Question 8: Is the Shechinah glory in the holy of holies of the Millennial Temple God the Father (Ez. 43)?

Answer:  The Shechinah glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God, and it might be either the Father, the Son, or the Spirit or could also be the whole Triune God, depending on the context. Ezekiel 43 does not specify which member of the Godhead it is or whether it is all three. However, based upon other ways the Shechinah manifested itself in connection with the holy of holies of the Tabernacle and the Temple, it may indicate that Ezekiel 43 speaks about the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit returning to Israel during the messianic kingdom.

 

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Question 7: Did synagogue and/or church councils determine which books were inspired and to be included in the Bible? If so, how?

Answer: No synagogue council or church council ever determined per se what books were inspired and what books were not inspired. They simply recognized what books were considered inspired, but these books were already viewed as being inspired by believers long before any church council officially recognized them. Hence, the purpose of the synagogue and church councils was to evaluate and ultimately reject books that were not accepted by the body of believers.

For example, shortly after Moses finished his fifth book, he passed away. Joshua and the body of believers that followed his generation immediately accepted his five books as being inspired by God.

The inspiration of subsequent books was also recognized immediately, which is why there are historical books quoting the prophets and the prophets quoting each other. There is Jeremiah quoting Micah, Daniel recognizing the book of Jeremiah, etc.

Therefore, long before there was ever an official Old Testament canon, the truly inspired books were recognized and circulated as such. So while the Council of Yavneh declared the books of the Old Testament as we now have them as official Scripture, they were already recognized as such for centuries. Furthermore, it was understood that Malachi was the last of the prophets and that the next prophet would be Elijah, announcing the arrival of the Messiah. It should be noted that the books of the Apocrypha were never recognized by the Jewish people as being inspired, and although they were available in the first century B.C. and in first century A.D., they were used for historical purposes in the same way that Josephus would later be used. Hence, they were never recognized as being inspired Scripture.

The New Testament followed the same format. The Scriptures the New Testament recognized were the 39 books of the Old Testament. Not only that, the New Testament also refers to the same three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures the Jewish people still use today: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (or Psalms, which is the first book of the Writings). So while the Apocrypha found in the Catholic Bible were already available in the first century, the New Testament does not treat them as Scripture and does not quote from them.

As for the inspiration of the New Testament, the principle we discussed in regards to the Hebrew Scriptures is also true for the New Testament: The books were recognized to be inspired when they were first written. For example, Peter, in spite of his differences with Paul, referred to the writings of the apostle as being Scripture. By the time the last apostle died, the 27 books included in the New Testament today were the ones recognized by the church at large as being inspired. All other books, such as the Apocrypha, were sometimes recognized by different parts of the church, but they were not recognized by the church as a whole. Therefore, the church councils finally met for the purpose of rejecting these other writings. So, whatever God had indeed inspired was recognized by the body of believers, and that was not true with other books written at that point of time.

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Question 6: What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and in truth,” and does the Bible specify a particular style of worship?

John 4:24 says:

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Answer: Concerning what Yeshua meant about worshipping God “in spirit and in truth,” one has to consider the context of Yeshua’s conversation with the Samaritan woman. In this conversation, the question came up whether Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim was the proper place of worship. Hence, the issue was not the form or type of worship, but rather: Must the worship of God occur in only one specific place? The Messiah declared to the Samaritan woman that, for the time being, Jerusalem was the proper place of worship. It was where the Temple stood and, therefore, worshipping God and trying to fulfill the commandments on Mount Gerizim was simply not acceptable. Then, He went on to say that a time was coming when the issue would be neither Jerusalem nor Mount Gerizim, but rather worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. When the Messiah died, the Law of Moses was rendered inoperative. Believers are no longer obligated to travel to Jerusalem to fulfill the commandments. Rather, they are able to worship God wherever they live, as long as they worship Him in spirit and in truth. To worship Him “in spirit” does not refer to a specific type of worship, but the inner attitude a man has when he worships God. When a person is worshiping God and their mind, heart, soul, spirit, etc., are focused on Him, then they are worshiping Him “in spirit.” To worship “in truth” is to worship Him with an understanding of the truths the Bible teaches about God’s nature and person and work. There was a time when worshipping God in spirit and in truth could only take place in Jerusalem, but now such worship can take place anywhere.

