Ezekiel 37:15‑28

Chapter 37 of Ezekiel is a highly symbolic chapter.[1] In verses 1‑14, Ezekiel deals with the symbol of the dry bones, which pictures Israel as a regathered nation in a state of unbelief. Verses 15-28 deals with the sign of the two sticks, which pictures the reunification of the divided kingdom. The historical background to this passage is found in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10.

Ezekiel 37:15‑17

In verse 15, the word of Jehovah comes to Ezekiel and a new prophecy is announced in verse 16. Ezekiel’s instructions are twofold: first, he is to take one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions. The phrase the children of Israel included the tribes that were allied with Judah: Benjamin and Simeon. Here, the words his companions refer to Judah’s companions. The first stick represents the Kingdom of Judah. Next, Ezekiel is instructed to take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. The phrase the stick of Ephraim refers to the most prominent son of Joseph, who fathered the Tribe of Ephraim, the most prominent tribe of the northern kingdom. The phrase all the house of Israel refers to the other nine tribes that were allies with Ephraim; these are his companions. The second stick represents the Kingdom of Israel. The actual joining of the sticks is in verse 17. When Ezekiel joins the two sticks together, they appear to be one in his hand.

Ezekiel 37:18‑20

Ezekiel’s actions caused the people to ask for an explanation of this symbolic act in verse 18. The question raised in the minds of Ezekiel’s people, the Jewish people, was “Will you not show us what you mean by these things?” This shows that there has been a change of attitude toward Ezekiel on the part of the people. Instead of poking fun at him or simply ignoring him, he is now taken quite seriously when he performs this symbolic act with the two sticks. Ezekiel answers that God declares: Behold, I, meaning that God Himself will bring Judah and Israel together so that they will once again be one nation. God then explains how they shall be one in my hand. Note that the expression in my hand means God’s hand; it is God who is going to bring this about, not Ezekiel.

     Ezekiel 37:21‑23

The application of the sign is specifically to the people of Israel and Ezekiel emphasizes three things. (1) God will re-gather the Jewish people, (2) the people will be re-unified (cp. 1 Chron 17:21), and (3) God promises a future cleansing from idols, detestable things, and transgressions.

Ezekiel 37:24

Two of David’s offices are revealed in this verse: king and shepherd. The first office is that of a king. In the governmental system of the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule as King over the whole world. Under Him, there will be two branches of government: the Gentile branch and the Jewish branch. The Gentile branch of government will be comprised of the Church saints and Tribulation saints, who are destined to co‑reign with the Messiah over the Gentile nations. The resurrected David is destined to co‑reign with Jesus over the Jewish branch. From the viewpoint of the Messiah, David is His servant; but from the viewpoint of Israel, David will be their king. The second office of David is that of a shepherd. As a shepherd, he will guide Israel and he will feed Israel. Never again will Israel have a leader who will lead them astray. Under David’s leadership and shepherding as king, the Jewish nation will walk in the ordinances of God and they will observe God’s statutes in the Millennial Kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:25

Ezekiel brings out two thoughts in this verse, God will give them the Land of Israel; and secondly, they will occupy the Land for generations. The word they refers to the first generation that enters the Kingdom. The phrase their children, and their children’s children refers to the succeeding generations who are born in the Kingdom. The Hebrew word used here for for ever is ad olam, which means “until an age,” not “an eternity.” There is no classical Hebrew word that actually means “eternity.” The closest that Hebrew can come to that concept would be an expression like “without end.” That is, in fact, how God is described. Although the word for ever is very often found in English translations, the Hebrew word is either le olam, which means “unto an age,” or ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, once they are brought into the Land, they will continually possess the Land throughout the Kingdom Age. At no point during the thousand years of the Kingdom will they be dispossessed of the Land or scattered out of the Land again. Whereas earlier he was called king and shepherd, now he is called prince. From the viewpoint of Israel, he will be their king; but from the viewpoint of the Messiah, he will be a prince, because He will be under authority of King Messiah. He will be their prince for ever, but again, the Hebrew word used here is ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, this will be David’s office throughout the Messianic Kingdom; he will not be deposed from this position whatsoever.

Ezekiel 37:26‑28

The Millennial Temple will be built in the Millennial Kingdom and will be the Fourth Temple spoken of in Scripture. Ezekiel later details this Millennial Temple that God will erect in the Messianic Kingdom in chapters 40‑48. The basis of the Millennial Temple will be the New Covenant, a covenant of peace and it is an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 31:31‑34).

