- Interesting article from Jerusalem Post 2.0 : How a pro-Palestinian American reporter changed his views on Israel and the conflict
- The Biblical Festivals That Teach Us About Jesus Christ
- Eschatology 101 by D Paul Beck
- God’s Covenants with His People – Understanding Right Relationship….The Biblical Story
- Biblical Archaeology
- Seven Stars In His Hand
- Sowing and Reaping
- Silence, Stillness and Listening to God
Interesting article from Jerusalem Post 2.0 : How a pro-Palestinian American reporter changed his views on Israel and the conflict
The Biblical Festivals That Teach Us About Jesus Christ
Posted on Oct 1, 2003 by Mario Seiglie 1 commentEstimated reading time: 22 minutes
Few people are aware of the seven festivals God reveals in the Bible. Even fewer are aware that they center around and teach us a great deal about Jesus Christ and His role in God’s plan for all mankind.
“The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts” (Leviticus 23:2). Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? God Almighty saying in Scripture, “ These are My Feasts .”
Yet for most of traditional Christianity, these “feasts of the LORD” are thought to have been kept only by the Jews and are deemed meaningless for Christians. New religious holidays have been substituted that supposedly center on Jesus Christ.
How did all this come to be? What is the true meaning of these “feasts of the LORD”? Do they have anything to do with Jesus Christ, or is their symbolism limited only to long-ago events? If we truly want to find the answers in the manner God instructs us, then we should follow the advice He inspired: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
The Bible gives us a good example of how to examine a belief to see if it is correct. When the apostle Paul traveled to Berea, he taught the Bereans certain things that must have been surprising to them. But they didn’t close their minds or reject them. Instead, they were willing to give them a fair hearing by carefully examining the Scriptures. What was the result? We read in Acts 17:11-12 that these men and women “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed …”
So in examining the feasts of the Bible, will we give them a fair hearing as well? Do the Scriptures reveal whether these feasts teach us important truths about Jesus Christ?
The Passover: A Christ-centered feast?
The Passover is the first of God’s annual feast days mentioned in Scripture. It commemorates the greatest event in the people of Israel’s history—their miraculous liberation from Egypt. The second book of the Bible, Exodus, is dedicated to narrating this history. Observant Jews have been celebrating this feast for more than 3,400 years.
But is this feast only to celebrate the Israelites’ departure from Egypt? Does the New Testament have anything to say about the occasion?
When John the Baptist saw Jesus Christ coming to the Jordan River to be baptized, he exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
In the Bible the lamb is a symbol of the Passover because a lamb was slain at the beginning of the Passover and eaten that night. The Israelites knew the blood of the lamb had protected them from the death of their firstborn on that first Passover night they kept in Egypt (Exodus 12:12-13).
In the New Testament, the Gospels record that Christ kept the Passover with His disciples several times. On the night before His death, Jesus knew He was fulfilling the symbolism of the Passover lamb in voluntarily giving His life for the sins of the entire world.
Notice Luke 22:14-16: “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’”
Jesus then instituted the new symbols that represented not the sacrifice of a lamb, but His far greater sacrifice. The Passover symbols would now represent Christ’s complete sacrifice—the unleavened bread representing His sinless body that was beaten for us, and a sip of wine signifying the lifeblood He would shed to wash away our sins.
From then on, this feast took on a much greater new meaning to the Church. Instead of being abolished, this feast now revealed its true, ultimate meaning. The disciples now realized the Passover lamb was only the physical forerunner of that perfect sacrifice which was Jesus Christ. Now they would keep this feast with far greater significance and comprehension.
Paul explains the Christian Passover
Some 25 years after Christ’s death, the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian congregation—composed of believing Jews and gentiles alike—about the Passover: “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7, emphasis added throughout).
Paul understood this ancient feast of the Passover had now revealed its true meaning with Christ’s sacrifice. It was part of God’s plan for all of mankind that Jesus would come and sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world—and the Passover anticipated it.
So, far from being obsolete, the Passover was revealed to have a vastly important meaning for Christians, with Jesus Christ being at its very center.
The apostle Paul explained this new understanding of the Passover to the Corinthian brethren when he instructed them on how to observe it: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed [Passover night] took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’
“In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
So in the New Testament, the Passover becomes an annual reminder and symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for all of us.
