Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Pacifying of Philemon: 1:1-10

Philemon 1 (King James Version)

Philemon 1

Opening and Greeting

vv. 1-3 1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,

Rav Sha’ul wrote this letter to Philemon during his two year house arrest in Rome.

Acts 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him.

Rav Sha’ul agrees with his own teachings.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

He credits his imprisonment to the purpose and advancement of the Written and Living Torah and not to satan or the Roman Emperor; for the purpose of thwarting the same purpose.

Eph. 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
Eph. 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
II Tim. 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

True, Rav Sha’ul could have founded more K’hillot (Congregations) but if it were not for imprisonment he wouldn’t have been free to strengthen the ones he had already visited or founded.

This reminds me of a personal incident when I was unemployed and as a result was able to use that time, (Which sometimes felt like incarceration) to type, edit and publish many books for the education and edification of the Body.

Paul indicates in this verse Timothy’s presence and aid during his imprisonment under house arrest (Acts. 28:30).

The Rav also lets us know that Philemon, the man he is addressing this letter to, was a very important, valuable and influential lay leader in the Colossae congregation and in Rav Sha’ul’s ministry.

2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:

This letter was probably delivered with and at the same time as the letter to the Colossian congregation, which met in Philemon’s home.

The Full Life Study Bible says, “There were many “house churches” in the N.T. times (cf. Rom. 16:5, I Cor. 16:19, Col. 4:15). It is not till the 3rd century that records appear of separate church buildings.” Yochannon seems address his letters to a house church (II John 1:1, 13; III John 1:1).

The Rav greets in v. 2 of Philemon, the elder Archippus in that congregation (Col. 4:17). Apphia is thought possibly to be Philemon’s wife.

Rav Sha’ul seen the battle against paganism and assimilation as a type of warfare (Eph 6, II Cor. 10:4-6) and therefore called fellow leaders and  believers as soldiers. Rav Sha’ul wasn’t a pacifistic Yeshiva boy, but more like a Maccabean Jew.

3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

With all the appropriate people addressed, he gave a familiar greeting (Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Col. 1:2, Rom. 1:7, I Cor. 1:3, II Cor. 1:2, I Thess. 1:1, II Thess. 1:2, I Tim. 1:2, II Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4). Rav Sha’ul greets Philemon with Grace or love and favor coupled with peace, because Philemon is known to walk in righteous Torah obedience of G-d in Messiah Yeshua.

Expressions of Thanksgiving vv.4-7

Here Rav Sha’ul expresses his appreciation for Philemon.

4 I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,

Philemon must have been a profitable and invaluable helper in Rav Sha’ul’s early work in Colossae; an unforgettable Gentile believer for him to be daily remembered in the prayers of Rav Sha’ul.

5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

Rav Sha’ul seems to have heard only continual good things in regards to Philemon and his lay ministry in Colossae; a real pillar in the community of believers; an indispensable laborer in the Rav’s ministry (v.1). When a need arose in the community Philemon was most likely one of the “go to” men. For Rav Sha’ul to get wind of his good works, Philemon must have shown his love not just in word, but indeed also; sounds to me that for Philemon, “love” was a verb, for his actions spoke louder than his words.

6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Simply put, Rav Sha’ul prays Philemon sees fruit; full fruition of his ministerial efforts for the glory of Messiah. HE prays that he sees and realizes how valuable he really is in the work of the LORD. A similar sentiment Rav Sha’ul gives to the Philippian congregation:

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

Rav Sha’ul prays Philemon’s love and work in the Messianic community increases and is blessed and becomes even more profitable.

7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.

Rav Sha’ul expresses that countless people have profited and blessed by Philemon’s works and compassion.

Philemon was definitely a doer of the Word (Torah) and not just a hearer only.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Philemon knew obeying Torah was all about the performance of works on behalf of others was about the motive of love and compassion and not to try to score some divine brownie points with God.