Ezekiel makes three points. (1) God Himself will place them in the Land; not only will they have the right of possession, they will actually be dwelling in the Land, (2) Once they have settled, God will multiply them; there will be an increase of the Jewish population, (3) God will set His sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

In this relationship, God states: My tabernacle also shall be with them. The Hebrew word used here for tabernacle means “My Presence‑dwelling” or “My Shechinah Glory.” In verse 26, the emphasis on the word sanctuary was on the holiness of the Fourth Temple, but in this verse, the emphasis on the word tabernacle is that the new Temple will be the dwelling place of the Shechinah Glory. When will the nations, meaning “the Gentiles,” know that Jehovah is the One who sanctifies Israel? God’s answer is: when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. The Gentile nations will recognize that this restoration and reunification of Israel, with God’s Temple in the midst of them, means that Israel’s God is indeed the only true God. Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks concludes with the promise that God will set up His dwelling‑place in the midst of the children of Israel.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

THE SEVENTY‑FIVE DAY INTERVAL

The Millennium will not begin on the day immediately following the last day of the Great Tribulation because there will be a Seventy‑five Day Interval. During this time between the Great Tribulation and the beginning of the Messianic Age, a number of events will occur.[1]

THE INTERVAL:  Daniel 12:11‑12

The figure of 1,260 days has appeared in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6. This figure—which is the same as the 42 months of Revelation 13:5 and a time and times and half a time of Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:14—is equivalent to 3½ years. Sometimes, it is used in reference to the first half of the Tribulation, from the signing of the Seven‑year Covenant to the takeover of the Jewish Temple and the commitment of the Abomination of Desolation by the Antichrist. Other times, it refers to the second half of the Tribulation, from the Abomination of Desolation to the Second Coming of the Messiah, during which time the Antichrist will rule the world. The demise of the Antichrist and the end of the Tribulation will come 1,260 days after the midpoint of the Tribulation.

In this Daniel passage, two other figures are given. The first figure is 1,290 days in verse 11; this is an additional thirty days, during which the Abomination of Desolation remains in the Temple before its removal. The second figure is 1,335 days in verse 12, which is forty‑five days beyond the 1,290‑day period, and seventy‑five days beyond the 1,260‑day period. A special blessing is pronounced on those who will make it to the 1,335th day. The blessing is that those who survive until the seventy‑fifth day of the interval will enter the Messianic Kingdom. That this is indeed a blessing will be seen in this study. There will be many who will fail and die before the 1,335th day comes, although they did survive past the 1,260th day.

A number of events will transpire during the Seventy‑five Day Interval, but it is impossible to determine the chronological sequence of these events. Therefore, they will be studied thematically rather than chronologically.

1.  THE REMOVAL OF THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION: Daniel 12:11

The event that will signal the beginning of the second half of the Great Tribulation will be the Antichrist’s takeover of the Jewish Temple, from which he will declare himself to be the Almighty God. He will then have the False Prophet set up his image in the Temple, and thus commit the Abomination of Desolation. The word abomination in Scripture always implies some kind of idol, so it is this image of the Antichrist in particular that is indeed the Abomination of Desolation.

The Antichrist will retain control of the world for 1,260 days, after which he will be killed. But the image that had been made alive (Rev. 13:15) will be allowed to continue another thirty days, as Daniel 12:11 states. The Bible does not tell us why the Abomination of Desolation is allowed to continue thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation.

Keep in mind that there is no real urgency to cleanse this particular Templeto begin with. This is the ThirdTempleor the TribulationTemple, and it is never sanctioned by God like the other temples were. The FirstTemple was built by Solomon and sanctioned by God. The SecondTemple was built by Zerubbabel and also sanctioned by God. Later, when it was renovated by Herod, it was sanctioned by God because Yeshua (Jesus) had no problem seeing it as the center of Jewish worship in His own time. The Fourth Temple, the Millennial or Messianic Temple, will be sanctioned by God, because Yeshua Himself will be responsible for building it. But theTribulationTemple never will be sanctioned by God, as is made clear from a study of the first several verses of Isaiah 66. Because God will not sanction theThirdTemple, He will be in no hurry to cleanse this particularTemple. In fact, this Temple will ultimately be destroyed, because it will not be the Temple of the Kingdom.

After thirty days, the Abomination of Desolation will be destroyed, bringing the Abomination of Desolation to an end.

