord’s truth.  Finally, Hezekiah says what you can do if you alive; you can praise the Lord and make known His truth.

Since Hezekiah has brought up the subject, let’s explore what else the Bible says about sheol.  As mentioned before, the Hebrew word sheol is comparable to the Greek word hades.  Geenna (sometimes spelled Gehenna) is another Greek word that is often translated as hell.  Sheol or hades is primarily a reference to the grave itself but it’s also a reference to hell whereas geenna, which is also translated as hell is a reference to the place of future punishment by fire.  It was originally a reference to Tofet or the valley of the sons of Hinnom.  Trash was continually burning in this place and worms crawled in place where it wasn’t.  It was also a place where human sacrifices to Moloch took place.  All of this is a picture of the future punishment in the lake of fire.  Isaiah 66:24 says that on every new moon and Sabbath everyone will come into the Lord’s presence.  When they leave they will see the bodies of those who rebelled against Him; their worm will never die and their fire will never be quenched.  It sounds like we’ll be able to see into the depths of hell.

As I reflected on this, it reminded me of a story Jesus once told about a beggar named Lazarus.  This story also gives us a picture of what happens after death.  The rich man who had no regard for Lazarus when he was alive was being tormented in flames of sheol (hades).  Between the rich man and Lazarus was a great chasm; Lazarus was on the other side of the chasm “in the bosom of Abraham.”  According to the Power New Testament by William J. Morford, Abraham’s bosom is an idiom which refers to the place of honor at a banquet.  In this story, it refers to Lazarus being next to Abraham who would’ve been eating at the same banquet.  This is similar to John who was reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper.[i]  Since the rich man wanted Lazarus to go back and warn his living relatives of their future, it seems that the punishment of hell (sheol/hades) is only a prelude to the final judgment in geenna.  Either way, the goal is to destroy both body and soul in geenna.[ii]

Now let’s get back to Hezekiah.  After hearing Hezekiah’s plea to avoid death and the grave (sheol), the Lord instructed Isaiah to have someone use figs as a medicinal treatment for the inflamed boil.  Hezekiah asked for a sign that he would be able to go up to the house of the Lord but no answer was given.  It’s commendable for us to note that Hezekiah was interested in worshipping the Lord in the temple.  It shows his heart was facing the right direction yet his pride still remained.

figsOften when we are ill, we wonder if the treatment which the doctor prescribed will work or not.  I do not know if using figs were a common treatment for ailments in Biblical times but there are many herbal remedies that were used in Biblical times and are still used today.  Sometimes I think it would do us some good to go back to these treatments and learn the old ways of doing things considering the fact that pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money and not necessarily to heal people.  If an herbal treatment can’t be patented, the next best thing is to take what the plant has to offer and chemically modify it so it can be patented and sell it.  The problem with this is that there are numerous side effects from such drugs.  In the end, no matter what kind of medication we take, we still have to trust the Lord for healing.

Sometime after Hezekiah’s recovery, Isaiah 39 says Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon came to visit Hezekiah.  He had heard of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery.  Hezekiah was pleased with them and did not realize the danger of showing off his treasures.  He was still full of pride and showed Baladan and his men the silver, gold, spices, precious ointment, his armory, and everything in his dominion.  I’m sure this was quite impressive.  Surely Baladan wanted all of it for himself. 

When Isaiah saw Hezekiah, Isaiah asked who these people were, where they came from, and what had they seen in Hezekiah’s house.  When Hezekiah said they had come from Babylon and seen everything in his house, Isaiah gave Hezekiah a shocking word from the Lord.   Isaiah 39:6-7 says, “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Hezekiah’s response was even more shocking.  He said Isaiah’s word from the Lord was good and “at least there will be peace and truth in my days.” Everything that had taken generations to collect would be stripped from the kingdom.  Hezekiah failed to understand the depth of his actions.

Where was the repentant spirit we had seen previously in Hezekiah?  It seemed to have left when he realized his behavior didn’t affect himself.  This was selfish; this was definitely a fleshly response.

This is what is wrong with us and our leaders today.  No one cares how their behavior will affect the future of others as long as it doesn’t affect them personally.  We need to be repentant, not only for ourselves but for the entire assembly, and for our nation. 