As far as the style of worship is concerned, in Scripture, the concept of worship was not so much intertwined with style or form, but with obedience. In places like Mark 7:1-11, keeping the commandments of God would be considered true worship, whereas keeping the commandments of men would be considered empty worship. Thus, whenever we are conscious of the commands applicable to us and are keeping them on the basis of the fact that they are divine commandments, the very act of obedience already involves worship.

Insofar as corporate worship is concerned, the rabbinic writings provide the details of what used to constitute corporate worship. To a great measure, corporate worship consisted of reciting prayers and the singing of psalms. I have met worship leaders who emphasized dancing, jumping, and shouting. Unfortunately, more often than not they were imposing their own charismatic culture on the text. That is not the way it was necessarily practiced in Judaism. This does not mean that these things are wrong, but they were not really the intent of the Hebrew and Greek words, nor was dancing, jumping, and shouting the format used by Jews in early worship. In fact, often, these worship styles lead to disorder, and that is why Paul warned the Corinthian church, primarily a Gentile church, that all things should be done decently and in order. Today, there are congregations that allow worship dancing, and many of them do so in a way that is honoring to the Lord. In others, they may call it worship dance, but frankly, I see hardly any difference between the dancing in these churches and the jumping up and down during a rock concert.

To a large measure, the style and type of worship tends to be determined by cultural preferences, and so God has given people much freedom here, as long as the principles of decency and order are not violated. Furthermore, any form of worship must not supersede the primary purpose of the meeting of the body—which is to learn from the exposition of the Word of God. The exposition of the Word of God and submission to it with knowledge and, therefore, in spirit and in truth, is the ultimate way of worshipping God.

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Question 5: What is the role of women in the following verses?

1 Corinthians 14:34-35: The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (NASB)

1 Timothy 2:11-12: A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (NASB)

Answer: Before answering this question, let me begin by simply noting that my tendency is to take the Bible literally unless there is something in the context that tells us we cannot do it that way. Therefore, I would take the passages you asked me about quite literally, as that is always the safest way to handle the Word of God.

However, I want to make sure it is understood that the issue is not that God thinks more of a man than a woman, or that men are superior to women in any spiritual sense (the reverse is often more true than not), nor is there any difference in regards to intellectual capacities between males and females. However, God has assigned different roles to male and female believers in the body of the Messiah, and the two passages you asked about bring out one of the ways these roles are to be manifested.

Concerning I Corinthians 14:34-35, the basic ruling is that in the meeting of the church, women should not speak publicly. This is true for any meeting of the local church, scheduled by the elders for any day of the week. The role of the woman is to be in submission, and Paul points out that this was applicable during the period of the law and continues into the dispensation of grace. However, the means of showing submission is quite different. In this age, one of the ways women show submission is to not speak out publicly in the meeting of the church but to remain silent, even to the point of not asking any questions. Beginning in chapter 12, Paul made it clear that women can have spiritual gifts as well, including the various speaking gifts, but the principal difference is the audience and the location. Women cannot use their speaking gifts in the meeting of the church.

First Timothy 2:11-12 adds that although women can have the same spiritual gifts as men, they cannot exercise the gift of teaching in reference to men. They can exercise their gift by teaching children or other women, but they cannot teach men. The very act of teaching the Scriptures means exercising spiritual authority, and women are not to have spiritual authority over men. This is the reason for that ruling.

For more details on this issue, see “The Role of Women in the Local Church” found in the Messianic Bible Study, mbs106, “The Local Church”.

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Question 4: Does the meaning of “forever” differ in the Old and New Testament?

Answer: The answer is that we are dealing with two different languages. What a word means in Hebrew might not be the same as what the word means in Greek.

In Classical Hebrew, there was no word that meant “forever” in the eternal sense. When the Jewish people wished to convey the concept of eternity, they had to use a phrase such as “without end.” The Hebrew word olam means nothing more than the end of a period of time. That period of time can be a man’s life, ten generations, an age of dispensation, or the end of human history. I have given a number of examples in my writing where you have all four usages of that term. Even those who want to claim that the Mosaic Law “is forever” often have to fudge because the same term is used for things like the Levitical priesthood, the blood sacrifices, and other elements that they all agree was not intended to be practiced forever in the eternal sense.