God’s feasts reveal the future
The apostle Paul clearly understood that these biblical feasts were harbingers of what was to come in God’s master plan of salvation. In a passage frequently misunderstood by many, Paul shows these feasts of the Lord were “shadows” of things to come—not of things that have already happened.
He warned the brethren not to be intimidated by some who were questioning their manner of keeping God’s feasts, as well as the Sabbaths, new moons, and eating and drinking. He said, “So let no one judge [criticize or condemn] you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come … Let no one cheat you of your reward …” (Colossians 2:16-18).
Paul was combating a group of ascetics who were introducing several strange doctrines, including worshiping angels (verse 18) and abstaining from wholesome food and drink (verse 21). He told the brethren to ignore them and continue observing what he had taught (and he certainly taught keeping the Passover, as we have seen). Regrettably, the Colossian brethren had been cowed by these self-righteous intruders and were starting to shy away from observing these feasts.
So Paul mentions how important they are, as foreshadowing coming events in God’s plan for mankind. These events have not been completely accomplished so far, and many are still in the future.
Even the Passover’s symbolism was not completely fulfilled with Christ’s sacrificial death. Jesus Himself said He will again take the Passover with all the believers in God’s Kingdom (Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:15-16)—an act that represents the ultimate triumph of His sacrifice when all believers join Him in His Kingdom.
The Days of Unleavened Bread: Is Christ at the center?
What about the Days of Unleavened Bread? Are they obsolete, solely an Old Testament symbol? Or are they also glorious shadows of things to come?
In the Old Testament, the Days of Unleavened Bread were understood to be a memorial of what occurred after the Passover night, when all the Egyptian firstborn died.
The next morning the Israelites packed their belongings and traveled to a nearby gathering place, ready for departure. That evening, they left Egypt by night. “It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:42).
Before that evening, one last thing occurred: “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves” (verse 39).
This feast of the Lord is clearly spelled out in Leviticus 23:6: “And on the fifteenth day of the same month [as Passover] is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.”
What does this feast have to do with Christ? What does it teach us about Him?
Unleavened bread—bread made without leaven—is mentioned in the Bible as something pure and unpolluted. All the grain sacrifices to be burned were to be made without leaven. “No grain offering which you bring to the LORD shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the LORDmade by fire” (Leviticus 2:11).
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul explains the spiritual symbolism of unleavened bread. Rebuking the Church members in Corinth for their acceptance of sin, he tells them: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).
Yes, as Paul states, it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that removes our sins, and so we become “unleavened” in a spiritual sense. So, again, Jesus Christ is the focus of this feast of the Lord. The shadow of this feast points to what Jesus would do for all of us in cleansing us of sin and helping us to live sin-free lives.
Paul told the Corinthian brethren that they should continue to keep this feast that followed the Passover. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (verse 8).
We see, then, that the spiritual meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread was revealed. Its deeper significance wasn’t ultimately found in what had occurred in the Old Testament, but in Jesus Christ, the sinless one, who purged our sins and gave us a chance to be spiritually “unleavened” before God. As the apostle Jude noted, Jesus “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
So Jesus Christ is at the center of this second feast of the Lord, too. He makes it possible for us to be spiritually “unleavened” before God.
Pentecost: Is Christ at the center of this feast?
In the Old Testament, the Feast of Pentecost is called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22). This is because Leviticus 23:15-16 mentions counting seven weeks (or Sabbaths) or “fifty days” from the day the wave sheaf was offered during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Thus the feast acquired the name of “fiftieth,” which is what Pentecost means in the Greek language of the New Testament.
In the New Testament, 50 days after Christ had been resurrected, the first Christians were celebrating Pentecost, one of the feasts of the Lord. And, as recorded in Acts 2, what a day that was! On it they received the Holy Spirit from God. Suddenly the Old Testament Feast of Weeks had taken on a new meaning for them. The shadow of this feast had now become a reality! Pentecost would become the Church’s anniversary of the receiving of God’s Spirit.
Jesus Christ revealed the significance of this feast by sending the Holy Spirit to His brethren in the faith. He had told them, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; compare John 16:7).
