Thursday, February 22, 2018

Genesis Post 4 - Sevens, Separation and Light, Day 1, (Chapter 1)

My last post addressed the gap theory which is popular today among some believers.  But today I want to talk more about why I do not subscribe to that theory.

First of all, God demonstrates patterns in scripture, over and over.  One of those patterns is the number seven, which represents completeness.  I have written about the number seven many times.

The first two chapters of Genesis describe how the LORD worked for six days, and then He set the seventh day apart.  The scriptures are filled with this idea of separation, setting apart the holy from the profane (or common).

This seventh day of rest points to the covenant that the LORD would make with the Israelites at Sinai, which included the command to keep the Sabbath holy - set apart from the rest of the week.  And throughout history, it has been said that it wasn't so much that the Jews kept the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath kept the Jews!  It is one of the major things that has set them apart as a people.

And in turn, that seventh day of rest points clearly to Yeshua, our Messiah, who is called our rest.  Psalm 95 speaks of avoiding His wrath and entering His rest.  The writer of Hebrews quotes this psalm in chapters 3 and 4 when speaking of entering His rest.

So what does it mean to enter His rest?

For one thing, it means that He did all the work of redemption for us.  We can rest in His provision.

But there is an interesting pattern in scripture, as well.  The six days of creation are a snapshot of the six thousand years of human history, with the promise of a seventh millennium of rest to come in the Messianic kingdom.  I wrote a post about this pattern once a few years ago, so here is a link to that study if you want to read about it.

Also, we can do biblical math and clearly see that  we can count about 2000 years from Adam to Abraham, about 2000 years from Abraham to Yeshua, and about 2000 years from Yeshua to now.  Knowing that the scripture promises us a one-thousand year reign of peace with Messiah as king, we can apply this pattern and know that His return is very soon!

Continuing with the idea of separation, we see that the very first spoken word of the LORD uses this principle:  Let there be light.

Right away on day 1, God separated the darkness from the light. This is so profound. The sun, moon, and stars were not created until day four. So just like in Revelation 22:5, the LORD Himself is the light:
There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.

In the first two verses of scripture, we see this progression:
  • Darkness
  • Spirit
  • Light
That's the gospel right there, folks! Darkness and evil, but the Holy Spirit brings light, which is the Messiah. And God saw that the light was good. Yeshua referred to Himself as the light of the world. He then told His followers to reflect that light to the world. Just as the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun, so too are we to reflect the light of the Son.  Without Him, there is only darkness.

What is light?  Time to venture down my Nemesis Road:  science.

Scientists have tried to figure out what light actually is.  Is it a particle stream?  Or is it a wave?  It has to be one or the other.  Turns out, both are correct according to discoveries in the 1800s, and this is impossible outside of God.   Science cannot sufficiently explain it.  The discoveries led to the introduction of quantum physics in the 20th century, when Max Planck discovered that light exists in little bundles or units.  Only recently has science been able to capture light as both a particle stream and a wave.  This short video simplifies it for people such as myself, who are allergic to science.

Ok, enough science for now.  Suffice it to say that light is complicated and has baffled scientists for centuries.  How could something that complex evolve from nothing?  

Scripture continues:  there was evening, and morning, the first day.  (The first day; it was one day.  Did you catch that?)  The Hebrew words for evening and morning are erev and boker, which originally carried the meanings of disorder and order.  Right away we see Elohim bringing order out of chaos.  

However, back to science for a moment:  the second law of thermodynamics shows us the reverse - closed systems deteriorate and fall into chaos.  (Like my house, if left to itself:  it will become cobwebby, dusty, the plumbing will seize up, the paint will crack, etc.  Maybe I should go pay some attention to it!)

Modern biology is the only one of the modern sciences that ignores this law and tries to explain chaos to order outside of God.  This is completely illogical, unless you are trying to BE God.  I've said it before:  evolution is a secular humanist religion.

Ok, so if I am to get through Genesis before Yeshua's return, I need to advance beyond chapter one.  I hope my next post will do just that.

Click here to read on.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Genesis Post 3 - More Continuity and A Big Tent (Chapter 1)

I am still savoring Genesis chapter one.  I am not sure how long I will camp here.  As we will see today, there is a big tent in which to camp!

My last post talked about the continuity and the miraculous nature of the Bible.  Today I am just going to keep on pondering...

