Lashon HaKodesh

I am not sure how it happened, but I ended up at a webinar yesterday for a Hebrew reading class. I have studied Biblical Hebrew and yet, due to lack of use, I have forgotten much of what I learned. The class I attended yesterday online was terrific! It is the least expensive class I have run into and it was effective:  I really learned some things that I did not know. That being said, I will recommend it to you.  They even have a class where they guarantee that you can read Hebrew in 2 hours. I didn’t take that particular class, but based on what I have seen from Seth so far, I wouldn’t doubt it!

hb

Give it a shot..I sure did!

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The buzz

I am so at a loss for words..I have wanted to write so many times in the past week or so, but I just couldn’t do it.

I am sick at heart, sick to my stomach, sick all over. It is too late to stop the wheels from turning. Several weeks ago I found myself torn between a discussion of all the good that is coming and all the bad that is coming. Both stories have merit, but the icky stuff wins the ratings wars, doesn’t it?

I can say with a great deal of assurance that Mr. Obama will get the ratings, but he will be neck-deep in the icky stuff. Actually, he will be exempt, at least for a time, from the icky. It will be me and you, neck-deep in the results of Obama’s behavior. The other night, Obama walked out on Prime Minister Netanyahu, refusing to dine with him. His Royal Haughtiness snubbed Mr. Netanyahu, treating him with utter disrespect. In my opinion, BHO has called a famine down on the USA. On the same note, I read an interesting article this morning, excerpt:

The crisis of the disappearing honeybees, which has baffled scientists for four years now, is getting worse. A federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-of (die-off) this winter, and at the same time, a new study shows that honeybees’ pollen and hives are laden with pesticides. …Scientists, and the government, are understandably concerned about the loss of bees as they play an important, vital role in our food supply. One-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees.  full article

So, Mr. President, you don’t want to dine with the The Jew? Then maybe you won’t be dining at all. This result would certainly be in keeping with the prophets of Israel, all of whom make reference to a time of famine coming on the world. Of further interest, the seven species of Israel (grape, olive, wheat, barley, fig, date, pomegranate) do not require bees for pollination. There could be a complete bee die-off, and Israel’s table would be bountiful. Something to think about…

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March 16, 2010: International Temple Mount Awareness Day

Next Tuesday is International Temple Mount Awareness Day. Drawing attention to the fact that only Moslems are allowed to pray on the Mount is crucial. The Temple is to be a house of prayer for all people, not some people.

March 16th is Nissan 1, the anniversary of the dedication of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, the first day of the  Divine service by the Levitical/Aaronic priesthood, and the first time the Divine Presence (the Glory, the Shekinah) rested in the Tabernacle.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem is calling on everyone, Jew and gentile alike, to ascend the Temple Mount, in accordance with halachot, on that day in order that the God of Israel would know that his people mean business with getting the Temple rebuilt. For additional information for the aliyah to the Temp le Mount, please see the excellent info at: www.templeinstitute.org .

If you are concerned that Jews, Christians and anyone else who wants to go to the Temple Mount be allowed to, please let your concerns be known directly to the Prime Minister’s office:

  Telephone number: 011-972-02-6705555

  Fax number: 011-972-02-5664838

  email address: bnetanyahu@knesset.gov.il

  

Please raise your voice! You do want to be on record as favoring access for all people to the House of Prayer!

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Either/Or

Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

In this verse from Luke, we have a basic teaching technique used by Yeshua as he was instructing his disciples. In Hebrew, this technique is called Kal v’chomer, or, from light to heavy.
He is comparing two goods: the good of an earthly parent supplying his child’s needs to the greater good of God supplying the needs of his children.

By using this technique, Yeshua is showing a contrast. He is in no way suggesting that earthly parents cease and desist from supplying their children’s needs now that they know that it is God who supplies their needs. He is using the contrast between our heavenly Father and the good and generous behavior of earthly parents. The giving nature of the parent is applauded by this comparison, it is elevated to being compared to the very character of God himself. 

This technique is used often by Yeshua, as it is very effective in helping us understand a spiritual concept by drawing our attention to the physical counterpart. Here is another example of kal v’chomer:

Luk 12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Again, Yeshua is not suggesting that the lilies are now passé, but he is suggesting that in comparison to the lilies, the Father will see to all our needs. 

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament uses this kal v’chomer technique as well. However, the interpretation of the technique is entirely missed by many who study these passages.

Heb 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
Heb 8:6 But now hath he (Yeshua) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Many people who study this passage, rather than seeing a superlative comparison, see this as either/or. Either you have Moses OR you have Yeshua. You cannot have both. But this misinterpretation does damage to the literary device used and makes it of no effect. The author is simply making a superlative comparison: Moses is great, Yeshua is greater. The author is not suggesting that Moses be done away with. Sadly, this is precisely the teaching prevalent through centuries of Christian teaching.

