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Friday, April 19, 2019

Three Days and Three Nights

To understand that Jesus didn't die on a Friday, as religious teachings hold, you must have a very basic understanding of Jewish time and holy days.

Jewish days run sunset to sunset. Thursday actually begins at sunset Wednesday and this pattern repeats itself.  After sunset on Wednesday evening, of the week Jesus was crucified, Christ chose to serve His disciples a 'Pesach', or the 'day of preparation for Passover' ritual meal that we’ve come to call the Last Supper.  Later that night, Jesus was arrested and tried in two courts, lasting through the night.  He was summarily crucified at 9AM on Thursday and died at 3PM - at the exact time of day that the slaughter of Passover lambs was happening throughout the land. He was buried and entombed on that same Thursday..  After sundown, and the beginning of Friday, while  He laid in the tomb, observant Jews ate the Passover in the comfort of their homes. This initiated back-to-back Sabbaths, and no work was permitted.  The first Sabbath was on Friday, the first day of unleavened bread, or Passover. On a side note, the Jewish priests actually defied this day’s prohibition against 'Gentile contamination' by meeting with Pilate to ensure Jesus’ tomb was guarded so that no one could steal His body, therefore ensuring that His followers couldn't claim that He had risen, as promised. The following day, Saturday was the regular, weekly Sabbath. Sunday began at sundown Saturday night, after which Jesus was resurrected Sunday morning.  Using the Jewish custom of counting days - sunset-to-sunset - and understanding the timing of weekly Sabbaths and the addition of the special holy day Sabbath that took place that year, is the only way to derive that Christ fulfilled the prophesied three days & nights in the grave. He died on Thursday, not the traditional Friday, and rose on Sunday. Hallelujah and Amen!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Name of Jesus – Controversy or Proper Translation?

