The Watchman

Do you want your life to be delivered from pain, suffering, or death? This is a good question that everyone needs to ask themselves. Most would say, “Of course!” Isn’t this what we do as we navigate our lives? I’d say we spend a lot of time doing just that. If we want to be delivered from a crisis, sometimes we need ample warning. In ancient times, this warning came from someone known as a watchman.

The first time we see mention of a watchman in Scripture is in 2 Samuel 13:34 after Absalom killed Amnon for raping Tamar; the watchman saw many people coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. Due to an inaccurate report, David feared that all of his sons had been killed by Absalom. It turned out that only Amnon was dead and David’s other sons had fled for their lives from Baal Hazor; they were seen by the watchman as they returned and David was informed of that.

In 2 Samuel 18, a watchman who was on the roof of a gate reported to King David that he saw two men running; the second man brought news of Absalom’s death. In 2 Kings 9, a watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel and saw a company of Jehu. In response to that, two horsemen were sent separately to ask Jehu if he was coming in peace. According to the report of the watchman, neither of them returned. Upon hearing this, Joram gave orders to get ready to fight. After giving this order, he left to determine the seriousness of the situation. We can see that the report of this watchman was a warning about what he saw coming to the city from afar; this caused a response by the leaders in the city.

Based on Isaiah 21, a watchman kept track of the time. Generally, a watchman warned of danger that approached the city from afar and gave warning so that the people had time to respond to possible physical threats. Ezekiel 33 explains that when the watchman saw the sword coming upon the land, he blew a trumpet and warned the people. This trumpet was a shofar, usually a ram’s horn. Whenever the people heard the shofar, they were supposed to heed the warning so they could escape with their life. If someone did not heed the warning and a sword came and took him away, he would be responsible for his own death (his blood would be on his own head).

Ezekiel 33 explains the responsibility of a slightly different kind of watchman—the spiritual kind. Ezekiel was to hear a word from YHVH and pass that warning onto the people; in other words, Ezekiel was YHVH’s shofar. The job of the watchman is the responsibility of the prophet.

If YHVH spoke to the wicked to tell them they were going to die, Ezekiel was to warn the people so they would turn from their evil way. If they refused to quit sinning, they died in their iniquity. Because Ezekiel warned them, his own soul was spared.

If the people heard Ezekiel’s warning, and asked how they could live, Ezekiel was to tell them to turn from their evil ways, and to do what is lawful and right. If someone was righteous and then committed iniquity, he too, would die in his sin because he turned away from righteousness; he committed apostasy instead of continuing to do what was lawful and right. Ezekiel was basically telling them not to think we have a bank account in which the good can outweigh the bad in order to have life. YHVH will judge all of us according to our own ways.

Recently, I heard someone teach that Ezekiel 33:12 refers to self-righteousness and not obedience to the law. It says, “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: `The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ If I understood correctly, this person was trying to say that self-righteousness doesn’t bring life just as much as wickedness doesn’t. He interpreted the words “his righteousness” as self-righteousness, and believed that the passage switched back and forth between God’s righteousness and self-righteousness; this is not correct. I think Ezekiel 18:18-20 helps us to see what “his righteousness” means by looking at the opposite scenario.

Ezekiel 18:18-20 says, “As for his father, Because he cruelly oppressed, Robbed his brother by violence, And did what is not good among his people, Behold, he shall die for his iniquity. 19 “Yet you say,`Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Note how Ezekiel 18:18 refers to the wicked man’s iniquity as “his iniquity.” This is the iniquity the man himself committed. In a similar fashion, when Ezekiel 33:12 refers to “his righteousness,” it is pointing back to the lawful and right things someone did by keeping and observing all of YHVH’s commandments, statutes and judgments.

Ezekiel 33:18 uses the same phrase, “his righteousness.” Again, YHVH is not referring to self-righteousness here (doing what’s right in a man’s own eyes OR following the traditions of men); it says if someone turns from doing righteousness (the written law) and commits iniquity, he will die because of it. The key to life is to shema YHVH; we are to listen and obey His commandments. This shows we know and love YHVH.

If there is still any question, we can look at a few more verses from the Brit Chadasha (New Testament):

  • 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
    This is the definition of sin; it’s Torah-lessness.
  • Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
  •  Matthew 7:19-23: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

YHVH and Ezekiel are not telling the people anything new. In Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses told the people: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments (mitzvah), His statutes (chuqqah), and His judgments (mishpat), that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 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.” Obedience was and still is the will of the Father!

