Friday, September 29, 2017

Yom Kippur and Our High Priest

We interrupt our walk through Isaiah to stop and pause for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar - Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement.

This was the one day a year when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of the bull and goat on the mercy seat. Let's look at Leviticus 16:6-10 for context:

“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house.  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.

First, Aaron the High Priest had to make an offering for himself via the bull.  Then he was able to continue with God's directive to cast lots for the two goats - one which would die for the sins of Israel (known as the Goat of the Lord), and one which would be set free and sent into the wilderness (known as the azazel, or scapegoat).

Fast forward to the ultimate sacrificial death of Yeshua our Messiah.  Most believers would acknowledge that He became our Passover Lamb.  But is there also a picture of His high priesthood at His death?


When Yeshua stood before Pontius Pilate, Pilate wanted to wash his hands of the matter and take no blame for what happened.  So Pilate offered the people a scapegoat - Barabbas.  The people accepted the scapegoat and Barabbas was set free.  Yeshua the Messiah then became the Goat of the Lord, the sacrifice that would take away the sin of the whole world.

Some ancient manuscripts of the gospel of Matthew have the full name of Barabbas written as Yeshua Bar Abba.  Early church father Origen was troubled by this and declared that the name Yeshua must have been added in by a heretic.  It is likely that later scribes removed this reference.

 It is interesting to note that Yeshua Bar Abba means Jesus, Son of the Father.  Even without the name Yeshua, we are still left with the term Son of the Father

So we are left with a picture of two similar goats with similar names, one chosen to die and one chosen to be set free, in the very same manner as the two goats in Leviticus 16.

It gets even more interesting.

According to the Talmud (Jewish oral law that was codified in the second century AD and expounded upon), there were several signs by which people would know whether or not God had received their sacrifice and forgiven their sins. 

First, the priest would draw lots from an urn as outlined in Leviticus 16.  One lot was written, For the Lord. The other said To the Scapegoat.  The priest would pull both lots out of the urn - one in each hand.  If the priest drew the lot For the Lord in his right hand, that meant that God had received the sacrifice.  However, if it showed up in the left hand, it meant the opposite - that God had rejected the sacrifice. 

The Talmud records that from 30 AD to 70 AD, the same result showed up every time - rejected.  The odds of this happening 40 years in a row are over one in one trillion.

Another sign was that a scarlet thread was tied to the horn of the scapegoat, and it would supernaturally turn white when God received the sacrifice.  Part of the red thread would be actually tied to the temple doors - this way the people could see if it turned white or not. 

The Talmud also confirms that the thread did not turn white during those 40 years, and then the temple was destroyed in 70AD. 

So from the death of Yeshua to the destruction of the temple, the Talmud itself confirms that God rejected the sacrifices, beginning in the year 30.

Yeshua truly IS both our Passover Lamb and our Atoning High Priest.

But Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  Hebrews 9-11-12

Thanks to Ron Cantor of Messiah's Mandate for the Talmudic information.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Isaiah post 12 - Kingdom Keys and Tyre to its Knees (Chapters 22-23)

Our walk through Isaiah brings us to chapter 22.  It begins with an oracle to the valley of vision – which is more prophecy to Jerusalem regarding the Assyrian invasion during King Hezekiah’s time.  The scene is not pretty - God's hand of protection had been lifted and there were broken walls and chariots all around.

Verses 9-11 mention pools, waters, and a reservoir, which is possibly referring to the tunnel that King Hezekiah built to withstand a siege.  But the prophecy continues that it is too little, too late.  The LORD had called for weeping and mourning, and the people responded with celebrating.  Verse 14  wraps up this section with a grim warning to the people of Jerusalem:

Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts,
“Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you,
Even to your death,” says the Lord God of hosts.

We see a clear change of tone beginning with verse 15. Shebna was the king’s scribe who was ousted from his high position under Hezekiah. Further details of this time are outlined in 2 Kings 18.

Shebna (meaning vigor, from an unused root meaning to grow) was cut off from having the king's ear. In fact, verse 17 says  Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, O mighty man, and will surely seize you.  Shebna's service was indeed ended with vigor.  Could Shebna have been a picture of the Pharisees and Sadduccees that ruled at the time of Yeshua?

Eliakim means God raises, or God sets up.  And this is exactly what happened.

Isaiah continues in verses 20-22, telling us that Eliakim, the master’s servant, is raised up and given the Key of David.  This is about having authoritative access to the king.  The concept is outlined here in Isaiah but is carried into the new covenant.

