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July 1 2013 2 01 /07 /July /2013 16:35

Torah Scroll

 

 

The Legend Of British-Israel 

 

C.T. Dimont, D.D.

 

Principal Of Salisbury Theological College

Chancellor And Canon Of Salisbury Cathedral

 

London: SPCK, 1933. Pbk.

 

 

British-Israel

 

The movement bearing this name is so called because it maintains the theory that the British people are the descendants of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel, commonly referred to as the Lost Ten Tribes. This theory has of late years increased the number of its adherents. At first sight it might be considered a waste of time to deal with the strange arguments on which it is based. But it is becoming plain that where they are accepted certain quite definite results follow. The British-Israelite believes that the Old Testament promises that Israel - that is, Britain - is to possess the earth. He therefore, as I shall show later by quotations from British Israel publications, opposes the League of Nations and other peace movements. What has been hitherto a comparatively harmless fad now threatens to become a minor heresy. It is therefore worth while to pay some attention to the allegations on which it rests.

 

History Of The Movement

 

The first hint of this movement occurred in 1649, when one John Sadler published a book called the Rights of the Kingdom, in which he traced resemblances between Hebrew and English law and custom. Britain as a name he derived from Berat Anak, the field of tin and lead, and he supposed that the Phoenician traders had originated this name. But the modern movement started with Richard Brothers (1757-1824), a half-pay officer of the Navy. He published fifteen volumes on the subject. He claimed to be descended from David, and to be the nephew of the Almighty. It is not surprising that he ended in a lunatic asylum.

 

In 1840 John Wilson adopted the theory and devoted himself to propagating it. Others followed. Among them was C. Piazzi Smyth, the Astronomer-Royal for Scotland, who introduced a novelty by measuring the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, and finding in the measurements prophecies of the future prosperity of the English. This suggestion has since given rise to astonishing and copious speculations (cp. Enc. Rel. Eth., art. Anglo-Israelism).

The British-Israelites - to give them their present name, which seems to have replaced the former title of Anglo-Israelites-are now sufficiently numerous to put out a great amount of literature, run a weekly magazine, and even to contemplate the founding of a new theological college, on the ground that no existing college is faithful in its interpretation of Scripture.

 

For material we turn to British-Israel writings the official handbook called British-Israel Truth, edited by the late Archdeacon Hanan and H. Aldersmith, The Case for British Israel by A. N. Denny, The National Messenger (the weekly organ of the movement), and various other publications and manifestos.

 

The Ten Tribes Were Never Lost

 

First, then, we may state a fact which if we were so disposed might dispense us from further troubling about the matter. The British cannot be the descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes, because no such body of lost tribes exists or ever has existed. The assertion that all the Ten Northern Tribes were carried away to Assyria is contrary to Scripture and to the testimony of the monuments. Sargon, the King of Assyria, says that he carried away from Israel 27,290 captives. It is quite obvious that this was but a fragment of the whole population of the Northern Kingdom (cp. 2 Sam. xxiv. 9, which puts the men of military age in North Israel at 800,000). From the account in 2 Kings xvii. 6 and xviii.11 they appear to have been deported in two groups, one of which was placed in Western Mesopotamia, and the other in the far eastern parts of the Assyrian Empire. And this, as Dr. McCurdy says in his book, History, Prophecy and the Monuments (sec. 363), "is the whole story of the famous 'Dispersion of the Ten Tribes.' " The number stated by Sargon is not likely to have been put too low. Assyrian kings were not in the habit of minimising their exploits. Yet it comes to no more than the present population of Salisbury. A few years later more than seven times this number were carried away from Judah without destroying the southern and smaller kingdom.

 

Those deported were doubtless the most influential men and their families. The rest of the mass of the population remained in Israel. The religion of Jehovah continued there, blended no doubt to some extent with the cults of the heathen settlers who came amongst the natives of the land. But the Samaritans retained the Pentateuch, and, in spite of the late hostility of the Jews, were not regarded as Gentiles.

 

Some time after the fall of Samaria Hezekiah held a great Passover at Jerusalem. According to 2 Chron. xxx. he sent invitations to Northern Israel as well as to Judah. A "multitude" from the North responded by attending. Five of the Northern Tribes are mentioned by name. It is quite clear from this passage that the greater part of the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom had not been carried away to Assyria.

 

A century later another king of Judah, Josiah, when he repaired the Temple, received money for this purpose from "Manasseh and Ephraim, and all the remnant of Israel" (2 Chron. xxxiv. 9). This second passage strengthens the inference which we have drawn from the first, that there had been no wholesale deportation of the Ten Tribes.

 

This is now the generally accepted conclusion among Biblical scholars. It may be seen in such books as Israel in World History, by Dr. Blunt, Bishop of Bradford, or The Decline and Fall of the Hebrew Kingdoms in the Clarendon Bible.

 

In the New Testament it is assumed that the Twelve Tribes are still in existence and form one nation. St. Paul speaks of "our Twelve Tribes" (Acts xxvi. 7) as united in common worship. St. James addresses his letter to the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion. Even if we give this address a figurative interpretation, it would have been singularly meaningless if Ten Tribes had been utterly lost.

 

Again in the Apocalypse the I44,000 are drawn from all the tribes of Israel. There is no consciousness of separation between Ten Elect Tribes and two others rejected by God, as British-Israel alleges. It may be noted that the same assumption underlies the Apocalyptic book called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Dr. Box shows that the division into two groups of ten tribes and two tribes respectively was of gradual growth, and that only in later Jewish traditions do we come to the conception of a distant land in which the Ten Tribes remain, awaiting the moment of return to the Holy Land (Box, Ezra Apocalypse, p. 300).

 

Did Hebrews Turn Into Scythians And Kimmerians?

 

But let us waive the objection, vital as it is, that the Ten Tribes were never lost, and proceed to examine the supposed proofs that these tribes are today represented by the British. The first step is to get them into Europe. This is effected with the aid of a passage in 2 Esdras xiii. 40, in which it is declared that the Ten Tribes had separated from the heathen of the land to which they were carried, and had passed into a land called Arzareth. Scholars point out that this name is evidently a representation of erets achareth, "another land," and a manifest reference to Deut. xxix. 24-28 (vide R.V. marg.). But British Israel Truth (p. 115) divides the word by taking Ar as one component, meaning "a city or hill," and finding in zareth a concealed reference to the river Sereth. This is a tributary of the Danube. Hence it is argued that the Ten Tribes crossed from Assyria to the Danube region, and the date of their migration is fixed at 650 B.C. No proof is given for this date, and it involves the assumption that the Ten Tribes managed this exploit within seventy years after the fall of Samaria, and while Assyria was still in the plenitude of its power.

 

But the reason for this arbitrary dating soon appears. It was in 650 that the Scythians are said by Herodotus to have appeared in the region of the Black Sea. British-Israel at once declares that this is the date when the Ten Tribes arrived in Europe, being in fact no other than the Scythians. For this identification there is not a shred of evidence. The Scythians were not Semites. Formerly it was suggested that they were of Mongolian origin. But the present trend of opinion is towards regarding them as Aryans.

 

According to Herodotus they were not a pleasant people. In war they were scalp-hunters. In religion they were polytheists, but used neither temple nor altar. When their king died they celebrated his funeral by killing fifty youths and fifty horses, and setting up their stuffed bodies round his tomb. Could there be a greater contrast than between such people and the Hebrews?

 

If British-Israel does not believe this, it may yet perhaps consider the absurdity of its own theory in the light of Bible texts. The opening prophecies of Jeremiah refer to what is undoubtedly a threatened invasion of the Scythians into the Palestinian lands. Are we to understand the prophet to mean that the Ten Tribes are about to issue from Assyria to destroy Judah? Again, in the New Testament we hear St. Paul reciting the list of all the separated elements which shall be brought into one in Christ, Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondmen, freemen (Col. iii. 11). Who on reading this would ever suspect that the Apostle understood Scythians to be members of his own nation?

 

It is not surprising that Professor Tylor was moved to refer to this identification as "abject nonsense " (Chambs. Enc. art. Scythians). Nor is our surprise lessened when we note that it starts from a passage in 2 Esdras. The supporters of British-Israel are for the most part of Protestant leanings, and traditionally averse to allowing any credit at all to the books of the Apocrypha. But they do not on that account refuse here to pick a text out of one of the books of the Apocrypha, written eight hundred years after the fall of Samaria, mistranslate it, and make it the starting-point of an identification on which their whole case rests.

 

But we pass on to further identifications. When the Scythians arrived in what is now South Russia, they drove out another race called Kimmerians. British-Israel finds in these also some of the Lost Tribes, and proceeds to see in them the ancestors of the Welsh, Cymry. Welsh, it is alleged, is largely derived from Hebrew, and the Druids spoke Hebrew. This theory certainly presents us with a curious historical situation. Apparently one section of the Ten Tribes, the Kimmerians, had no sooner found a new home and settled down comfortably than they were thrust out by others of their brethren who followed them, and who for some strange reason preferred to be called Scythians. In its attempt to find a Hebrew origin for the Kimmerians British-Israel has contradicted the Bible. In the Old Testament the Kimmerians are referred to as Gotner. Now in I Chron. i. 24 Abraham and Israel are said to have been descendants of Shem. But in v. 5 of the same chapter Gomer is said to be descended from Japheth. Any attempt to make Kimmerians into Semites must ignore this passage.

 

Scythians Are Not Saxons, Nor Kimmerians Welsh

 

Those who are familiar with both Hebrew and Welsh assure us that the derivation of the second of these from the first is a vain imagination, and that there is no connection between the two languages. Equally unhappy is the suggestion that the name British is compounded of the Hebrew words berith and ish, meaning "man of the covenant." A glance at any philological dictionary will be enough to dispose of this absurdity. As regards the name Saxon we are given a choice in British-Israel manuals between finding the source of it either in Isaac, or in the Sacæ, an obscure race, who seem to have drifted about in Asia. It seems to be only necessary to find two words which have two letters alike to declare them to be cognate. Ordinary textbooks inform us that Saxon is derived from a word meaning a dagger.

 

It will be observed that in the present form of the British-Israel doctrine both Saxons and British are said to be descended from. the Ten Tribes. It might be supposed to be common knowledge that these two types do not belong to the same stock. But British-Israel is not dismayed by this difficulty, and boldly declares that the distinction between Celt and Teuton is altogether erroneous. What is quite certain is that neither Celt nor Teuton was a Semite. A little difficulty which attends British-Israel here is the kinship between the English and the German races. But as it would upset the whole case if Germans were admitted among the representatives of the tribes, it suffices to rake up a few hasty assertions made in the heat of wartime to the effect that there could be no kinship between England and Germany, and on the strength of these to exclude Germany from the blessings awaiting the descendants of Israel (B.I. Truth, p. 107).

 

In the light of modern knowledge it is evident that any attempt such as that of British-Israel to find all the ancestors of the British in one race is much too simple to be anywhere near the truth. The real state of the case is summed up by expert authority, thus: "As so many stocks have come into the country at various times, a general mingling of peoples must have taken place in this small island, which renders the task of disentangling them a peculiarly difficult one" (Haddon, The Races of Man, p. 77). But one thing can be affirmed with certainty. No men of Hebrew descent were to be found either among the Celts who came in successive waves of immigration in the last millennium B.C., or among the Nordic peoples who began to invade the land in the fifth century A.D.

 

Is Our Royal Family Descended From David?