God’s Spirit plays a crucial role in the life of Christians today as it did then. When a person receives God’s Spirit upon repentance and baptism, that Spirit begins a process of spiritual transformation in the person’s life, a transformation the Bible calls conversion (to learn more, request or download the free booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion ).
Through this process, we shed our own way of thinking and living and allow Jesus Christ’s attitude and way of life to guide everything we do. Paul described this life-transforming change in Galatians 2:20:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (King James Version).
Thus we see that Jesus is at the center of the Feast of Pentecost as well. Yet the ultimate fulfillment will only be realized after He returns to earth to establish God’s Kingdom, when all will have access to God’s Spirit. So this feast should still be kept as a memorial and a shadow until its purpose is completely accomplished.
Do we find the first-century Church continuing to keep Pentecost? In the book of Acts, we read of the apostle Paul hurrying to be in Jerusalem to keep this feast with the brethren. “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).
Even in one of Paul’s epistles in which he writes so much about the gospel message, he refers to his plans to remain in Ephesus to observe Pentecost with the Church members there before traveling to Corinth.
He writes: “I do not want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost” (1 Corinthians 16:7-8, New Revised Standard Version).
The Feast of Trumpets: Is this a Christ-centered feast?
The next biblical feast is referred to in the Bible as the Feast of Trumpets. It is “a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24, NRSV). God said when the trumpets were blown, “you will be remembered before the LORDyour God, and you will be saved from your enemies” (Numbers 10:9).
Is the Feast of Trumpets also a shadow of Jesus Christ and His role in things to come?
In the New Testament, the symbolism of the trumpet is mentioned by Jesus. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).
Often in the New Testament the sound of trumpets is tied to Christ’s coming. Notice Paul’s description of the resurrection of the dead at the time a great trumpet announces Christ’s return: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
We find this again described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
So Christ will ultimately fulfill the symbolism behind the Feast of Trumpets. He is the center of this foreshadowing feast too. At His second coming, the trumpet shall sound, announcing the arrival of the King of Kings. Loud voices proclaim, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
But until the sound of the trumpet is heard, this feast is still pointing to the future, and its meaning is still to be fulfilled—with Jesus at its center.
The Day of Atonement: Is Christ involved in its meaning?
Perhaps the most unusual of the biblical feasts is the Day of Atonement. In Old Testament times, it included an elaborate ritual described in Leviticus 16. The high priest was to present two male goats, the first of which was sacrificed for the nation’s sins (verse 15). Then, after the sins of the nation were symbolically placed on the other goat, it was expelled into the desert to a life of wandering (verses 21-22).
What does the Day of Atonement reveal about Jesus Christ’s roles? Is He also at the center of this feast?
The Bible is full of rich symbolism, and the New Testament Church quickly realized Christ in His first coming was at the center of the feasts of the Lord. Just as He was described as being “our Passover” and “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), so they came to understand that He was at the center of the Day of Atonement. How? He fulfilled the role of the male goat slain for the sins of Israel and carried outside the camp (Leviticus 16:27).
We read in Hebrews 13 about the Day of Atonement, and Christ being symbolic of the male goat and other animals slain on that day as sin offerings. “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate [of the city of Jerusalem]” (verses 11-12).
We should consider that while Christ has already been sacrificed, the atonement His sacrifice provides has not yet been applied to all of Israel. That will happen upon Israel’s repentance at Christ’s second coming.
Not only does the Day of Atonement depict Christ’s sacrifice for sin and a true spiritual reconciling of the people with God, but Christ is directly involved in the symbolism of the other male goat that was cast out into the desert by a strong man (Leviticus 16:21).
The second goat, over which the sins of the Israelites were confessed, represented the instigator of those sins—none other than Satan the devil.
At Christ’s second coming, He will instruct a powerful angel to bind Satan and cast him into a place of restraint for 1,000 years, exiling him from mankind just as the live goat was exiled from the Israelite camp on the Day of Atonement. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-2).
So Christ plays a dual role in the symbolism of the Day of Atonement. He is sacrificed as the first goat for the sins of the people, the atonement of which is yet to be applied to all Israel upon the nation’s repentance at His return. And He will also be involved, as King of Kings, in banishing Satan at that time to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Feast of Tabernacles: How is Christ the center of this feast?