Take some time to reflect on Hezekiah’s last days to see what else you can learn. 

Turn back to God and pray He has mercy on us!


[i] John 13:23.

[ii] Matthew 10:28.

Did The Lord Really Say He Didn’t Desire Sacrifices?

During the days of Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (kings of Judah), Isaiah the son of Amoz saw a vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  In order to understand this vision better, we need to know a little about these men.

According to 2 Chronicles 26:3-4, Uzziah was 16 years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem and he reigned for 52 years.  Uzziah did what was right in the Lord’s sight and sought God during the days of Zechariah.  Unfortunately, he became prideful and entered the temple in order to burn incense to the Lord on the golden altar .  He became furious when the priests prevented him from doing so.  The Lord struck him with tzara’at (leprosy), he was cut off from the house of the Lord, and dwelt in isolation until his death.

Azariah’s son, Jotham began to reign in his place when he was 25 years old.  Jotham reigned 16 years and did what was right in the Lord’s sight.  During that time, the people acted corruptly.  After Jotham died, his son, Ahaz reigned in his place. 

Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign as king of Judah in Jerusalem.  He reigned 16 years and was wicked like the kings of Israel.  Ahaz:

  • Made molded images of the Baals.
  • Burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.
  • Burned his children in the fire.

Second Chronicles 28:4 says Ahaz sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.  Because of what Ahaz had done, the Lord his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria.  A great multitude of the Jews were carried away to Damascus at that time.  Ahaz also fought against Pekah, the king of Israel and was defeated.  One hundred twenty thousand people were killed in one day because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers and two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters were captured and taken to Samaria.  In addition to that, the Israelites took a lot of spoil to Samaria.  Shortly after that, the Lord commanded Israel, through the prophet Oded, to return the captives of Judah.  Even so, the Lord continued to deal with Judah and King Ahaz because Ahaz encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been unfaithful to the Lord continually. 

With these first three men in mind, we can understand the first part of Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah chapter one.  Even though the Lord had brought the Jews up and nourished them, they rebelled against Him.  They didn’t know Him or think about Him as they should have.

Judah was a sinful nation at that time.  They were described as:

  • A people laden with iniquity.
  • A brood of evildoers.
  • Children who are corrupters.
  • Those who had forsaken the Lord.  In other words, they had committed apostasy by turning their backs on the Lord.

By their behavior, they had provoked the Lord and made the Holy One of Israel angry.

In Isaiah 1:5-6, the Lord says, “Why should you be stricken again?  You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment.”

This sounds absolutely disgusting yet Judah had no idea that their true condition was almost like Sodom and Gomorrah.  The sins of the people of Judah were a major infection that had taken over the whole nation.  When someone is in that bad of condition, it would seem as if there is no hope for healing and that death would appear to be welcome relief.   

Judah was desolate and besieged.  Fortunately, the Lord of armies left a very small remnant because He desired to heal His people.  The Lord addressed them and told them to hear the law of God.  Right here are a few verses that are often taken out of context.  Isaiah 1:11-15 says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me? “Says the Lord.”I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. 12 “When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.”

Now wait a minute.  Who had required sacrifices and incense from the people?  The Lord did. 

Is He saying He had never wanted sacrifices, incense, and His feasts to be celebrated?  No.  Again, the Lord commanded His people to do these things. 

If that’s the case, why was the Lord not pleased?  It was because these activities had become meaningless, false, useless, or vain.  

By saying these things, the Lord defined the disease that afflicted the Jews; the Jewish people were not bringing their offerings and incense in complete love and devotion to the Lord because their hearts were focused on lawlessness and not on Him.

Since the Lord truly wanted to heal His people, He told the Jews through the prophet Isaiah, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)  In other words, He was commanding His people to repent!

The Lord wanted His people to come to their senses.  He wanted to reason with them and cleanse them from their sins.  In Isaiah 1:19-20, the Lord reminded them of Deuteronomy 30 by giving them a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing:  “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  By the time He said this, He should have had their attention!

What else did the Lord say?  How did He describe the city that had once been faithful? 