Cutting to the chase: Onesimus

8 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, 9 Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

Rav Sha’ul points out that as a Rav and the authority he has been given by God within the believing community, he could order Philemon to do the right thing, but out of love and respect and how he holds Philemon in such high regard, he placates to Philemon heart to heart as a spiritual father, friend and fellow laborer in Messiah to do what is right because it is right because it is right and out of respect for Rav Sha’ul as a beloved elder and in honor of his suffering for Messiah.

By this time I’m sure Philemon is wondering why such urgent and yet intimate words wherewith Paul writes.

And now, the bombshell, despite how hard the effects of the Rav were to cushion the blow.


10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

I’m sure regardless of the Rav’s words of love that that name stung of betrayal and probably no matter how righteous a believer he was, trudged up a little bit of anger and feelings that demanded justice.

Rav Sha’ul does not throw around terms of endearment lightly and is extremely careful who he trusts and allow in his inner circle. Those around him must prove themselves as John Mark eventually did.

Acts 15:35-40 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the LORD, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
II Tim. 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Rav Sha’ul called Onesimus a son. Now for him to call Onesimus a son means not only did Onesimus convert, but had sat under Rav Sha’ul as a talmid (student/disciple) for quite some time. For it was common in that day for Rabbi’s to be referred to by their students as father, and Rabbi’s refer to their students as sons. This means Onesimus must have shown great eagerness to learn and sincere refinement of character.

Matthew 23:8-12 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been quoted these verses by finger wagging Christians and Messianics who seem to forget about a thing called idioms, hyperboles, and the like.

We would be in BIG trouble if we took everything the Scriptures say literally. Many of us would be blind and digit-less!

Matthew 5:30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

Yeshua was NOT saying don’t ever call anyone Father, Rabbi, or Rav (Master). The point He was trying to make (and still make) is one of humility, having the attitude of a servant-leader. He was saying not to desire to be called these things so as to get a big head because of the prestige, power, authority and respect they carry. Read the following verses, the context is absolutely clear. How else do I know this to be so? Yeshua’s brother Ya’akov (James) said:

James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Rabbi and Father were not just terms of respect, but terms of endearment as well. We see even Elisha called Eliyahu “Father” (II Kings 2). For a Rav or a Rabbi and their relationship with their Talmidim become almost a Father Son type of relationship and Yeshua said we should not just uses these terms lightly or with just anyone.

I and many of my brethren have gone through rigorous training for years and so have earned that title, just as a Medical Doctor, or a University Professor has gone through a program that have earned the right to be called Doctor.

Just as a Police Officer or a Detective have successfully completed training to be called such.

Sadly I know of a few who have given themselves the title of Rabbi or Rav and are not Jewish, nor are they a convert, nor have they received training or ordination to have the right to be called Rabbi or Rav. They may be Protestant or Messianic laymen or pastors and have simply assumed the title with no legitimate training or ordination. Some of them are pastors and assume that Pastor means the same as a Rabbi, it doesn’t as we will see later. These men have made themselves liars and charlatans and have given legitimate Messianic and or Nazarene Rabbi’s a bad name in the eyes of the Non-Believing Jewish community.

It is well known that many things are lost in translation and lost from one generation to the next and sometimes things get mutteled with translation and retelling, even moreso when transferring from one religion to another and back again.

This is especially true when one is taking Eastern Hebraic Jewish doctrine and principles, converting them to Western Christian doctrine and back again into a Natsarim Jewish 1st century context within the 21st century.

Eph. 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Hmmm, notice anything “not Jewish” here? Is something missing? Where is the word Rabbi!? Have you ever wondered about this? Well we know Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) was a Rabbi and he is the one who penned these words. So what is Rav Sha’ul saying here?

In Charismatic Christian doctrine this is referred to as the five-fold ministry and that these are “offices” within the “church”. It is said that a person can have one or more or all the gifts within these offices. But if on is an Apostle, he has all five.

For obvious reasons I will have to disagree. There has been much mysticism attached to the word “apostle” and all it means is “sent one”. Another misunderstood word is “pastor” which simply means “shepherd”. Many Protestant Christians feel the “gifts and offices” here are no longer needed except for pastor, teacher and evangelist and therefore a Pastor is as high as you can go in the Protestant hierarchy. The other names are pretty self-explanatory.