Next is the sixth biblical feast, the Feast of Tabernacles . In the Old Testament, it was kept to remind the Israelites of all of God’s miraculous interventions during the 40-year period in the wilderness. “All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42-43).
What does the Feast of Tabernacles have to do with Jesus Christ? Jesus is recorded to have kept this feast in John 7:2-36. The symbol of the tabernacle in the New Testament is rich with meaning.
During Christ’s earthly ministry, the apostle John mentions that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Greek term for “dwelt” here actually means that He “tabernacled” among us. Just as Jesus Christ as the Creator God of the Old Testament (John 1:1-3, 10; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16) “tabernacled” with the Israelites in the wilderness, He now did so with His people in His physical life many centuries later.
The apostle Paul says that the Israelites in the wilderness all “drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4, New International Version).
At Christ’s second coming, He will again “tabernacle” with those who are saved. He will dwell with His people for a thousand years, and this 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ over the earth is the ultimate fulfillment of this feast. “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
So Christ is definitely at the center of this feast too—as the ruler who “tabernacles” with His people for a thousand years.
The Last Great Day
The Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days. Then, on the eighth day, there followed another, separate feast day, the last of the biblical feasts (Leviticus 23:36). What does this day have to do with Jesus Christ?
In John 7, an account of Jesus Christ’s last Feast of Tabernacles on earth, we find Jesus declaring the significance of its conclusion. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).
He was talking about His return to earth, when He will freely offer the Holy Spirit to those who will believe in Him. Jesus died for all of mankind, but only a fraction have ever had the opportunity to know about Him and accept His offer of receiving the Holy Spirit.
Yet during Christ’s 1,000-year reign, all of mankind will be offered God’s Spirit. And beyond that, the Bible reveals there will come a future time when Christ will offer it to those who rise up in a resurrection of the dead from all past ages. In Revelation 20, we read what happens after the Millennium (pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles) is completed:
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away … And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:11-12).
This period is also called the White Throne Judgment, and it is Christ who has been appointed to judge all of mankind (John 5:26-27; Romans 14:10). This does not mean immediate condemnation but a judgment period, since the Book of Life is opened—meaning an opportunity is opened to receive God’s Spirit and have one’s name written into it. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:3 of those “who labored with me in the gospel … and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
So Christ will also carry out the central role of this final feast, that of lovingly and mercifully offering the multitudes of the uninformed and the deceived an opportunity for conversion and salvation and to have their names inscribed in the Book of Life.
Thus, the seven feasts of the Lord are “a shadow of things to come,” and Jesus Christ is at the center of all of them. Yet He has not brought them to ultimate fulfillment; that will only occur in the coming Kingdom of God.
Yes, Christ is our Passover, He is the Unleavened Bread that purifies us, the Giver of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the coming King whose arrival is announced by the blast of the trumpets, the one who banishes Satan for a thousand years, and who tabernacles with man as King of kings. Finally, He is to judge mankind and offer the great majority an opportunity to have their names written in the Book of Life.
This is why God’s Church kept these feasts as shown in the New Testament (see “‘The Feasts of the Lord’ in the Book of Acts” on page 25). This is why these holy feasts are still to be kept—to remind us of the central role Jesus Christ has in carrying out in the plan of God. Isn’t it about time you started keeping them yourself? GN
http://ref.ly/o/fsbdevotional/275603 via the Logos Bible Android app.
The Making of a King
The Festival of Shavuot is intimately connected with King David. Firstly because King David passed away on Shavuot, but also because the story of his great grandmother, Ruth happened during the harvest time of Shavuot. The story of David however started a long, long time ago, way back at the beginning of history…
The making of a King
Adam gave 70 years of his life to a boy that was supposed to live only a few hours. Adam passed away at 930 years. David lived for 70, so the Midrash explains. And so arose one of the mightiest heroes in history.
The narrative of King David starts extremely gloomy, almost hopeless. The Bible hints to this. Why does he speak of such abandonment in the Psalms, times when he could only rely on God, even from his birth? Why is he hidden as a shepherd boy away from his well-known father and amazing brothers? The Talmud casts some light on this: His mother, an extremely righteous woman, for most of his childhood was known for “apparently” conceiving him in shameful conditions after his father divorced her having doubts to his own ancestry. His grandmother was from one of the most abhorred nations, her conversion to Judaism casted a questionable halachic shadow over the lineage. And so the boy grew up – a child of disgrace, not only from the community, but also from his famous father and brothers. Rewind even a few hundred years earlier when his great-great grandfather had relations with an apparent prostitute, honing in on him at the cross roads. In fact, she totally framed him*.