Revelation 3:7 says, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”

The doctrine of authority is also paralleled in Matthew 16:19, which tells us,
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

This idea of binding and loosing is often misunderstood as spiritual warfare and binding the evil one.  But it really has more to do with the governing authority of the ekklesia.  Binding and loosing is another way of saying allowing or not allowing.

It is my understanding that a more correct translation of the Greek would say, "whatever has been already been allowed in heaven is allowed on earth, and whatever is not allowed by heaven will not be allowed on earth."  The LORD is establishing the fact that He is the ultimate authority, and the ekklesia is His assembly on earth that is to carry out His authority.

It is not the authority to do whatever we want, but the authority to carry out the will of heaven. We members of the ekklesia are ambassadors walking in His authority. We stand on the Rock of the Messiah.  Heaven makes the rules and we the ekklesia are supposed to listen and do as directed.

In addition to the general authority of the ekklesia, Peter was given the keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16, and he was actually given specific authority to open certain doors.

In Acts 2, Peter opened the Kingdom to the Jews.
In Acts 8, Peter opened the Kingdom in Samaria.
In Acts 10, Peter opened the Kingdom to the rest of the world - the Gentiles.

This does not mean that Peter was the first pope.  It means that he was given a very specific job to do in "unlocking" the Messianic kingdom - first to the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, then to Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth.

Matthew 18:15-20 elaborates on New Covenant authority and discipline, culminating with verse 20: For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Many seem to take this out of context and apply it to prayer meetings, but it comes right from Deuteronomy 19:15, which says, One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. It is about governing the assembly, and establishing a matter with witnesses.

Rest assured, you can pray alone, and Yeshua will be with you. Yes, corporate prayer and worship is also important, and is dealt with elsewhere in scripture.

A side note:  I would like to address the Greek word ekklesia, which is often translated into the word church.  A better translation would be congregation or assembly.  In the *Septuagint, we see the Greek words ekklesia and sunagogue appearing seven different times together in the same verses.  The words are nearly synonymous. 

Exodus 12:6 is the first such appearance: Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly (Hebrew qahal, Greek ekklesia) of the congregation (Hebrew edah, Greek sunagoge) of Israel shall kill it at twilight.

*The Septuagint is the Hebrew scriptures that were translated into Greek by 70 Jewish scholars a couple hundred years before Yeshua.

Many people believe that Pentecost was the birth of the "church."  I disagree.  The ekklesia - God's assembly of people on earth - was already in existence.  The LORD was instituting a new era for His ekklesia - the amazing and mysterious indwelling of the Holy Spirit  until He returns - but He was not instituting a new ekklesia altogether.

People have been so eager to separate the church and the synagogue over the last two thousand years, but when God says One New Man, He really means it!  Someday soon we will all be one together in the Messiah. Hallelujah!

I have debated whether to include chapter 23 on this post, and decided to do it since it would be a pretty short post all on its own.  But here comes another change of gears... Isaiah is really good at that!

Chapter 23 is the last of the judgments against foreign nations. The prophecy is against sister cities Tyre and Sidon.

Tyre and Sidon were the main cities in the empire known as Phonecia – they were an advanced society, inventing an alphabet from where we get our word phonics.

The location of ancient Phonecia is modern day Lebanon, just north of Israel; however, in their heyday,  the empire stretched to the coast of North Africa, possibly as far as Spain.

Their religion was abominable and pagan.   Ahab's wife, Queen Jezebel, was from Tyre and brought Baal and Ashtoreth to Israel.  (Baal was the Phonician version of the sun god and Ashtoreth was their version of the moon goddess - see my previous post for more information on that subject).

In 1 Kings 18, we can read the showdown between God and Baal with Elijah on Mount Carmel.  And as we know, God won  (He always wins).

In verse 2 of chapter 23, Isaiah refers to the sea being filled.  Tyre was on the mainland, and was also an island, and in 322 BC, Alexander the Great created a causeway out of dirt, stones, and timbers, connecting the island to the mainland, conquering it and changing it forever.  

Why did Tyre and Sidon fall? Verse 9 tells us. The Lord of hosts has purposed it, To bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, To bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.

Pride again.  Sigh.  

For the next post in the series, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Isaiah Post 11 - The Fall of Spiritual Babylon (chapter 21)

Now for chapter 21.  Ah, Babylon.  Who/what/where is Babylon?