In Judaism, Rabbi means “Master”, someone who has mastered a certain course of study, almost like a master’s degree if you will. A Rav is sort of like a doctorate. So actually Rav Sha’ul is describing the job description of a Rav and a Rabbi. The only major difference between a Rav and a Rabbi is that a Rav produces Rabbi’s and sends them out and a Rav usually sits on some sort of council of Rav’s and makes legislation within Judaism based on Torah for specific situations that arises within a community. For when a Rav trains a Rabbi he becomes and apostle, a “sent one” to a congregation; he has learned what it takes to become a prophet, or at least operate to some degree in prophecy in order to be a shepherd (pastor) to and teach, instruct his people in the ways of Torah and Judaism and he also become an evangelist of his knowledge where ever he may roam.

I see Christian ministers who falsely claim this title of apostle and walk around like a big shot as if everyone is below him and should cower in his presence because he is God’s right hand man and answers directly to God Himself! This is clearly not an apostle, humility is a prerequisite of “apostleship” if you will, and an example such as this is clearly not a true apostle but a charlatan.

Though a Rabbi is just as human as the next guy and is prone to fail or lack from time to time, a Rabbi when needed should display the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, Eph. 5:9) and the Gifts of the Spirit (I Cor. 12-14) when needed.

Yeshua was a Rabbi and what did He call his 12 Talmidim (Disciples)? They graduated from Talmidim to Sheliachim, from Disciples to Apostles, in other words, fully equipped Rabbi’s (James 1:4, II Tim. 3:17).

Understand that a layman can have one or more of these gifts that can assist the Rabbi, as the Rav Sha’ul says, “He has given some…”, but the Rabbi should display and encapsulate them all.

So in essence, “Rabbi” is not a dirty four letter word.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Pacifying Philemon: Introduction


Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) was a very social, approachable and personable Rav and could relate to all people no matter what socio-economic status they may be, from relating to Gentile Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill, to concerned religious leaders, to runaway slaves such as Onesimus here in the letter to Philemon. He practiced and preached:

I Cor. 9:19-23 For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you].

I Cor. 10:32-33 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.

This personal letter, the shortest of all of Rav Sha’ul’s known writings was written to a man named Philemon during the Rav’s first imprisonment at Rome (Acts 28:16-31) in 62 CE. Names in this letter are named in Rav Sha’ul’s letter to the Colossians (Philemon vv. 1-2, 10, 23-24 / Colossians 4:9-10, 12, 14, 17), a congregation which he had founded (Acts 20:31) which means Philemon most likely lived in Colossae and that more than likely both letters (Philemon/Colossians) were delivered at the same time by the hand of Tychicus.

Colossians was a city in Asia Minor, Western Turkey, southeast of Laodicea and south of Hierapolis. It was 100 miles was of Ephesus in the Lycus River Valley.

It seems Philemon was a well to do Gentile convert under Rav Sha’ul (v.19) who some believed through Rav Sha’ul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:10), who ran a K’hilah (congregation) out of his home. Though we have no record of it, it is likely Rav Sha’ul visited Colossae during his three year stay at Ephesus (Acts 19).

We see by divine providence that Onesimus runs away from Philemon in Colossae and runs into Rav Sha’ul in Rome where he is led to Messiah. Onesimus most likely knew Sha’ul and sought him out rather than simply run into him in a city of approximately 1,500,000 people. It is not know for sure, but it is speculated that the reason for Onesimus’ escape from Philemon was because he may have stolen something from his masters or was accused of doing so and feared repercussions.

Through Rav Sha’ul’s personable letter we see Grace in accordance with strict observance of the Torah (Law) and see why Sha’ul was a Rav due to his masterful handling of this situation regarding Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus. The Torah addresses this in Deut. 23:15-16:

“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.”

The purpose of this personal letter of Philemon was an attempt to bring a peaceful Torah based solution and resolution to this matter. It is apparent that both Philemon and Onesimus were Gentile converts; they were used to the Greek system and understanding of slavery and a slave’s relationship to their owner as opposed to the Hebraic understanding of slavery. Under Roman Law a runaway slave could be punished by death, but seeing as both parties in this conundrum were now believers who were to resolve problem by a Beyt Din (House of Judgment) within their Messianic community and not by a secular authority; Rav Sha’ul, being a master of Torah Law and as founder of the Colossae congregation, was the accepted authority to resolve the situation.