The last kal v’chomer I want to draw your attention to is probably the one most widely misunderstood today:

Heb. 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

Heb. 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

The author is making superlative comparison: the animal sacrifices did do what they were intended to do, but what they were intended to do was entirely different from what the sacrifice of Yeshua was intended to do. The first is physical, the second is spiritual. Animal sacrifices operate in the physical, observable world, the sacrifice of Yeshua in the spiritual, unseen world. Both were efficacious!  This is not an either/or statement by the author. He is not saying: Either you have animal sacrifices OR you have the sacrifice of Yeshua. The two operate in different speres, different realms. One is about this world, one is about the world to come, which by the way, is the focus of the author of Hebrews (see Heb. 2:5).

There is no competition between Yeshua and his Father’s House, the Temple. There is no conflict between the altar service and the finished work of Messiah. There is no contention between the priesthood of Aaron and the priesthood of Melechtzedek. These difficulties have been inserted into the texts by interpreters, they are not there in fact.

It is not either/or.

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Patterns

I will get back to the discussion on the sacrifices shortly. But let me vent a little, would ya?

For 2000 years the Jews have been scattered from one end of heaven to the other, with no homeland: they were ousted from Israel by the Roman legions in 70 CE.  But 40 years prior to those sad events, Yeshua told his disciples that a day was coming when they would be back in their Land again.  None of the disciples standing there had any idea that the absence would span two millenia, but that is precisely what occurred. Yeshua also declared to them that not only would the Jews be back in Israel, but that they would have erected an altar. And not just any altar, but a holy altar,  one acceptable to the Almighty.  This prophecy is stunning, to say the least!  Here we are now,  the Jews having survived an almost impossible 2000 year antipathy from the world, back in their Land,  the State of Israel, and today they are constructing the altar that, prayerfully, will be acceptable to God.

I don’t know why more attention isnt paid to this amazing prophecy, but such is our world. Interestingly, the apostle Paul makes a similar statement to what Yeshua said in Matthew 24. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul speaks of what seems to be a fully functioning Temple. This is another amazing statement, because at the current time, the Muslim Waqf has control over the Temple Mount area. Yet Paul is quite clear: there will be a Temple, the House of God. So for all those who may read this blog with some skepticism, relax: the prophecies have not failed yet, and I suspect  they never will.

Here is my hunch: the holy place (ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ)  spoken of by Yeshua in Matthew 24 and the Temple of God (ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ), spoken of by Paul in 2 Thessalonians, represent incidents that occur at two seperate times. The surrounding and destruction of Jerusalem is an often-repeated incident in Scripture and in history, one of the myriad of patterns given to us in his Word by our loving Creator, so that we might understand the times in which we live.

My prayer is that Christians will begin to take these prophetic words of Paul and Yeshua to heart and start reversing the millenial-old animus toward all things *Temple* or  *Jewish*.

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The Protocol

I have probably opened a can of worms with this whole topic of the purpose of the animal sacrifices outlined in the Torah, but my hunch is that if we do not come to grips with these topics we are going to get more confused as the day draws nearer to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Even now the battle lines are being drawn, with many Christians seeing the rebuilding of the Temple as anathema, and the rest praying that they can have some small part in it. I fall in this latter group: I can think of no greater joy for my life than being involved in the rebuilding of his House here on earth! Whatever I can do to forward that most exhilarating event, I will do!

But this pesky question of  animal sacrifices must be faced. I have been studying these for a handful of years. My Jewish friends have been studying and practicing these topics for 3000 years. They have the greater wisdom, for sure. My hope is that if I make an error regarding these issues on the pages of this blog, someone would be kind enough to correct me! 

In the pagan world, we have a great deal of information regarding their gods and the appeasement of their gods. If, for instance, there was drought, certain offerings were given to assuage the anger of the gods, or perhaps to curry favor with them for a favorable growing season. This type of appeasement/bribery is never seen in the Scriptures regarding the LORD (YHWH). He needs nothing from us, he owns the cattle on a thousand hills; he cannot be bribed, he needs no money from us, or influence. The thought is comical! No, this appeasement has nothing to do with our God. We can scratch that right off the list.

I mentioned in an earlier post that even the furnishings of the Tabernacle required atonement, sacrifice. If we consider the function of the Tabernacle/Temple, maybe we can unravel this. 

Exodus 25.8: And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

So the purpose of this Tabernacle (mikdash in Hebrew, the noun form of the verb kadash, to be holy) was to be a dwelling place for the Most High. The Holy One was going to inhabit space and time on our earth in the midst of Israel. But it is clear that this dwelling place had to be constructed according to his specifications: if we didn’t get it right, people would die. Literally. So the construction of this dwelling place, as well as the protocol concerning our approaching him there, are absolutely critical.