When the New Testament talks about our having eternal life, it uses a Greek word, ainos, and the Greek word does have the same connotation as the English word “forever.” That is why we can claim that our salvation is indeed eternal because it is not based upon a Hebrew word, but a Greek word that carries that meaning.

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Question 3: In the Bible, what does the expression mean “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”?

Answer: The expression is used in the Gospels and in the book of Revelation. It was an idiomatic statement teaching this: Those who have the capacity to understand what is being taught should therefore heed what is being taught, but also apply the teaching and obey any commandments contained therein.

For example, in the seven letters to the seven churches, there are specific admonitions given. The members of those local churches who have the spiritual capacity to understand are therefore to act upon those very admonitions.

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Question 2: I have not been able to find any verses regarding the age of accountability. Are there any Scriptures on this?

Answer: The reason you have not been able to find any verses that discuss the age of accountability is simple: The Bible never talks about an age of accountability.

The term “age of accountability” developed in early church history. There were infants and children who died before reaching the point in their life where they could make a specific decision, and the church raised the question what would happen to them. In some segments of the church, a teaching developed that there is an age of accountability, and if a child dies before that age, he is guaranteed salvation. Other segments of the church were not sure of this and came up with the doctrine of the baptism of regeneration. They taught that the baptism of a baby guarantees his salvation, regardless of the age of his death. That was the time when infant baptism came into being.

The fact is, the Bible itself never talks about such an age, nor does it specify one way or the other what happens to infants when they die. I certainly know what I wish to believe, but if I were forced to produce a verse, I would not be able to do so. It is one of those questions that must be left in God’s hands, although it is not always comforting to a parent who has lost a small child.

There are also those who are convinced that all children who die end up in hell since they are already born under the condemnation of sin. Here again, the Bible does not specify that teaching either. From my perspective, because the Bible does not speak to it, my response is that we cannot know. But we can be sure that the Judge of all the earth shall do right, and whatever He does in this case, we will all someday understand that it was the right decision.

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Question 1: In John 2:4, Yeshua responds to His mother, …

“Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (NASB) What does this mean?

Answer: Yeshua’s response to Miriam (Mary) in John 2:4 was not a sign of disrespect since He would then have dishonored His mother. Rather, He was using an acceptable phrase to convey a message. He was responding to a request His mother had made, and He conveyed to her that she no longer had any parental authority over Him. At some point in life, we all need to move from obeying our parents to honoring them. Therefore, if He responded to her request, it would be a matter of honoring her, but not a result of obeying her. Yeshua conveyed this message by the phrase “Woman, what have I to do with you?”

He went on to say, “My hour has not yet come.” In most cases, that phrase would refer to His death, but in this case, it refers to Him going public with His miracles. The place to go public would not be Cana, but Jerusalem, and so Yeshua waited until Passover to perform His first public miracle. When He turned water into wine at Cana, He did so to honor His mother, and He did it rather quietly. Only a small number of people actually became aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place.

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PURIM: THE FEAST OF LOTS (ESTHER 9:17-32)

. . . because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; . . . Esther 9:24

Today, there are nine major feasts or holy seasons of Israel. Seven of these were inaugurated by Moses in Leviticus 23.[1] Of the two which were inaugurated after the Mosaic feasts, one is Channukah, the Feast of the Dedication or the Feast of Lights; and the other is the Feast of Purim, a feast inaugurated in the Book of Esther.

THE NAMES OF THE FEAST

By far the most common name today is Purim, and this is the biblical name according to Esther 9:26. Purim is the plural form of the singular word Pur meaning “lot,” so Purim means “lots.” Purim is the Feast of Lots, and the reason this name was given is spelled out in Esther 9:24: because Haman had cast Pur, the lot, to destroy the Jews (Esth. 3:7; 9:24). Of course he did not succeed and now the feast celebrates the fact that God delivered his people from this threat. The Nazis banned Purim observances. Hitler, on January 31, 1944, said that if the Nazis went down in defeat, the Jews would celebrate a second triumphal Purim. How right he was! On October 16, 1946, ten Nazis were hung in Nuremberg like the ten sons of Haman. One of them was Julius Streicher, who said as he was hung, “Purim, 1946.”