 

Worked in with these fallacies about the nations is the collection of fables by which it is sought to prove that the present Royal Family of England is descended from King David. We begin with the prophecy of Jeremiah xxxiii. that David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel. Israel, says the handbook (p. 181), cannot mean Judah, because Jeremiah never uses the name so. A minute with a Concordance will show the futility of this allegation. Jeremiah ii., e.g., addresses a prophecy to Israel which is expressly applied to Jerusalem. But it appears that Jeremiah did not content himself with prophesying about this; he took steps to see that it should be fulfilled. The Bible tells us that he was carried down into Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah. That is all that Scripture has to say about the end of his life. But British-Israel knows more. Here it may be remarked that the Mediaeval Church, which is frequently charged with exaggerating the value of tradition as compared with Scripture, can be set down as a mere amateur in the light of the exploits of British-Israel in handling and garnishing traditions suitable for its use. There flourished then in Ireland about the year 580 B.C. a lawgiver with a prophetic reputation called Ollam Fola. Now Ollam, says B.I. Truth (p. 184), is clearly the Hebrew word for eternity. It is true that it has two "I's " where the Hebrew has one, but that is a small matter. The learned will note that Ollam's date is also that of Jeremiah, and as Ireland seems to retain reminiscences of Jeremiah (we are not favoured with any details about these), Ollam and Jeremiah must be the same. This is confirmed by the fact that Ollam lived at Tara, which is said to be a slightly altered form of the Hebrew word for the Law, Torah (p. 184). Jeremiah was not the first Israelite to arrive in Ireland. There was a settlement there some time earlier made by the Tuatha de Danann. Here is manifestly a trace of the tribe of Dan. The connection was not direct. It came through the Argive Danai, and some British-Israelites here introduce the story of the daughters of Danaus, so that profane, not to say pagan, history has its contribution to make to this narrative. In reality the name has nothing to do with either Dan or Danaus. It is derived iron. the name of the Irish goddess, Danu.

 

But to return to Jeremiah. The male issue of the royal line of Judah had failed with the death of the sons of Zedekiah. So Jeremiah set sail for Ireland with the daughter of Zedekiah. At any rate, the Irish tradition associated with Ollam a lady called Tephi, alleged to be of Eastern origin. Who else can this be but Zedekiah's daughter? The Irish legend says she had a tomb sixty feet long - which to any but a British-Israelite would suggest a descendant, not of David, but of Og the King of Bashan. Princess Tephi married an Irish prince whose descendants afterwards made their way to Scotland and so through James VI. and I. (was he not also known as "Solomon"?) became the ancestors of our Royal Family. Jeremiah carried with him the stone on which Jacob slept at Bethel, and this is now the stone in our Coronation chair. (Antiquaries who have not been enlightened by these revelations declare that this stone was quarried at Scone in Scotland.)

 

As if this collection of romances were not sufficiently ridiculous, a second line has been found to connect our King with David. The Tudor kings, it is alleged (B.I. Truth, p. 189), were descended through Welsh princes from Anna, cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and daughter of Joseph of Arimathea. The present King is assured by the purveyors of this rubbish that he is in the hundredth generation from King David. It should be noted that in these fantastic genealogies the Ten Tribes have been entirely forgotten, as it is the royal house of Judah which is in question.

 

To bring out the full value of these methods let us apply them locally and suggest to British-Israelites that Salisbury is so named as being the burial place of King Saul, who no doubt brought David with him when he came here, and that Harnham must be a shortened form of Har-Nahum, the Hill of Nahum: for that Nahum knew Salisbury is highly probable from his reference to a "City among the rivers," seeing that no other city so nearly answers this description, and it is further noteworthy that the R.V. margin here reads "canals," a manifest allusion to one of our chief streets called "The Canal." Hence we may conclude that at least one of the names of the local rivers is Hebrew - the Nadder, derived from Nadar, a vow, as it is well known that rivers were often invoked in ancient oaths. And what can Nunton be but the British residence of the family of Joshua, son of Nun? We can at least claim that these derivations are no more absurd than most of those invented by British-Israel.

 

It may be asked whether the tribe of Judah is to partake in the blessings promised to Israel. British-Israelites reply with an emphatic negative. The Jews are all under a curse (B.I. Truth, p. 150). That is to say, that portion of Israel which preserved the worship of God, kept alive the hope of Israel, and has bequeathed to us many of the most beautiful utterances in the Psalms, is to lie under a curse, while Northern Israel, which, according to the testimony of its own prophets, declined into a state hardly distinguishable from degraded paganism, is to inherit all the promises set forth in the Old Covenant. This is flatly contrary to Scripture. For St. Paul (Rom. ix.) refers to Israelites, "Whose are the promises," and immediately adds, "of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh." Even British-Israel will scarcely have the hardihood to deny that the reference here is to Judah. This attitude towards Judah has led some British-Israelites to express satisfaction at the persecution which has befallen the Jews, a piece of fanaticism which is justly denounced in the Jewish Encyclopædia (art. Anglo-Israel).

 

The tribe of Benjamin occasions some difficulty to British-Israel, being by rights one of the Ten Tribes, and at the same time connected with Jerusalem. However, on the strength of a gross perversion of I Kings xi. 36, which refers to Judah, not to Benjamin, the latter tribe is said to have been lent (by whom is not stated) to Judah for 800 years. It then cast off this undesirable connection and has since turned up as the Normans, thus assisting to form the British nation. Any old family claiming Norman descent may be expected to ravin as a wolf (Gen. xlix. 27). Manasseh, we learn, is the ancestor of the Americans. The eagle of the U.S.A. flag has arrows in its left claw, and the tribe of Manasseh was known as the bowmen of Israel (Steele, Bible Basis of British Israel Truth, p. 28). Certainly no one will deny the skill of the Yankee in using the long bow.

 

The Pyramid Superstition

 

The promises recorded in the Old Testament are then to be fulfilled in Britain. But when? In order to answer this question British-Israel turns not only to Scripture, but also to another authority, the Great Pyramid. In the National Message, the magazine of this movement, a series of articles appeared on this subject in 1932, and it is idle for British-Israelites to deny that it is part of their doctrine. God's plan, we read (National Message, June, 1932), is "clearly outlined in the prophetic Scriptures and the Great Pyramid," the two being apparently of equal authority. But even this profanity is outdone by the assertion of another writer (Mr. Morton Edgar) that "the real Architect" (of the Pyramid) "was God Himself." The erection of this was, according to Mr. Hew Colquhoun (Our Descent from Israel Proved, p. 59), a fulfilment of the prophecy that there shall be a pillar in the border of Egypt (Isa. xix. 19), although every student knows that the word there used, massebah, means a single stone pillar, and has nothing at all to do with pyramids. The Pyramid was built by Egyptians skilled in mathematical measurements, and was intended, according to Professor Breasted, to be not only a tomb but also the symbol of the Sun God. But British-Israel takes the number of inches in this and that part of the Pyramid to be mystical prophecies of the dates of events in the history of the British Empire, and finally of the Millennium. Whole books are filled with wild calculations on this basis, and we are asked to believe that the will of the All Holy God is revealed to us in the dimensions of a structure erected by pagan builders to honour the Sun God. Such a combination of the more outlandish forms of Apocalypse with the astrology of the Dark Ages must be unique. Well might our Reformers deliver themselves of the opinion that "they that go about to renew the fable of hereticks called Millenarii, be repugnant to Holy Scripture, and cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage" (Art. xli. of 1553). The wildest speculations of the Anabaptists cannot have surpassed these attempts to arrive at a revelation from God by stretching a measuring tape along the corridors of a pyramid. To seek it there is as profane as it would be to search for it in the number of square feet in the roof of the Crystal Palace.

 

Professor Flinders Petrie, the eminent Egyptologist, has shown that the methods used by British-Israelites in measuring the Pyramid are entirely erroneous. He adds that "it is useless to state the real truth of the matter, as it has no effect on those who are subject to this type of hallucination. They can but be left with the flat earth believers and other such people to whom a theory is dearer than a fact." He describes the amusement caused to himself and other experts by the sight of one of these theorists trying to file down a granite boss in the antechamber of the Pyramid to the size required for the theory (Seventy Years in Archaeology, pp. 26 and 35).

 

A detailed examination of the absurdities of these Pyramid doctrines, and an exposure of the extent to which those who proclaim them contradict one another, may be seen in the booklet published by S.P.C.K. called The Secret of the Great Pyramid, by M. D. R. Willink.

 

The Perversion Of Prophecy

 

We need not follow further the exposition of British-Israel doctrine. The specimens already given are typical of the whole. But let us conclude by pointing out in summary the evils which spring from it. It rests upon a method of interpreting prophecy which reduces the Scripture to the level of a cross-word puzzle. Texts are torn from their context, and misapplied without the slightest regard to their original meaning. British-Israel constantly boasts itself that it sticks to the plaid literal meaning of Scripture. But this is the one thing which it does not do. For example, the beautiful passage in Isa. xlix. is a message of comfort to the people returning from exile. The Lord has redeemed His people, and soon the wanderers will be together again in Zion. It is a word of immediate encouragement to strengthen them in the task of rebuilding Zion. But in the hands of British-Israel (B.I. Truth, pp. 91 ff.) it becomes nothing but a forecast of the glories of England, and a prediction that the British flag will fly in every port of the world. Thus God is made to mock His afflicted people by telling them that their only comfort is to know that in 2,000 years vast prosperity will be granted to the inhabitants of a land 2,000 miles away. It is as though some modern prophet were to seek to lighten our present economic depression by assuring us that in A.D. 3900 Hongkong will be the most prosperous city in the world. Such interpretations make the Word of God of none effect.

 

The Covenant And The Kingdom

 

Great play is made by British-Israelites with the word Covenant. They assert that the covenant which God made with Abraham was to be fulfilled in Israel, which on their view means the Ten Tribes. Since that fulfilment did not come owing to the disobedience of Israel to God's law, it is still to be expected, and will be granted to the British as representatives of the Ten Tribes. British-Israel stakes the whole truth of religion on this argument, alleging that if it is an error we cannot trust God to keep any of His promises. But what was the promise made to Abraham? It was simply that he should be the father of a multitude of nations, and that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. The multitude of nations included others besides Israel - for example, Midian - who were also descended from Abraham. In Gen. xv. 18 the promise is given in detail that Abraham's seed should inherit the land between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates. This was fulfilled in the reign of Solomon. The further promise that all nations should be blessed in Abraham (Gen. xxii. 18) has been fulfilled in Christ (St. John viii. 56). This is the plain teaching of the Bible (Acts iii. 25). St. Paul says expressly that the promise is accomplished in the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. iii. 8). The statement that the carrying out of the promise depends upon the continued existence somewhere of the Ten Tribes of Northern Israel is a fiction repugnant to Scripture and dangerous to faith. The British-Israel treatment of the New Testament conception of the Kingdom is equally erroneous.

 

A distinction is drawn between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Salvation. It is argued that while salvation is offered to all nations the Kingdom is not, but is confined to Israel-that is, the British (Waddington, Israel and Orthodoxy, chap. xiii.). Such a view empties the Gospel teaching about the Kingdom of all meaning. The Gospel begins with the declaration that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It promises entrance into it to all those who will become as little children. The "little flock" who were assured that it was the Father's good pleasure to give them the Kingdom (Luke xii. 42) were Jews, and the forerunners of all those from every nation who should believe in Jesus.

 

What Does The New Testament Mean By Israel?

 

According to British-Israel the name still refers to the Ten Tribes and excludes Judah. A phrase repeatedly cited in this sense is "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This text, it is asserted, refers in Matt. x. 6 and xv. 24 neither to Jews nor Gentiles, but only to members of the Ten Tribes (B.I. Truth, p. 70). On this interpretation our Lord commissioned His Apostles in Matt. x. 6 to go to Scythia, or to whatever remote spot the Ten Tribes are supposed by British-Israel to have then reached, and to preach there. The present writer has heard this explanation actually given at a meeting of British-Israelites. The same idea is read into Matt. xv. 24, where the Lord said that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Were not such suggestions in print before us it would be difficult to believe that anyone could ever have made them. The correct meaning of "lost sheep" may be found in Matt. ix. 36, where the words refer to the Jewish multitude there described as moving the Lord to pity, because they were as sheep having no shepherd.

 

St. Paul, it is alleged by British-Israel, also means the Ten Tribes, and nothing else, when he speaks of Israel. This assertion is supported by such wild conjectures as that the Galatians were but disguised members of the Ten Tribes (B.I. Truth, p. 67). The failure of Bishop Lightfoot and other learned men to discover this remarkable fact has no weight with British-Israel, to whom here, as often, experts who differ from them are merely "deluded," or "careless," or "blind." But here British-Israel flatly contradicts St. Paul in some of the very essentials of his teaching. When St. Paul says Israel he means the whole nation, including Jews (Rom. ix. 4, 5). When he speaks of the Israel of God (Gal. vi. 16) he means all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe in God through Christ (cp. Rom. iv. I6). The doctrine of British-Israel that the enjoyment of God's promises is connected with physical descent from Abraham is precisely that which St. Paul most strenuously resisted, and for the denial of which he suffered bitter persecution.