In this book of beginnings, we see the introduction of many concepts which are then completed in the book of Revelation.  Once upon a time... and they lived happily ever after, so to speak.  Consider the following highlights:

  • Genesis sees the creation of the world, Revelation sees that world passing away
  • Genesis has darkness; Revelation says no more darkness
  • Genesis introduces sin into the world, Revelation sees the end of sin
  • Genesis begins a curse, Revelation ends the curse
  • Death begins in Genesis; death ends in Revelation
  • Sorrows begin in Genesis, sorrows end in Revelation
  • Genesis sees man kicked out of Paradise, Revelation restores him to Paradise
  • The Tree of Life is blocked to man in Genesis, but made available to him in Revelation
  • Genesis begins with the marriage of the first Adam, Revelation ends with the marriage of the second Adam (and Yeshua began His ministry at a wedding)
  • Babylon is introduced in Genesis, Babylon is destroyed in Revelation (speaking of the false religious system that has permeated the earth for millennia)

See how the story has complete continuity?  And a whole lot goes on between the two books!  It's called human history.  History is His-story!

I've talked about the first phrase of the Bible, but how about the first letter? Genesis begins with the second Hebrew letter, bet, and not the first letter, alef.  And not only that, but it is the only place in the Hebrew scriptures where the letter bet is actually enlarged.  Why?

Here is my opinion.  The Hebrew letter bet carries the meaning of a house, tent, or dwelling.   When Jewish couples get married under a chuppah (or canopy), the covering represents the home that they will build together.  The enlarged bet in scripture is not a scribal error; it is a picture of the home that the LORD wishes to build with us.  When the LORD created the earth, this was His intent all along - to dwell with man.  John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!

So for six days, the LORD worked to create this place where He desired to dwell with us.  All of creation led up to His most important and treasured creation - man, created in His own image!  We are the focus and culmination of creation!  How humbling, that the God of the universe would esteem us in such a manner and want to dwell with us.  If that doesn't give us purpose, I don't know what does.

A couple years ago, I wrote a post on the Spirit of God hovering over the waters from Genesis 1:2.  If you'd like to review it, you can click here.  If you don't want a rabbit trail today, suffice it to say that we are cherished.

So far, I've been avoiding science (just like I did in high school), but to understand Genesis, we must venture down that road at least a little bit.

The transition from verse 1 to verse 2 is where today's gap theory comes from.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.

The gap theory imagines that the earth was around for millions of years; that God had created the earth beforehand, complete with animals and plants, and then something happened to cause chaos (and that this is where we get dinosaur bones).  This is also known as old earth creationism, or Ruin-Reconstruction theory.  

Personally, I cannot subscribe to such a theory.   You have to add a lot of imagination into God's word to come up with that.  Lots of death and destruction before the six days of creation?!   Before sin entered the world?

Such belief demonstrates a very Greco-Roman mindset, which emphasizes linear thinking.  (This happened, then this, then this).  But Genesis was written in Hebrew, with a very Hebraic thought process - a very circular way of thinking.  Genesis 1:1 gives us an overview, and then Genesis 1:2 comes back and adds details.  This Hebraic mindset can be seen repeatedly throughout the scriptures.  Even the whole chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis do this very thing.

Also, let me visit Job for a moment for a little pop science quiz from God:

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Clearly, the creation of the earth was a one-time deal.  And the angels (sons of God) were there to witness and celebrate the event.

God in Heaven had the company of angels with Him.  But He wanted to enlarge His tent, so to speak, so He created the universe, with mankind as His magnum opus.

Click here if you'd like to keep reading!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Genesis Post 2 - Worldviews and the Bible Miracle (Overview)

Welcome to Genesis - Beresheet in Hebrew -  one of my favorite books in the Book.

I know, I say that a lot about different books of the Bible.  But Genesis is quite special:  I believe that Genesis contains ALL Bible truth in seed form.  It is truly the book of beginnings.  It is the once upon a time that opens up the scriptures.

I plan to stroll through this book at a leisurely pace and enjoy it to the fullest.  You are welcome to come along with me.  I have no idea how long it will take.  There may be interruptions if the Lord gives me insight on something else.  So anyway, buckle up and get ready!

Right off the bat, I want to note that people have two world views to choose from.  The very first phrase of the scriptures, which I mentioned in my last post, forces a person to choose one or the other.

