Saturday, May 30, 2015

Musings on the Crucifixion, Part 2

If you missed part one, you can click here to read it.

Tradition says that Yeshua was crucified at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was "discovered" by Constantine's mother Helen through a series of "visions" in the fourth century. It is a very, ahem, interesting place, and perhaps some day I will write a post on it.  Or not.  Suffice it to say that the location of the site had formerly housed a temple of Venus, and that seven different sects of Christianity spar with each other over the rights to the place.  Ironically, the key is held by a Muslim family.  It is located to the north and the west of Mount Moriah.

Another location that claims the site of the crucifixion is the Garden Tomb, located on the north side of the city, just outside the Damascus Gate. A beautiful and peaceful place, to be sure, and a great place to meditate on what Yeshua did for us.

However, there is really no scriptural pattern that would justify a site to the north or the west of the Temple Mount.

For a few years now, I have believed that the crucifixion took place on the Mount of Olives, east of the Temple Mount across the Kidron Valley.  Knowing some of the Jewish roots of our faith is very helpful here.

In scripture, the idea of movement toward the east signifies cursing, and movement toward the west indicates blessing.  This pattern is demonstrated over and over again.  The Garden of Eden was probably on Mount Moriah.

Every single translation that I can find of Genesis 2:8 says that God planted a garden Eastward, or toward the East.  However, this is incorrect.  The Hebrew word kedem (which means both east and from ancient times) is preceded by the Hebrew letter mem, means from.  God either planted a garden from the earliest times, or from the East (or both).  But not toward the east.

Here are just a few examples of God's pattern of eastward being the direction of cursing, and westward being the direction of blessing:
  • Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, toward the east.  
  • When the Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem to Babylon, they went east.  The regathering was toward the west.  
  • When the glory of the Lord departed from the temple in Ezekiel 11, it went east.  
  • In Yeshua, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.  (Side note:  If you head north long enough, eventually you will go south.  Not so with east and west).  
  • The gospel began in Jerusalem and has made its way, for the most part, in a westward movement and is now heading back westward across the 10/40 Window where it will culminate in Jerusalem.  
  • When Yeshua returns, He will descend onto the Mount of Olives and head west, into the city of Jerusalem.  
  • Even the sun works its way across our sky in an east to west direction.

Abraham took his son Isaac to the land of Moriah, as directed by God.  God then showed him exactly the place where the eventually-averted sacrifice of Isaac was to take place.  Methinks God led them to the Mount of Olives, east of the location of the future temple, and probably the exact place were Yeshua was crucified.

Kidron Valley, Mount of Olives in the distance
When Yeshua took on the curse of sin, this established pattern from God indicates that the crucifixion would be to the east of the Temple Mount, which would put it across the Kidron Valley and on the Mount of Olives.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us, If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.

That's not all.  There is biblical evidence that He was nailed to a living tree, and that the two robbers were on the same tree; one on each side of Him.  And it was likely an almond tree, and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was probably an almond tree.  (I know... this flies in the face of every depiction of the crucifixion we have ever seen).  The menorah in the temple was fashioned after an almond tree.  With Yeshua in the middle between the two criminals, all arms raised, they would have resembled a menorah.  The six branches of the menorah represent mankind with the seventh middle branch representing God.  If this is the case, what a stunning picture of Yeshua - Son of Man and Son of God - in the middle, featuring the head of God with human arms raised up.

There is yet another picture to consider in this scenario.  In the temple across the Kidron Valley, the Holy of Holies featured two cherubim on the Mercy Seat facing one another, covering the Ark of the Covenant (which housed the Ten Commandments, manna, and an almond rod).

The two criminals on the tree with Yeshua would have depicted just the opposite, facing away from Him.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Psalm 22:1

Even the very items contained in the Ark of the Coven:ant were highly symbolic.  The Almond Rod - a picture of the priesthood for Yeshua, our High Priest.  The manna, for Yeshua, our Bread of Life.  And the Ten Commandments, showing that Yeshua fulfilled every single precept of the Torah perfectly, thereby becoming our Living Torah when we put our faith and trust in Him.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Musings on the Crucifixion, Part 1

In the past few weeks, new insights have been introduced to me, from various sources, regarding the Jewish roots of the crucifixion.  So bear with me as I ponder these things here.

The first thing that has come up is the account of the rooster crowing at Peter's third denial.  Ancient writings show that chickens and roosters were not allowed in Jerusalem during Passover, because they were unclean.  (I have raised chickens and roosters and can very much attest that this is true).  

I then discovered that the term "crowing of the rooster" actually was a euphemism for the first and last blowings of the shofar each day by the priest at the temple.  When the priest blew that shofar early on that Passover day when Yeshua became our sacrificial Lamb, it was the last legitimate shofar blow of the priesthood.  Yeshua was about to fulfill the priesthood by becoming our High Priest.

One other verse of interest in this regard comes from Mark 14:51, a seemingly random and odd scripture:  Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. 

 Linen was the garment of the priesthood.  In the same sense of the shofar, we can see in the stripping of the linen a picture of the priesthood coming to an end.

Moving on to the trial of Yeshua...

The people had a custom of having a prisoner released to them at Passover.  Pilate saw not fault in Yeshua and wanted Him to be that released prisoner.  However, the people demanded Barabbas.

Barabbas means "Son of the Father."

So you have two men, both of them the Son of the Father.  However, one was released, and one was killed.  In this respect, Yeshua the Messiah fulfilled not only the role of the Passover Lamb, but of the goat that was sacrificed by the priest at the Day of Atonement.  See these words from Leviticus 16:7-10:  
He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

Wow.  God's word is so precise... so many patterns are evident.  Yeshua the Messiah became the One to Whom the LORD's lot fell, and He was killed as a sin offering.  Barabbas became the scapegoat and was set free alive.

My next post will address several additional aspects of the crucifixion.