He said that had become a harlot!  Instead of justice and righteousness, murder was commonplace.  Their silver had become dross.  In other words, the people of Judah had become as mixed alloys or as mixed fibers of wool and linen; they had become common (unholy) by their association with wicked lawless people.  They had done what was forbidden and they weren’t pure anymore.  Their leaders were rebellious and friends of thieves.  They loved bribes and sought rewards.  They did not defend the orphan or take care of the widows.  At some point, they closed up the temple and stopped offering incense and offerings.

The cure for this horrible condition is found in the first chapter of Isaiah where the Lord revealed His plan for the future known as the last days.  This is the same plan that is hidden in the shadow of the Levitical offerings that had been vainly offered by His people. 

Isaiah 1:24-25 describes it like this:  “Therefore the Lord says, The Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, And take vengeance on My enemies. 25 I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy.”  In other words, the Lord planned to cut out the worst part of the infection so He could heal the rest of the body.

It’s hard to say exactly when Isaiah spoke these words to God’s people but if you recall, there was one more man listed in Isaiah 1:1.  This man was Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah.  He was 25 years old when he began to reign and he reigned 29 years.  He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and carried out great reforms in Judah.  He commanded the Levites to sanctify themselves, sanctify the temple, and offer incense and sacrifices according to the commandments of the Lord.  Temple worship was restored, the feasts of the Lord were celebrated, and the people were encouraged to return to the Lord.  At one point Hezekiah became filled with pride and the Lord tested him to find out what was really in his heart.  Fortunately, Hezekiah humbled himself before the Lord and was honored at his death.

Prior to Hezekiah, the condition of Judah was the same as the harlot, Babylon the Great in Revelation 17.  In fact, the Lord said their sins were as scarlet.  The harlot, Babylon the Great, rode a scarlet beast and was dressed in purple and scarlet and glittered with gold, precious stones, and pearls.   Even though she seemed to possess great wealth, she was clothed in sin and associated with the beast.

The Lord is calling His people whose sins are as scarlet to come out of Babylon the Great today.  Those around us are deceived and are following leaders who are like King Ahaz who encouraged lawlessness.  Like Judah, we must forsake lawlessness and allow the Lord to cleanse us.  We must turn back to the commands of the Lord and choose life instead of death and blessing instead of cursing before the Day of the Lord, the day of Jesus’ return.  Just like Hezekiah encouraged Judah to return to the Lord, I am encouraging you to do the same.

After the Lord returns and destroys His enemies, do you know what He’s going to do?  The answer is found in Isaiah 1:26-28:  “I will restore your judges as at the first, And your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” 27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, And her penitents with righteousness. 28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, And those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”

This is similar to what the shadows of the Levitical offerings teach.  The righteous will be purified and made righteous in the refiner’s fire but the wicked will be burned in the lake of fire.

We must avoid such a fate.  We do not want to be like the terebinth (or oak) tree in verse 30 whose leaf fades as a garden that has no water.  We must desire to be like a tree planted by streams of water that bring forth fruit in its season.  This is similar to the Tree of Life.

Psalm 1:1-3 explains how to do that:  “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season.”

When we walk with the path of sinners, we become like mixed metals or like those clothed in a mixture of linen and wool.  We are no longer pure and holy.  We must reject and separate ourselves from the lawlessness that surrounds us, have the testimony of Christ, and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord by keeping the commandments of God. 

Remember, to choose life is to choose blessing and to choose death is to choose cursing.  Choose wisely.

Mourning for the Dead

The Levitical priesthood had a higher standard of holiness than that for the common Israelite.  According to Leviticus 21, the Levitical priests were not to defile themselves for the dead among their people.  The only exception was for his closest relatives:

  • parents
  • children
  • brothers
  • virgin sisters

 If his sister was married she belonged to her husband’s family and they would be responsible for her dead body.  This seems like a harsh command for many of us today because we don’t see our sister as being the responsibility of her husband’s family; however, this is what the word of God commands. 

The priests were not permitted to make any bald place on their heads, shave the edges of their beards, or cut their flesh as a sign of mourning for the dead.  To do so would profane God’s name.  It was not acceptable for them to do that because they were the ones who offered the offerings of the Lord and they had to be holy to do so.