Other names for this day include: “Mordecai’s Day” (II Maccabees 15:36; Esth. 9:20‑21), since Mordecai actually inaugurated this feast, and Id El Sukar, which is Arabic, meaning “the sweet festival.”[2]

PURIM IN THE SCRIPTURE

Esther 9:17-32 is the only passage that actually deals with this feast. From this passage we can deduce a total of eight observations and conclusions.

  1. Outside the capital city of Shushan, the first observance took place on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar.
  2. In Shushan, the first observance took place on the fifteenth day of Adar.
  3. This set the stage for a differential in later Jewish observances. To this day, in villages and unwalled towns, the Jews celebrate this feast on the fourteenth day of the month, but inside walled cities, they celebrate it on the fifteenth day of the month of Adar.
  4. There are five elements in observing the Feast of Purim. First, this was to be a time of feasting in place of fasting, which would have been the case had the Jews been slaughtered. Secondly, it was to be a day of gladness, in place of being a day of sorrow, which would have been the case if the Jews were slaughtered. Thirdly, it was to be a good day in place of a day of mourning, which would have been the case if Haman’s plot had succeeded. Fourthly, it was to be a day of giving portions one to another in place of their own possessions becoming a spoil. For, in order to motivate people to kill Jews, Haman said that those who killed the Jews would then have the right to take over their possessions, thus the Jews would then have had their possessions taken away. And, fifth, it was to be a day of giving gifts to the poor, in contrast to having nothing to give had Haman’s plot succeeded.
  5. The name for the feast was based on Haman’s actions: he cast the Pur, or he cast the lot, to determine on which day he would try to destroy the Jews.
  6. The Feast of Purim is observed because of Haman’s failure.
  7. The first observance of the Feast of Purim was purely spontaneous as a sign of relief because they had rest from their enemies.
  8. The practice of the yearly observance was initiated by Mordecai. It was his letters that encouraged the Jews to do so, and it was given the status of law by Queen Esther. The Jewish people then made a commitment to keep it yearly.

THE MESSIANIC IMPLICATIONS

Although the Feast of Purim contains no direct reference to the Messianic Person or Messianic Program, it does have something to teach about the Messianic People, the Jewish people. The Messianic Person is Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. The Messianic Program is to bring in the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom.

The Book of Esther is a good example of a principle found in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3): him that curses you will I curse.

This principle of the Abrahamic Covenant teaches that those who curse the Jews will be cursed by God. The principle of the Abrahamic Covenant contains a promise of Jewish survival throughout the Times of the Gentiles. Both the Law and the Prophets emphasize the fact that the Jews will survive, regardless of how bad it may get for them during the Times of the Gentiles-that is a biblical guarantee.

The key thing about the Messianic People as taught in the Book of Esther is an example of God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel in the Dispersion. The one thing about the Book of Esther that is not true of any other book of the Bible is that God’s name is found nowhere in this book. This makes the Book of Esther unique from all other books. There is no mention of God, no reference to God, and no prayer to God whatsoever. In fact, the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. For example, there is one situation in the book where Mordecai, the real hero of the book, is arguing with Esther to do something to help the Jews out of a dangerous predicament.

Mordecai’s words to Esther are in Esther 4:14:

For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, . . .

The two words, another place, is as close as this book will come to any possible reference to God. It is very obvious that the author of this book is deliberately going well out of his way to avoid mentioning God. But, if that is true, why is this book in the Scriptures? Although God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, God is working. However, God is not working in just any old way, He is working in a perfect way. He is working on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant, especially upon the one principle in that covenant: him that curses you will I curse.

Furthermore, we did need at least one example in Scripture that shows how God works by means of providence, rather than by means of direct intervention. Since throughout most of human history, God chooses to work providentially rather than by means of direct intervention, this book is a great example of how that system works.

The Book of Esther shows God’s use of providence to secure the survival of Israel during the period of the Dispersion. While great segments of the Jews may be killed, as it was with the Holocaust, God has guaranteed that the Jews as a people and as a nation will survive. And so it will be until Israel’s national salvation and the return of the Messiah. With Israel’s national salvation and with His return; there will be no further threat to Jewish survival whatsoever.

For a thorough discussion of Purim in Judaism, continue reading here.

Happy Purim!!



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

[2] This name was given by the Arabs of Jerusalem during the Turkish period (1517‑1917). It became the Jewish custom inJerusalem to give sugar candies to Moslem authorities on this day, thus, the Arabs began calling this feast the “Sweet Festival.”