Eventually, Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon. Some people still remained in Jerusalem until it was captured in the 12th year of their captivity. Prior to this, Ezekiel had been mute but when a man who had escaped Jerusalem came and told him of the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel’s mouth was opened and he was able to speak. The people remaining in the ruins of the land of Israel felt they still deserved the land that had been given to them as a possession. The problem was that they had not been obeying YHVH’s commandments. They had been eating meat with blood; committing idolatry and sexual immorality; shedding blood; and committing other abominations in the land. They did not deserve to remain in the land of Israel; in fact, YHVH intended to have them die by the sword; by being devoured by wild animals; or by pestilence. Because of their disobedience, they suffered the curses of the law Moses warned them about. Note that three of these behaviors that caused cursing are the same things that the Jerusalem council told the new Gentile believers to avoid in Acts 15:19-21. These gave the Gentile believers a place to start until they learned to obey the rest of the Torah they heard each Sabbath in the synagogues.

Ezekiel was not the only watchman for Israel; there were many others and there are even watchmen today who share the same responsibility Ezekiel did. Unfortunately, people respond to them the same way people responded to Ezekiel; they thought Ezekiel’s words sounded wonderful but they did not do what he told them. Please don’t make the same mistake.

Now I want to further explore the meaning of the message of the watchman; normally, this is referred to as a call for repentance. All of the prophets preached repentance including John the Baptist, Yeshua, His disciples, and Paul so we need to know exactly what that is.

Shuv is the Hebrew word for repentance. Two Greek equivalents are seen in the Apostolic Polyglot.

  • epistrepho – to turn back, to return, revert, be converted, be restored.
  • apostrepho – to turn away (from) or turn back.

These Greek words are present in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) but are not translated as “repent.” Usually, they are translated as “turn,” or “be converted.”

When we see the word “repent” in the Brit Chadasha, it is usually translated from the Greek word “metanoeo” which means to think differently or reconsider. It is similar, but does not carry the exact meaning that the translation “repent” has in the Tanach (Old Testament). That’s why we see passages with “turn” or “be converted” which relate to what repentance is in the Tanach.

Here are several examples of verses with these words. Let’s begin with verses from the Tanach:

  • Isaiah 6:10 (quoted in Acts 28:27): “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return (H: shuv; G: epistrepho) and be healed.”
  • Jeremiah 25:5: “They said,`Repent (H: shuv; G: apostrepho) now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.”
  • Ezekiel 18:30-32: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent (H: shuv; G:epistrepho), and turn (H: shuv; G: apostrepho) from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn (H: shuv; G: epistrepho) and live!”

The theme is turning away from evil and returning to lawfulness; there was no other standard for repentance in the Tanach (Old Testament). This is the same theme Yeshua fully preached (plero-o) from the Law and the Prophets!

Now let’s look at verses from the Brit Chadasha. As you read them, apply the correct definitions.

  • Matthew 3:1-2: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent (metanoeo), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” They knew they didn’t just need a change of heart because they repeatedly asked John, “what shall we do?” in order to turn. John’s responses were based on Torah.  They understood that faith in God without works of righteousness is dead; they needed to prove their metanoeo and faith by doing what’s right.
  •  Luke 13:3: “I (Yeshua) tell you, no; but unless you repent (metanoeo) you will all likewise perish.” Yeshua was trying to get the people to understand that matanoeo was the beginning of what it takes to avoid perishing.
  • Luke 22:32: “But I have prayed for you (Peter), that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned (G: epistrepho) to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Yeshua knew that Peter would deny Him in a time of weakness and fear, but He also knew Peter would return to Him.
  • In Acts 3:19, Peter spoke to the crowd at Solomon’s Porch saying: Repent (metanoeo) therefore and be converted (epistrepho), that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
  • Acts 3:26: “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away (apostrepho) every one of you from your iniquities.”
  • Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned (epistrepho) to the Lord.”
  • Act 26:17-20: “I (Yeshua) will deliver you (Saul) from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn (epistrepho) them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent (metanoeo), turn (epistrepho) to God, and do works befitting repentance (do righteousness; obey commands, statutes, and judgments of YHVH).” Note that lawlessness is equated with darkness and the power of Satan while righteousness is equated with light and God.