Babylon (Babel) was located in modern day Iraq, 59 miles from Baghdad, and today is sanded over, desolate, and in ruins.  I've mentioned this before.  Here is a picture in case you have forgotten:

Ruins of ancient Babylon/Babel

The chapter is an oracle to the wilderness (desert) of the sea.  This is clearly the Arabian peninsula – Arabs themselves call it by this name.  This idea is confirmed in verse 13 - the burden is against Arabia.  Each place mentioned in this chapter – Edom, Dumah, Tema, Kedar – these are all in Arabia. Today we call it Saudi Arabia, because after World War I, Arabia was given to the extensive royal Saud family to control.  They had been Bedouins - truly a rags to riches story for them.  More on this later.

In the midst of this oracle against Arabia is verse 9 – fallen, fallen is Babylon.  Where have we heard that? It is repeated in Revelation 14:8 and 18:2.

Jeremiah also confirms this prophecy in 51:6-9.
Flee from the midst of Babylon,
And every one save his life!
Do not be cut off in her iniquity,
For this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance;
He shall recompense her.
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand,
That made all the earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
Therefore the nations are deranged.
Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed.
Wail for her!
Take balm for her pain;
Perhaps she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
But she is not healed.
Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country;
For her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies.

All this talk of Babylon, yet we know that physical Babylon is buried under sand.  So what is this spiritual Babylon?

Revelation 17:1-5 speaks of a great prostitute on many waters (Arabia is surrounded by water on 3 sides).  Kings have committed fornication with her, the great harlot.

And indeed, Revelation 17:15 says that many nations and tongues are involved.  What sort of worldwide movement has its headquarters in Arabia?

If the harlot Babylon is now on the Arabian Peninsula, how did it get there?  

This requires a journey back into ancient history.  We have to go all the way back to the tower of Babel in Genesis 11.  Ancient writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, and modern archaeological findings, shed light on what took place back then.

Back in Babel before the dispersion, the people had begun worshipping the host of heaven:  the sun, moon, and stars.  The devil had set up a false trinity, so to speak, with Nimrod, Semaramis, and their son Tammuz.  When the tower was destroyed and the languages confused, this false god/goddess/son trio was carried all over the world, and been found in countless cultures on all continents.

Aztec sun god
Germanic moon goddess
Egyptian moon goddess Isis with her son Horus
Mesopotamian fertility goddess Ishtar, aka Ashtoreth
This pattern of sun god, moon goddess and their love child placed emphasis on mother/child worship and the goddess of fertility.

You can google the legend of Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz.   There is much written about them.

These ideas also crept into ancient Israel.  In Ezekiel 8:15-16, the Jewish women are reprimanded as they were weeping for Tammuz, and the men for worshipping the sun.

In Jeremiah 7:18 and Jeremiah 44 we see the Israelites taken to task for baking cakes for the queen of heaven.  Pagan idolatry had crept into every aspect of their society.  The first commandment prohibits this idea of mixing altogether.  No other gods means no other gods!  This false system promoted ungodly fertility rites (orgies beneath green trees on hilltops), and eventually led to child sacrifice.


The Catholics use the term queen of heaven to describe Yeshua's mother, and sadly, Mary has been elevated to goddess status.  In 1854 the pope declared that SHE was conceived without sin.  It had already been long-believed that she was a perpetual virgin.  The history of this doctrine goes back to the goddess Diana of the Ephesians.  It is said that Mary lived out her life in Ephesus under the care of the apostle John.  Ephesus was very much into goddess worship!

Mary shown with the sun, moon, and stars.
When Christianity was taken over by Rome in the 300s under Constantine (a committed worshipper of Mithra), many aspects of Babylonian goddess worship came along with it.  Pagan festivals were Christianized.  Saturnalia became Christmas.  Jewish festivals were outlawed, including the Sabbath.  The day of worship was changed to SUNday.  Passover became Easter.  Goddess temples were changed to Christian ones.   Pagan priests became Christian priests.  The Vatican was built over a pagan necropolis and Nero’s circus. Many pagan symbols and festivals still exist in the Catholic church, and the Reformation did little to eradicate them.

Halos - a throwback to sun god worship

Monstrance - a Catholic object of worship

At the time of Mohammad (7th century AD), the Arabian Peninsula had 360 different tribal gods based on the Babylonian system.  Mohammad claimed that his tribal god was THE god (which is what Allah means - the god), and he declared all other Arabian gods to be false.  His first wife (out of 11) was Khadija, who came from a Roman Catholic family. Mohammad was greatly influenced by both Jews and Christians who were monotheists.