2.  THE ANTICHRIST:  Revelation 19:20

It is declared that the beast, which is the Antichrist, will be cast alive into the lake of fire. This seems to contradict passages of Scripture such as II Thessalonians 2:8‑9, where we are told that the Antichrist will be killed as one of the first casualties of the Second Coming of the Messiah. Therefore, this verse requires that the Antichrist must be resurrected at this time and then be cast alive into the Lake of Fire. It is for this reason that Isaiah 14:20 declared that the body of the Antichrist will never see burial.

There is some irony to be found in this fact. The term first resurrection applies to the resurrection of all the righteous, although it comes in stages. The term second resurrection applies to the resurrection of all the damned, and this, too, will come in stages. The Messiah was the firstfruits of the first resurrection. The irony here is that the one who would be the counterfeit son will be allowed to act out the counterfeit role to completion by becoming the firstfruits of the second resurrection. But the result of his resurrection will be the Lake of Fire.

3.  The False Prophet:  Revelation 19:20

Also according to Revelation 19:20, the false prophet—the counterfeit holy spirit, who will have a counterfeit gift of miracles by which he will do his work of deception, calling men to worship the Antichrist, to take upon themselves the mark of the beast, and to worship his image—he, too, will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire.

For the first thousand years that theLakeofFirewill be inhabited, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be there all by themselves.

4.  Satan’s Fifth Abode:  Revelation 20:1‑3

As for Satan, the counterfeit father, he will be cast into his fifth abode, as described in Revelation 20:1‑3. His abode during the Messianic Kingdom will be the abyss¾the section of Sheol or Hades that is a temporary place of confinement for fallen angels.

5.  The Judgment of the Gentiles

Although a great many Gentiles will be killed through the course of the Tribulation, and Gentile armies will suffer slaughter in the Campaign of Armageddon, a number will still be living. All these will now be gathered together for a judgment (Joel 3:1-3; Matthew 25:31‑46, 26:46.

6.  The Resurrection of the Old Testament Saints

The Rapture will include only the Church saints, and it will occur before the Great Tribulation. Later, during the Seventy‑five Day Interval, the Old Testament saints will be resurrected. This is stated by two Old Testament passages, Isaiah 26:19 and Dan 12:2.

7.  The Resurrection of the Tribulation Saints: Revelation 20:4

Not only will there be a resurrection of Old Testament saints, there will also be a resurrection of those saints who will be killed in the course of the Great Tribulation. John sees two groups of saints co‑reigning with Messiah. First, there are those to whom judgment was given. The judgment spoken of here is the Judgment Seat of the Messiah. These saints, then, will be the church saints who will be resurrected at the Rapture of the Church and will receive their rewards in the course of the judgment.

But the second group of saints that John sees are identified as those who have been beheaded because they did not worship the Antichrist nor his image nor were they willing to receive the mark of the beast. Obviously, then, these cannot be anyone else but the Tribulation saints, and they, too, will be resurrected at this time.

8.  The First Resurrection

      A.  The Participants:  Revelation 20:5‑6

The first resurrection involves the resurrection of believers only. According to verse 5, the resurrection of the Tribulation saints completes this first resurrection. It is separated from the completion of the second resurrection by a thousand years.

The point of verse 6 is that the first resurrection involves believers only. This is why it is blessed and holy to be a participant in the first resurrection.

     B.  The Progression:  I Corinthians 15:20‑23

After declaring that a resurrection of the righteous will occur in verses 20‑22, Paul states in verse 23 that the righteous will be resurrected each in his own order. The word translated order is a military term used for a sequence of troops of soldiers marching in a procession or into battle. There is one troop division, followed by another troop division, and so on.

The first resurrection is not a general, one‑time resurrection of righteous ones, it comes in an orderly progression of five stages. First, the Resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah in verse 23—He is the firstfruits of the first resurrection. Secondly, the resurrection of the church saints at the Rapture of the Church, prior to the Great Tribulation (I Thes. 4:16). Thirdly, the resurrection of the Two Witnesses in the middle of the Tribulation (Rev. 11:11‑13). Fourthly, the resurrection of the Old Testament saints (Is. 26:19; Dan. 12:2) during the Seventy‑five Day Interval after the Tribulation. And fifth, the resurrection of the Tribulation saints (Rev. 20:4). The resurrection of the Tribulation saints completes the first resurrection. There will be no such thing as a resurrection of Millennial saints.

The next resurrection that occurs will be that of the unbelievers one thousand years later for the Great White Throne Judgment and before theLakeofFire.