An example from Leviticus should help us understand this. After the tabernacle had been consecrated for seven days, on the eighth day, the day that Aaron and his sons would begin their actual priestly service,  the Tabernacle had been fully erected, the final offerings were presented. All Israel was present, it was an awesome and moving event.  Aaron’s sons were caught up in the high drama of the day and wanted to join in to the worshipful events. They got their censors and offered incense to the Most High. They *entered in* to the worship service, is how we might say it today.

But not according to wisdom. They broke the protocol. Only Aaron had been assigned the duty of offering incense, not his sons. Yes, they wanted very much to be a part of this holy day. Yes, their motives were probably similar to my own when I have been involved in those special worship times with a local congregation. Although I surely cannot get my head around all of this, in some way, though they may have had the very best of intentions, when it comes to the Holiness of God, intentions play second fiddle to the protocol.

The result of this breach of protocol was the death of these two men, Aaron’s own sons, on the most precious day in Israel’s history to date. What a heartbreak! And because the protocol had to be maintained in spite of these deaths, Aaron was not even allowed to mourn until the his duties had been fulfilled. 

Another example comes from the life of David and the story of the moving of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. According to the Torah, when the ark was to be moved it was to be carried by the Levites. David allowed the ark to be placed on a cart which was drawn by cattle. When the beasts stumbled, and the ark tottered on the cart, Uzza reached out to steady it, and died on the spot.  Breach of protocol in these holy things results in death. The text goes on to say that David, “..was afraid of God that day…”  Holiness is scary! Our God is scary when we walk in ignorance of his ways!

Now that we have some understanding of  altar protocol and the importance of the instructions that God gave to his people concerning these matters, perhaps it is time to turn our attention to the sacrifices outlined in Leviticus chapters 1-6.

Selah.

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Basics

OK, so the way I learned it went sort of like this: When a Jew sinned, he had to go to the Temple and offer a sacrifice to expiate his sin. Once Jesus came and died and rose again this was no longer necessary, all you had to do was repent, no animal sacrifice required. But you couldn’t JUST repent:  first you had to believe Jesus died for you  and then repent. I think. No, maybe you had to repent first, then believe that Jesus died for you. Well in any case, the whole point was that animal sacrifices were no longer necessary. There was no discussion. This is just how it was.

Sadly,  I did not have the sense to ask  questions. I was not taught how to ask questions, or how to think critically. Yet just a cursory review of the ministry of Yeshua instructs us that questions should be a basic foundation of our spiritual education.

Since animal sacrifice was forbidden anywhere but Jerusalem, maybe I would have raised the question about the mother of five, living in Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, who had a spat with her husband and said awful things to him. Did she have to find a babysitter for an extended period and make the three-day journey to Jerusalem to get herself right with the Most High? Or maybe the shepherd who had violated the Sabbath in some way: should he abandon his flocks and head to the Temple to deal with his spiritual health?  But I did not even see these questions that were begging to be asked, I accepted what I was told and went on about my business.

Three of the five sacrifices outlined in Leviticus have nothing to do with sin: the Whole Burnt Offering , or olah, was the offering totally dedicated to God. Neither the priest officiating, nor the offerer received any part of this sacrifice, it was totally consumed on the altar. The person making this offering, depending on his position, could bring a bullock, or a sheep of the flock. These were expensive offerings! However, if you could not afford so much, but wanted to *give it all* to the LORD, you could bring turtledoves or pigeons. 

The grain offering or minchah was a memorial as in *may  I be remembered before Adonai*. This offering consisted of grain and oil and frankincense.  But there is no mention of sin or repentance. Likewise with the next offering, the shelamim, or Peace offerings. These are voluntary, free-will offerings, gifts of the heart. Included with the shelamim offerings were the todah, or thank offerings. These were celebratory offerings, a portion burned on the altar, some eaten by the officiating priest and the rest consumed by the offerer and his family. Again, no mention of repentance, confession, or sin.

Finally, we come to the chatah, or sin offering. This was offered for sins of ignorance, sins that you didn’t realize that you had committed until it was brought to your attention. Different sacrifices were required if you were a priest, or a leader or ruler of the people, or if the entire community had committed a sin of ignorance, or if you were just the common man.

Lastly, Leviticus deals with the asham, or trespass offering. This particular offering was required in the case of a sin of ignorance in regards to the holy things of the LORD (for example, in the tithe), and it also required restitution be made, as determined by the priest.  The asham was  also offered for wilful sin, such as lying or swearing falsely, and again,  the offering and restitution are required.

The other offerings outlined in Torah are the festal offerings, the tamid or daily offering, the Sabbath and new moon offerings, etc.  The red heifer is also covered, though this was not an offering, per se, but was a prescription.

This is just an overview and I am sure there is much I have omitted and even more I just plain don’t know yet.  Next time, I will try to start answering some of my own questions.  Be patient with me, and we will grow along together!

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