This was the background and foundation of the greatest and most beloved king of Jewish history. Warrior and musician, but above all, a man after God’s heart.
The secret behind the making of this righteous monarch is a culmination of deeply developed dynamics – strands that could only have been weaved together by the Highest Wisdom. One of these dynamics would be the hidden truth underlying the apparent shameful narrative leading up to the anointing of a shepherd boy – a discussion that is too long to enter into in this specific article. Another is his well-known unconditional devotion to his Maker. But perhaps the most difficult dynamic to execute was David’s mastery of unifying two completely juxtaposed character traits making up what is called “malchut” or kingship. These traits are called “hitnasut” (exaltedness) and “shiflut” (humility). Before God he moved with complete humility, before his enemies he was fearless.
The Faces of Lions
David’s skill as a warrior became renowned after he killed Goliath and the rest regarding him as a formidable warrior is history, as we say. But David also gathered around him a formidable force of warriors who rallied around his leadership and dedicated themselves to his command, long before he was crowned king. We are talking about a loyalty so strong that these men broke through enemy lines just to bring David water. Not because he was thirsty or because there was no water in the vicinity. Because David longed for water from a specific well – a well that happened to be at that specific time under enemy rule.
The Tanach describes David’s men: “they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed…They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.”
1 Chron 12:2 and 8
His army concentrically surrounded him with utmost camaraderie. Close to him were the most skilled and fearsome warriors and confidants known as “The Three”. They were Adino the Eznite, Eleazar, son of Dodo the Ahohite and Shammah, son of Agee the Hararite.
Their exploits were impressive. Adino, the first in rank, “killed eight hundred men at one time”. Shammah, ranking third, defended a field of lentils single-handedly against a troop of Philistines, killing them all while he stood in the middle of the field. The second man, Eleazar was an outstanding warrior. When the Philistines defied Israel and gathered for an epochal battle against them, Eleazar found himself in a critical position as all the men of Israel had “gone away” as described in the Bible. Eleazar stood against the enemy alone. He pressed the battle against the Philistines, attacking them with his sword. He fought so long and hard that Bible describes that his hand and sword became one – his hand “froze” to the sword. 2 Samuel 23 recalls these stories. These three were followed by what was known as the “Thirty”, forming the nucleus of his formidable army.
The Pen, more formidable than the sword
David undauntedly led his armies and subdued his enemies. But this mighty warrior is even more known for his musicality and the immense spiritual force behind his Psalms. When examined closely in Hebrew, these psalms consist of carefully chosen, mindfully organized and intricately woven words shaking the heavenly and earthly realms. They are as relevant today as they were 3000 years ago and part of the building blocks of our daily prayers.
David’s history in a nutshell
Born: Beit Lechem (907-837 BCE)
Father: Yishai ben Oved
Mother: Nitzevet bat Adael
Great Grandmother: Ruth the Moabite
David was the 8th son to Yishai and grew up a shepherd boy. He was anointed by the Prophet Samuel after all seven of his other brothers were presented. It is only after Samuel inquired if there is another son that David was brought in from the field. He was described as ruddy and handsome with beautiful eyes. This occasion wasn’t made public yet and David only rose to fame after killing the giant Goliath, the hero of the Philistine armies. David became an overnight house hold name and led Saul’s armies with great success. This led to unmeasured jealousy from the present King fearing the loss of his already fading fame to that of the new hero of Israel. David became a fugitive for many years until the death of King Saul.
He was crowned King of Judah at the age of 30. He ruled seven and a half years in Hevron, the capitol of the Tribe of Judah before he was crowned king of all Israel. He reigned for 35 years as king of Israel.