There’s a lot of nonsense going around today regarding the name of Jesus. Some even say that the name Jesus is pagan, in an odd reference to the Greek god, Zeus, of all things. Others say that you must pronounce His name correctly or He won’t even hear your prayers. I say HOOEY on all counts!
The confusion comes in because a lot of Christians, including pastors or teachers, are like parrots – and lazy parrots at that - they hear something or read something and go off half-cocked, repeating it as if it’s Gospel, without ever consulting scripture or doing any research of their own to prove or disprove what they end up propagating as truth.
Begin at the Beguine (or in this case, the earliest writings in Hebrew and Greek)
Let’s start with the basics. Jesus’ given name was actually Joshua. The Hebrew pronunciation of the name Joshua is ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’. It’s not a far leap from ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’ to Yeshua or Jesus…but how we got there is a very interesting study - and a very simple matter of linguistics. A perfect example of what I’m speaking of is my ex-wife, who was born and raised in Peru and spoke only Spanish throughout our entire 13-year marriage - which is also why I’m fluent in Spanish 😉 Hearing her trying to pronounce my last name, Williams, was something else. You see, there is no real use of ‘W’ in Spanish or its root, Latin. Because of this, she had an impossible time pronouncing her own last name once we were married. I literally spent hours trying to teach her to form the ‘wuh’ sound, for ‘W’ and no matter how hard she tried, it was so foreign to her, she never did get it right. The same is true in many languages. Arabic, for example, has no ‘P’, or even a ‘P’ sound in the language. If you order a Pepsi in an Arabic-speaking country, you’re going to get a ‘Bebsi’ instead. The same was true when converting the root words from other languages to form the English language. Most English words are bastardizations or abbreviated versions of the original root language they came from. We even invented the contraction to save time and effort, so instead of saying “I have”, we omitted the H and A and shortened it to “I’ve”. To someone who’s never seen a contraction, this just doesn’t make any sense at all, which is why the contraction is something that foreign language speakers have a difficult time with in learning English. These exact same issues came about when transliterating original Hebrew texts to Greek and then to English.
Transliterating Hebrew to Greek
The first step in arriving at the English was converting scriptural Hebrew, first to Greek, which was common all over the Middle East, and then to English so that King James (and the rest of us) could have a Bible. In Greek, there is no ‘H’, or an equivalent sound-like letter found in the middle of a word in Greek. This automatically eliminated the ‘HO’ in ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’, in pronouncing the name Joshua. The second issue is that there is no ‘sh’ sound in Greek at all. The closest that Greek can come is the letter Sigma, which is equivalent to the English ‘s’. The final obstacle that early transliterates had was the guttural ‘uh’ sound, as in the ending of ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’. This also doesn’t exist in Greek. By process of elimination, quite literally, the only choice they had was to reduce or shorten ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’ to ‘Ye-sus’, pronounced ‘Yay-sus’, with the ‘sus’ sounding the same as the Seuss in Dr. Seuss. Now stop for a minute to remember that we are simply transliterating the actual given name of Jesus, Joshua (Yeh-HO-shu-wah), to Greek.
This transliteration goes much further back than translating the NT to Greek. In fact, it goes back as far as the Septuagint, some 280 years before the birth of Christ! These are transliterations, not translations. Transliteration is the ‘literal’ writing of the name Joshua using the Greek alphabet. Now think about how many times the name Joshua appears in scripture in the OT! It may come as a great shock for you to learn that every single instance of the 644 times the name Joshua (again pronounced Yeh-HO-shu-wah) appears in the Hebrew text, it is transliterated to Greek as ‘Yesus’. This isn’t something that just started with transliterating the New Testament, but had been going on for hundreds of years before.
Adding Aramaic to the Mix
Aramaic was the common, everyday language among many Jews, especially those in the Galilee area, including Jesus and His disciples. In Aramaic, Joshua is ‘Eashoa’ (translated to English) and pronounced ‘E-sho’, with the vowel sounds being long. This name appears in the original text of Zechariah 3:3, and many others, for the name ‘Joshua’, and this is also how the close friends of Jesus would have addressed Him, ‘E-sho’. Yeshua is actually a blend of the Aramaic and an abbreviated Hebrew form of ‘Yeh-HO-shu-wah’, again dropping the ‘Ho’ syllable, ‘Yeh-shu-wah’ and didn't enter the scene until after the second temple period.
Reference to this Aramaic dialect/accent is noted twice in scripture. First in Matthew 26:73, the denial of Jesus by Peter, when bystanders noted that Peter’s accent was the same as Jesus. In the Mark and Luke versions, this accent was clearly noted as being Galilean (see Mark 14:70). The second mention comes in Acts 2:7, when, at Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were identified as Galileans only by their Aramaic accent.
The Name of Jesus
So, how did we get from the Greek pronunciation of ‘Yay-sus’ to Jesus, you ask? Centuries ago it was very common to pronounce Y’s as J’s. In fact, the two were interchangeable. Sometimes the ‘J’ sound would actually be written with a ‘Y’ and visa-versa. Even today, Latinos, for example, will pronounce ‘Yes’ as ‘Jes’. By the time the 47 King James’ scholars got to translating the Greek text of ‘Yay-sus’, it became what we know today as ‘Jesus’. This is ALL there is to it. The name “Jesus” is the result of linguistics and time – and nothing more.
Please do not let these supposedly learned people lead you astray with all this hoopla over the name of Jesus. It is exactly as it was translated to Greek (and consequently English) for well over 2,300 years. And if that’s not enough, simply remember that God’s word tells us explicitly that He hears all prayers of the righteous (even if they don’t know His name), but is far, far from these wicked pinheads (Proverbs 15:29).
Joshua, or Ye-HO-shu-wah, literally means ‘Yehovah saves'.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Enhanced Easter Discussions (Jim Croft)