The issue of Scriptural Slavery has been taken out of contest because most people look at it in light of the cruel African, Asian, and Native American slave trades. Slavery in Torah terminology between two Hebrews is best understood in regards to an indentured servant or a hired hand.

May times a Hebrew would find themselves in debt with the threatening prospect of being sold into slavery as a result. So the Torah says it’s best to be indebted to a Jew as opposed to a foreigner because the Torah gives guidelines on the treatment of slaves and it reads like an Employer / Employee hand book. It even makes room for a type of severance pay. Hebrew slaves are treated so well that it can turn into a full time position.

Deut. 15:12-18 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise. It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.

Rav Sha’ul knew this concept real well and was proud to call himself a slave, servant, and or bond servant to God, depending on what translation you use (Rom. 1:1, Titus 1:1).

Even non-Hebrew slaves serving a Hebrew had it good. Eleazar, Abraham’s servant would have gotten everything if Ishmael and Isaac didn’t come along. Abraham trusted him to find a wife for his son Isaac (Gen. 15:2).

But the Torah also says:

 Deut. 23:15 (16)Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: 16 (17) He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

We are always to remember where we came from as a people, that we to were once slaves in Egypt.

Rav Sha’ul found himself in a tough rabbinical position. In the letter to Philemon we see that Rav Sha’ul is in prison with a runaway slave named Onesimus. Rav Sha’ul knowing the Torah full well probably had these very verses in mind when dealing with this dilemma. For the verses above tells us that a Jew must not return a runaway slave to his former master. But on the other hand apparently at some point during his stay with the Rav, Onesimus converted to Natsari Judaism (1:14) and was thus no longer just a Gentile slave, but a Hebrew brother in the Messiah. So Rav Sha’ul convinces Onesimus upon his release to return with this letter to Philemon; the letter implores Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a brother (1:16). Rav Sha’ul even vouches for Philemon that he himself would be held responsible if Philemon stole anything or damaged him in any way (1:18).

I imagine Rav Sha’ul was thinking of the good relationship that Abraham and Eleazar had as a model for Philemon and his Master to follow, which was similar to a father and son relationship rather than a slave / master or even employer / employee relationship.

In our dealings with each other, let us keep in mind that whatever situation we may find ourselves in the body, that we are all mishpocha (family) and need to treat one another as such.

I call this commentary “The Pacifying of Philemon” because Rav Sha’ul’s attempt to pacify a believing slave owner who understandably may have felt angry and betrayed. Rav Sha’ul works to come to a Torah based solution to pacify Philemon.

I use the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted due to its universality and status of public domain which is free to quote without restriction of any copyright.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Hubbub of Haggai 2:8-23

In the Time to Come Gentiles will celebrate Sukkot along with Hebrews and Jews.

Zechariah 14
1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

These two verses along with verse five indicate that the Battle of Armageddon and the Return of Messiah happens all in one shot. Prophecy points to it being around the time of Sukkot, possibly the last day when traditions says that the books of judgment in heaven are sealed for the year and the fate of the world and everyone on it is set for the coming year.

3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

These verses speak of Messiah’s physical return to earth.

5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

Survivors and the Remnant flee to safety.

6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
7 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8 And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.
11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.

We take back occupied Israeli Land and Jerusalem is safe and secure.

12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold everyone on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
14 And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. 15And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.

Here we see Jerusalem smite their enemies and the enemy is plagued. Could be a flesh eating virus or the result of radiation poisoning, or it could be entirely something else. All we know is that no matter how you slice it, it doesn’t look good for the bad guys.

16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD's house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
21 Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.

When Messiah returns, goyim will convert and keep the festival of Sukkot. Those who don’t will not get rain for the coming year and be plagued with famine and drought.