Here is a quick review of that Hebrew phrase, in case you have forgotten:

Beresheet – in the beginning
Bara – created (from nothing, not formed with already-created elements)
Elohim – God (plural word, unity in a diversity)
Et – unstranslatable as a word, see my previous post here for further insight
Hashamayim – the heavens
Ve-et – and/a connector
Haaretz - the land/earth

So the two world views that are available to people are these:
  • Everything is a result of a cosmic accident
  • Everything is the result of a design by the Designer.

Only one of these views can answer the big questions:  Who am I?  How did I get here?  What am I?  Whose am I?  What is my ultimate purpose?  What will happen after I die?

If all is an accident, then nothing really matters.   We are simply matter.  We can do whatever we want. If we choose the second view, then we are responsible to pay attention to the Designer.

If someone opens up a Bible for the first time, he or she will be slammed with the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

If you can handle the first phrase of The Book, the rest is pretty easy.  If you cannot, then the rest of the Book will "beat the tar out of you" (to quote a preacher friend of mine).

There are many people in the world today who fall into the first category.  Their worldview is based on something like, "In the beginning, there was nothing.  Suddenly, nothing exploded and somehow became something, including you and me and the apple tree."

This first category is pushed by most of our schools and believed by most people in the scientific community.  No wonder there are so many today who believe it, illogical as it is.  Evolution truly is a secular, humanistic religion that requires a whole lot more faith than belief in a Designer.   Sadly, it is taught today as "science."

I heard a story once of a student who brought a model of our solar system to school.  He then told his teacher that he did not make it; the parts just came together by themselves over a period of time.  "Ridiculous!"  said the teacher.  But how much more ridiculous is it to assume that the well-ordered  (and much, much bigger and far more complex) universe that we live in came together the same way, given enough time?  Completely illogical.

Let me just talk about the amazing Bible for a moment.  Why should we believe the first phrase, let alone the rest of it?

The Bible is a miraculous book, and by its nature, it proves itself to be true.  It is a complete story, integrated and whole, from start to finish.  There are 66 books, written over a period of nearly 2000 years by over 40 authors, most of whom did not know each other.  Impossible!  No other book comes remotely close to such a miraculous writing.

Have you ever sat around a campfire and told a group story, the kind where someone starts out with the first sentence and then you go around the circle and everybody adds to it?  Every single time I have played that campfire game, the story has ended up as a disjointed and goofy narrative.

Story time around the campfire

There are things in the Bible that could not have been known or fabricated by its writers - prophecies that eventually came true.  No other book in the world can do what this Book does.  You can tear out pages and even entire books from within the Bible, and still get the same message.  Why?  Because the entire Book points to Yeshua the Messiah, from page to page and cover to cover.  It is an amazing tapestry made up of pictures of Him.

The tag line at the top of my blog is from Proverbs 25:2 and says: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.  Think of that!  It is a ROYAL HONOR to search out the things that the LORD has hidden for us.

Let me give you just one crazy example.  There was a Rabbi from the 1500s named Moshe Cordova, who studied bible codes.  Apparently, he had a lot of time on his hands to count letters.  But what he came up with is mind-blowing.  Listen to this:

Go to Genesis, and in the Hebrew, find the first letter Tav.  Ok, found it?  Great.  (It's the sixth letter in.)  Now count forward 49 letters - seven times seven - and the very next letter will be a Vav.  Now count ahead 49 letters and the very next letter will be a Resh.  Yep.  And do it one more time, and the next letter will be a Hey.  What does it spell?  TorahTorah is the Hebrew word for instruction.

Ok, maybe that is a coincidence.  So go to Exodus and do the same thing.  This time the Tav will be the eighth letter in.  Amazingly the same pattern shows up when you count forward from the Tav, forming the word Torah with every 50th letter.

Torah in Hebrew
Still a coincidence?  Go to Leviticus.  Oops. the pattern disappeared.  Oh well.  It must have been a fluke.

Moving on...

Wait a minute!  Just for fun, let's skip Leviticus and look at Numbers.  The pattern is a little different here.  This time, locate the first Hey (you'll find it seven letters in).  Count forward 49 letters, and the next letter will be a Resh.  Count forward another 49 letters, and the next letter will be a Vav.  One more time and it takes you to a Tav,  Hmmm.  Torah spelled backwards.

And what about Deuteronomy?  Hopefully you guessed it... Torah shows up backwards again in the very same pattern.