John’s Gospel challenges common assertions that Jesus’ Last Supper with His apostles was one & the same as the Passover meal of that particular year. It was not. To understand the discrepancies, one must compare the 3 accounts in the other Gospels to that of Jn 13:1-5. The text clearly states that the Last Supper took place prior to Passover. In actuality, the Passover lambs had not yet been slaughtered by the heads of households. Nationwide, the Commemorative Exodus meal had not yet been roasted. 
The confusion comes from the wording in the other accounts where the Lord sent His men to secure a room for Passover. It’s logical for non-Jews to assume that He meant a place for them to eat the official Passover meal. There are reasons that this was not the case. First. One cant eat of a lamb that has not yet been slain. That did not happen until twilight of the Day of Preparation as the sun began to set leading into the eve beginning of the first day of Passover. Thirdly, it’s helpful to view Passover as a yearly season much like our holiday seasons. Friends & business associates are invited to preliminary festivities of the same name that are not on the exact holiday such as Christmas & Thanksgiving. All the while, the actual holiday meal can be reserved for family celebrations. Thus it was specifically with Passover meals that were consumed in private homes in the context of family. The Last Supper was a special meal that Christ planned for the opening evening that began the Day of Preparation. Normally speaking, this would have liberated His disciples to return home during the day to eat the actual Passover with their personal families. Of course, most did not make it home because of His midnight arrest in the garden, his trials, torture, crucifixion, and burial on that particular Day of Preparation. 

There are some fascinating items to note about that day:

* All leaven was to be removed from houses during the day prior to the setting of the Passover table. There’s high probability that that task had not been completed as early as the evening of the Last Supper. This might indicate that the bread Jesus broke and shared as symbolic of His suffering was leavened bread. If so, this flows with typology. Leaven is symbolic of sin. On the cross Jesus who knew no sin, became satiated with sin for us. Thus the Last Supper’s loaf fully typified the Lord’s impending bodily sacrifice.

* At first the Jewish officials insisted that Pilate converse with them outside of the Praetorium where Jesus was held. They didn’t want to be contaminated by association with Gentiles with the high holy Sabbath of Passover approaching. However, on that Sabbath, they threw caution to the wind. The Pharisees et al were breaking the Sabbath in any event. The wording of the verse (Matthew 27v62) is that they went to Pilate on the day *following* the day of preparation. Jesus had been crucified the afternoon before and the Passover meal would have been eaten that night (ie the night before this event). That day was the first full day (ie daytime/daylight) portion of Nisan 15, so therefore it was the feast of Unleavened Bread and therefore a 'special' sabbath - one of the seven annual sabbaths prescribed by the Lord God in Leviticus 23. They went to see Pilate and begged that a guard be set at Jesus’ tomb to insure that His body was not taken as a claim of His predicted resurrection. The Holy Spirit was cleverly pointing out the end of the Old Covenant as unkeepable, obsolete & ineffective. 

* That Passover & Unleavened Bread season began with 2 back to back Sabbaths. The High Holy Sabbath of the first day of unleavened bread that commenced with eating the Passover meal. And the regular weekly Sabbath. This is the basis for the position that the day following His burial was not a Saturday Sabbath, but rather a Friday Sabbath. Therefore, He was crucified and buried on Thursday. This fits with the 3 days & 3 nights in the tomb which the Friday death assertion never could.

Jesus breathed His last breath at 3PM at the exact time Jews begin the killing of Passover lambs. Christ indeed was our Passover sacrifice.

A Little Leaven (Passover)