“Prophetically, we learn that in the Messianic Kingdom Age (the Millennium), it will be a biblical commandment for Gentile nations to observe Sukkot. The nations that choose to disobey this commandment to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship YHWH will be cursed with draught. In fact, instead of Judeophobia, we read: "In those days, it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all the languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the kanaph of him that is a Jew, saying, 'We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'" These Gentiles are literally grabbing hold of the tzitzit (ritual fringes) of Jews. I would assume that these are Messianic Jews. It might be good for Messianic Jews to have these fringes in order for a literal fulfillment of this prophecy to take place.

For those who "just want to be like Jesus," it should be noted that Yeshua observed all the Biblical holidays, including even Chanukah, which is a Jewish tradition, not a biblical commandment. It was at the Feast of Sukkot that Yeshua's own unbelieving brothers mocked Him, urging Him to make Himself known publicly. Presumably, they hoped to see their Brother arrested.” – Rick Aharon Chaimberlin, Litt. D. “Sukkot: Feats of Tabernacles”

Not a fan of Monte Judah, but I do like what he says about the Future Sukkot to Come:

“The Scripture definitely says much about the Feast of Tabernacles and our future. The reference to the tribulation saints described in the Book of Revelation is about the Feast of Tabernacles.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; Revelation 7:9

And I said to him, “My Lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.” Revelation 7:14-15

The palm branches reveal the setting for the tribulation saints. They are gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles - the Feast of Ingathering. This is why the Lord’s throne is spread like a tabernacle over them. This is confirmed by the prophet Zechariah. He says the first event upon the Lord’s return to Jerusalem after the Day of the Lord, is the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. Zechariah 14:16

That makes sense because the Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the resurrection, and Atonement symbolizes the Day of the Lord. It follows then that Tabernacles is the true ingathering of all of His saints at Jerusalem.

Apparently, God intends to use the future Feast of Tabernacles in the kingdom as the reference counter for the number of years in the millennial reign. The Feast of Tabernacles, therefore, will commemorate not only our ancestors’ exodus from Egypt, but also our greater exodus (the tribulation saints - the final generation) leading into the promised kingdom. This is consistent with God’s promise concerning the kingdom of David. King David served as the king of Israel for 40 years and held the greatest amount of territory in Israel’s history. God’s promise is to raise up David’s booth (tabernacle) in the same manner in the Messiah’s kingdom.

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this. Amos 9:11-12”

Even though it is not required for the Goyim to dwell in a Sukkah:

Lev. 23:42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:

Nonetheless we see in Zechariah that Gentiles will convert and end up keeping Sukkot anyhow.

“The Talmud relates that in the future, when the pagans will complain to God about His preferential treatment of the Jews, He will tell them that this is because the Jews  accepted and followed the Torah. They were not so much the "chosen people," as the "choosing people," so to speak; they chose to follow God's law.
The pagans will then plead, "Offer us the Torah anew and we will follow it." "You foolish people," God will answer, "he who prepares in advance of Shabbat can eat on Shabbat, but he who made no preparations, what can he eat? Nevertheless, I have an easy commandment called Sukkah, go and fulfill it..." Why is it called an easy commandment? Because it has no expense. Immediately each one will build a booth, a Sukkah, on his roof, but God will cause the sun to blaze as if it were the summer solstice. Each one will then kick his Sukkah, and leave... Thereupon God will laugh, as it is said, "He that sits in heaven and laughs." (Talmud - Avoda Zara 3a)
Although this passage is difficult for several reasons, I would like to focus on one of its main themes: that pagans will not be able to keep the commandment of Sukkah. The reason this is so strange is that of all the holidays, Sukkot has been perceived as the most universal, encompassing all the nations of the world.
The Talmud teaches:
Rabbi Eliezer said: "Why are 70 offerings brought on Sukkot? For the (merit of the) 70 nations of the world." (Sukkah 55b)
Rashi comments:
To bring forgiveness for them (the 70 nations which comprise the world), so that rain shall fall all over the earth.
The Sages stress that Sukkot has a universal element which is clearly absent in the other festivals: Passover represents the exodus from Egypt and the emergence of a Jewish nation; Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jews. It seems paradoxical to find this expression of the inability of the pagans to relate to God specifically in the context of Sukkot.
We may theorize that specifically on Sukkot, when the Jews concerned themselves with the welfare of non-Jews, pagans were expected to respond and to relate to God directly. There is, however, another passage which makes this approach untenable.
This passage from the prophecy of Zechariah describes the aftermath of apocalyptic battles, when the vanquished nations will celebrate Sukkot. This heightens the difficulty of the story from the Talmud quoted earlier. While the Talmud contains many explanations of biblical teachings, it does not have a mandate to argue with the prophets. Our question, then, is quite simple: How can the Talmud relate that in the future the pagans will be unable to keep Sukkot - when the Prophet tells us clearly that they will?
I believe that in the resolution of this apparent contradiction lies the essence of Sukkot. There are two distinct aspects to the holiday of Sukkot, represented by two commandments in the Torah:
"Also in the 15th day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the Lord seven days; on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. And you shall take on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. And you shall keep it a feast to the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths seven days; all who are Israelites born shall dwell in booths. That your generations may know that I made the people of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 23:39-43)
The Torah speaks on the one hand of taking four species of fruit at harvest time, and on the other hand of sitting in the Sukkah, as the people who left Egypt did. We therefore see two commandments: 1) taking the four species, and 2) living in booths. One commandment has an agricultural impetus, the other a historical one. The agricultural aspect of the holiday is clearly universal, while the historical aspect is particular to the Jews.” – “Sukkot: The Universal Holiday” – www.aish.com