These are the events of the Seventy‑five Day Interval leading up toward that long, special period of history that the faithful look forward to: the Millennium or the Messianic Age.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Sukkot & Simchat Torah

The Feast of Sukkot or ‘Tabernacles’ is the seventh and final feast spoken of in Leviticus 23 and is known by several names[1], including: Hag Hasuccot (“Feast of Tabernacles” or “Booths”; Lev 23:34), Hag Adonai (“Feast of the Lord” Lev 23:39), Hag Haasiph (“Feast of the Ingathering” Ex 23:16), Hag (“Feast” I Kg. 8:2), Zman Simchateinu (“the season of our rejoicing” a rabbinic name), Yom Hashvii Shel Aravah (“the seventh day of the willow”),  Hoshana Rabba (“save us in the highest”) Shmini Atzeret (“the eighth day of the assembly” Lev 23:36)[2], Simchat Torah (“the rejoicing of the Law”). In biblical practice Sukkot was a seven day feast that was celebrated by the building of booths (Heb. succah) or tabernacles to commemorate the forty years of Wilderness Wanderings.

Simchat Torah is a rabbinic term for the eighth day based on Numbers 29:35-38. It is called Simchat Torah because the cycle of the reading of the Law both ends and begins again in the synagogue on this occasion. In the synagogue service, there is a recitation from the Mosaic Law on a regular basis: every Sabbath and also on special holy days. The Mosaic Law has been divided into fifty-two parts so that the entire Mosaic Law is read within one year’s time. On this occasion, the eighth day of the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles, they finish reading Deuteronomy and immediately begin to read the first several verses of Genesis.

Simchat Torah 2012 begins Monday evening (Oct 8) and ends Tuesday evening (Oct 9).

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

[2] Technically, it is considered an independent holiday from the Feast of Tabernacles, but it comes immediately afterward and is thus always connected with the Feast. It is this eighth day that marks the end of all the festivities and observances of the Feast of Tabernacles, although the laws of the Feast of Tabernacles do not apply to it.

The Old Testament Requirements for Kingship

Following on our last post, we might still ask, “Why is there a need for Matthew’s genealogy of Joseph at all?” Everyone agrees that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus. Let’s look at the Old Testament for further detail.[1]

After the division of the kingdom at the death of Solomon, there were two basic requirements for kingship, one pertinent to the Throne of Judah in Jerusalem and the to he Throne of Israel in Samaria.

Judah

No one was allowed to sit on David’s Throne unless he was a member of the House of David.

Israel

No one was able to sit on Samaria’s throne unless he had divine appointment through prophetic sanction. Anyone who attempted to rule without prophetic sanction was assassinated (I Kg. 11:26‑39; 15:28‑30; 16:1‑4, 11‑15; 21:21‑29; II Kg. 9:6‑10; 10:29‑31; 15:8‑12).

The Question Resolved

With this background, the question of the Messiah’s right to the Throne of David can be resolved vis-à-vis the two genealogies.

Matthew 1:1‑17: Davidic Descent & The Line of Joseph in Matthew’s Genealogy

Matthew’s genealogy traces the line of Joseph, the stepfather of the Messiah. In verses 2‑6, the line is traced from Abraham and continues down to David and Solomon. In verses 7‑11 the line is traced to Jechoniah, who was one of the last kings before the Babylonian Captivity. It is the person of Jechoniah that is significant in dealing with the genealogy of Matthew because of the special curse pronounced on him in Jeremiah 22:24‑30. In verse 30, the content of this curse was that no descendant of Jechoniah would have any right to the Throne of David. In the genealogy of Matthew, it should be noted that Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (Mat. 1:16). So, if Yeshua had been the son of Joseph, this would have disqualified Him from sitting upon David’s Throne.

The point of Matthew’s genealogy, then, is to show why Jesus could not be king if He had been Joseph’s son. For this reason, Matthew starts out with the genealogy, and then proceeds with the account of the Virgin Birth, which is the way out of the Jechoniah problem from Matthew’s viewpoint.

Luke 3:23‑38: The Line of Mary in Luke’s Genealogy:

Luke’s genealogy traces the line of Mary and portrays how Jesus could claim the Throne of David. Luke begins his genealogy in the reverse order of Matthew’s, going from the present back into the past. The line is traced until it returns to the family of David in verses 31‑32. However, the son of David involved in this genealogy is not Solomon but Nathan. The important point here is that Mary was a member of the House of David totally apart from Jechoniah. Since Jesus was truly Mary’s son He, too, was a member of the House of David, totally apart from the curse of Jechoniah. In the days of Jeremiah, there was the added requirement for kingship that one had to be a member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah (Jer. 22:24‑30). Zedekiah, who reigned after Jechoniah, was not the son of Jechoniah. In the case of Yeshua, He was a member of the House of David through Mary, totally apart from Jechoniah. In this manner, He fulfilled the first Old Testament requirement for kingship.