Some describe repentance as making a U-turn; they say it means to stop sinning and start doing right. From a Greek New Testament perspective, repentance (metanoeo) is to have a change of heart; however, that needs to be combined with apostrepho and epistrepho to capture the full meaning of the Hebrew for repentance. In other words, not only do people need to change their hearts, they need to turn away from Torah-lessness (lawlessness) and turn to Torah-fulness (lawfulness); that’s true conversion or repentance. If they don’t, they are just turning away from obvious wickedness and turning to self-righteousness; this would be turning to the traditions of men; doing what’s right in the own eyes; or an unholy mixture (syncretism) of paganism and Torah. The correct meaning of repentance must be maintained throughout the Scriptures or cursing and death will result as people attempt to put that meaning into practice.

I still see Christians have a huge problem putting that full definition into the correct perspective. A few problems exist:

  • Most Christians refuse to accept the Scriptural definition of sin. As mentioned previously, based on 1 John 3:4, sin is lawlessness (Torah-lessness). Righteousness is lawfulness; it’s obeying YHVH’s commandments, statutes, and judgments.  The definition didn’t magically change from the Old to the New Testament.
  • They misunderstand Colossians 2:14; the law itself was not nailed to the cross. Our trespasses (the “bill of charges” or “handwriting of requirements” that were against us) were wiped away or removed from us, and nailed to the cross!
  • They reject Romans 7:12: “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.” We need to see it that way!
  • They ignore Romans 3:31; this teaches the law has not been abolished because of faith.
  • They overlook James 1:25 and James 2:12 and don’t realize that according to Psalm 119:45, liberty is a result of seeking (and obviously obeying) YHVH’s precepts. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 2:12 says, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”
  • They’ve been brainwashed with an improper interpretation of Romans and Galatians which results from a lack of the proper foundation of Torah; the lack of the correct cultural and historical background of that time; and generations of repetitive errant teaching. Before this can be addressed, they need to accept the positive things Paul said about the law, and repent of rejecting the law, so their hearts will be open to discover what he really meant.

There’s no question what will happen to the wicked at the judgment, but what will happen to Christians if they don’t figure this out? Consider these verses:

  • Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works [what’s lawful], or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place– unless you repent.”
  • Revelation 3:1-3: “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”  If they were told to repent, their imperfect works equate to Torah-lessness.
  • Revelation 16:9,11 “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory… 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
  • Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
  • Matthew 7:19-23: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Good fruit and the will of Yeshua’s Father is righteousness, not lawlessness.

From the beginning of the Scriptures to the end, it is clear that lawfulness (righteousness) as defined by Torah brings life. Yeshua confirmed that when a rich man asked Him what he had to do to in order to have eternal life. The first thing Yeshua told him in Matthew 19:17 was to keep the commandments; if something else had been more important, that would have been his first reply. Yeshua told him being perfect required more.

Don’t think in terms of which commands to follow. Take time to study all of them; keep them all before you in their proper context; and learn the principles behind them so you can make proper application. They are not too hard for you; they are your life.  It’s the traditions of men that were “too hard” to bear.  Yeshua’s yoke is Torah; His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Shed the old wine skin or mind-set that rejects Torah; create a new one to put the correct interpretation of Scripture (that embraces Torah) in. Seek truth; walk in the Spirit; and don’t give in to the desires of the flesh.

Remember what Yeshua said in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

The narrow gate is repentance; the way which leads to life is righteousness.

Listen to the sound of the shofar!

Go; as you obey, walk out your salvation with fear and trembling.

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The Prophecy Against Egypt

Isaiah 19 is a prophecy against Egypt.  It begins, “The burden against Egypt.  Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.”

This is vaguely reminiscent of the Lord coming into Egypt on the night of Passover.  Exodus 12 says the Lord Himself promised to pass through the land of Egypt and to strike the firstborn man and beast, and all the gods of Egypt. The Bible says this took place at midnight.  When the mixed multitude left Egypt, the Lord went before them in a pillar of cloud to lead them during the day and in a pillar of fire during the night.

Isaiah 19:2 continues, “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom.”

As I consider what happened long ago in Egypt during the time of Moses, I wonder if the Egyptians were fighting one another as the plagues fell upon them.  Even the magicians realized this was the finger of God.  Surely they wanted Pharaoh to give in to Moses and Aaron before more damage was done.  If they felt this way, surely many of the other Egyptians felt the same way.  The question remains as to whether or not they were willing to fight one another over it.