 

A Narrow Nationalism

 

It must be said quite clearly that British-Israel turns the Bible into a handbook of national megalomania, and that it is a determined foe to the League of Nations and all efforts for world peace. The two great perils to the world today are Nationalism and Bolshevism. To the first of these British-Israel is a servant. This statement can be abundantly justified by quotations from recent literature of the movement. In B.I. Truth (p. 94) we are told that England is the Lord's battleaxe and weapons of war, as prophesied in Jer. li. 20, a statement repeated in a pamphlet called Disarmament, a Divine Condemnation. The blessings foretold by the prophets are "exclusive" to the British (B.I. Truth, p. 5). Consequently there must be no acceptance of any peace which will interfere with the aggrandisement of Britain. During the summer of 1932 the following assertions appeared in the National Message, the magazine of British-Israel: "The madness of supposing that the welter of races in India can carry on and administer for all India the balanced system of the Common Law is of a piece with those who set up the League of Nations." Ezekiel xxxiii. 3 is expounded thus: "No sick sentimentality here. No gushing assurance that war between Christian nations was unthinkable: that we were too civilised to fight." The British are to overrun the world, and if they accept the challenge of the Gospel of the Kingdom, another writer tells us," all the material things after which the Gentile nations so feverishly seek would be automatically added to us as a Race and People." One British-Israelite has the hardihood to distort some words of an eminent supporter of the League of Nations, Sir Oliver Lodge, into an advocacy of these claims (vide Our Descent from Israel Proved, p. 63). I have the authority of Sir Oliver himself for saying that the passage quoted contains no such meaning.

 

Thus from unscriptural theology we pass to unchristian politics, and find ourselves confronted by the spirit, not of the true prophet, but rather of Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, whose notion of revealing God's will was to fashion horns of iron, and proclaim that with them the enemy should be pushed until he was consumed. It is not surprising that militarists have been quick to see the opportunity offered them by British-Israel. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same things, nor is one compatible with the other. We believe wholeheartedly that God has commissioned the British race to per form certain definite tasks. But our belief in this does not depend upon fantastic myths providing us with Hebrew ancestors, nor does it imply that other nations are excluded from sharing with us the promises of God.

 

We are aware that many truly pious people have been persuaded to accept British-Israel doctrine. If they are impressed by its apparent learning we would ask them to consider the fact that its claims are entirely rejected by teachers of theology and ethnology in our Universities. It is one of those great delusions which appear from time to time and claim as their victims those who have a zeal which is not according to knowledge. It cannot stand against a careful study of the Bible and of history.

 

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BibleStudy

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the American Standard Version.

 

I have been struck this year by the amount of tragic innocent death that we have had in our community let alone the senseless deaths we have seen in the media. Every year in this community we have aging grand parents or friends who live into their eighties who may die. We cry, and we feel sadness for their death, but we often feel secure knowing that at least these individuals lived a long and fulfilled life. As we are on this earth, we are told:

 

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

 

However, how does one understand the death of a baby or a 4 years old child? Is this something willed from God to test or to tempt us? Those who say “God is good” after a death of a loved one are applauded and often congratulated for their “strong faith.” [I am not sure if I completely understand this statement at a time of great tragedy, but I will give my reflection of how I believe to understand what God’s Word tells me about God.] What about the person who questions whether a “good god” would take innocent lives to be with Him just because He feels like it? Or what kind of “good god” would allow for a young boy to watch his mother suffer a slow death to cancer in order to proclaim His glory? Does death and suffering truly glorify God? I have something to say: I do not believe that a “good god” would ever take a loved one to be with Him. What would God gain by taking a child or a mother who deserves to remain on the earth with their loved ones? How do we understand the following passages about the dead and where they go after death?

 

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).

 

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).

 

What man is he that shall live and not see death, That shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah” (Psalms 89:48).

 

 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalms 6:5).

 

The dead praise not Jehovah, Neither any that go down into silence” (Psalms 115:17).

        

What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?” (Psalms 30:9)

 

For Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee” (Isaiah 38:18-19)

 

What has God to gain by smiting loved ones in order to be with Him? Does God tempt? If we read James it says:  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man” (James 1:13). Therefore, no, God does not tempt us. However, is death from God? I am going to say no. Death is not from God nor was it ever God’s will in the beginning. God made our bodies (in the case of Adam and Eve) to live. Adam and Eve had eternal life in the Garden of Eden and their bodies were perfect without sin. Their bodies were made to not die. Nonetheless, God gave them instructions, which were to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God asks for obedience. God did not tempt Adam and Eve and they made a choice. God could have made us as robots, but what kind of meaningful love or faith for God would that make. Meaningful love comes from the heart and even God desires this kind of love. Nonetheless, Adam and Eve did not die right away. Adam lived to be 930 years old (Genesis 5:5). If our bodies were poorly made, Adam would not have lived for as long as he did. This innate desire or force to live is in everyone of us no matter how old or young. This force comes from God’s breath of life (ruach) found in every creature on the earth that eventually lost its strength with each successive generation after Adam. And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he also is flesh: yet shall his days be a hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). What do we see today? Mankind lives to at most 100 to maybe 110 years. Exactly as God’s Word says. That’s why Adam lived so long and much of his offspring lived a long time however, each successive generation after Adam lived fewer and fewer years. The consequence of Adam and Eve’s choice was nonetheless death. Eventually, even Adam after 930 years died and became just as the Bible says: “a breath.”

 

“Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow” (Psalms 144:4 - NKJV).

 

What sadness! We are now still living under the consequences of that choice that Adam and Eve made. For the wages of sin is death” [but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord] (Romans 6:23).  

 

Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned […] Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come […] For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous” (Romans 5:12, 14 and 19).

 

Through one Man’s obedience, (Jesus Christ) many will be made righteous. Christ was obedient to His Father until death and He was the only sacrifice to best make the atonement for Adam’s sin. Jesus Christ had to be sent in order to deliver mankind from the wages of sin, which is death: a plague that has haunted mankind since the Garden of Eden.

 

Jesus himself expresses strong emotions with regard to death. One of the shortest verses in the Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Jesus saw the sorrow of his people and he had also lost his friend. But Jesus most likely also wept because he knew that in the beginning His Father never purposed death for man. Imagine if you knew what it could have been like to have no death and you see what death has done. Jesus could weep because he knew what life could have been like for mankind. Jesus through his groaning and (I imagine) tears prayed to His Father and raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead for four days; long enough for the Gospel of John to describe that there was a “stench” coming from the tomb (John 11:39-44 - NKJV). Once Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus thanked the Father for hearing his prayers. What does Lazarus’ resurrection proclaim? It proclaims that God will resurrect our bodies from the grave even if our bodies have returned to the dust or have rotted.  God showed us this through Jesus Christ the power of the resurrection when Christ was dead in the tomb three days and three nights. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; For he will receive me. Selah” (Psalms 49:15).

 

How can we explain one reason for death and suffering the world? It is the consequence of sin and man’s disobedient nature that is in the world. Sin and man’s disobedient nature is not something from God. “Death reigns” because of Adam and Eve’s choice. Now how do we explain Job who was hit by tragedy after tragedy? Did God cause Job’s suffering? Remember we have another adversary in this world and that is the devil who lied to Eve about death saying: Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). In the case of Job, it is an example of how God allows suffering and allows Satan to roam the earth for a time. The story of Job is special in that it shows how a very righteous and faithful man of God loses all his wealth, and his family, in one day. He later loses his health and the support of his wife. God throughout Job’s entire ordeal of suffering remains silent. Job struggles to understand his suffering but he never rejects God. Job’s story sends an intriguing message: it sets out to establish the justice of God in His dealings with men, particularly God’s relation to human suffering. Does God manage this world well and what does our suffering say about God? These questions are answered in the end: God is there with us even in suffering and He is not unjust or unloving. Nor is He incapable of dealing with the problem. There are good explanations for God’s silence amidst adversity.

 

We know that Satan is in full rebellion against God and he hates anyone who wishes to serve God. The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Job never thought that throughout all of his suffering that Satan was the true cause for his suffering. For often even we forget that “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We must not forget that humans are not alone; there are things taking place elsewhere that we cannot necessarily see.  Satan challenged God by saying that man was (is) no good and God took up Satan’s challenge. God allowed Satan to take control of all Job had, but Satan could not lay a hand on Job’s life (Job 1:12). And throughout Job’s suffering he never charged God for any wrong nor did he curse God (Job 1:22). God has faith in his creation (mankind) “who was made a little lower that the angels” (Psalm 8:5 - NKJV).  God believes that man is capable of doing good and capable of being obedient to God, so He wants to give everyone a chance. Through Job’s suffering, God showed Satan what man was capable of in order to shame Satan. God shamed Satan again through Christ’s obedience unto death on the cross. God’s silence towards Christ’s suffering on the cross is comparable to Job’s suffering. After Job’s suffering, God speaks and Job learned fully that he also had some misconceptions about God. God was not happy with Job’s three friends who tried to help Job, because they were saying things that were not true of God.  There is divine punishment in the Bible, however, throughout the Old Testament, when God does proclaim death/suffering as punishment, often the person or nation is fully warned ahead of time. God does not hit anyone with death without first clearly explaining why He is punishing. I also have reason to believe that Satan no longer has free access to go to heaven to visit God and His angels when he feels like because of what Revelations 12:9 says. This means, that Satan is running the show on earth and the only way he can get to God is through wrecking havoc on God’s creation.



Therefore, there is also another reason for death and suffering in this world. It is Satan who as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus also referred to Satan as the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30). Does this mean that God is not in control? In an “ultimate” sense of control, yes, God is in control. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning” (James 1:17) - this does not mean that bad things also come from God. However, God has allowed Satan on the earth for a time, but his time is short and he knows it (Revelations 12:12). God wants a good life for His people:  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end” (Jeremiah 29:11). God says: Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he laboreth under the sun, all the days of his life which God hath given him: for this is his portion” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). God wants good things for those who love Him, but He cannot promise that the road will be easy. He does promise us that we can trust Him and He will be there with us even when He is silent. We must trust God’s truth. We must trust God and not lean on our own understandings (Proverbs 3:5).

 

So, what is our hope? Our hope is in the resurrection of the dead. Job believed that his body would one day be resurrected:

 

But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth: And after my skin, even this body, is destroyed, Then without my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26). 

 

Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol, That thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, Till my release should come” (Job 14:13-14).

 

Job understood that one day he will live again and he will be changed. Thanks be to God through His Son Jesus Christ who destroyed the power of death in the grave: that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Through Christ’s sacrifice, a sacrifice equivalent to Adam’s sin, the free gift of salvation came to all men resulting in the justification of life (Romans 5:18). So, we now have hope in the resurrection where one day Christ will return and this earth will be renewed. Think of the beauty you see now and imagine how much more glorious eternal life on this earth will be: death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more” (Revelations 21:1-4). God is definitely good; only He is good. He created this earth, this universe, and He has given us life. He loves this world so much that He gave is only begotten Son (John 3:16). To the goodness and glory of God’s name, He is not the cause of suffering or death. The events that we see or experience in this world is the consequence of sin, man’s disobedience and Satan who is the ruler of this world for a time. May we continue to pray to God the Father through His Son, Jesus to give us strength in times of prosperity and in times of hardship.  

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March 1 2013 6 01 /03 /March /2013 20:15

Ten-Commandements.jpg

Verset clé


« L'Éternel prononça ces paroles à toute votre assemblée, sur la montagne, du milieu du feu, de la nuée et de l'obscurité, d'une voix forte, et il n’y ajouta rien; puis il les écrivit sur deux tables de pierre, qu'il me donna » (Deutéronome 5:22).    