Jerusalem, the City of David – Eternal Capital of the Jewish people
After a seven and a half year reign in Hevron, representatives of all the tribes of Israel gathered to call upon David to lead a United Israel as King. As David agreed, he made a strategic move different from all the judges as well as King Saul who preceded him. Up till then these leaders led the nation from their homes within their tribal territories. David however chose the stronghold of Zion as the new Capital of the Tribal Confederation of Israel. At that time Jerusalem, known as Jebus, was the last Caananite stronghold not yet under Israelite rule since the conquest of the Land of Israel by Yehoshua.
There are many theories to why David chose Jerusalem as the capitol. The major reasons are that it stood central within all the tribal territories, it had a constant water supply from the Gihon spring as well as its geographical position in terms of defense as a high ridge towering over the enclaving valleys. But even more important, according to Jewish tradition the fortified city bordered the mountain where Avraham bound Yitzchak and where Yaakov saw the ladder, the meeting place of Heaven and Earth – the place that God chose as His abode among His people. David fused the holy site with the political seat of power, unifying the spiritual and political culture of Israel.
The answer to a millennia old conundrum – right in front of your eyes…
The conquest of the city and the secret behind David’s victory over it remains a riddle within the context of the Bible. Most obvious reason is that even David himself after conquering the city, was not willing to record the strategy in the Chronicles of the kings, as it would have served counterproductive if such a secret would fall into the wrong hands. And so the amazing discoveries that were made during the excavations of the City of David, casted some light on the 3000 year old secret of how the city was eventually conquered. A tour of the City of David offers pure indulgence to the curious who wishes to see how the physical layout of the city hints towards the answer of this ancient old riddle.
*The Story of Judah and Tamar can be found in Genesis 38
The Voice New Testament (part of the Introduction)
Introduction to the New Testament
God’s Covenants with His People
Covenants Are All Around Us
Our lives are filled with many di!erent kinds of commitments or promises
that may then be formalized into contracts. When couples exchange vows in
a wedding, for example, they are entering into the covenant of marriage. Each
person brings something to the relationship and can expect certain things
in return. When someone buys or sells in the market, a covenant is made for
goods or services. When a person goes to work for a company, covenants
and contracts—some formal, others informal—are necessarily involved. When
students receive a syllabus from an instructor, they are taking part in a covenant
with their university. In every covenant, the agreeing parties bring something
to the table. As we know from experience, di!erent kinds of covenants have
di!erent kinds of expectations.
If we think about it, we realize that covenants are woven into the fabric of
our everyday lives. Since so much of our lives are lived in covenant-making and
covenant-keeping actions, the “covenant” became the perfect vehicle to carry
God’s plan to restore the broken world. The Christian Scriptures—both Old and
New Testaments—bear witness to this covenant story.
But what is a “testament”? Simply put, a testament is a covenant, a contract,
an agreement between two or more people or parties. So “testament” is a
relational term; it implies that a relationship exists between at least two people.
Often it is the act that establishes the relationship in the first place and makes
the future possible.
The Story of God’s Promises
The heart of the Christian Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, is a
narrative of God’s covenants with and promises to His people and the world.
Concerned with the proliferation of evil, sin, and its dire consequences on His
creation, God decides that the best route to reclaim His broken creation is to
reveal Himself to one person, and to another, and then to another, on the way to
redeeming the entire world.
The New Testament is part two of the Christian Scriptures. It consists of 27
books that were written originally in Greek within a generation or two of Jesus’
death and resurrection. So while it may seem that you have in hand one book, it
is not one book at all. The New Testament is a collection of books, the Book of
books—Gospels, letters, a history, and an apocalypse—that tell us about the life
of Jesus and the beginnings of the movement He founded. For most believers
throughout history it has spoken as the norm for what they believe and how
they live. So in that sense, it is the church’s book. Here we find the beginnings of
our own story.
The Foundation: Four Covenants
The first part of the Bible is the Old Testament. It essentially tells the story
of four covenants that lay the foundation for the new covenant inaugurated in
Jesus, our Liberating King. The first covenant involves God’s promise to Noah,
his family, and the world that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood.
God places a rainbow in the sky as a sign of that promise. When God sees the
rainbow, He remembers His covenant. After the floodwaters recede and the ark
is resting on dry land, He instructs Noah and his family to populate the earth.
This is the same command He gave the first man and woman in the garden.
Creation starts over with Noah, his wife, and their children. Still it isn’t long
before sin’s presence is once again felt in the world.