Divine Appointment

Furthermore, although there were a number of other descendants of David who could claim equality with Yeshua to the Throne of David, only Jesus was divinely appointed as such (Luke 1:30‑33).

Thus, unlike the purpose of Matthew’s genealogy, Luke’s genealogy shows why Jesus could be king.

There are three further lines of reasoning to suggest that Luke’s account records Mary’s genealogy.

1)     The Talmud refers to Mary as the daughter of Heli. Mary was recognized to be the daughter of Heli as mentioned in Luke 3:23.

2)     The absence of Mary’s name is quite in keeping with Jewish practices on genealogies, and it was not unusual for a son‑in‑law to be listed in his wife’s genealogy.

3)     Matthew is clearly writing from the viewpoint of Joseph – with Mary in a passive role – and in Luke’s Gospel, Joseph is the one who plays the passive role.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

JESUS’ RIGHT TO DAVID’S THRONE

One question that is often raised is, “Because Jesus was only the son of Mary and not the real son of Joseph, does He have the right to sit on David’s Throne?”[1] Related to this is the issue of the genealogies found in Matthew 1:1‑17 and Luke 3:23‑38:

a)     If Jesus had been the son of only Mary, why was it necessary to give Joseph’s genealogy?

b)     How would someone know that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary if she is not named in it, but Joseph is?

These are questions that need to be answered satisfactorily in order to provide a basis for understanding why Yeshua could claim the Throne of David.

THE PURPOSE OF THE GENEALOGIES

Of the four Gospels, only two record the events of the birth and early life of Yeshua: Matthew and Luke. For this reason, it is only natural that these two would bother recording a genealogy. While both Matthew and Luke give the story of the birth of Jesus, they tell the story from two different perspectives: Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective and Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective. Moreover, the purpose of Joseph’s genealogy in the Book of Matthew is set forth to show that if Jesus truly had been the son of Joseph, He could not be king. In the Book of Luke, the purpose of the genealogy of Mary is to show why He could claim the Throne of David.

THE NEED FOR THE GENEALOGIES

The question still arises, “Why is there a need for these two genealogies, especially when Yeshua was not the real son of Joseph?” Whereas one popular explanation suggests that Matthew’s Gospel gives the “royal” line and Luke’s Gospel the “real” line, this post will show that the opposite is true.

In his genealogy, Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in two ways: he skips names, and he mentions the names of four different women: Tamar, the wife of Judah, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Why does he mention these four when there are so many other prominent Jewish women he could have mentioned in the genealogy of Yeshua? One thing that the four women had in common was that they were all Gentiles. By naming these four women and no others, Matthew was pointing out that one of the purposes of the coming of Yeshua was not only to save the lost sheep of the House of Israel, but also that Gentiles would benefit from His coming. Three of these women were guilty of specific sexual sins: one was guilty of adultery, another of prostitution, and another of incest. With this, Matthew begins pointing toward the purpose of the coming of the Messiah – to save sinners.

While Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in these two ways, Luke, however, follows strict Jewish law, procedure, and custom: he does not skip names, and he does not mention the names of any women.

Next time we will explore the Old Testament requirements for kingship.


[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 6

Part of the humanity of Jesus involved His humiliation.[1] There is a biblical doctrine that theologians call “The Humiliation of the Messiah.” His humiliation is seen in twelve different ways.

First, His humiliation included the Incarnation itself. The fact that God had to become a man was a “stepping‑down,” a humiliation (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6‑7; Heb. 2:14).

Secondly, His humiliation is seen in that He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He looked like a sinful human being. This, too, is part of His humiliation (Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:7).

Thirdly, His humiliation is seen in that He was born in a lowly condition. To make matters worse, He was not born into a wealthy family, but into a family that was poverty-stricken. Matthew 2:23states that of all the places to be raised, He was raised in one of the most denigrated towns: Nazareth. Because He was raised in Nazareth, He was called a Nazarene, and that was not considered a favorable title. It was not a title of respect. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? was a popular saying. It was a city of disrepute. Furthermore, Matthew 8:20 states that He had no wealth of His own. Luke 2:7 says He was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Luke 2:22‑24 teaches that He was born into a family that was so poverty-stricken, that the only offering the parents could afford to give was two turtledoves, a sign of their economic destitution. II Corinthians 8:9 states that, by means of the Incarnation, he became poor.