So you have the word Torah secretly pointing twice from both directions, toward the book of Leviticus -  the middle book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).

So is there something else in Leviticus?  You bet there is.  Find the first Yod.  Count seven letters forward and you will discover that the next letter is a Hey.  Count seven more and you'll then find a Vav.  And seven more and then the next letter is a Hey.  The very name of the LORD Himself emerges - YHVH; the name that nobody can agree on how to pronounce.

YHVH, or Yahweh, or Yehovah, or Jehovah.  The name of our God.

So the word Torah is hidden like bookends and points to the name of our Creator God!  This pattern is impossible to achieve from a human standpoint.  Similar patterns can be found in the Greek of the New Testament.   The Bible is truly a supernatural book!

Anyway, back to Genesis.  We have touched on verse 1, which has a New Testament equivalent in John 1:1-3.  See if this sounds familiar:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Of course this verse is talking about Yeshua, whom you can find on every page of your Bible.

Wasn't that fun?  Stay tuned for more adventures soon!

Click here for the next post on Genesis.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Isaiah Post 48, Genesis Post 1 - Building a Bridge With ET

I have been pondering how to wrap up the book of Isaiah, having just finished my final post on chapter 66 a few days ago.

Funny, I didn't plan for 48 posts.  It just happened that way.  Forty-eight is a very special number.  If you do the biblical math, you will discover that Abraham was born in the year 1948 from creation.  And modern Israel was born in the Roman year 1948, fulfilling the nation's rebirth as foretold in Isaiah 66.

So today's post will wrap up with what I hope will be a bridge to Genesis.  I am also hoping this post comes across with clarity, because today's subject is just SO BIG!!

Deep breath... here goes:

Three times in Isaiah, YHVH - God Himself - is referred to as the First and the Last.  Isaiah 48:12-13 links this idea to the creation of the world.  It is a term that means the whole story.

“Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.

Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.

While I was studying the first and last connection to creation in the Hebrew scriptures, I found evidence of this concept hiding in plain sight - right in the very first sentence of Genesis.

Genesis 1:1 is comprised of seven Hebrew words.  This doesn't surprise me.  Scripture uses this number often, and it means completeness.  Here is my transliteration of Genesis 1:1, with definitions:

Beresheet – in the beginning
Bara – created (from nothing, not formed with already-created elements)
Elohim – God (plural word, unity in a diversity)
Et – unstranslatable as a word, but lends to understanding in the grammar (we’ll come back to this)
Hashamayim – the heavens
Ve-et – and/a connector (there is that et again)
Haaretz - the land/earth

Now those seven words give us a picture of completeness on their own, being that the number seven is one of God's favorite ways of showing completeness.  But take a look at that untranslated word et, right there in the very middle, spelled alef tav - the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Et has been a word that stumped the ancient scholars of the Hebrew scriptures.  The word is peppered throughout the Tanakh (aka old testament) over 7000 times! The ancient scholars were not clear on what to do with this word.  Our English translations simply don't translate it. It is hidden.

The word et expresses the understanding of a total and all-encompassing completeness. It is equivalent to saying "from  a to z, from first to last, from beginning to end.

Additionally, the word et appears many times paired with objects or names of biblical characters, as a hyphenated compound word.  However, in such cases it is hidden and continues un-translated.  Here are several examples of the appearance of et:
  • In the book of Ruth, her name appears twelve times.  The first 10 appearances are just her name by itself - Ruth.  But the last two mentions are hyphenated thusly:  Et-Ruth.    It appears this way only after she is redeemed by Boaz.  You cannot see this in any of the English translations.
  • The name Esau appears numerous times as Et-Esau, but only until he gives up his birthright.  After that, his name only appears alone.  Again, it is hidden in the English, and not really understood in the Hebrew.
  • The word appears right in the center of the shema - the Jewish statement of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.  Love et the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and might.
  • Et appears in the middle of one of my favorite scriptures that foretell of the salvation of Israel:  Zechariah 12:10:  They will look upon Me et whom they have pierced. (I will come back to this)
  • Et appears in numerous places that speak of the destruction of Sodom.  See Genesis 13:10, Genesis 19:14, Isaiah 13:19, Jeremiah 50:40, and Amos 4:11. 
  • The only one of the ten commandments to feature et is the fourth one, on keeping the Sabbath, which was the covenant sign  at Mount Sinai. 
Et appears to be a covenant word.  A hidden signature of the Messiah, so to speak.