We have to wonder if this Scripture has been fulfilled in our midst today.  Back in February 2011, during the Arab Spring, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime fought against the popular uprising in Tahrir Square.  What was quite curious at the time was the viral video of a ghostly rider on his horse.  Could this have been the equivalent of the Lord coming on a cloud into Egypt or was this one of the horsemen of Revelation?

If this is not the actual fulfillment of Isaiah, then it will come in the future.

Isaiah 19:3-4 goes on to say, “The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, And they will consult the idols and the charmers, The mediums and the sorcerers. 4 And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, And a fierce king will rule over them,” Says the Lord, the Lord of hosts.”

Today the most predominant religion in Egypt is Islam (mostly Sunni) although there are some Jews and Christian denominations there and people of other beliefs. [i] By the end of June 2012, Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the presidency of Egypt.  So far, all of this activity in the country has decreased tourism in Egypt and unemployment is rising.[ii]  Time will tell exactly how cruel Mr. Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood will be as president of Egypt.

Isaiah 19 prophesies that at some point, the waters of Egypt will also be affected by drying up and turning foul.  This will cause the plant life to wither.  The fishing and textile industry will be negatively affected in addition to the daily wages suffering due to lack of available work.

As we consider this passage, we must also consider the information found in Ezekiel 29.  The Lord will be against the Pharaoh of Egypt.  He’s referred to as a great monster that dwells in the river of Egypt.  The Lord says he will put hooks in his jaws and draw him out with all the fish in his rivers sticking to him.  I other words, the Lord will draw the Egyptians into battle.  This is a reference to the president of Egypt and his army.  All of them will be left in an open field to be eaten by the beasts of the field and birds of the air.  This portion of Scripture has obvious connections with the feast for birds mentioned in Revelation 19:17-21. 

I wonder what the Egyptians thought when they realized their Pharaoh and his army was drowned in the sea.  As I consider the future, I’m confident Ezekiel was correct when he said that only after the flesh of the Pharaoh and his army are eaten will the Egyptians know the Lord.

Prior to that, there will be no wise men in Egypt; the counselors will give foolish counsel.  A perverse spirit will cause Egypt to error in all its work.

Will the Egyptians realize that what is happening to them is caused by the hand of the Lord?  Since the Egyptians in Moses’ time did, I think it will only be a matter of time before the Egyptians will fear the Lord and Israel.

At some point, there will be an altar to the Lord in Egypt and a pillar at its border.  This will be a sign and a witness for the Lord.  Just like the Hebrews called out to the Lord for deliverance because of their oppressors, many Egyptians will do the same thing in the future.  The Lord will send Jesus to deliver them!  Even though the Lord will strike Egypt, He will heal it afterwards.  The people will return to the Lord and He will heal them. 

As hard as it is for us to imagine, there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria when Jesus returns. The Assyrians and Egyptians will travel back and forth on this road.  Both the Assyrians and Egyptians will serve the Lord with the people of Israel.  This is very different from the Egyptians being led away from their homeland by the Assyrians unclothed and ashamed as described in Isaiah 20.

 

Christian Holiday Traditions

Advent wreaths and Christmas trees are traditions that stir deep seated feelings and memories in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians today.  This year, many Christians are upset by atheists that attempt to rob them of the joy of the season.  America has changed radically over the last several years.  Atheists still see Christmas as a time to celebrate the winter solstice but there are more immigrants here who cling to other gods than ever before.  Christmas can’t mean that much to them.  I can only imagine what they really think of American Christmas traditions.  Still there are many who simply enjoy and/or detest the materialistic experience of the season.  I suspect that aspect of the season has probably been impacted greatly by the severe economic times Americans are facing.

Despite all of this, I want to point out something concerning the season many have never considered.   

Jeremiah 10:3-5 says, “For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves.  Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”  

I remember the first time these verses caught my attention as I was reading through the book of Jeremiah.  I thought to myself, this sounds like a Christmas tree.  At that time, these verses were planted as a seed in my heart.  From that point on, I became uncomfortable every time I saw a Christmas tree because I always thought of these verses.  This seed grew once I finally began to seek my Hebraic roots.

When I first discovered these verses, I emailed my friends to see what they thought about them.  One said, “It may sound like a Christmas tree but I don’t worship my Christmas tree.” 

The Christmas season is now upon us once again.  Trees and decorations are being sold like they are every year.  Even churches erect these trees in their sanctuaries…and it breaks my heart.  I know Christians don’t worship their trees and they are trying to celebrate Christ’s birth but celebrating Jesus’ birth involves worshiping the newborn King and a Christmas tree is a beautiful pagan idol that is in the way of that.