Perhaps many will immigrate to Israel proper also. There is a loose tradition that claims that if you convert to Judaism you are considered born again as a native Israeli; based on the Psalms.

Psalm 87
1 His foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.
4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
5 And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.
6 The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.
7 As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

Again, greater due to the visitation of the Messiah, the Shekinah in human form if you will.
Collectively v.6-9 “God throughout this passage, is called “LORD of hosts” (Which literally means, “Lord of armies”). What a comforting name for the people of Israel, who felt that they were a tiny powerless province pf Persia! His Presence is clarified as God confirmed that His “Spirit” was in their midst, according to the original Covenant at Mount Sinai, by which they became God’s people (Hag. 2:5). Doubtless such “shaking” as is mentioned in this verse may have occurred at that time in the Persian Empire; yet these words have a much greater significance…” – Key Word Study Bible
May I remind the reader that at Yeshua’s death it was this very Temple that was shaken and the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two.

Matt. 27:45-54 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard [that], said, This [man] calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled [it] with vinegar, and put [it] on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain 30 from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

Also, in a time to come all nations will be shaken with worldwide divine judgment.

Heb. 12:26-29 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. 
Joel 3:16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
Matt. 24:29-30 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Hubub of Haggai: Haggai 2:1-7

Haggai 2


TISHREI 21, 4280* The seventh day of Sukkot (Oct. 17, 520 BCE) 2:1-9

* The actual Hebraic date is unclear, this is an estimated calculation.

1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying,
3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.

We are not to judge and make decisions on things based on our physical sight alone. Looks can be deceiving and we are not to judge a book by its cover. The ornate entrapments of a Temple are just icing on the cake, but not necessary for such a Temple to be greater. It’s what’s inside that counts. The Shekinah can fill a skin and cloth tent just as much as it did Solomon’s Temple, so a 2nd Temple without visual pizzazz was no obstacle for God.

This second Temple would end up being greater than Solomon’s. Why? After all, the Shekinah never came down on this one as it did when Solomon built the first. I’ll try to tell why, because it was the one Messiah Himself walked into, cleansed, ministered and taught in and proclaimed Himself as Messiah in during Sukkot.

“He who has not witnessed the rejoicing at the water-drawing huts has, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no real rejoicing.” (Sukkah 53b).

So what, that’s not in the Torah right? So what does it have to do with us or Yeshua for that matter? This is just a man-made tradition!

Hold up! Yeshua wasn’t against man made traditions or Oral Torah as long as it didn’t nullify the Written Torah. For in the Brit Chadasha we find Yeshua keeping holidays and traditions not commanded in the Written Torah.