 

Introduction

 

Un certain nombre d’étudiants de la Bible bien intentionné se sente jugé lorsqu’on leur apprend que, contrairement à ce que veut leur tradition religieuse, les Dix Commandements et donc le Sabbat sont toujours d’actualité pour les disciples de Christ aujourd’hui. Cette réaction malheureuse n’est en rien surprenante pour disciple de Christ. Elle traduit seulement l’intérêt que suscite sa démarche à vouloir suivre les commandements de Dieu. En effet, c’est un plaisir de voir qu’une prise de position forte en temps que disciples de Christ en interpelle et en fait réfléchir certains sur la validité des Dix Commandements et donc du sabbat du septième jour. Un disciple (du latin discipulus, c’est-à-dire élève) désigne celui qui suit l’enseignement d’un maître. Il suit à la fois les enseignements donnés de manière orale, mais aussi ceux émanant des faits et des gestes du maître. « Et Jésus vint à Nazareth, où il avait été élevé, et il entra, selon sa coutume, le jour du sabbat, dans la synagogue, et il se leva pour lire » (Luc 4:16). En suivant l’exemple de Jésus, nous obéissons aux commandements de Dieu. Jésus l’affirme : « j'ai gardé les commandements de mon Père, et je demeure en son amour » (Jean 15:10).


Ce qui s’oppose aux Dix Commandements utilise un certain nombre de passages bibliques pour tenter de justifier leur position. Nous ne pouvons que nous réjouir, lorsqu’interpellés sur la question des Dix Commandements, ils se sentent poussés à faire des recherches bibliques. Il est cependant dommage, que dans leur précipitation en recherche de réponse, ils adoptent un point de vue contemporain qui se développa tardivement dans les milieux évangéliques et protestants et qui gagna en popularité il y a de cela environ une centaine d’années. En effet, depuis les débuts de l’histoire du christianisme, les Dix Commandements ne furent jamais remis en question. Ce qui fut plutôt débattu, ce fut de savoir si le sabbat était le samedi ou le dimanche. Souvent, et c’est un point encourageant, ces individus reconnaissent une certaine autorité morale au Dix Commandements. Au fond, ils accepteraient volontiers les Dix Commandements, hormis le sabbat, qui est finalement le seul commandement de Dieu qui les dérange.

 

Puisque ils cherchent malgré tout à comprendre la volonté de Dieu et désirent comprendre ce qu’elle est pour leur vie, il est important de corriger certains avis préconçus et certaines incompréhensions que ils peuvent avoir d’un peu nombre de passages bibliques. En tant que disciples de Christ, il est important que nous saisissions donc l’opportunité qui nous est donnée en amorçant un dialogue nécessaire sur cette question importante. Dans les lignes qui suivent, nous aborderons ces quelques passages souvent incompris et utilisés pour justifier la non-obéissance aux Dix Commandements et au sabbat du septième jour.

 

Les Dix Commandements et la Livre de la Loi de Moïse

 

Il existe une erreur tragique qui consiste à confondre les Dix Commandements avec le Livre de la Loi de Moïse. En Exode 20:1-20, Dieu écrivit de Son propre doigt dans la pierre les Dix Commandements. Moïse déclare au verset 20 de ce même chapitre, « Ne craignez point, car Dieu est venu pour vous éprouver, et afin que sa crainte soit devant vous, en sorte que vous ne péchiez point ». Il s’agit en cet instant d’un moment crucial, puisque l'intention de Dieu était de donner les Dix Commandements et rien d’autre. C’est ce que nous confirme Deutéronome 5:22, « L'Éternel prononça ces paroles [versets 6 à 21] à toute votre assemblée, sur la montagne, du milieu du feu, de la nuée et de l'obscurité, d'une voix forte, ET IL N’Y AJOUTA RIEN; puis il les écrivit sur deux tables de pierre, qu'il me donna ». Comme vous le voyez, Dieu ne donna alors seulement que les Dix Commandements à Moïse. Mais qu'arriva-t-il donc ?  Pendant que Moïse recevait de Dieu les tables de pierre, les Israélites se plaignaient auprès d’Aaron, s’inquiétant de ce qu’il était advenu de Moïse. Ils demandèrent à Aaron : « Viens, fais-nous des dieux qui marchent devant nous » (Exode 32:1). En Exode 20:19-20, ils déclarèrent à Moïse qu'ils écouteraient : « Et ils dirent à Moïse: Parle-nous toi-même, et nous écouterons; mais que Dieu ne parle point avec nous, de peur que nous ne mourions. Et Moïse dit au peuple: Ne craignez point, car Dieu est venu pour vous éprouver, et afin que sa crainte soit devant vous, en sorte que vous ne péchiez point ». Avant même que Moïse ne soit revenu de sa rencontre avec Dieu, les Israélites réclamaient « des dieux qui marchent devant nous » en violation directe avec le premier commandement qu’ils avaient acceptés d’ « écouter ». Nous lisons en Exode 32:7-10 que Dieu s’est adressé à Moïse exprimant Sa volonté de détruire Israël. « Alors l'Éternel dit à Moïse: Va, descends, car ton peuple, que tu as fait monter du pays d'Égypte, s'est corrompu; Ils se sont bientôt détournés de la voie que JE LEUR AVAIS PRESCRITE; ils se sont fait un veau de fonte, se sont prosternés devant lui, lui ont sacrifié, et ont dit: Voici tes dieux, ô Israël, qui t'ont fait monter du pays d'Égypte ». Nous savons que Moïse est intervenu auprès de Dieu pour le peuple, et Dieu changea d’avis (Exode 32:14).  Suite à ces transgressions, Dieu commanda à Moïse d’écrire un certain nombre de directives de nature cérémonielle et législative qui furent écrites de la main de Moïse. « Et il arriva que quand Moïse eut achevé d'écrire les paroles de cette Loi dans un livre, sans qu'il en manquât rien; Il commanda aux Lévites qui portaient l'Arche de l'alliance de l'Eternel, en disant: Prenez ce livre de la Loi, et mettez-le à côté de l'Arche de l'alliance de l'Eternel votre Dieu, et il sera là pour témoin contre toi » (Deutéronome 31:24-26). Le Livre de la Loi de Moïse fut ajoutée « à cause des transgressions » et « par l’entremise d'un médiateur » (Moïse, qui de sa propre main a écrit ce livre) (Galates 3:19). Le caractère secondaire du Livre de la Loi de Moïse est mis en évidence par le fait que ce livre fut mis sur le côté de l’Arche de l’Alliance, alors que les tables de la Loi contenant les Dix Commandements écrits du doigt  de Dieu furent mis dans l’Arche de l’Alliance (lire Exode 40:20 et Hébreux 9:4). C’est une erreur tragique de confondre les Dix Commandements et le Livre de la Loi de Moïse, parce que cela rend incompréhensible un grand nombre de vérités bibliques.

 

Concernant les Dix Commandements, Jacques l’affirme lui-même : « Car, quiconque aura observé toute la loi, s'il vient à pécher dans un seul point, devient coupable de tous. En effet, celui qui a dit: Tu ne commettras point d'adultère, a dit aussi: Tu ne tueras point. Or, si tu ne commets point d'adultère, mais que tu tues, tu es transgresseur de la loi » (Jacques 2:10-11). Jacques nous encourage donc a obéir aux Dix Commandements, affirmant que briser ne serait-ce qu’un seul de ses Dix Commandements (par exemple, « tu ne commettras point d’adultère ») reviens à être coupable d’avoir désobéi à l’ensemble de cette Loi écrite de la main de Dieu.


Les Dix Commandements sont donc toujours valides. Lorsque Paul écrit le lettre aux Galates, il s’inquiète de la volonté de certains d’imposer aux Gentils la conversion rituelle au judaïsme telle qu’elle est définie dans la Livre de la Loi de Moïse. Le Gentil qui voudrait se faire circoncire se soumettrait alors au Livre de la Loi de Moïse et devrait obéir aux préceptes contenus dans ce Livre. La circoncision est toujours la manière dont l’on se convertit au judaïsme aujourd’hui. Pourtant, pour être disciples de Christ, les Gentils n’ont nul besoin de devenir Juifs. C’est ce qu’affirme Paul dans sa lettre aux Romains. « Ce bonheur donc, n'est-il que pour les circoncis? Ou est-il aussi pour les incirconcis? car nous disons que la foi d'Abraham lui fut imputée à justice. Mais quand lui a-t-elle été imputée? Est-ce lorsqu'il a été circoncis, ou lorsqu'il ne l'était pas? Ce n'a point été après la circoncision, mais avant.  Et il reçut le signe de la circoncision, comme un sceau de la justice de la foi qu'il avait eue, étant incirconcis; afin d'être le père de tous ceux qui croient quoique incirconcis; et que la justice leur fût aussi imputée; Et afin d'être aussi le père des circoncis, savoir, de ceux qui ne sont point seulement circoncis, mais encore qui suivent les traces de la foi, que notre père Abraham a eue avant d'être circoncis » (Romains 4:9-12). Ainsi, les enfants d’Abraham par la chair, les Juifs, et les enfants d’Abraham par la foi, les Gentils, ont tout autant droit au salut les uns que les autres. La conversion au judaïsme par la circoncision et l’obéissance au Livre de la Loi de Moïse ne sont pas nécessaires. Quant à eux, les Dix Commandements le sont toujours comme nous l’apprend Jacques 2:10-11.

 

Matthieu 5:17, la Loi fut-elle abolie ?

 

En Matthieu 5:17, le Messie a en effet bien dit : « Ne pensez pas que je sois venu abolir la loi ou les prophètes; je ne suis pas venu abolir, mais accomplir. » Toute incompréhension de ce passage découle tout d’abord d’une incompréhension malheureusement fréquente de l’expression « la loi et les prophètes ». Du temps de Jésus, la Loi et les Prophètes désignait pour les Juifs l’ensemble des Écritures hébraïques comprenant la Loi (ou Torah) et les Prophètes (ou Nevi'im). Ainsi, la Torah (ou Loi) désigne les cinq premiers livres de la Bible : la Genèse (Berēshīṯ: Commencement), l'Exode (Shemōṯ: Noms), le Lévitique (Wayyiqrā': Et il appela), les Nombres (Bamiḏbar: Dans le désert), le Deutéronome (Deḇārīm': Choses). En conséquence, lorsque Jésus utilise le terme de Loi dans ce contexte, il ne parle pas des commandements qui furent données à Sinaï, mais de l’ensemble de ce qui est contenu dans les cinq premiers livres ou Torah. Il est important de comprendre cela, puisque Jésus affirme tout simplement qu’il est venu accomplir les promesses messianiques contenus dans la Torah et les Prophètes, et rien de plus.


Colossiens 2, commandements de Dieu et traditions humaines.

 

Qu’en est-il de Colossiens 2:16-17, ce passage qui provoque bien plus de controverses et d'incompréhension qu'il ne le devrait ? Voici ce qui y affirme Paul au verset 16 : « Que personne donc ne vous condamne au sujet du manger ou du boire, ou au sujet d'un jour de fête, ou de nouvelle lune, ou de sabbats ». Le verbe « condamner » est traduit du verbe grec krino, qui signifie décréter, juger, régenter, gouverner ou prononcer un jugement. La version Darby offre la traduction suivante: « Que personne donc ne vous juge ». Le verset 18 commence ainsi: « Que personne ne vous ravisse le prix ». Avant que nous n’identifiions la question et le problème que l'on retrouve aux versets 16 et 17, prenez d'abord note des versets 20 et 21. Ces deux derniers nous aiderons en effet à clarifier les versets qui nous concernent. Aux versets 20 et 21, les Colossiens sont mis en garde contre des réglementations leur imposant de ne pas manger, de ne pas goûter et ne pas toucher. Ces réglementations sont en effet des préceptes humains ayant une « apparence de sagesse » en termes de pratiques ascétiques (« humilité » et « austérité du corps »), mais qui en réalité « n'ont aucune valeur pour l'insolence de la chair » (verset 23, Bible de Jérusalem). Ces réglementations, par lesquels Paul recommande les Colossiens de laisser nul ne les juger, ne trouvent pas leur origine dans les commandements de Dieu tels qu'ils sont énoncés dans les Écritures. En effet, il n’est nulle part commandé que nous ne pratiquions le « culte des anges » (verset 18) dans les Écritures. Ces réglementations représentent plutôt une distorsion humaine des commandements divins, certainement le résultat d'un mélange de judaïsme et d’éléments propre aux développements gnostiques du premier siècle. Ainsi donc, au verset 16, Paul s’intéresse aux pratiques ascétiques d'inspiration gnostique. En effet, les fidèles en Christ ne devraient pas permettre qu’on leur dicte des règles mesquines non bibliques concernant leur façon de s'alimenter et d'adorer Dieu. Les pratiques ascétiques, telles qu'elles étaient pratiquées par les Esséniens (un mouvement à l’intérieur du judaïsme qui existait du temps des apôtres), sont celles auxquelles s’intéresse Paul. Il s’agissait de pratiques de renoncement à soi, comme l'abstinence d'aliments et de boissons en certains jours, lors de jours de fête du calendrier hébreux, lors de nouvelles lunes, ou encore lors de sabbats hebdomadaires. Sur la base de la plénitude du Christ ayant effacé l'acte rapportant les péchés des croyants (« cédule de notre dette », verset 14. Bible de Jérusalem), Paul affirme que les croyants en Christ ne devraient pas se soumettre aux condamnations de ceux voulant les obliger à des pratiques ascétiques concernant le manger ou le boire, ou de rites inventés en lien avec l'observance rituel de fêtes, de nouvelles lunes ou de sabbats hebdomadaires. Paul ne dénonce pas la pratique des fêtes, des nouvelles lunes ou des sabbats hebdomadaires dans ce passage. Ce n’est pas son propos. Ce qu’il dénonce, c’est la manière dont certains cherchent à imposer que ces jours soient observés.