Have you ever considered Ezekiel 8?  The Lord appeared to Ezekiel and brought him in a vision to Jerusalem, to the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was.  The presence of this idol was causing God to be jealous.  The Lord asked Ezekiel if he knew what the people were doing here to make Him go far away from His sanctuary.  The Lord then showed Ezekiel greater abominations that were going on in the temple.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4 commanded the Israelites to observe God’s statutes and judgments their whole lives.  They were to tear down the places of idolatry and not worship the Lord our God with the things the idolaters worship their gods with.  These commands didn’t only apply to the Israelites but they apply to us as well.

Have you considered the practice of Advent?  For four weeks prior to Christmas, a candle is lit and Scripture is read to welcome Jesus, the Light of the world to come during the time of the winter solstice.  This is simply a pagan ritual that has been modified for Christian application.  According to Deuteronomy 12:1-4, God is not pleased with this.  This was originally the time when the Celts prayed for the return of the sun’s life-giving light.  This is sun worship.  That is the same abomination Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 8:16.

How about the 40 days of Lent?  That’s in a different time of year.  Forty days of fasting and self denial prior to Passover is not required by the Lord.  That seems like a righteous thing to do but it is really linked with the 40 days of weeping for Tammuz.  That’s exactly what they were doing in Ezekiel 8:14.  The Lord called that an abomination.

What did God do about these abominations?  In Ezekiel 9, He called a man clothed in linen to take his writer’s inkhorn and instructed him to put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all of the abominations that are done in the temple.  After that he was commanded to kill everyone no matter how old they were who did not have the mark of the Lord on their foreheads.  Ezekiel was distressed by what he saw because he thought the Lord God was going to wipe out the entire remnant of Israel in Jerusalem.  The Lord explained that the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah was exceedingly great.  It was full of bloodshed and perversity and that He would not spare them or have pity.  Just then the man dressed in linen clothes with the inkhorn came and reported that he was done as commanded.

This vision that Ezekiel saw is a picture of what will happen in the future.  An abomination of desolation will be set up in the temple to arouse God’s jealousy.  Other abominations will be taking place as well.  The 144,000 will be sealed with the seal of God and the wicked will eventually be destroyed by the plagues. 

What will happen to the rest of us when that time comes?  Will we fare any better?  How can we when abominations, bloodshed (abortions and other murders), and perverse sexual immorality reign in our midst?  Do you expect to be raptured before that?  Don’t count on it because there’s as much Scripture to support a post-tribulation rapture as there is a pre-tribulation rapture. 

If we don’t want to be destroyed for a lack of knowledge of God’s commands and lawlessness, we’ve got to study God’s word and get synchretized Christianity out of lives.  We must also get rid of the excessive materialism of this season and the abominable parts of our traditions and cling to the Lord and obey God’s commandments. 

As this season continues, obey Ephesians 5:18-21:  “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Instead of celebrating Christ’s birth during Christmas, consider doing so during the Feast of Tabernacles without all of the Christmas traditions.  After all, Immanuel means God “with us”…dwelling with us.  That’s the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles anyway.

If you are one who already understands these things yet your spouse and the rest of your family doesn’t, this is obviously an extremely awkward time of year for you.  Take comfort in the fact you are not alone.  Maintain a quiet spirit and worship the Lord.  May the peace of the Lord guard your heart and mind during the winter holidays and always.

The Building of the Tabernacle

Building the Tabernacle in the wilderness was a major undertaking and required items that were willfully donated for the project.  Exodus 35:30-35 tells us there were two men chosen who were filled with the Spirit of God and gifted with skills to carry out their assignment of making the Tabernacle, its furnishings, incense, anointing oil, and priestly clothing.  The first was Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  The second man was Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  These two designed the tabernacle according to the pattern given to them and led other artisans to complete the project.  The tabernacle was finally set up at the close of the book of Exodus on the first day of the first month.  All of the furnishings were put in their proper place and everything was anointed in order to consecrate them.  In addition, Aaron and his sons were consecrated for 7 days so they could begin their priestly service.  Everyone rejoiced when the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

Many years later, Solomon had a temple built for the Lord.  He used the plans that were given to him by his father, David.  Three groups of people worked on this project:  Solomon’s men, Hiram’s men (King of Tyre), and the Gebalites.  It is interesting to note that Huram was Hiram’s master craftsman.  Huram was the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan and his father was a man of Tyre (2 Chron 2:13-14).  This temple was also filled with the cloud of the Lord’s glorious presence (2 Chron. 5:13).