During the “Last Supper” Yeshua went by the Haggadah, the liturgy of the Passover Seder. We find Him at the Temple during Chanukah, the “Feast of Dedication” and in John chapter seven we find Him at this Water Pouring Ceremony (Simchat Beit HaShoava) during the last day of Sukkot ('Hoshana Rabbah' - 'The Great Salvation’) mentioned in the Talmud in the text above!

“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. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."” John 7:37- 38 (NKJ)

If one carefully studies Talmud and Jewish traditions you will find where Yeshua even added himself into those things as well as the prophecies in the Torah and Tanak.

So how did this water pouring ceremony become such a fixed part of Judaism, even to this day?

“When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, one of the special Sukkot observances was to pour water on the Altar. The drawing of water for this purpose was preceded by all-night celebrations in the Temple courtyard; on the 15 steps leading to the azarah (inner courtyard) stood Levites while playing a variety of musical instruments, sages danced and juggled burning torches, and huge oil-burning lamps illuminated the entire city. The singing and dancing went on until daybreak, when a procession would make its way to the Shiloach Spring which flowed in a valley below the Temple to "draw water with joy." "One who did not see the joy of the water-drawing celebrations," declared the sages of the Talmud, "has not seen joy in his life."

While water was poured each day of the festival, the special celebrations were held only on Chol Hamoed since many of the elements of the celebration (e.g., the playing of musical instruments) are forbidden on Yom Tov.

Today, we commemorate these joyous celebrations by holding Simchat Beit HaShoeivah ("joy of the water drawing") events in the streets, with music and dancing. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the custom of holding such celebrations on Shabbat and Yom Tov as well -- without musical instruments of course. The fact that we cannot celebrate as we did in the Temple, said the Rebbe, means that we are free to celebrate the joy of Sukkot with singing and dancing every day of the festival.” – www.chabad.org

And why was this ritual so significant, especially in Yeshua’s time?
Well, first off the Kohanim (Levitical Priests) had a special schedule during Sukkot:

The Kohanim were divided into three divisions and each day of Sukkot there was a special ritual. Division one sacrificed the animals and items prescribed out in Numbers 29. Division two went to the East Gate of the Temple and headed to the Motzah Valley where they would discard the sacrificial ashes at the start of Shabbat. While there they would cut 25 foot willows and they would line up across the road holding the willows. About 30 feet behind them would be another row of priests with willow branches. They would then begin to march waving the willows in a swooshing motion creating the sound of the Ruach (Wind), symbolizing the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. Division three in the meantime would be heading down to the pool of Siloam, meaning “peaceful flowing waters” (John 9:7, 11). The Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) was in this third group and he had a golden flask and drew the water called mayim chayim (living waters) because any water that was flowing was considered “living”. The High Priests assistant had a silver flash of wine. Both Groups would return to the Temple with the sound of the Shofar upon their arrival. One man would play the flute, the flute player was  called “the pierced one” and symbolizes the Messiah (Psa. 22:16, Zech. 12:10, John 19:34-37, Rev. 1:7) and the flute players led the procession of the “wind” and “water” carrying priests. The Willow carriers would circle the Brazen Sacrificial Altar seven times while singing Psalm 118:25-26; the sacrificial division of priests would lay the slain sacrifices on the altar. Then the Cohen HaGadol and his assistant the ascended the altar and all Israel gathered into the Temple courts and sang a song called “Mayim (Water)” based on Isa. 12:3 according to Mishnah Sukkot 5:1. Then the High Priest poured out the water on the southwest corner of the altar on the horn, and then the wine was poured out as the Willow holders leaned their branches against the altar and made a sort of Sukkah.

According to the Mishnah Rosh HaShannah 1:2f says that it is during Sukkot that God decides who gets rains for next year and how much. Sukkot is also that time after Yom Kippur when it is said that the fate of each human is decided for the next year and the books in heaven are closed. So this is probably another reason for the water pouring ceremony, a type of supplication for rains.