Islam was founded and spread, based on tribal moon god worship.  Every mosque today has a crescent moon on top. (Because of their patriarchal society, the moon goddess morphed into the moon god).

Moons everywhere.  Coincidence?

The black stone at Mecca, kissed by worshippers.
 You can draw your own conclusion about the connection to the fertility moon goddess.

Its center:  MeccaSaudi Arabia.  The wilderness of the sea, the great prostitute on many waters, the harlot with the golden cup in her hand that all the kings of the world want (Jer 51:7, Rev 17:2,4, Rev 18:3).  What IS this golden cup?

Well, what do the kings of the earth today want?

The wilderness of the sea, on many waters, was a vast wasteland, populated by destitute Bedouins until the discovery of oil.  Almost overnight, Saudi Arabia went from the poorest nation on earth to the wealthiest. 

Oil runs the world today.  I'm guessing that for most of us, wherever we go today, we will not walk or ride our camel.  By the way, I don't believe this means you have to sell your car and get a camel.  

Remember the long lines at the gas stations in 1974?  I was a little kid then, and I still remember them.  But what I didn't know until recently was that the Arabs instituted an oil embargo against the United States after America helped Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war - thus the oil shortage.

The kings of the world want this oil, and they are willing to kiss the feet of the beast in order to get it.

Revelation 18:8-10 tells us that this alternate religious system - evident all over the world in many faiths but culminating in Islam - will be gone in one hour.  All the wealth – gone. Burned up.  (Oil is quite flammable).

How will this happen?  My guess is that Arabia will be destroyed by her own Islamic enemies. Turkey and Iran hate Saudi Arabia because of the wealth.  Sunnis hate the Shiites.  The Syrian conflict is Muslim against Muslim.  More Muslims kill Muslims than they do "infidels." I believe the burning of spiritual Babylon, headquartered on the Arabian peninsula, will be an inside job.

Revelation 18:4 warns us: come out of her, my people!  Leave this false religious system behind and return to pure worship.

All this purging has to happen so that pure worship of the Jewish Messiah, the Lamb of God, will be restored.  All the pagan junk that has crept into the church will be gone.  Hallelujah!

Moving right along through Isaiah, you can click here for a post on chapters 22 and 23.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

Isaiah Post 10 - More Enemies Defeated (chapters 15-20)

This post is going to fly through several chapters rather quickly.  Put on your seatbelts and prepare to zoom.  We are facing numerous oracles against the countries surrounding and including Israel, beginning in chapter 15.

The first oracle is against Moab, the ancient enemies of the children of Israel.  Moab was a kingdom on the King’s Highway trade route, on the east side of the Dead Sea.  The Moabites were the descendents of Lot through one of his daughters.  Lot's other daughter gave rise to their cousins the Amonites, who settled north of Moab.  Today the Jordanian city of Ammon is there.

Chapter 16 ends with the remnant of Moab being very small and feeble.  And Moab indeed collapsed around 400 BC. 

Do you remember the most famous Moabite in the Bible? My last post spoke of her - Ruth.  The lineage of Yeshua connects back to Moab through her.  Remember, God is in charge and He establishes His purposes whenever and wherever He desires.  

Chapter 17 dives in and tells us that Damascus will cease from being a city.  This hasn’t happened yet. It is an ancient city that has existed for thousands of years.   But with everything going on today in Syria, we could very well see this prophecy fulfilled today.

Homs, Syria:  2010 and 2014

Verse 4 switches to Israel, and foretells the coming dispersion of the northern kingdom, when the fatness grows lean.  (In chapter 9, do you remember the arrogance of the people in their own power
and wealth?) Yet a remnant of Israel is promised in verse 6, through a picture of grapes and olives.

Verse 10 tells us why… they have forgotten the God of their salvation and the Rock of their stronghold. Their crops will suffer and the harvest will be a heap of ruins.

In verses 12-14, Isaiah again switches focus to the surrounding peoples. It sounds like a picture of today’s refugee situation in Syria, and also what happens to nations that plunder Israel.

Woe to the multitude of many people
Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,
And to the rushing of nations
That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
And before the morning, he is no more.
This is the portion of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who rob us.

See also Psalm 83 and Zechariah 12:3 for more information on what happens to those who come against Israel.