God makes a second covenant with a man named Abraham many
generations after Noah’s descendants have divided into nations and wandered
far from their Creator. He brings to the table a number of promises for the
wandering nomad and his family. He promises to give him a land, make him a
great nation, give him a great name, and, perhaps most significantly, bless all
the nations of the world through his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham
responds to God’s call with faith and obedience. His journey is di”cult;
nevertheless, he continues in faith and becomes the father of a great nation.
Abraham doesn’t live long enough to see all of God’s promises fulfilled.
After Abraham’s death, God renews this covenant with each successive heir.
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, wrestles with God and struggles to remain faithful.
Eventually, Abraham’s descendants travel south to Egypt and become slaves
in that land under Pharaoh’s heel. The promise that Abraham would become a
great nation seems all but impossible to generations of Hebrew slaves.
The third covenant in the Old Testament is between God and Israel,
the descendants of Abraham. This covenant begins with a powerful act of
deliverance when God rescues the Hebrew slaves from bondage in Egypt.
The Eternal One answers the prayers of Abraham’s hurting people, raising up
Moses to demand from Pharaoh that the Hebrew people be set free. After a
convincing display of power over the gods of Egypt and the waters of the sea,
God instructs Moses to lead the former slaves to Mount Sinai. With the people
camped at Sinai’s base, Moses ascends the mountain to receive God’s law, His
blueprint for their lives and society. God promises to be with His people, protect
and deliver them, and lead them into the promised land, a land flowing with milk
and honey. In this covenant, the people of Israel pledge to obey and worship
God alone, or else they will face harsh consequences. While obedience to God
is guaranteed to bring blessing and prosperity in the land, disobedience brings
adversity and the curse. Ultimately that will mean exile from the land of promise.
Centuries later, God comes to King David through the prophet Nathan
to establish a fourth covenant. He promises David three things: David’s son
(Solomon) will build God a temple, his dynasty will continue forever, and God
will relate to David’s son as His own son (2 Samuel 7:12-16). God’s covenant with
David becomes the basis for what is known as the messianic promise. That is the
expectation that one day one of David’s descendants would be God’s Anointed,
the Liberating King. According to the prophets, the Liberating King would
be God’s agent to realize all of God’s promises, renew the world, and bring
salvation to the ends of the earth.
God’s Anointed Fulfills the Covenants
These covenant promises and relationships compose the central story
of the Old Testament, bearing witness to God’s dealings with the world, His
people, and finally all the nations. As God’s plan and will unfold, each covenant
brings the world nearer to God’s kingdom, His ultimate rule over creation. These
covenants become the basis for all the promises and hopes that are fulfilled
in Jesus, who is God’s Anointed, the Liberating King. That’s why this collection
of books known as the Old Testament is so important to early Christians. The
followers of Jesus found His coming anticipated on almost every page. As you
will see, the Old Testament stands in relationship to the New Testament as
promise does to fulfillment, as foundation to temple, as classic to contemporary:
You cannot have one without the other. The earlier covenants pave the way and
make the last covenant, the new covenant, possible.
The New Covenant (sort of..but not really) It Is Like The Final Act Which Brings About A Fulfillment of the Original Covenant God Made With Abraham
The phrase “New Testament” goes back to the prophet Jeremiah. About
600 years before Jesus performed His first miracle, the prophet received a
message from the Eternal One. In that oracle, he said that a day will come when
God establishes a new covenant with His people. Unlike His earlier covenant, this
time God will write His words upon the hearts of His people. The new covenant
makes it possible for everyone to know the Eternal One and for forgiveness of
sins to be extended to all (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Other prophets had seen and
prophesied about how God would go about restoring His people and rescuing
the world, but Jeremiah is known uniquely as the prophet of the new covenant.
Jesus knew these prophecies; so, on the night before He died, He ate
with His disciples for the last time. He took the bread and wine, which
commemorated God’s deliverance of the Hebrew slaves, and o!ered them to His
Then He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with them.
Jesus: This is My body, My body given for you. Do this to remember Me.
And similarly, after the meal had been eaten, He took the cup.
Jesus: This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant, made in My blood.