Fourthly, His humiliation is seen in that He was born under the law (Gal. 4:4). He had to subject Himself to a Law that He Himself had originated. That, too, was part of the humiliation of Jesus.

Fifth, His humiliation is seen in that He had to be in submission to the limitations of humanity. This is the doctrine of The Kenosis, meaning “The Emptying.” This is the point of Philippians 2:5‑11. It means that, while He did not lose any of His divine attributes, He did have limited use of them. This limited use of His divine attributes was also part of His humiliation.

Sixth, His humiliation is seen in that He had to undergo all the miseries of life discussed earlier under the heading “The Humanity of the Messiah,” and this, too, was a mark of His humiliation (Jn. 7:5; Heb. 4:15; 12:3).

Seventh, His humiliation is seen in that He became a servant and ministered as a servant. This is illustrated in John 13:1‑11 when He washed the disciples’ feet. It is also stated as a doctrine in Philippians 2:7.

Eighth, His humiliation is seen in that He bore man’s sins; He had to carry man’s sins. And that was humiliating for One who was absolutely holy and sinless (II Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 2:24).

Ninth, His humiliation is seen in that He endured the curse of the death on the cross. Of all the ways He could have been executed, the most ignoble execution, the most humiliating way to die was by hanging on a tree. This was considered by Jewish culture and custom to be the most degrading death of all. So, this, too, was a part of His humiliation (Gal. 3:13; Heb. 12:2).

Tenth, His humiliation is seen in His death. The very fact that the God‑Man, the Holy and Sinless One, had to undergo death was a part of His humiliation (Phil. 2:8).

Eleventh, His humiliation is seen in His burial. The fact that He had to be buried like every other man was a sign of His humiliation (Mat. 27:59‑60; Acts 13:34‑35; I Cor. 15:4). The humiliation of His burial is seen further in that none of those who were close to Yeshua throughout His life and ministry were involved in the burial. They kept their distance. Jesus was buried by two men who, up until then, were secret, distant believers: Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.

And twelfth, His humiliation is seen in His descent into Sheol or Hades. He, too, had to descend to that temporary place of confinement for the saints (Acts 2:27, 31; Eph. 4:9; I Pet. 3:18‑19).

These are the twelve points that clearly teach the concept of the humiliation of the Messiah, very much a part of His humanity, which, in turn, is part of the concept of the Incarnation.

As believers look at all these things to which Yeshua submitted Himself, as they look at all these points of His humiliation, they should not miss the opportunity to remind themselves exactly why He did all this. The reason was so that He could become their Substitute. He lived as a man and died as a man, but He died a substitutionary death for man’s sins. As believers undergo the sufferings of human life, as they undergo deprivation or humiliation, they should always have this picture in their minds: that they have not suffered anything nor will ever suffer anything that is anywhere near comparable to the sufferings of Yeshua the Messiah. If this is kept in mind, they will see what a great thing He did, and will understand that He did it for them. Believers should always be grateful that He was willing to be humiliated in order to provide salvation and power for living in this life. When they suffer, let them not react against God. Let them remember that when they suffer, they are co‑suffering with Him. The Bible promises that if they suffer with Him, they shall also be glorified with Him.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 4

In His humanity, what kind of character did the God‑Man have?[1] The Incarnation produced seven characteristics in Jesus.

First, He was absolutely holy (Lk. 1:35; Jn. 8:46;14:30; Acts 2:27;3:14;4:27; Heb. 7:26).

Secondly, He was sinless (II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; I Pet. 2:22; I Jn. 3:5).

Thirdly, He had genuine love. Because He was both God and man, He could love in a divine way and also in a human way. In either case, it was a real and genuine love that He expressed (Mk. 10:21; Jn. 13:1;14:31; 19:25‑27; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:19;5:25).

Fourthly, He was truly humble (II Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5‑8).

Fifth, He was truly meek (Mat. 11:29; II Cor. 10:1).

Sixth, He lived a life of prayer (Mat. 14:23; Mk. 1:35; Lk. 6:12;22:44; Jn. 17:1‑26; Heb. 5:7).

Seventh, He was an incessant worker (Jn. 5:17; 9:4). However, He was not a “workaholic,” for He knew when to step aside and rest. He knew when to withdraw from the masses, and He knew when to go into the deserts for a time of rest and prayer.

These are the seven characteristics of Yeshua which resulted from the Incarnation. As previously mentioned, one of the purposes of the Incarnation was to set an example for living. These seven characteristics do exactly that and they should be imitated by believers in their day‑to‑day spiritual lives.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 3

What are the reasons or purposes for the Incarnation?[1] There are twelve specific reasons why the Incarnation occurred.