When we first read some of these prohibitions in Scripture, various things come to mind.  For example, when we read the command not to make bald places on someone’s head, we might think of the practice of tonsure which is practiced by certain Christian churches.  This is considered to be a sacred rite of being received into the clerical order of certain denominations and is not associated with mourning for the dead.  It is certainly not something that is of Hebraic origin either so it’s probably not appropriate at all as a sacred rite.

People-groups throughout the world practice various mourning rituals for the dead.  Normally, the Jews cried and tore their clothes as a sign of mourning for the dead among other things.  Shaving the edges of beards or cutting flesh were signs of mourning for the dead which practiced by the Canaanites and these are the only ones that the Lord specifically said were forbidden.  In fact, Deuteronomy 14:1 commands all of His people not to do these things and not just the priests.

Note that the key here is that these commands were forms of mourning for the dead.  Shaving the head was an acceptable and required part of the procedure for the Nazirite vow.  The separation to God is on the head of a Nazirite and the hair is a holy peace offering to the Lord.  Shaving the hair is acceptable in this instance because it is not part of a mourning ritual.  If a Nazirite came in contact with a dead body during his or her vow, their consecrated head became defiled and the hair had to be cut off as part of the cleansing process.      

I suspect one reason why the cutting of flesh was prohibited is because it is also somehow tied to demon worship and demon possession.  For example, this was a method the priests of Baal used to coerce Baal to send fire down onto the bull they had cut up on Mount Carmel.  According to Mark 5, the man in the country of the Gadarenes who was possessed with a legion of demons often cut himself. 

The High Priest was on a different level from the ordinary Israelite and was not permitted to mourn the dead by uncovering his head or tearing his clothes.  The High Priest was not even permitted to defile himself by going near his parents if they died.  He had to keep his head covered and not tear his garments because he was anointed and consecrated for the service of the High Priest.  He was not to go out of the sanctuary nor profane it because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God was upon him.

Leviticus 21 continues by commanding priests not to marry a harlot, a defiled woman, or divorced woman because they must be holy to God.  Instead, High Priests were held to a higher standard than the rest of the people because priests had to marry virgins.  To have children from these women would profane the posterity of priests.  Male children from such unions could not be permitted to serve as priests. 

One way that a priest could be profaned that is out of his control is what his daughter might do.  If she became a prostitute, she profaned not only herself but her father too. The penalty for doing this was being burned with fire.  This is a picture of the bride of Christ which must be presented to the Lord holy and pure as a virgin.  Those who do not choose to become the bride of Christ are harlots who will be burned in the lake of fire.

Priests who approached God in order to make offerings for the people had to be without any defects so that God’s sanctuary would not become defiled.  Defects included:

  • blind
  • lame
  • a marred face
  • any limb too long
  • a man who has a broken foot or broken hand
  • a hunchback
  • a dwarf
  • a man who has a defect in his eye
  • eczema or scab
  • a eunuch

This does not mean people with defects can’t come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Jesus demonstrated that He is compassionate and desires to heal people with defects and wants to have a relationship with them.  It’s just that those who served closest to the Lord such as priests had to be free of defects. 

God is perfect and His priests had to be without defects so they would not profane the sanctuaries of the Lord.  Male descendants of priests who had defects could still eat the holy and most holy things as long as they were clean.

Even though the Temple is no longer standing, we must still have leaders who are blameless.  We must follow the guidelines of Titus 1:7-9:  “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

Certainly the High Priest and other priests mourned the death of friends and loved ones; however, they were not permitted to mourn in the same manner as the Canaanites.  Today when people die, their friends and families mourn differently. 

  • If the deceased was a non-believer, non-believing family and friends mourn deeply in a variety of ways.
  • If the deceased was lost without Christ, mourning is a bit different because not only do we grieve their loss from this world, we grieve their eternal destiny. 
  • If the deceased was a believer, believing friends and family grieve their loss but rejoice and take comfort in knowing their loved one is with the Lord in heaven.
  • If a loved one dies and we don’t know if they truly had a relationship with the Lord, we still grieve the loss but wonder if we will ever see them again when we are with the Lord.

Where will you spend eternity?  Are you sure?

How will people mourn your death?  These are serious things to think about.

As you consider this, ask yourself how you serve the Lord.  Are you or your offerings defective?  Do you or your offerings represent death or life? 

Be blameless and serve the Lord in love and holy fear!