Chapter 18 continues with an oracle against Ethiopia (biblically known as Cush).   Verse 7 tells us that a gift will be brought to the LORD of hosts from these people, up to Mount Zion.  Some say the Ark of the Covenant rests in Ethiopia, at a little church in the village of Aksum. That is debatable. Besides, if you've ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, you know that it is in a Washington DC warehouse, right?  (wink)  Personally, I believe the ark is safely nestled somewhere in Jersualem, awaiting the perfect time to be revealed.

Chapter 19 is an oracle against Egypt (I told you this was going to be a fast ride through this section!). Verse 2, in my opinion, sure seems to describe the Arab Spring of 2011:

“I will set Egyptians against Egyptians;
Everyone will fight against his brother,
And everyone against his neighbor,
City against city, kingdom against kingdom.

The grim prophecy continues through verse 17.  A quick side note:  the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1932.

However, the following verses give Egypt great hope.  Could they be a fulfillment of the promise made to Hagar millennia ago?  Bottom line:  Egypt will know the LORD!  Verse 22 tells us He will strike them and then heal them.

And then the highlight of this chapter, the Highway in verses 24-25:
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

I believe this day is coming soon, in conjunction with the return of the Messiah.
Highway in the Desert

In chapter 20, the LORD uses Isaiah as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia, who were about to be invaded by Assyria. He was told by the Lord to remove his sackcloth and shoes and go naked for three years. Many scholars say this means the outer garment, and that he was clothed underneath with a simple tunic. 

Verse 4 says, in the same way, the king of Assyria will lead away Egyptians and Ethiopians, naked, barefoot, with their rear ends uncovered. (Even back then, nakedness was linked to shame... a lesson we could learn in today's Western world).

This came to pass around 714-711 BC. The northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen just a few years before, in 722 BC.  Another example of God's prophetic words coming to pass!  No other god can foretell the future like our God!

Assyria capturing Egyptians and Ethiopians
My plan was to cover all the way through chapter 21 in this post.  However, that chapter begs for its own post.  So... two posts today.

Click here for a look at chapter 21.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Isaiah Post 9 - Enemies Defeated (Chapter 14)

Hi, and welcome back to my stroll through Isaiah.  I was on vacation for a week; thus the lull.

Chapter 14 starts off with a bold declaration – the LORD will have mercy on Jacob and will again choose Israel and settle them in their own land.  The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.

This makes me think of beloved Ruth, and her attitude toward her mother-in-law:

“Entreat me not to leave you,Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

This woman really got it!  By attaching herself to the God and the people of Israel, she became the great grandmother of King David.  Talk about receiving a blessing!

The context in Isaiah 14:1-2 is the last days, because these things had never happened in the history of the Jews, but it is happening now!  Jews are returning to the land, and many believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are returning to their Jewish roots in droves.  Those that are strangers to the Jews are clinging to the house of Jacob.

Zechariah 8:23 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’

I am not sure if they teach this verse in seminaries, but personally I had never heard it until I began my own study of Jewish roots.  And it LEAPT off the page at me!  Again, the context of Zechariah 8 is the last days.  What an exciting time we live in, to see the fulfillment of this verse!

But not all are excited.  Satan works hard to stir up sentiments against Israel, even among the church.  Perhaps especially in the church.  Many still cling to replacement theology - the idea that the church has replaced Israel in God's plan and favor.  The only logical thing then for them to do is to pick up the pro-Palestinian (Read:  Anti-Israel) cause, so that their theology may be justified.

Oh, and speaking of satan...  in verse 3, Isaiah begins speaking about the king of Babylon, but the prophecy then morphs into a type and fulfillment of the evil one in verses 11-12  The prophecy speaks of the coming beast empire and the antichrist of the last days

Lucifer actually means morning star.  The devil only imitates the true Morning Star.  Revelation 22:16 clearly tells us who the true Morning Star is:

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

 Satan can only imitate and deceive.

Isaiah continues describing the great fall of the evil one in verses 13-21.  The prophecy against the king of Babylon becomes pretty clear that Isaiah is now speaking of satan and his demise.

Satan's issue was pride. Pride is the root of much sin. Proverbs 16:18 warns us,  Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Is it a coincidence that a certain modern movement that publicly flaunts sin have adopted the very word into their festivals?

Anyway, I digress.