First, the Incarnation was conditioned by human sin. Luke 19:10 states:

For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

A more extended passage that states this as a reason for the Incarnation is John 3:13‑21. The purpose of the Incarnation was to save sinners. In order to pay the penalty for sin, Yeshua had to be made “like unto” or “in the likeness of” sinful flesh. He was not made sinful, but in outward appearance, He looked like any other man. It was necessary for Him to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, because He came for the purpose of dying for sinners. The Incarnation was conditioned by human sin in that human sin necessitated the Incarnation. As Hebrews 2:14 states, it was necessary for Him to become a sharer in flesh and blood in order to deal with the issue of sin.

Secondly, the Incarnation was to reveal God to man concerning the truths of the Father (Mat. 11:27; Jn. 1:18; 14:9). He came for the purpose of revealing the Father, according to John 1:18:

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

He came to reveal the Father; therefore, in His sermons and discourses, He revealed the nature of the Father. In John 14:8‑9, when one of His own disciples eventually asked Jesus: Show us the Father, He answered: If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Everything that is true of the nature of the Father is true of the Son.

Thirdly, the Incarnation was to provide believers with an example for living (I Pet. 2:21; I Jn. 2:6). In His humanity, Yeshua lived a lifestyle that the believer should imitate. This includes not only during the good times, but also in bad times. Not only is His strength to be their example, but also His sufferings are to be their example. He underwent a suffering in a meek manner and, they too, should undergo their suffering in the same way. He became a man to provide an example for living.

Fourthly, the Incarnation was to provide a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 2:9; 10:1‑10; I Jn. 3:5). He came as the Incarnate Man to provide a sacrifice for sin. While animal sacrifices were allowed temporarily, all they could ever do was cover the sins of the Old Testament saints; they could never take away the sins of the Old Testament saints. The removal of sin required better blood than animal blood. The better blood was human blood, but it had to be sinless human blood. This ruled out every human being that had existed since the fall of Adam with one exception, and that was the God‑Man, Yeshua. As a result of the Incarnation, He became a man. Being in the form of a man, He had human blood and, therefore, better blood than animal blood. Jesus had sinless human blood; for that reason, He was able to become the sacrifice for sin.

Fifth, the Incarnation was to destroy the works of the Devil; to render his works inoperative (Jn. 12:31;16:11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; I Jn. 3:8). Of these five passages, perhaps the clearest statement of this fact is Hebrews 2:14:

Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; . . .

Sixth, the Incarnation was to enable Yeshua to be a merciful High Priest. This is especially stressed in the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 2:17‑18; 5:1‑2; 8:1; 9:11‑12, 14). Hebrews 2:17‑18 follows the statement on the Incarnation in verse 14, and then states that it made Him a merciful and faithful high priest. The Hebrews 5 passage emphasizes that for one to be a genuine priest, he had to be human. Thus, if Jesus had not become a real man, He could not have been a high priest. By becoming a man, by becoming Incarnate, He could become, and continues to be, the High Priest of believers. This also enables Him to offer sacrifices, as only priests could do. He was able to offer a better sacrifice¾His own blood¾not animal blood.

Seventh, the Incarnation was to fulfill the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant promised that a Descendent of David would sit upon David’s throne forever. It was necessary for Yeshua to become a real man through the Virgin Mary, because she was a member of the House of David, therefore, Jesus was a member of the House of David. Because He is both God and man, He now lives forever, and He will rule upon David’s throne forever (Lk. 1:31‑33, 68‑70).

Eighth, the Incarnation was to confirm the promises of God (Rom. 15:8‑9) that were predicted in the Old Testament. In order for these prophecies to be fulfilled, the Incarnation was necessary.

Ninth, the Incarnation provided for Yeshua the Messiah to become highly exalted (Phil. 2:9‑11). The exaltation could come only by means of suffering. God, as God only, is incapable of suffering. But when God the Son became a man, He then became capable of suffering. He certainly did suffer; He suffered humiliation and much more. As a result, He became highly exalted. This, too, was the purpose of the Incarnation.

Tenth, the Incarnation was to restore dominion over the earth to man (Heb. 2:5‑9). It was to man that God gave dominion over the earth. But man lost it when Satan caused him to fall; Satan usurped the authority over the earth which had been given to man (Jn. 12:31;14:30;16:11; II Cor. 4:4; I Jn. 5:19). The Messiah defeated Satan; now, as a man, He must restore man’s dominion over the earth, which He will do in the Kingdom.