These rituals and ceremonies are nowhere commanded in the Torah but the Rabbis and Sages feel by the spelling inconsistencies in Numbers 29 that spell the word ‘mayim” they nonetheless base the tradition of the water pouring ceremony on the Torah itself.

Rabbi Akiva (Ta'anit 2b) asserted that the water libation was alluded to in the Torah with the use of the plural form nesakhehah ("drink-offerings thereof") on the sixth day (Numbers 29:31), reflecting that one of the two libations consists of water.

“On Succoth even the humblest of all has its place on the Altar: water. The Midrash tells us that at the time of creation, the waters cried out to G-d that everyone has a place on the Altar -- oxen, sheep, wheat, barley, oil, wine. All except for water. The waters threatened to engulf the world until G-d promised them that on the festival of Succoth, Israel would offer a libation of humble water on the Altar, accompanied by SIMCHAS BEIS HASHOEVA, "the Joy of the Water Drawing", which was so great that it brought people to prophecy.
The water libation on Succoth is not written explicitly in the Torah but only allusively. Three seemingly minute anomalies in the Hebrew phrasing of the laws of the offerings of the second, sixth and seventh days of the festival of Succoth, enable us to trace the letters of the word Hebrew word MAYIM -- WATER -- running through the Hebrew text (see Rashi on Numbers 29:18).” – Gil Marks

Three anomalies are derived from looking at how words are rendered differently on the second, sixth, and seventh days of the Festival:
1.    Second day - "their libations" (Heb. niskeyhem םהיקסנ ,(where there is an extra "yod" (י (and an extra "final mem" (ם (in the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah הקסנ .
2.    ( 2. Sixth day - "its libations" (Heb. niskeyhah היקסנ ,(where the usual rendering of "its libation" (Heb. niskah הקסנ (has an extra "yod" (י .
3.    ( 3. Seventh day - "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpatam םטפשמכ ,(which has an extra "final mem" (ם (when compared to the other instances of "after the manner" (Heb. KaMishpat טפשמכ (in this passage. These anomalies actually gives us two extra "mems" and two extra "yods", however the Hebrew word for "water" (Heb. "mayim" םימ (only needs one of the "yods". What are we to do with the extra "yod"? That lies in the realm of the Kabbalah and we will not delve into that here.

And obviously Yeshua had NO PROBLEM with it and included Himself with in the derived tradition.

A custom, a tradition, something that the Pharisees and Sadducees did; something that made it into the Talmud that Yeshua did not oppose but participated in and used to proclaim His divine Messiahship! Therefore it stands to reason His own talmidim were there and participated too and the believers that came after his resurrection and ascension.

We see now why He said:
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

A further fulfillment was when Yeshua was executed on the Roman cross and blood (symbolizing the wine) and water flowed (John 19:34).
ADONAI the Father obviously didn’t have a problem with this man made ritual for HE told Yeshua to go and deliver such a message, for Yeshua speaks only what the Father bids Him to (John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 14:28).

6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

Rashi tells us in this verse that, “One more nation will subdue you, the Greeks; but their domination will last only a short time.”
This in turn refers to the Maccabeean (Hasomonean) revolt where Judah and his brothers took back and restored this very Temple that the returning exiles built and which Yeshua the Messiah walked and ministered in.

7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

This verse is a reference that Haggai said and thus told the people that this is the Temple that Messiah would visit and because of this, nations would join themselves to Israel in the Commonwealth and or convert and visit the Temple.

The Key Word Study Bible helps clarify what I am trying to say:

“The interpretation of the phrase “the desire of all nations” is much disputed. Some versions translate the clause “they will come with the wealth of all nations.” This is explained by the construction of the sentence in Hebrew. The verb “shall come” is plural, and thus can support the idea of an individual person being represented by the word “desire.” It is best understood as a reference to the nations that will one day bring their offering to God to be consecrated for His service.”

I say precisely because of the coming of Messiah, because why would the nations come and convert to Judaism!? Judaism after the time of Messiah ministering on earth would stop evangelistic and missionary activities, so how would people know or be convinced to come? I still firmly believe that one can apply this verse to the coming of Messiah, because one day it is prophesied that Gentiles will celebrate Sukkot and bring an offering!