After the Babylonian captivity, people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned and began the task of rebuilding the temple.  The Samaritans wanted to help them build the temple claiming they worshiped the same God since the time of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria.  The Jews refused saying King Cyrus only commanded them to build the temple (Ezra 4).   The temple was eventually completed after a period of opposition and was dedicated to the Lord with joy.  This temple was eventually defiled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV and was later cleansed and rededicated.  Since that time, the Feast of Dedication also known as Hanukkah has been celebrated annually to remember this event (John 10:22).  This same temple was renovated and expanded by King Herod, an Idumean (Edomite).

Since Jesus death and resurrection, believers in Christ have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Believers work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to build this temple by putting to death the deeds of the old man so the new man can obey the guidelines for this temple (God’s commandments) by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Because the bodies of individual believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit, they must be careful not to defile their bodies through sexual immorality.  The Spirit also gives each individual believer spiritual gifts to build up the corporate body of Christ (1 Cor. 3:9-15).  God expects believers to use these gifts to bring honor and glory to Him.

At some point in the future, the Jews will build another temple using the plans of Ezekiel.  Many items and furnishings have already been made in preparation for it.  Some people believe that descendants of the tribe of Dan will join the Jews in constructing the temple and that the Anti-Christ will be a descendant of the tribe of Dan.  Some believe this descendant will be of Greco-Roman descent from Europe or the United States while others believe he will be of Syrian-Grecian descent from the Middle East.   It is too early to say who will be the Anti-Christ or exactly who will be involved in the construction of the temple at this point.  One thing is sure.  The Anti-Christ will defile the Most Holy Place one day by setting up an abomination of desolation and declaring himself to be God but we can be sure his end has already been predetermined.  In addition, this temple will be cleansed and rededicated because the rightful heir to the throne, Jesus Christ is coming at the appointed time. 

Causes of Uncleanness

Ezekiel 44:23 says, “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” NKJV

Leviticus describes in detail the causes of uncleanness and how to be cleansed.  Being ritually cleansed was necessary in order to approach God and to prevent the Tabernacle from becoming defiled.  Conditions resulting in ritual uncleanness include:

  • Touching a human corpse.
  • Anyone who has tzara’at (translated as leprosy but this is not Hansen’s disease).
  • Seminal emission or other male discharges.
  • Women who are menstruating or have other persistent bleeding.
  • Women who have recently experienced childbirth.
  • Eating ritually unclean meat. This makes you abominable.
  • Eating ritually clean meat from animals that died naturally or that had been killed by wild animals.

As you can see, becoming unclean can be a normal process in life. This is not necessarily a sin.  Ritual uncleanness that results from disobeying the dietary laws is sin.  Certain forms of uncleanness can be transmitted.  It was especially important to avoid contaminating the Tabernacle by transmitting uncleanness to it. Fortunately God had a plan to deal with that possibility.  The Day of Atonement was necessary once a year to remove any contamination that inadvertently made its way into the Tabernacle.

God has commanded us to be holy because He is holy.  He does not want us to be common.  He does not want us to blend in with the world around us but to live separately from the world.

God justifies us (declares us holy) when we receive Jesus as our Savior.  Sanctification is the process of being holy.  It is the result of obeying God’s commandments.

The chiastic structure of Leviticus 11:41-47 emphasizes that certain things you eat can make you unclean and that we are to choose to be holy by obeying the dietary laws.  This is one way of being physically holy.  First Corinthians 7:34 indicates we should be concerned with how to be both physically and spiritually holy.  We often attempt to be spiritually holy without worrying about being physically holy.  God desires both in our lives.

For now, do not think the dietary laws have been abolished.  Mark 7:19b (NIV) leads us to believe that all food is clean but this phrase is not in the Greek version of the New Testament but was added by Bible translators.  For now, please bear in mind Deuteronomy 13:1-4, Matthew 5:17-20 and Roman 3:31 until we can take up that discussion in another post.

Do you think the causes of uncleanness listed above can still make us unclean?  Why or why not?

If they do, how does Christ’s sacrifice address that uncleanness?

Since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we be concerned about doing anything that might defile or transmit uncleanness to our bodies?