The ancient alef was an ox head representing the strong leader,
and a powerful symbol of God Himself. 
The ancient tav was a cross.
What a powerful picture of what our God has done for us!
(Hebrew reads from right to left)

Where does this word et show up in Isaiah?  Verse 1:4 tells us that they have et (completely) forsaken the LORD.  Remember, Isaiah started out with a bunch of bad news.  The next occurrence is in Isaiah 6:1, in the vision that sets the stage for the rest of Isaiah’s prophecies.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled et the temple.

On the very day that I was pondering this concept (and not really getting the clarity that I wanted), I opened my daily devotional that I get from George Whitten, a pastor who lives in Israel.  Here is what he wrote.  (Seriously, only God can orchestrate this).  The devotional is in blue:

Friend, trust him to complete what he started!

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
(B're'shiyt bara Elohim 'et (Aleph - Tav) hashamyim v'et ha'aretz.)

Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
(I'd been looking for this verse!)

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Rev 21:6 And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

The Bible begins with the creation of the heavens and earth, and ends with the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. Thus the Word of God delineates a complete story of everything from the beginning of the created world to the unending eternity toward which we are headed. The scripture also identifies Yeshua as the firstborn over all creation, [Colossians 1:15] and thus the Lord of all time.

In the book of Genesis, the very first verse of the Bible contains the Hebrew word formed from the first and last letters of the alphabet, i.e. aleph-tav. Interestingly, this word is not translated, even though it serves a grammatical purpose as a preposition pointing to the direct object of the sentence. Aleph-tav, nevertheless, may carry an important, if somewhat hidden, meaning, as some commentators see in these Hebrew letters an agent of creation, Yeshua, the image of the invisible God by whom all things were created; [Colossians 1:15-16], the "Aleph and the Tav"...

This identity of our Lord is explicitly expressed in the book of Revelation, for the Bible concludes with the statement that Yeshua (Jesus) is the "Alpha and the Omega". Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet. From the beginning to the end of the biblical narrative, then, we receive the revelation that, as the agent of Creation, Yeshua truly encompasses all that is, and as such, it is only in Him that we find our completeness; as the author of Hebrews declares, He truly is "the author and finisher of our faith; [Hebrews 12:2].

While we're here on earth we are still not completed but remain in the midst of a journey, begun in Him, and pressing, even groaning, toward the blessed hope, the resurrection of our earthly bodies when we will be truly complete. Yes, it is quite obvious -- He's not finished with us yet!

But the Alpha and Omega, in Whom resides all power and wisdom has not yet finished His good work in us. So be encouraged this day – for we can certainly trust the words of Paul when he said, "He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion" [Philippians 1:6], His very identity as Lord of all time and eternity, Aleph-Tav, and Alpha-Omega -- guarantees it!

I love how the mystery alef tav of the Hebrew Scriptures is revealed in Revelation, which the old testament era scholars did not yet have.  No wonder they were perplexed!

Revelation 1:7-8 says this:
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Compare this passage to Zechariah 12:1 that I mentioned earlier, in which et shows up in the middle of  they look upon Me et who they have pierced. The alef tav of the Tanakh IS the alpha omega of the New Covenant - the Messiah!

Yeshua calls himself the alpha and omega three more times in Revelation. One more time in chapter 1, and then twice near the end of the book, in chapters 21 and 22.  Revelation opens and closes with alpha and omega, and the entire scriptures open and close with this very same concept.

John 1:1 wraps up this concept nicely. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

The very signature of the Messiah runs from Genesis to the end of Revelation! He truly is on every page of our bibles.

Now that’s a great way to finish Isaiah and head into Genesis!

To move on in Genesis, click here.

If you would like to read all 48 posts on this walk through Isaiah, you may click here to start at the beginning.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Isaiah Post 47 - Wrapping Up with Fire (Chapter 66C)

My last post left off in Isaiah 66:14, which changed gears in the middle of the verse.  The verse began with the LORD knowing His people, and then switched to the LORD's indignation toward His enemies. Today, we begin with that change of theme.

Verses 15 and 16 open with the word behold (We just looked at this word in my last post. It means Hey! Pay attention!). 

For behold, the LORD will come with fire
And with His chariots, like a whirlwind, 
To render His anger with fury, 
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
For by fire and by His sword 
The LORD will judge all flesh; 
And the slain of the LORD shall be many.