 

Qu'en est-il maintenant du verset 17? Ne s'agit-il pas d'une affirmation invalidant la pratique de tous ces jours quel qu’ils soient, puisqu'il est écrit qu’ils étaient « l'ombre des choses qui devaient venir » ?  Il s'agit d'une bonne remarque. Nous devons en effet comprendre de quoi parle le verset 17. « L’ombre des choses qui devaient venir » est en contraste absolu avec le « corps » ou « réalité » qui se trouve en Christ. Le mot grec traduit ici par « ombre » est skia, qui est l'opposé de « corps » (soma en grec). L'ombre désigne une « silhouette sombre, plus ou moins déformée, que projette sur une surface un corps qui intercepte la lumière » (Larousse).  Les pratiques ascétiques de renoncement à soi que certains tentaient d'imposer aux Colossiens afin d’être justifié aux yeux de Dieu, ne pouvaient se comparer à la réalité se trouvant en Christ. Ces pratiques ne pouvaient être au mieux qu'une ombre ou qu’une silhouette de la réalité de la vie en Christ. En conséquence, la PRATIQUE superstitieuse de ces règlementations (renoncement à soi, etc.) ne pouvait pas rapprocher les Colossiens de Dieu. Paul affirme que ces pratiques ne sont d'aucune valeur pour ce qui est du salut ou du mérite. La réalité est que le salut s'obtient au travers du Christ; l'observance de rites humains quelconques ne peut donc nous rapprocher davantage de Dieu. Le sens de ces jours ne se révèle que par la reconnaissance du Christ comme seule voie d'accès à une vie juste. Paul critique toutes pratiques pour lesquels les œuvres seraient une manière d'être justifié. La justification s’obtient seulement par la foi en Christ. Il s’agit de l'un des grands principes de l'Évangile.

 

Comment cette interprétation de Colossiens 2:16-17 affecte-t-elle notre pratique du sabbat aujourd'hui? Lorsque nous comprenons que Paul adresse le problème de perversions gnostiques de l'Evangile en lien avec des jours réservés au « culte des anges » (verset 18), nous constatons que la question de savoir si les chrétiens devraient ou non garder le sabbat n'est même pas discuté dans ce passage. Le problème n'est pas de savoir si ces jours devraient ou non être observés, mais plutôt la façon et la raison pour lesquels ses jours étaient observés. La validité de l'observance du sabbat se décide à partir d'autres textes. Colossiens 2:16 n'est pas en lui-même un facteur déterminant. La condamnation par Paul d'opinions hérétiques concernant le sabbat, n'est pas une condamnation en soit de l’observance du sabbat, pas plus que la condamnation d'opinions hérétiques concernant le manger et le boire ne condamne tous les aliments, toutes les boissons ou ne condamne la pratique du jeûne en général. C'est seulement lorsque l'observance du sabbat est lié à des règlementations humaines en termes d'ascétisme, de culte des anges, de justification par les œuvres, ou de distorsion du judaïsme qu'elle devient inacceptable.

 

Colossiens 2:13-14, qu’accrocha Christ à la croix ?

 

Concernant, Colossiens 2:13-14, de quoi Paul parle-t-il ? « Et lorsque vous étiez morts dans vos offenses, et dans le prépuce de votre chair, il vous a vivifiés ensemble avec lui, vous ayant gratuitement pardonné toutes vos offenses. En ayant effacé l'obligation [qui était] contre nous, laquelle consistait en des ordonnances, et nous était contraire, et laquelle il a entièrement abolie, l'ayant attachée à la croix » (version Martin 1744). Ce qui fut attaché à la croix, ce ne sont pas les commandements de Dieu en tant que telle. Ce qui fut attaché à la croix, ce fut la punition ou condamnation de mort associée à la désobéissance aux commandements de Dieu. Le verset 13 l’affirme clairement « vous étiez morts dans vos offenses. » Jésus, par son sacrifice rédempteur, n’a pas aboli la Loi, mais il a effacé la pénalité de mort associé à la désobéissance aux commandements de Dieu. C’est exactement ce qu’affirme Paul en Galates 4:4-5. Ce texte n’affirme en rien l’abolition de certains commandements de Dieu. Il affirme plutôt que nous avons été racheté de la condamnation associée à la désobéissance, c’est-à-dire associé au péché.


Romains 7:6-7, sauvés au travers de Jésus Christ

 

L’usage de Romains 7:6-7 pour affirmer que les Dix Commandements furent abolis avec les lois sacrificielles associés au Livre de la Loi Moïse est lui aussi problématique. Ce passage doit être compris dans le contexte intégral du livre aux Romains. Que nous dit Paul dans ce passage ? « Mais maintenant, nous avons été dégagés de la loi, étant morts à cette loi sous laquelle nous étions retenus, de sorte que nous servons dans un esprit nouveau, et non selon la lettre qui a vieilli. Que dirons-nous donc ? La loi est-elle péché ? Loin de là ! Mais je n'ai connu le péché que par la loi. Car je n'aurais pas connu la convoitise, si la loi n'eût dit : Tu ne convoiteras point » (Romains 7:6-7, version Martin 1744). C’est de la condamnation de mort associé à la désobéissance à cette loi dont nous avons été dégagé. Tant que les Juifs ont essayé de garder la loi selon la chair (verset 5) en essayant de se justifier par leurs œuvres, ils ont échoué. Obéir aux Dix Commandements en tant que tel, ce n’est pas cela qui sauve. Ce qui sauve, c’est de reconnaître notre caractère de pécheurs et la nécessité du sacrifice de Christ pour notre salut. « Mais Dieu fait éclater son amour envers nous, en ce que, lorsque nous étions encore des pécheurs, Christ est mort pour nous. Étant donc maintenant justifiés par son sang, à plus forte raison serons-nous sauvés par lui de la colère de Dieu. Car si, lorsque nous étions ennemis, nous avons été réconciliés avec Dieu par la mort de son Fils; à plus forte raison, étant déjà réconciliés, serons-nous sauvés par sa vie? 11 Non seulement cela; mais nous nous glorifions même en Dieu, par notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, par lequel nous avons maintenant obtenu la réconciliation » (Romains 5:8-11). Ainsi, les Dix Commandements nous permettent de connaître le péché (Romains 7:7), mais ne nous sauve pas du péché. Seul Jésus Christ peut nous sauver. Cela nous autorise-t-il à rejeter et à désobéir aux Dix Commandements ? Bien sûr que non ! Paul l’affirme clairement lorsqu’il écrit : « Que dirons-nous donc? Demeurerons-nous dans le péché, afin que la grâce abonde? Nullement! Nous qui sommes morts au péché, comment vivrions-nous encore en lui? » Le fait que nous soyons sauvé par Jésus Christ et que celui-ci nous délivre de la condamnation à mort associé à la désobéissance et au péché ne nous autorise pas à désobéir aux Dix Commandements. Au contraire, cela devrait nous encourager à les garder avec un cœur renouvelé puisque « Ainsi la loi [Dix Commandements] est sainte, et le commandement est saint, juste et bon » (Romains 7:12).

 

Romains 14:5, le jour du sabbat est le septième jour

 

Enfin, et pour finir, Romains 14:5 est lui aussi trop souvent utilisé hors contexte pour tenter d’affirmer que tous les jours se valent en ce qui concerne le sabbat du septième jour. Aux versets 1 à 4, Paul aborde la question du végétarisme, ensuite nous lisons  « Celui-ci estime un jour supérieur à un autre; celui-là estime tous les jours égaux; que chacun soit pleinement persuadé en son esprit. Celui qui observe les jours, les observe, à cause du Seigneur; et de même celui qui ne les observe pas, ne les observe pas, à cause du Seigneur; celui qui mange de tout, mange, à cause du Seigneur, car il rend grâces à Dieu; et celui qui ne mange pas de tout, ne mange pas à cause du Seigneur, et il en rend aussi grâces à Dieu » (Romains 14:5). Paul ne parle pas ici de l’abolition de certains commandements de Dieu, mais parle ici de pratiques et d’enseignements humains. En effet, Dieu nous demande-t-il de pratiquer le végétarisme ? Bien sûr que non. Ce sont des hommes qui imposent cette restriction alimentaire, et non pas Dieu. Ces mêmes être humains ont des enseignements singuliers concernant certains jours particuliers. Cela n’a rien à voir avec les commandements de Dieu et donc rien à voir avec le sabbat. Paul conseille à l’Église de ne pas porter de jugement de valeurs les uns sur les autres sur des aspects qui sont sujet à débat, mais plutôt d’accepter les nouveaux convertis « faibles dans la foi » (Romains 14:1). Ainsi, il est possible que certains Gentils nouvellement convertis aient préféré être végétariens plutôt que de manger des viandes qui auraient pu avoir été sacrifiés à des idoles (lire 1 Corinthiens 8). En effet, la majorité des viandes vendues chez les Gentils avaient été préalablement offertes aux idoles dans les temples païens. Le même genre de principe s’applique aux jours mentionnés en Romains 14:5-6. Du temps de Paul, certains Juifs pratiquaient des jours de jeûnes rituels. « Le pharisien se tenant debout, priait ainsi en lui-même: O Dieu, je te rends grâces de ce que je ne suis pas comme le reste des hommes, qui sont ravisseurs, injustes, adultères, ni aussi comme ce péager; Je jeûne deux fois la semaine, je donne la dîme de tout ce que je possède » (Luc 18:11-12). Lire également Zacharie 7:4-7. Ce genre de jeûnes est une tradition humaine et non pas un commandement de Dieu. Certains auraient ainsi voulu imposer ces traditions aux autres disciples de Christ, qu’ils soient ou non nouvellement convertis. Cela était cause de division dans l’Église et n’a comme vous le voyez rien à voir avec le sabbat. « Et Dieu eut achevé au septième jour son œuvre qu'il avait faite; et il se reposa au septième jour de toute son œuvre qu'il avait faite. Et Dieu bénit le septième jour, et le sanctifia, parce qu'en ce jour-là il se reposa de toute son œuvre, pour l'accomplissement de laquelle Dieu avait créé » (Genèse 2:2-3). Le sabbat du septième jour n’est pas un jour comme n’importe quel autre. Il fut sanctifié à la Création par Dieu, bien avant que notre Père céleste n’ait même gravé les Dix Commandements de son doigt dans la pierre, et bien avant que Moïse n’ait écrit le Livre de la Loi. Nul jour ne fut sanctifié de cette manière par Dieu, et nul jour ne peut donc lui être équivalent.

 

Conclusion

 

La question des Dix Commandements est un point de doctrine extrêmement important. En effet, les saints sont « ceux qui gardent les commandements de Dieu, et la foi de Jésus » (Apocalypse 14:12). Les Écritures affirment encore : « Heureux ceux qui observent ses commandements, afin d'avoir droit à l'arbre de vie, et d'entrer par les portes dans la ville! » (Apocalypse 22:14). Soyons donc certain de bien comprendre ce que les Écritures ont à nous dire sur ce sujet. Nombreux sont ceux qui oublient le contexte dans lequel certains livres de Bible et certains versets des Écritures furent écrits. Il est cependant important de comprendre les vérités bibliques telles qu’elles sont contenues dans la Bible indépendamment de toutes traditions humaines. Que notre Père éternel vous bénisse richement et vous guide par son Esprit Saint alors que vous étudiez la Bible et ce sujet en particulier.