Scripture uses a similar pattern elsewhere.  Ezekiel 28 describes the downfall of the King of Tyre, and then that prophecy also morphs into a prophecy of the fall of satan (I don't think the king of Tyre was actually in the Garden of Eden).

The final beast kingdom is described in Revelation 13.  It's ugly.   A few chapters later, this beast  kingdom falls. Revelation 17:5 links this beast kingdom right back to Babylon.

And on her forehead a name was written:

We have already seen in a previous post that physical Babylon is gone.  The passage is using imagery to speak of spiritual Babylon.  My next post will elaborate on this spiritual Babylon, which has its roots in physical Babylon.

Isaiah 14 continues with more destruction of God's enemies.  Verses 24-25 speak of the destruction of Assyria.  Assyria WAS then destroyed by the Medes in 612 BC when Nineveh fell, 26 years before the fall of Judea to Babylon.

But the LORD has His purposes.  He and His purposes are sovereign - He raises up nations for His own purposes. This is confirmed in verses 26-27.

This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth,
And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
For the Lord of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?”

We can rest in the knowlege that He is in complete charge.

Most of the remainder of Isaiah 14 is a prophecy against Philistia; that they will be destroyed.  Indeed, the Philistines ceased to be a people hundreds of years before Jesus.

However, after a Jewish uprising in 135 AD, Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the Holy Land to Palestina... knowing full well that the Philistines were the ancient enemies of the Jews.  And if you ever turn on the news, you will see that the name Palestine is still trying to be used against the Jews today.

The ultimate fake news.  Don't be fooled; the people fighting for the land called the West Bank (may I interject a rhetorical question here... West Bank of WHAT??) are a mixture of Arab people from all over the Middle East, many of whom made their way to the land in the 1800s and early 1900s as the Jews began restoring the devastated land.

The founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, was Egyptian.  The current president of the Palestinian Authority was born in Israel proper, in Safed.  And the "Palestinian" people are not just fighting for the kidney-shaped piece of land known to the world as the "West Bank" (aka the biblical heartland - the mountains of Israel).  When they chant "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" at their pro-Palestine rallies, they are speaking of the entire land, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Sorry, now I've REALLY digressed and gone all political.  But it is so intertwined with Bible prophecy that it is difficult to avoid.  I could write a series of posts on what the Bible has to say about dividing the land.  Just go read Psalm 83 and you will think you are watching the news.  In fact, I think I will wrap up this post with Psalm 83.

Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon,
Who perished at En Dor,
Who became as refuse on the earth.
Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”

O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!
As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Let the words of this psalm really sink in. And I am happy to say that Isaiah 14 ends on a happy note:

What will they answer the messengers of the nation?
That the Lord has founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.

For a whirlwind ride through the next six chapters of Isaiah, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Isaiah Post 8 - Babylon's Demise both Near and Far (Chapter 13)

Isaiah chapter 13 focuses on God's judgment against Babylon.  There is an application of near prophecy here - that which is about to happen - but I believe that most of the prophecy looks much further ahead to the awesome Day of the LORD, when He returns to earth.

In verse 2, a banner is lifted up.  We have discussed the banner before; a rallying point for a cause (see Isaiah post 6). What follows in verses 3-5 is a great assembly of sanctified ones, a multitude of many people.

Isaiah writes,
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, Like that of many people!
A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together!
The LORD of hosts musters the army for battle.
They come from a far country, From the end of heaven—
The LORD and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land.

Who is this assembled army of the LORD?

If we compare scripture to scripture, we can look to Matthew 24:31 and Revelation 19:14 to get a hint.

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

It looks to me like this is His people, gathered together and returning to the earth with King Messiah in the lead.

The next section is even more descriptive of the coming Day of the LORD.  Look at verses 6-11.  The scope of events encompasses the whole world, not just Babylon.

Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore all hands will be limp, 

Every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; 

They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;
They will be amazed at one another; Their faces will be like flames.

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations 

Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth, 

And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud, 

And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

There are several places in scripture that confirm the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars as a sign of His coming.

Matthew 24:29 says “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Joel 2:10-11 says The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.
The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great;

(there's that army again!)
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?

Like the song says, He's not a baby in a manger anymore.  There are those who still portray Yeshua as meek and mild, but His days as a sacrificial Lamb are over.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and He is coming soon in great power and great glory, and He will have great wrath against the unbelieving world.  