What a vivid scene! Flames of fire everywhere! Biblically, fire means judgment.  Fire both purifies and destroys.  The world is about to be judged.  This is not a picture of a meek lamb.  Remember from my last post: Vengeance is mine, says the LORD.  

The Lord’s second coming will be magnificent for His people.  It will be terrible for His enemies.

Verse 17 warns us once again against idolatry.  God. Hates. Idolatry.  This warning is given over and over, throughout Isaiah and the whole Bible.

Verses 18-21 are written in Kingdom language:

“For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the LORD.

I believe that in this section, we see an intertwining of Yeshua's first and second comings.  The sign that Isaiah mentions here is the Messiah, and the Gentiles are included throughout this passage. The reference to them who escape probably refers to the ones who survived the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, and is also a look ahead to those who will survive the wrath of God at the end of Daniel’s 70th week.  In both cases, His glory will be declared throughout the world.

The end of this section reaffirms that the Gentiles will help bring the Jews back to the Land - to the holy mountain of Jerusalem - which is front and central in God's plan, and still holy today.  

Verse 22 continues:

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.

New heavens and new earth...  Hmm, where have we heard that before?  If you look on the last page of your bible, you will see that it takes place AFTER the thousand-year reign of the Messiah on earth. This is a covenantal promise that Israel will continue forever.  We Gentile believers who are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel are a part of this, together with Israel.

Look at the language of verse 23:

And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.

In this verse, time is described here in a totally Jewish way.  One new moon to another, one Shabbat to the next.  The millennium is a Jewish institution and we will be participating.  All mankind  WILL come and bow down before YHVH.  Every knee will bow, every tongue confess...

Isaiah could have ended here.  But no.  He continues with what many consider a strange ending, in verse 24:

“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

More fire.  Let me take a moment and address the phrase about the worms and the fires.  A better rendering of the Hebrew says, where worms don’t die and fires aren’t extinguished.

In Mark 9:48, Yeshua quotes this verse. We see here a metaphor for death, destruction, and the grave. Yeshua was referring to Gehenna, which is one of three valleys in Jerusalem.  Gehenna (or Valley of the Sons of Hinnom) was notorious in biblical times.  It was a place burning with constant fires to consume the waste that was thrown there. The material burned there included everything from household trash to animal carcasses to convicted criminals.  Worms were always present along with the garbage.  

Gehenna had also been a terrible place of child sacrifice (see 2 Kings 23:10). It was a nasty place; a place of evil and total destruction. 

Jeremiah 7 confirms this:
 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere. And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth, and none will frighten them away.

It is very interesting to note that today, Gehenna is not on fire. The west end of Gehenna is lush and green, and as you head around the bend toward the east, it becomes desolate.  Scripture often uses the ideas of west as a picture of blessing and east is a picture of cursing.) When Yeshua returns, I believe that Gehenna will be used once again as a place of destruction for those who have come against the Lord and His people.  The slain of the LORD, as verse 16 warned us at the beginning of this post.

The west end of Gehenna today
Yes, Isaiah 66:24 is a strange ending to the book.  However, the end of Revelation also includes some of these same warnings.

Rev 21:22-27
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 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.

Rev 22:12-17
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, (from Isaiah 62:11 and 40:10)  to give to every one according to his work.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.  But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

Just as in Isaiah, the warnings to the wicked in Revelation are embedded in the blessings that await God’s people.  It is very sobering.  As I’ve said before, you want to be on the side of YHVH, and heed His word!

Mount of Blessing, Mount of Cursing.  Choose wisely.

As I am sitting here meditating on this post and getting ready to publish it, I keep coming back to the idea of fire.  I was reminded that the LORD once destroyed the earth with water (and promised not to do that again), and that He will eventually destroy the earth with fire before He renews it. For some reason, baptism comes to my mind.  John baptized with water, but the Holy Spirit baptizes with fire.  Another pattern of YHVH?  Food for thought.

My final post on Isaiah is ready!  Click here for the "post-game show."

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Isaiah Post 45 - The Temple and Our Hearts (Chapter 66A)

We have reached Isaiah chapter 66. Prepare for high drama. 

The LORD opens the chapter with a metaphor and a question in verse 1:

“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?

The metaphor shows just how big and how absolutely sovereign God is.