"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel." (Exodus 12:15)
With Passover beginning in two weeks, all over Israel and around the world every practicing Jewish man, woman and child will be busy cleaning out closets, shelves, drawers and vehicles in obedience to this commandment from God to rid every trace of leaven from existence. Every nook and cranny must be wiped clean in order to make sure that each dwelling place is free of ‘chametz’ (leavened products) before the Passover begins. All dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and even dishrags used during the feast must be made “Kosher for Passover.” This is a preparatory purification process that is expensive – both in time and money.
Why All the Trouble Over Yeast?
Leaven, or yeast, is used in scripture as a metaphor for sin. Galatians 5:9 (also 1 Corinthians 5:6) tells us that “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” When we equate yeast, and how it works, to sin, the meaning becomes clear. Those who have baked bread from scratch can easily relate.
Yeast is actually a single-celled, microscopic, fungal organism that absolutely thrives on sugar. There are over 160 known species of yeast, but only one that we use for baking - and one gram of it contains 25 billion of these little sucrose-craving critters. The most common dry yeast comes in a ¼ ounce packet and contains 175 billion! When you make fresh bread you always add sugar to the water that you put your yeast packet into in order to ‘turn it on’. When yeast eats the sugar it basically defecates carbon dioxide and it is this CO2 that causes your dough to rise – to get puffed up. Yeast is so pervasive that if a little dough lump is left on the counter, yeast will attach to the surface of the dough and work its way throughout the entire lump. Such is the way of sin. Sin, like yeast, comes in many forms and can be extremely powerful. The smallest sin doesn’t stay isolated, but, under the right circumstances, grows large enough to affect the whole entity. There’s personal sin, like pride and ‘puffed up’ arrogance, that takes root and can completely destroy its target – remember Proverbs 16:18, “pride comes before the fall.” Or sin can come in the form of giving heed to false teachers, as in the case of Galatians 5, which can devastate a church or an entire denomination. The single doctrinal sin of advocating same-sex marriage has permeated entire denominations, leading millions astray. Sin may start small, as a seemingly microscopic, almost non-existent issue, but it swiftly multiplies and invades with the goal of taking over the entire being it is ‘attached to.’ The thing is, yeast is vulnerable and can be stopped in its tracks. The same is true with sin. Those that have baked know that if the water you add the yeast to is too hot, the yeast will die.
The Refiner’s Fire
Just as Jews will symbolically rid themselves of sin, frantically cleaning their homes and cars of all leaven leading up to Passover, we can literally clean house through pleading the blood of Jesus over our lives. For believers, Jesus is our Passover. Just as the blood of the lamb, on the door frames of the homes of Jews, protected them during the first Passover (Exodus 12), the blood that Jesus shed on the cross is our sacrificial lamb's blood of protection. On the cross, Jesus took on ALL sin and defeated it in one action. Just as the preparatory water being too hot for the yeast to survive, the blood of Jesus is the preparatory refiner’s fire that purifies and protects us against sin’s pervasive ways (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3, etc) destroying its effects.
This Passover, I encourage you brethren to apply the blood of Jesus like a healing salve to your lives, allowing the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to invade every nook and cranny of your very being and lay waste to leavened strongholds. Blessings

Monday, April 1, 2019

Squishy Diapers

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." ~Hebrews 5:12
As evident by this scripture, the subject of mature versus immature Christians is as old as Christianity itself. The difference between the mature and immature in God encompasses several aspects, but at the core is knowing and understanding God's word. In order to know God's Word, one must study it. God's own Word, Jesus (John 1:1), contains His heart, His love, His will - His very essence. Our love for Jesus was defined by Jesus Himself when He said, "IF you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15) In order to keep His commandments, one must first know what His commandments are. In order to know what His commandments are, you must actually be a student of His Word (2 Tim 2:15). Being a student of the Word is not the summit of maturity, but the base camp from which you take the first steps toward reaching maturity. Once you have this very basic foundation, you may them begin to *build yourself up* into maturity (Jude 1:20). God took a pass on enlightening the believers of Hebrews 5:12 because they had not laid the basic foundation of His principles.
The six 'basic principles', or foundations of Christianity, referred to in Hebrews 5:12 are found in Hebrews 6:1-3:
"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of (1) repentance from dead works and of (2) faith toward God, of (3) the doctrine of *baptism(s)*, of (4) laying on of hands, of (5) resurrection of the dead, and of (6) eternal judgment."
You may think you know and have an understanding of these basics, but I encourage you to begin the lifelong journey to maturity - or to unlearn what you think you know and build again. I know of no better teacher or material to get you started than Derek Prince's "Foundations of Christian Living" video series. You'll notice that this is a FREE ten-part, ten-hour video teaching series, based solely on the opening three verses of Hebrews 6. I can hear the baby diapers squishing already - "I don't have the time" - but I guarantee, no matter what your level of maturity, you will be blessed and enlightened as you progress through the series, complete with downloadable study guides. Blessings...

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