The chapter finishes up with another reference to Babylon.  It foretells of the complete destruction of the city.  The place that was ancient Babylon is located 59 miles outside of modern day Baghdad, and is complete rubble - just as foretold in scripture.  Today, only about 2 percent of the rubble has been excavated.

Ancient Babylon

Interestingly, Revelation chapters 17 and 18 speak of Babylon's future destruction.  Since physical Babylon is toast, we know that Revelation is speaking of something different than the physical city. Ancient Babylon (Babel) was the source of a false religious system that spread throughout the world (in various forms), and this religious system remains a stronghold in the world today.  

It is fascinating to note - with all this talk of the sun, moon, and stars going dark - that this ancient pagan system is based on those very elements: sun god and moon goddess worship.  Reading the stars, ie: unbiblical fortune-telling astrology, is also a big part of this pagan system.  This whole system will be defeated and go dark.

Spiritual Babylon is a huge subject, and will be addressed further in future posts. Stay tuned!

For the next post in this Isaiah series, click here.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Isaiah Post 7 - In That Day (Chapter 12)

Our journey through Isaiah continues in chapter 12, which opens with a beautiful hymn of praise:

And in that day you will say:
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’"
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.

In what day? And to whom is the LORD speaking?

Following all the kingdom talk in chapter 11, the same thought pattern continues, as the LORD is still speaking of last days things.  And He is speaking the words to His people, Israel.  His anger is turned away from them.

In this very short passage, verses 1-3, note that the word Yeshua, meaning salvation is used three times... Behold, God is my Yeshua! He has become my Yeshua! Draw water from the wells of Yeshua! Yeshua is the name of the Jewish Messiah, whom the English speaking world knows as Jesus.

When something is repeated three times together in scripture, it is a literary device that means the ultimate emphasis.  Biblical Hebrew doesn't have a way of saying, for example, happy, happier, happiest.  Instead, repetition is used.  And when we see something three times, we need to pay attention.  As in, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts (from Isaiah's vision in chapter 6).

Let's talk about the last part of this passage:
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.

This idea of drawing water from the wells of salvation speaks of Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot. (The word sukkot means booths or tabernacles).  Every day during that feast, a daily water ceremony took place at the temple. Every night, the priests would draw water from the pool of Siloam at the bottom of the hill, and there would be a procession to the temple amid lampstands, singing, instruments, and great joy.

The priests at the pool of Siloam for the Sukkot water ceremony

Sukkot is the context of John 7:37
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

The Feast of Tabernacles is the seventh and greatest Biblical appointed time. It completes the plan of God.  Sukkot looks back to the time in the wilderness when God dwelt with His people in a tent. 

Sukkot also looks forward to that day, that great day of celebration when Yeshua will return for His wedding to the Bride, and to reign on earth with her. Sukkot is both a remembrance and a dress rehearsal; sadly, a rehearsal that the church misses every year because they are so busy preparing for that Roman-based holiday in December.  

(A very interesting side note is that Yeshua was most likely born on the first day of Sukkot. John 1:14 tells us, And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.  It is also interesting to note that many Jews decorate their sukkas with Christmas lights.  Just sayin'...).

I want to make one more comment on Isaiah 12:3.

The lyrics for the modern Israeli song, Mayim Mayim (water, water) come straight from this scripture.  It was written on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1930s, after the kibbutzniks dug a well and finally hit water.  Israeli dance is a modern phenomenon that arose when Jews from all over the world began moving to Israel during the last century, bringing all their cultural folk dances with them.

These dances morphed into what is today sweeping the Jewish world - Israeli dance.  One person will choreograph a song, and the dance then goes viral.  Everyone across the world then dances the same dance to the song.  What a picture of unity!  I take Israeli folk dance classes at my local Jewish Community Center.  What a blast it is to dance to a song that sings of Yeshua, right there at the JCC!

Anyway, I digress.  Isaiah 12 continues with this:

And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.

Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”

In that day, many will finally get it. Even the church! The church won’t be anti-semitic anymore. There will be no more replacement theology.  There are many groups that claim to BE Israel; for example -  the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Identity Movement, the Black Hebrew Movement, the Ephraimites, the British-Israeli Movement - sigh, the list goes on and on.
Replaced??  Oy vey!
But someday all that replacement will end, when the Messiah returns and we are joined together as One New Man.

The coming kingdom will be thoroughly Israeli, with Yeshua our Jewish Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, ruling and reigning from His temple in the center of the world - Jerusalem!  Can't wait!

Click here to continue to chapter 13.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.