Eleventh, the Incarnation was to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10‑11). This, too, required the Incarnation.

And twelfth, the Incarnation was to deliver believers from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). This, too, was accomplished through the Incarnation.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Truths About the Incarnation: Part 1

The term “Incarnation” comes from a Latin word that means “in flesh.”[1] It means that God took on human nature. Because it was God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, who became incarnate or in flesh, it is probably more correct and proper to say that it was the Logos or the Word that became flesh, rather than saying that God became a man, though both statements are actually true. The Incarnation means that suddenly there were two natures in one Person. The two natures were always distinct and never mixed within the one Person.

The most extended passage is John 1:1‑14. Notice that in the beginning the Word was with God (v. 1b), the Word was God (v. 1c) – God the Son – and the Word became flesh (v. 14). The Word that was in the beginning with God, that was God, at a certain point in human history took on flesh, became man, and that was the Incarnation.

Two key phrases concerning the Incarnation are found in Romans 1:3-4: according to the flesh (v. 3) and according to the spirit of holiness (v. 4). This is the Incarnation. He became man according to the flesh. It was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit; therefore, it was according to the Spirit as well.

In Phil 2:6-8 we see that “One” always existed in the form of God (v. 6); for all eternity past, He existed in the form of God, because He was the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. Secondly, He that existed in the form of God for all eternity, at some point in human history, was made into the likeness of men (v. 7). That is the statement of the Incarnation: He was made into the likeness of sinful men. The use of the term likeness does not mean He was not really a man. The term likeness emphasizes the similarity to sinful men in that, by mere observation, He did not look any different than any other human being. Except, in His case, He did not commit a single sin. He was an absolutely real human being, a real man, but not a sinful man. Thirdly, He was found in fashion as a man (v. 8).

Two other passages are worth mentioning here. In 1 Tim 3:16 Jesus was manifested in the flesh and in Heb 2:14 Jesus partook of flesh and blood, both references to the Incarnation.



[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

Eternal Security: Problem Passages, part 2

Another area of passages some people use to show that one can lose salvation are those that actually speak of false teachers who were never saved to begin with.[1]

Some people use Matthew 7:15 to show that a person can lose his salvation if that person disguises himself in sheep’s clothing. But Yeshua was not dealing with people who were believers who became false teachers; rather, he was dealing with people who were never saved to begin with. They never were “sheep,” but were always “wolves” pretending to be sheep.

Acts 20:29‑30 is also a message dealing with false teachers, either false teachers who may enter in from outside or false teachers who may arise from the inside. However, in neither case were these people saved to begin with. Both are distinguished from the disciples, who are believers.

Romans 16:17‑18 speaks of false teachers who corrupt the church, but it does not say that these false teachers are people who were saved and then lost their salvation.

2 Corinthians 11:13‑15 is a passage that speaks of false teachers and not people who lost their salvation. Verse 13 states that these are false apostles, and in verse 15, they are called Satan’s ministers, not the Messiah’s ministers. Furthermore, it never states that they were apostles of Christ, only that they fashioned themselves to sound like and seem like apostles of Christ. Verse 15 does not state that they “used to be ministers of righteousness,” but that they tried to fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness.

1 Timothy 4:1‑2 deals with the issue of false teachers who were not saved to begin with. This is the area of apostasy. The basic meaning of apostasy is “to fall away from the faith that one professed to have, but never really had.” It has to do with people who made a show of faith, claiming to be believers but then, little by little, gave in to seducing, demonic spirits and teaching of false doctrines.

2 Peter 2:1‑22, particularly verses 19‑22, deals with people who are false teachers and who were never saved to begin with. Verse 1 clearly talks of false teachers coming into the body with destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them. Furthermore, Peter said that these were bondservants of corruption (v. 19); they were never the Messiah’s bondservants, who later lost their salvation. These are people who knew the way of righteousness (v. 21); they had a clear knowledge of the truth and were not ignorant of the gospel. But, having rejected the gospel, they then went on a teaching campaign to deny the truths concerning Jesus the Messiah.

1 John 2:19 actually speaks of people who were part of the local body as far as membership was concerned, but were themselves never really saved. Because, as John points out, if they were really saved, they would have continued with us. He did not say, “They used to really be one of us, but lost their salvation and then went out from us.”

Jude 3‑19 speaks of the same group of people: people who knew what the truth was, knew the content of the gospel, but rejected it and then began actively teaching against the doctrine of the Messiah.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.