Even though God is everywhere, His temple has been and will be physically rebuilt.  God doesn’t NEED a  temple, but He has man build them anyway.  His temple is a focal point for the world that points to Him.

In 1 Kings 8, we see King Solomon dedicating the temple that he built for the LORD.  Here are some excerpts from that passage:

And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Then Solomon spoke: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

Here is one of my favorite parts:

“Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

Whenever Israel came back to the land, a temple was built.  The first temple was built under Solomon, the second temple under Ezra following the return from Babylon, and today there is a huge push for the third temple to be rebuilt.  Israel has had Jerusalem since 1967.  It’s time!  All the turmoil in Jerusalem hinges on this subject.  There was turmoil in Ezra’s time, too.  The locals fought tooth and nail to see that the temple would not be rebuilt  (You can read about it in Ezra 4).

I have orthodox Jewish friends who cut a chunk out of the walls in their main living space, about a cubit by a cubit (18"x18"). They do this because of Haggai 1:4, which says, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” (The context of that scripture is the rebuilding of the second temple under Zerubbabel)

A quick story about that:  Two Gentile friends of mine, twin brothers as a matter of fact, have cut the holes in their living spaces as well.  One of the twins asked an orthodox Jewish friend of his, "How many Christians do this?"  The friend looked them both in the eye and said he knew of two.  I wish I were brave enough to cut a hole in my living room wall.  One of these days...

In the New Covenant scriptures, Stephen quotes Isaiah 66:1 when speaking to the Sanhedrin.  What is this about?

Acts 6 beginning at verse 8 sets up the context.  The high priest and other Jewish leaders were triggered because they thought Stephen was changing their customs, and speaking blasphemy against Moses and God.  Here is the passage:

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;  for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

(Don’t be messing with our customs!  That makes people mad.)

Stephen goes on to give a very thorough history of the Jewish people – the call of Abraham, the patriarchs in Egypt, the deliverance via Moses, and Israel’s rebellion.  Stephen knew the scriptures well.

We pick back up in Acts 7:44-49:

Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,  which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,  who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.  But Solomon built Him a house.  “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,  Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’

The high priest and all the rest of his cronies were enraged with Stephen.  They accused him of blasphemy and proceeded to stone him to death.  They also didn’t like him messing with their traditions.

Stoning of Stephen
Stoning of Stephen

They didn't like the truth that Stephen was trying to tell them:  In our current age, there is no physical temple because God Himself indwells believers through His Holy Spirit, which was poured out at Shavuot (Pentecost).

But that does not mean that there is no future place for a physical temple, because a new era is coming upon us soon.  God allowed the second temple to be destroyed toward the beginning of this current age we are living in - the era of the gospel going to the ends of the earth.  The destruction of the second temple happened in 70 AD; about 40 years after the Messiah was crucified and risen.

But guess what?  Israel is back in the land today.  And the scriptures say that when the Messiah comes again, there will be a temple in Jerusalem.

Ok, all that and we have covered one verse.  

Verse 2 continues:
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,” Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.

The LORD confirms that He is LORD of all.  However, He esteems those who is poor in spirit, contrite, humble, and revere the Word of the Lord.  How does someone THAT BIG esteem us?  In Hebrew it actually says, who I will look at or turn My face to

His holy presence with us is simply mind boggling. Is He foreshadowing the day when our hearts would be the home and temple of His Holy Spirit in this present age?

Verses 3-4 then show us a contrast, demonstrating exactly what the LORD does NOT esteem:

Just as they have chosen their own ways, 
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So will I choose their delusions, 
And bring their fears on them; 
Because, when I called, no one answered, 
When I spoke they did not hear; 
But they did evil before My eyes, 
And chose that in which I do not delight.

Idolatry.  The Lord hates it.  It is the backbone of the first commandment.  He really hates idolatry.

Verse 5 then tells us,

Hear the word of the LORD, 
You who tremble at His word(Is that you?)
“Your brethren who hated you, 
Who cast you out for My name’s sake, said,
‘Let the LORD be glorified, 
That we may see your joy.’ 
But they shall be ashamed.”

You will be hated if you love the Lord, love His word, and if you support Israel.  Be prepared, and stick to His Word.  Press in, cling to the Lord, and don’t give up.  God haters also hate God’s people.  But as this verse promises. they will someday proclaim the Lord’s glory, and they will be ashamed.

To read the next post on this chapter, click here.

To begin at the first post on the book of Isaiah, click here.