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August 3 2012 6 03 /08 /August /2012 13:40

BibleStudy

Circumcision does not apply to Gentiles under the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. Acts 15 made it clear. Jews if they were to believe in Christ are still expected to be circumcised. The circumcision covenant was made with Abraham and the Hebrew people. This covenant does predate the Mosaic Law (Genesis 17:10-14).


This is the reason Paul needed to have Timothy circumcised, because Timothy was of Hebrew descent and as such needed to be circumcised under the Abrahamic covenant.

 

This is why Paul could write in Romans chapter 4:

" Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised."

 

The circumcision was not abolished but is simply not necessary for Gentiles under the New Covenant.

 

"And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 21:20-25).

 

The New Testament Church didn't preach than the Hebrews would not need to be circumcised anymore (It was still a commandment for them - the 144,000, selected from among the 12 tribes of Israel, were surely all circumcised and they were expected to be so), but rather the apostolic Church emphasized that circumcision was not a commandment given to the Gentiles under the New Covenant.

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May 19 2012 7 19 /05 /May /2012 12:39

BibleStudy

 

1. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law found in the Book of the Law of Moses.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us … That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” – Galatians 3:13-14

 

2. Believing in Christ makes everyone right with God. We are saved by grace, not by works.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3:24

 

3. Jesus gives believers peace that the world can never offer.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

 

4. Jesus understands our weaknesses. Jesus is our High Priest who mediates on our behalf to God.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15

 

5. Jesus is the New Adam sent to restore the spirit of God in us through faith. Jesus has allowed us to act on the potential for good that God has placed in everyone by His power and grace.

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” – 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; 2Cor 12:9

 

Church of God (7th Day) – Salem Conference

http://www.churchofgod-7thday.org/

Pour nous contacter en français

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October 15 2011 7 15 /10 /October /2011 14:53

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Sauf précision, tous les passages tirés des Saintes Écritures sont extraits de la Version Ostervald révisée édition de 1996.

 

Verset Clef

 

« Comme il lui dit aussi ailleurs: Tu es Sacrificateur pour l’éternité, selon l’ordre de Melchisédec » (Hébreux 5:6).

 

Dans son épître aux Hébreux, Paul écrivit:

 

« De même Christ ne s’est point attribué la gloire d’être souverain Sacrificateur, mais il l’a reçue de celui qui lui a dit: C’est Toi qui es mon Fils, je t’ai engendré aujourd’hui. Comme il lui dit aussi ailleurs: Tu es Sacrificateur pour l’éternité, selon l’ordre de Melchisédec » (Hébreux 5:5-6).

 

Que cela signifie-t-il pour nous que Christ soit un Grand Prêtre pour toujours selon l’ordre de Melchisédech ? Pour répondre à cette question, il est nécessaire de retourner au premier livre de la Bible: la Genèse.

 

À la Création

 

Lors de la Création, Dieu établit un ensemble basique de lois au bénéfice de tous les humains. De nombreuses références à ces différentes lois existent dans le livre de la Genèse. Ces lois incluent:

 

Le septième jour comme jour de repos

 

« Et Dieu eut achevé au septième jour son œuvre qu'il avait faite; et il se reposa au septième jour de toute son œuvre qu'il avait faite. Et Dieu bénit le septième jour, et le sanctifia, parce qu’en ce jour-là il se reposa de toute son œuvre, pour l’accomplissement de laquelle Dieu avait créé » (Genèse 2:2-3).

 

Tu ne tueras point

 

« Et Caïn parla à Abel, son frère. Et comme ils étaient aux champs, Caïn s’éleva contre Abel son frère, et le tua. Et l’Éternel dit à Caïn: Où est Abel ton frère? Et il répondit: Je ne sais; suis-je le gardien de mon frère, moi? Et l’Éternel dit: Qu’as-tu fait? La voix du sang de ton frère crie de la terre jusqu’à moi. Et maintenant tu seras maudit de la terre, qui a ouvert sa bouche pour recevoir de ta main le sang de ton frère. Quand tu cultiveras la terre, elle ne te rendra plus son fruit; tu seras vagabond et fugitif sur la terre » (Genèse 4:8-12).

 

La loi du pur et de l’impur

 

« Tu prendras avec toi de tous les animaux purs, sept paires de chaque espèce, le mâle et sa femelle; mais des bêtes qui ne sont pas pures, deux, le mâle et sa femelle » (Genèse 7:2).

 

Tu ne commettras point d’adultère

 

« Et dès qu’Abram fut arrivé en Égypte, les Égyptiens virent que cette femme était fort belle. Et les princes de la cour de Pharaon la virent, et la louèrent devant Pharaon, et la femme fut emmenée dans la maison de Pharaon. Et il fit du bien à Abram, à cause d’elle; et il eut des brebis et des bœufs et des ânes, des serviteurs et des servantes, des ânesses et des chameaux. Mais l’Éternel frappa de grandes plaies Pharaon et sa maison, à cause de Saraï, femme d’Abram. Alors Pharaon appela Abram, et lui dit: Qu’est-ce que tu m’as fait? Pourquoi ne m’as-tu pas déclaré que c’était ta femme? » (Genèse 12:14-18).

 

L'ordonnance de la dîme

 

« Et Melchisédec, roi de Salem, fit apporter du pain et du vin. Or, il était sacrificateur du Dieu Très-Haut. Et il bénit Abram, et dit: Béni soit Abram par le Dieu Très-Haut, fondateur des cieux et de la terre! Et béni soit le Dieu Très-Haut, qui a livré tes ennemis entre tes mains! Et Abram lui donna la dîme de tout » (Genèse 14:18-20).

 

« Car c’est ce Melchisédec, roi de Salem, et sacrificateur du Dieu souverain, qui alla au-devant d’Abraham, lorsqu’il revenait de la défaite des rois, et qui le bénit; A qui aussi Abraham donna la dîme de tout le butin. D’abord, Melchisédec signifie roi de justice, de plus, il était roi de Salem, c’est-à-dire, roi de paix » (Hébreux 7:1-2).

 

Après leur exode d’Égypte, les Dix Commandements furent donnés au peuple d’Israël. Ces Dix Commandements furent gravés du doigt de Dieu sur deux tablettes de pierre qui furent placées à l’intérieur de l’Arche de l’Alliance.

 

« Et quand Dieu eut achevé de parler avec Moïse, sur la montagne du Sinaï, il lui donna les deux tables du Témoignage, tables de pierre, écrites du doigt de Dieu » (Exode 31:18).

 

« Il n’y avait dans l’arche que les deux tables de pierre que Moïse y avait mises à Horeb, quand l’Éternel traita alliance avec les enfants d’Israël, à leur sortie du pays d'Égypte » (1 Rois 8:9)

 

Le livre de l’Exode au chapitre 20 contient l’énoncé entier des Dix Commandements.

 

La prêtrise lévitique

 

Alors que Moïse recevait les Dix Commandements sur le Mont Sinaï, le peuple d’Israël se faisait fabriquer un veau d’or, proclamant que cette idole était le dieu qui les avait sortis du pays d’Égypte. Lorsque Moïse revint du Mont Sinaï, il fut tellement outré et fâché de voir l’idole que le peuple d’Israël s’était fait, qu’il brisa à terre les tables de l’alliance. Après avoir réduit en poudre le veau d’or, il répandit cette poudre à la surface de l’eau, et fit boire cette eau aux enfants d’Israël (Exode 32:19-20). Ensuite, Moïse appela à lui « quiconque est pour l’Éternel ».

 

« Alors Moïse se tint à la porte du camp, et dit: A moi quiconque est pour l’Éternel! Et tous les enfants de Lévi s’assemblèrent vers lui » (Exode 32:26).

 

« En ce temps-là, l’Éternel sépara la tribu de Lévi pour porter l’arche de l’alliance de l’Éternel, pour se tenir devant l’Éternel, pour le servir, et pour bénir en son nom, jusqu’à ce jour. C’est pourquoi Lévi n’a point de portion ni d’héritage avec ses frères; c’est l’Éternel qui est son héritage, comme l’Éternel ton Dieu le lui a dit » (Deutéronome 10:8-9).

 

Les enfants de Lévi ont répondu à l’appel de Moïse et Dieu les fit prêtres pour les enfants d’Israël. Puisque les enfants d’Israël avaient transgressé les commandements de Dieu en adorant le veau d’or, la prêtrise lévitique fut établie et le livre de la Loi fut donné aux enfants d’Israël.

 

« Et quand Moïse eut achevé d’écrire les paroles de cette loi sur un livre, jusqu’à la fin, Il fit ce commandement aux Lévites qui portaient l’arche de l’alliance de l’Éternel, et leur dit: Prenez ce livre de la loi, et mettez-le à côté de l’arche de l’alliance de l’Éternel votre Dieu. Et il sera là comme témoin contre toi; Car je connais ta rébellion et ton cou roide. Voici, pendant que je suis encore aujourd’hui vivant avec vous, vous avez été rebelles contre l’Éternel; combien plus le serez-vous après ma mort! » (Deutéronome 31:24-27).

 

« A quoi donc sert la loi? Elle a été ajoutée à la promesse à cause des transgressions, jusqu’à la venue de la postérité à qui la promesse avait été faite; et elle fut donnée par le moyen des anges, et par l’entremise d'un médiateur » (Galates 3:19).

 

La prêtrise de Melchisédec

 

La prêtrise lévitique dura du Mont Sinaï jusqu’à la venue du Messie sur terre. Ensuite, Jésus Christ fut consacré comme Grand Prêtre selon l’ordre de Melchisédec.

 

« Car Il rend ce témoignage: Tu es Sacrificateur pour l’éternité, selon l’ordre de Melchisédec » (Hébreux 7:17).

 

« Si donc la perfection s’était trouvée dans le sacerdoce lévitique (car c’est à celui-ci que se rapporte la loi donnée au peuple), qu’était-il encore besoin qu’il s’élevât un autre Sacrificateur, selon l’ordre de Melchisédec, et non selon l’ordre d’Aaron? Car le sacerdoce étant changé, il est nécessaire qu’il y ait aussi un changement de loi » (Hébreux 7:11-12).

 

Puisque Christ est notre Grand Prêtre, nous sommes donc soumis aux règles de cette prêtrise de Melchisédec. Deux autres ordonnances ont été ajoutées aux lois de la prêtrise lévitique lorsque Christ est devenu notre Grand Prêtre: le Repas du Seigneur et le Baptême.

 

« Puis il prit du pain, et ayant rendu grâces, il le rompit et le leur donna, en disant: Ceci est mon corps, qui est donné pour vous; faites ceci en mémoire de moi. De même, après avoir soupé, il leur donna la coupe, en disant: Cette coupe est la nouvelle alliance en mon sang, qui est répandu pour vous » (Luc 22:19-20).

 

« Ayant entendu ces choses, ils furent touchés de componction en leur cœur, et dirent à Pierre et aux autres apôtres: Hommes frères, que ferons-nous? Et Pierre leur dit: Repentez-vous, et que chacun de vous soit baptisé au nom de Jésus-Christ, pour la rémission de ses péchés; et vous recevrez le don du Saint-Esprit » (Actes 2:37-38).

 

Ces deux ordonnances font partie du témoignage de la nouvelle prêtrise en Christ. Nous sommes tenus de respecter ces prescriptions et de modeler nos vies d’après l’exemple que nous offre Jésus Christ.

 

« Car c’est à cela que vous êtes appelés, puisque Christ aussi a souffert pour vous, vous laissant un exemple, afin que vous suiviez ses traces; Lui qui n’a point commis de péché, et dans la bouche duquel il ne s’est trouvé aucune fraude; Qui, outragé, ne rendait point d’outrages; et maltraité, ne faisait point de menaces, mais s’en remettait à celui qui juge justement » (1 Pierre 2:21-23).

 

Conclusion

 

À la Création

Lors de la Création, Dieu établit la loi sous la prêtrise de Melchisédech.

 

Les Dix Commandements

La Loi du Pur et de l’Impur

La Dîme

   
La prêtrise lévitique

À cause de la transgression humaine, la loi lévitique fut ajoutée et la prêtrise lévitique fut établie. Les lois originaires de la prêtrise de Melchisédech sont comprises dans les lois de la prêtrise lévitique et sont entre autres.

 

Les Dix Commandements

La Loi du Pur et de l’Impur

La Dîme

La Pâques des Hébreux

Les Fêtes d’Israël

   
La prêtrise de Melchisédech

Depuis que Jésus mourut pour nos péchés, nous sommes de retour à la prêtrise de MelchisédecAinsi, les commandements que nous avons désormais à observer en plus des lois de Moïse toujours practicables aujourd'hui sont les suivants:

1. Les Dix Commandements;

2. La Loi du Pur et de l’Impur;

3. La Loi des 10%, la Dîme;

4. La Commémoration de Jésus Christ par le Repas du Seigneur;

5. L’Acceptation du Messie dans nos vies au travers du Baptême;

6. Le Témoignage que Jésus Christ nous donna et par lequel nous devons vivre.

Repost 0
October 15 2011 7 15 /10 /October /2011 14:24

BibleStudy

 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.

 

Key Verse: 

 

As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”” (Hebrews 5:6)

 

In the book of Hebrews Paul writes:

 

So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him:  “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek”” (Hebrews 5:5-6).

 

So what does this mean, that Christ is a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedec? To find the answer we have to go back to the beginning.

Creation

 

At the creation God established a basic set of laws for the benefit of man. Many references to these laws exist in the book of Genesis, including:

Seventh Day for Rest

 

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

 

You shall not kill

 

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth”” (Genesis 4:8-12).

 

Law of the Clean and Unclean

 

You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female”(Genesis 7:2).


You shall not commit adultery

 

So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house. He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?” (Genesis 12:14-18).


Tithing

 

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).

 

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,”” (Hebrews 7:1-2).


After the Exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel were given the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone, written by the finger of God and given to Moses. These tables of stone were put inside the Ark of the Covenant.

 

And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).

 

There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt”  (1 Kings 8:9)

 

Exodus chapter 20 contains the text of these commandments.

 

Levitical Priesthood

 

While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, the children of Israel were building a molten calf out of gold and proclaiming it to be the god who had brought them out of Egypt. When Moses came down from the mount, he was extremely angry.  He smashed the tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments, ground up the golden calf, put the dust on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it. Then Moses asked the question “Who is on the LORD'S side?” (KJV).

 

then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him” (Exodus 32:26).

 

At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God promised him” (Deuteronomy 10:8-9).


The sons of Levi answered the call and God made them priests over the children of Israel. Because the children of Israel committed this transgression with the golden calf, the Levitical priesthood was established and the book of the Law was given to the children of Israel.

 

So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD, then how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:24-27).

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator”(Galatians 3:19).

 

Melchizedec Priesthood

 

The Levitical priesthood lasted from the time of Sinai until Jesus came to the earth. Then, Jesus was installed as our high priest after the order of Melchizedec.

 

For He testifies: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”” (Hebrews 7:17).

 

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law” (Hebrews 7:11-12).


Since Christ is our high priest, we are then subject the Melchisedec priesthood. We are under the laws of the Melchisedec priesthood. Two other statutes were added to the Melchisedec priesthood when Jesus became our high priest: the Lord's Supper and Baptism.

 

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

 

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit  (Acts 2:37-38)

 

These two statutes are part of the testimony of Jesus. We are required to keep this testimony and to model our lives after his example.

 

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “ Who committed no sin,  Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23)

 

Conclusion

 

Creation

 

From the Creation, God established the law under the Melchizedek priesthood.

 

Ten Commandments          

The Clean and the Unclean 

Tithing

 

Levitical Priesthood


Because of transgression, the Levitical law was added and the Levitical priesthood was established. The original law from the Melchizedek priesthood were also in the Levitical priesthood. This commandments are, among others, the following:       

 

Ten Commandments          

The Clean and the Unclean

Tithing                      

Passover                           

Feast Days

 

Melchizedec Priesthood


Since Jesus died for us on the cross, we are back to the Melchizedec Priesthood. Therefore, the law and commandments from God that we are to observe today on top of the Moses' commandments still applicable today are:

                                                  

1. The Ten Commandments

 

2. The law of the clean and the unclean

 

3. The law of the ten percent tithe

 

4. The remembrance of Jesus through the Lord's Supper

 

5. The acceptance of Jesus through Baptism

 

6. The testimony of Jesus to live by his example

Repost 0
February 18 2011 6 18 /02 /February /2011 13:00

BibleStudy

 

 Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the Scriptures.

 

There are few Bible subjects that elicit so much interest and curiosity. Consider seven commonly asked questions about prayer; then join us in examining the answers provided in the Bible. These articles are designed to help you to pray, to begin praying or to make your prayers more effective.

 

PRAYER - Why?

 

Around the world, in every culture and religion, people pray. They pray when alone; they pray in groups. They pray in churches, in temples, in synagogues, in mosques, at shrines. They may use prayer rugs, rosary beads, prayer wheels, icons, prayer books, or prayers written on small boards that they hang on racks.

 

Prayer sets humans apart from all other life on this earth. Granted, we have much in common with the animals. Like them, we need food, air, and water. Like them, we are born, we live, and we die (Ecclesiastes 3:19). But only humans pray. Why?

 

Perhaps the simplest answer is that we need to. Prayer, after all, is generally seen as a way for people to reach out to the spirit realm, to something they view as holy, or sacred, and eternal. The Bible shows that we were made with an appetite for such things (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

 

How else could one explain all those religious edifices and artefacts, all those countless hours spent in prayer? Of course, some people look to themselves or to their fellow humans to fill spiritual needs.

 

Do you not sense, though, that humans are just too limited to help adequately? We are so frail, short-lived, and shortsighted. Only someone far wiser, more powerful, more enduring than we are can give what we need. And just what are these spiritual needs that drive us to pray?

 

Have you ever yearned for guidance, wisdom, or answers to questions that seem beyond the reach of human knowledge? Have you ever felt in need of comfort when wounded by a terrible loss, of guidance when faced with an agonizing decision, or of forgiveness when crushed by guilt?

 

According to the Bible, those are all valid reasons to pray. The Bible is the most reliable book on this subject, and it contains a record of the prayers of many faithful men and women. They prayed for comfort, for guidance, for forgiveness, and for answers to the hardest of questions (Psalm 23:3; 71:21; Daniel 9:4-5, 19; Habakkuk 1:3).

 

Such prayers, varied though they were, had something in common. The ones praying each possessed a vital key to successful prayer, one that is often lost or disregarded in today’s world. They knew to whom prayers should be directed.

 

PRAYER - To Whom?

 

Do all prayers go to the same place, regardless of who is being addressed? In today’s world, it is often popular to assume so. The notion appeals to many who favor interfaith movements and want all religions to be acceptable, despite their differences. Is it possible, though, that the idea is untrue?

 

The Bible teaches that a great many prayers are, in fact, misdirected. Back when the Bible was written, it was common for people to direct their prayers to carved images. Yet, Elohim (God) repeatedly warned against that practice. For example, Psalm 115:4-6 says about idols: “They have ears, but they do not hear.” The point is clear. Why pray to a elohim who will never hear you?

 

A vivid Bible account enlarges on this point. The true prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) challenged the prophets of Baal to pray to their elohim, after which Eliyahu would pray to his. Eliyahu said that the true Elohim would answer and the false one would not. Accepting the challenge, the Ba’al prophets prayed long and hard, even with loud outcries, but to no avail! The account reads: “But there was no voice and no one answered, and no one paying attention” (1 Kings 18:29) How, though, did Eliyahu fare?

 

After Eliyahu prayed, his Elohim answered instantly, sending fire from heaven to consume an offering that Eliyahu had set out. What was the difference? There is one vital clue in Eliyahu’s prayer itself, recorded at 1 Kings 18:36-37. It is a very short prayer; there are only about 30 words in the original Hebrew. Yet, in those few lines, Eliyahu three times addressed Elohim by his personal name, Yehovah.

 

Ba’al, meaning “owner” or “master,” was the elohim of the Canaanites, and there were many local versions of this deity. Yehovah, however, is a unique title, applying only to one Personage in the entire universe. This Elohim told his people: “I am YHVH [Yehovah] that is My Name, and My esteem I do not give to another, nor My praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

 

Did Eliyahu’s prayer and the prayers of those Ba’al prophets go to the same place? Ba’al worship degraded people with ritual prostitution and even human sacrifice. In contrast, the worship of Yehovah ennobled his people, Yisra’ĕl, freeing them from such degrading practices. So think about it. If you specifically addressed a letter to a highly respected friend, would you expect it to be delivered to someone who did not bear your friend’s name and whose vile reputation contradicted everything your friend stood for? Surely not!

 

If you pray to Yehovah, you are praying to the Creator, the Father of mankind. “You, O YHVH, are our Father” said the prophet Yeshayahu in prayer (Isaiah 63:16). This, then, is the very One about whom Yeshua, the Christ spoke when he told his followers: “I  am  ascending  to  My  Father  and your  Father,  and  to  My  Elohim  and  your Elohim” (John 20: 17). Yehovah is Yeshua’s Father. He is the Elohim to whom Yeshua prayed and to whom Yeshua taught his followers to pray (Matthew 6:9).

 

Does the Bible instruct us to pray to Yeshua, to Miryam (Mary), to saints, or to angels? No, but only to Yehovah. Consider two reasons why. First, prayer is a form of worship, and the Bible says that worship should go exclusively to Yehovah (Exodus 20:5). Second, the Bible reveals that he bears the title “You who hears all prayer” (Psalm 65:2). Although Yehovah delegates generously, this is a responsibility he has never passed on to anyone. He is the Elohim who promises to hear our prayers personally.

 

So if you want your prayers to be heard by Elohim, remember this Scriptural admonition: “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of YHVH shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). But does Yehovah hear all prayers unconditionally? Or is there anything else we need to know if we want our prayers to Yehovah to be heard?

 

PRAYER - How?

 

When it comes to prayer, many religious traditions focus on physical issues, such as posture, wording, and ritual. However, the Bible helps us to set such issues aside and focus on more important aspects of the question, “How should we pray?”

 

The Bible depicts faithful servants of Elohim as praying in many settings and postures. They prayed silently or aloud as the circumstances dictated. They prayed while looking up at the sky or while bowing down. Rather than using images, beads, or prayer books as aids in prayer, they simply prayed from the heart in their own words. What made their prayers effective?

 

As mentioned in the preceding article, they directed their prayers only to one Elohim, Yehovah. There is another important factor. We read at 1 John 5:14: “And this is the boldness that we have in Him, that if we ask whatever according to His desire, He hears us.” Our prayers need to be in harmony with Elohim’s will. What does that mean?

 

To pray in harmony with Elohim’s will, we need to know what his will is. Study of the Bible, then, is an essential ingredient of prayer. Does this mean that Elohim will refuse to hear us unless we are Bible scholars? No, but Elohim expects us to look for his will, seeking to understand it and to act on it (Matthew 7:21-23). We need to pray in harmony with what we learn.

 

As we learn about Yehovah and his will, we grow in faith - another vital factor in prayer. Yeshua said: “And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). Belief or faith does not mean gullibility. Rather, it means believing in something that even though unseen, is supported by very strong evidence (Hebrews 11:1). The Bible is packed with evidence that Yehovah, whom we cannot see, is real, is reliable, and is willing to answer the prayers of those who have faith in him. Furthermore, we can always ask for more faith, and Yehovah loves to give us what we need (Luke 17:5; James 1:17).

 

Here is yet another essential aspect of how to pray. Yeshua said: “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). So Yeshua is the means of our approach to the Father, Yehovah. Thus, Yeshua told his followers to pray in his name (John 14:13; 15:16). That does not mean that we should pray to Yeshua. Rather, we pray in the name of Yeshua, remembering that Yeshua is the reason that we are able to approach our perfect and holy Father.

 

PRAYER - What About?

 

It has been called the most widely repeated of all Christian prayers. Whether that is true or not, Yeshua’s model prayer - sometimes called the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father - is certainly among the most misunderstood. Millions of people utter its words by rote every day, perhaps often during the day. But Yeshua never intended for the prayer to be used in that way. How do we know?

 

Just before relating that prayer, Yeshua said: “And when praying, do not keep on babbling” (Matthew 6:7). Did Yeshua proceed to contradict himself by laying down a set of words to be memorized and repeated? Surely not! Rather, Yeshua was teaching us what to pray about, and he was giving us a clear set of priorities to keep in mind when praying. Let us take a closer look at what he said. The prayer is recorded at Matthew 6:9-13.

 

Our Father who is in the heavens, let Your Name be set-apart

Yeshua thus reminded his followers that all prayers should be directed to his Father, Yehovah. But do you know why Elohim’s name is so important and why it needs to be set-apart, or made holy?

 

From the beginning of human history, Elohim’s sacred name has been smeared with lies. Elohim’s adversary, Satan, has called Yehovah a lying, selfish Ruler who has no real right to govern His creations (Genesis 3:1-6). Many have sided with Satan, teaching that Elohim is cold, cruel, and vindictive or denying that He is the Creator at all. Others have even attacked his name itself, removing the title Yehovah from Bible translations and forbidding the use of it.

 

The Bible shows that Elohim will rectify all these injustices (Ezekiel 39:7). By doing so, he will address your every need and problem as well. How so? The next words in Yeshua’s prayer provide the answer.

 

let Your reign come

Today, there is much confusion among religious teachers about Elohim’s Kingdom. But as Yeshua’s listeners knew, Elohim’s prophets had long foretold that the Messiah, a Savior chosen by Elohim, would rule a Kingdom that would change the world (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44). It will sanctify Elohim’s name by exposing Satan’s lies and then overthrowing Satan and all his works. Elohim’s Kingdom will put an end to war, sickness, famine, even death itself. (Psalm 46:9; 72:12-16; Isaiah 25:8; 33:24) When you pray for Elohim’s Kingdom to come, you are praying for all those promises to come true.

 

“let Your desire be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Yeshua’s words suggest that Elohim’s will is just as certain to take place on earth as it is in heaven, where Elohim dwells. Elohim’s will has proved unstoppable in heaven; there, Elohim’s Son waged war against Satan and his cohorts, casting them down to the earth (Revelation 12:9-12). This third petition of the model prayer, like the first two, helps us to keep our focus on what matters most - not our own will, but Elohim’s. It is his will that always brings about the greatest good for all creation. Thus, even the perfect man Yeshua said to his Father: “Yet not My desire, but let Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

 

Give us today our daily bread.”

Yeshua next showed that our prayers do not have to be entirely selfless. There is nothing wrong with praying to Elohim about our daily, practical needs. In fact, doing so reminds us that Yehovah is the one who is “giving to all life, and breath, and all else” (Acts 17:25). The Bible reveals that he is a loving parent who delights in giving his children what they need. Like a good parent, though, he will not grant requests that violate their best interests.

 

“And forgive us our debts.”

 

Do you really owe a debt to Elohim? Do you need his forgiveness? Many today have lost sight of the reality and seriousness of sin. But the Bible teaches that sin is at the root of our worst troubles, for it is the basic cause of death in humans. Born in sin, we all sin frequently, and our only hope for a lasting future lies in Elohim’s forgiveness (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23). It is a relief to learn that the Bible says: “For You, YHVH, are good, and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5).

 

 “deliver us from the wicked one”

 

Do you realize how urgently, how desperately, you need Elohim’s protection? Many refuse to believe that “the wicked one,” Satan, exists at all. But Yeshua taught that Satan is real, even calling him “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 16:11). Satan has corrupted this world over which he holds sway, and he is just as eager to corrupt you, to keep you from developing a close relationship with your Father, Yehovah (1 Peter 5:8). However, Yehovah is far stronger than Satan and is delighted to protect those who love Him.

 

That quick summary of the main points of Yeshua’ model prayer does not cover every subject that is fit for prayer. Remember, 1 John 5:14 tells us about Elohim: “And this is the boldness that we have in Him, that if we ask whatever according to His desire, He hears us”. So do not worry that your troubles are too trivial to bring before Elohim (1 Peter 5:7).

 

What, though, about time and place? Does it matter when and where we pray?

 

PRAYER - Does It Matter Where and When?

 

No doubt you have observed that most organized religions emphasize elaborate houses of prayer and prescribe specific times of day when prayers should be offered. Does the Bible limit our prayers to certain places and times?

 

The Bible does show that there are fitting occasions for prayer. Before eating with his followers, for example, Yeshua thanked Elohim in prayer (Luke 22:17). And when his disciples assembled for worship, they prayed together. They thus continued a practice that had long been carried out in Jewish synagogues and in the temple at Yerushalayim. Elohim intended the temple to be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).

 

When servants of Elohim assemble and pray together, their petitions can be effective. If the group is united in spirit and the prayer offered in their behalf reflects Scriptural principles, Elohim is pleased. The prayer may even move him to do what he might not otherwise have done (Hebrews 13:18-19).

 

However, the Bible does not limit prayer to any particular time or place. In the Bible, we find a record of Elohim’s servants praying anytime, anywhere. Yeshua said: “when you pray, go into your room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place. And your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6).

 

Is that not an inviting prospect? You can actually approach the Sovereign of the universe anytime, in complete privacy, and be assured that you will have his attention. Little wonder, then, that Yeshua often sought to be alone in order to pray! Once, he spent an entire night in prayer to Elohim, evidently seeking guidance on a most important decision (Luke 6:12-13).

 

Other men and women in the Bible record prayed when faced with weighty decisions or daunting challenges. Sometimes they prayed aloud and sometimes silently; they prayed when in groups and when alone. The important thing is that they prayed. Elohim even invites his servants: “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He is willing to listen endlessly to those who do his will. Is that not a loving invitation?

 

Of course, in today’s cynical world, many wonder about the practical value of prayer. You may ask, ‘Will it really help me?’

 

PRAYER - Will It Help?

 

Does praying do us any good? The Bible shows that yes, the prayers of faithful servants of Elohim really do benefit them (Luke 22:40; James 5:13). In fact, praying can do us a world of good spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. How so?

 

Well, let us say that you have a child who receives a gift. Would you teach him that it is enough to feel grateful? Or would you teach him to express his gratitude? When we put important feelings into words, we bring them into focus and even strengthen them. Does the same hold true when it comes to speaking to Elohim? Absolutely! Consider some examples.

 

Prayers of thanks: When we thank our Father for the good things that come our way, we focus on our blessings. As a result, we may feel more grateful, happier, and more positive (Philippians 4:6). Yeshua expressed gratitude for the way his Father heard and responded to his prayers (John 11:41).

 

Prayers for forgiveness: When we ask Elohim for forgiveness, we strengthen our conscience, deepen our repentance, and intensify our awareness of the seriousness of sin. We also find relief from the burden of guilt. In Psalms 51, Dawid prayed to express repentance and sorrow.

 

Prayers for guidance and wisdom: Asking Yehovah to guide us or to grant us the wisdom we need to make good decisions can help us to be genuinely humble. It can remind us of our limitations and help build our trust in our heavenly Father (Proverbs 3:5-6). Shelomoh humbly asked for guidance and wisdom in ruling over Yisra’ĕl (1 Kings 3:5-12).

 

Prayers of distress: If we pour out our heart to Elohim when we are in emotional turmoil, our heart will be soothed and we will lean on Yehovah instead of ourselves (Psalm 62:8).

 

King Asa prayed when facing an overwhelming foe (2 Chronicles 14:11).

 

Prayers for the well-being of others in need: Such prayers help us to combat selfishness and to grow in compassion and empathy. Yeshua prayed in behalf of his followers (John 17:9-17).

 

Prayers of praise: When we praise Yehovah for his wonderful works and qualities, our respect and appreciation for him will grow. Such prayers may also help us to draw closer to our Elohim and Father. Dawid warmly praised Elohim for his creation (Psalm 8).

 

Another blessing linked with prayer is “the peace of Elohim, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Finding calm in this troubled world is a rare blessing indeed. It even has physical benefits (Proverbs 14:30). But does it come solely as a result of our own efforts? Or is something more important involved?

 

PRAYER - Will Elohim Hear and Answer?

 

The above question elicits a great deal of excitement and curiosity. The Bible shows that Yehovah does listen to prayers today. Whether he hears ours or not is largely up to us.

Yeshua denounced religious leaders in his day who prayed hypocritically; they cared only about making a show of their piety. He said that such men would have “their reward” meaning that they would receive only what they wanted most, the attention of men, but not what they needed, Elohim’s hearing ear (Matthew 6:5). Likewise today, many pray according to their own will and not Elohim’s. Ignoring the Bible principles that we have discussed, they do not get Elohim’s hearing ear.

 

What, though, about you? Will Elohim hear and respond to your prayers? The answer does not depend on your race, nationality, or, social standing. The Bible assures us: “Elohim shows no partiality, but in every nation, he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Do those words describe you? If you fear Elohim, you hold him in the highest regard, fearing to displease him. If you work righteousness, you seek to do what Elohim says are right rather than following your own will or that of your fellow humans. Do you really want Elohim to listen to your prayers? The Bible directs you to your goal.

 

Of course, many want Elohim to answer their prayers with a miracle. Even in Bible times, though, Elohim rarely performed such wonders. Sometimes centuries passed between one recorded miracle and the next. Does this mean, then, that Elohim does not answer prayers today? Far from it! Consider some prayers that he answers.

 

Elohim grants wisdom: Yehovah is the ultimate Source of all true wisdom. He is generous with it, sharing it freely with those who want his guidance and who seek to live by it (James l 5).

 

Elohim gives his holy spirit and all of its benefits: The holy spirit is Elohim’s active force. There is no force stronger. It can help us to endure trials. It can fill us with peace when we are troubled. It can help us to cultivate other beautiful and endearing qualities (Galatians 5:22-23). Yeshua assured his followers that Elohim gives this gift generously (Luke 11:13).

 

Elohim enlightens those who earnestly seek him: (Acts 17:26-27). Around the world, there are people who sincerely seek the truth. They want to know Elohim, what is name is, what is purpose is for the earth and humankind, how they can draw close to him (James 4:8). Is that why you have found this article? Are you looking for Elohim? Perhaps this is how Yehovah is answering your prayer.

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February 11 2011 6 11 /02 /February /2011 19:24

BibleStudy

 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version 

 

According to the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew, visitors “from the East” who had seen the star of a new king presented gifts to young Jesus. The Greek text of the Gospel calls these visitors ma’goi, that is, “magi.” (Matthew 2:1) What do we know about them?

 

The earliest substantial source of information about the Magi is the Greek historian Herodotus. Living in the fifth century B.C.E., Herodotus recorded that the Magi belonged to a Persian priestly class who specialized in astrology, interpretation of dreams, and casting of spells. In Herodotus’ time, the religion of Persia was Zoroastrianism. Hence, the Magi he spoke about were likely Zoroastrian priests. “In a more general sense,” says The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “a mágos in the Hellenistic world had supernatural knowledge and ability and was sometimes a practitioner of magic.”

 

A number of early “Christian” commentators, such as Justin Martyr, Origen, and Tertullian, described the Magi who visited Jesus as astrologers. For example, Tertullian wrote in his book On Idolatry: “We know the mutual alliance of magic and astrology. The interpreters of the stars, then, were the first … to present Him [Jesus] ‘gifts.’“ In harmony with this understanding, some Bible translations render ma’goiastrologers.”

 

Therefore when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, lo! astrologers [lo! kings, or wise men,] came from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1, Wycliffe New Testament).

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February 11 2011 6 11 /02 /February /2011 19:21

BibleStudy

 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.

 

The passage in question is found at Matthew 27:9-10, where the Gospel writer commented on the money given to Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Jesus. The verses read: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced … and gave them for the potter’s field.’” The source of the prophecy concerning the 30 pieces of silver is Zechariah, not Jeremiah (Zechariah 11:12-13).

 

It appears that Jeremiah, rather than Isaiah, was sometimes placed first in the collection of books called “the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). Hence, when Matthew here spoke of “Jeremiah,” he was referring to an entire section of Scripture called by the name of its first book. This section of Scripture included Zechariah.

 

In a similar way, Jesus designated as “Psalms” several Bible books also known as the Writings. Thus, when he said that all things written about him “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” had to be fulfilled, he was referring to the prophecies contained in the entire Hebrew Scriptures (Luke 24:44).

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