Reshaping the World
According to Jesus, the new covenant promised by Jeremiah—a covenant
that would shake and radically shape the world—was being fulfilled through His
death on the cross. God’s plan to deal with sin and redeem creation reached its
climax in the covenant established by Jesus, the Liberating King.
As you read through the New Testament, we invite you to enter into this
story of beauty and grace. Unlike other stories you may hear, ancient or modern,
this story is completely true.
David B. Capes, PhD
The Voice New Testament
Copyright © 2011 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Voice™ translation © 2011 Ecclesia Bible Society
Biblical Archaeology: Ancient Civilization
Biblical archaeology really begins with the Sumerian civilization of about 2500 BC. To date, numerous sites and artifacts have been uncovered that reveal a great deal about the ancient Mesopotamian culture. One of the most dramatic finds is the Sumerian King List, which dates to approximately 2100 BC. This collection of clay tablets and prisms is most exciting because it divides the Sumerian kings into two categories; those who reigned before the “great flood” and those who reigned after it. The lists are also dramatic because they include the ages of the kings before and after the “great flood,” which show the same phenomenal life span changes mentioned in the Bible. Actually, records of a global flood are found throughout most ancient cultures. For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh from the ancient Babylonians contains an extensive flood story. Discovered on clay tablets in locations such as Ninevah and Megiddo, the Epic even includes a hero who built a great ship, filled it with animals, and used birds to see if the water had receded (see Genesis 7-8).
Biblical Archaeology: Ancient Law & Culture
Biblical archaeology continues with the great military civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia and their ultimate impact on law and culture throughout the region. One significant find is the Law Code of Hammurabi, which is a seven foot tall, black diorite carving containing about 300 laws of Babylon’s King Hammurabi (Hammurapi). Dated to about 1750 BC, the Law Code contains many civil laws that are similar to those found in the first five books of the Bible. Another find at the ancient city of Nuzi near the Tigris River uncovered approximately 20,000 clay tablets. Dated between 1500 and 1400 BC, these cuneiform texts explain the culture and customs of the time, many of which are similar to those found in the early books of the Bible.
Biblical Archaeology: Ancient Israel
Biblical archaeology then turns to the evidence for the early Israelites. The Merneptah Stele (also known as the Israel Stele) is an upright stone slab measuring over seven feet tall that contains carved hieroglyphic text dating to approximately 1230 BC. The Egyptian stele describes the military victories of Pharaoh Merneptah and includes the earliest mention of “Israel” outside the Bible. Although the specific battles covered by the stele are not included in the Bible, the stele establishes extra-biblical evidence that the Israelites were already living as a people in ancient Canaan by 1230 BC. In addition to the Stele, a large wall picture was discovered in the great Karnak Temple of Luxor (ancient Thebes), which shows battle scenes between the Egyptians and Israelites. These scenes have also been attributed to Pharaoh Merneptah and date to approximately 1209 BC. The Karnak Temple also contains records of Pharaoh Shishak’s military victories about 280 years later. Specifically, the Shishak Relief depicts Egypt’s victory over King Rehoboam in about 925 BC, when Solomon’s Temple in Judah was plundered. This is the exact event mentioned in 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12.
Outside Egypt, we also discover a wealth of evidence for the early Israelites. The Moabite Stone (Mesha Stele) is a three-foot stone slab discovered near Dibon ,East of the Dead Sea, that describes the reign of Mesha, King of Moab, around 850 BC. According to Genesis 19; the Moabites were neighbors of the Israelites. The stele covers victories by King Omri and Ahab of Israel against Moab, and Mesha’s later victories on behalf of Moab against King Ahab’s descendants (2 Kings 3). The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser is a seven-foot, four-sided pillar of basalt that describes the victories of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria. Dated to about 841 BC, the Obelisk was discovered in the ancient palace of Nimrud and shows Israel’s King Jehu kneeling before the Assyrian king in humble tribute (see 2 Kings 9-10).
Biblical Archaeology: The House of David and Solomon’s Temple
Biblical archaeology covering ancient Israeli kings and culture received a huge lift in 1994 when archaeologists discovered a stone inscription at the ancient city of Dan, which refers to the “House of David.” The House of David Inscription (Tel Dan Inscription) is important because it’s the first ancient reference to King David outside the Bible. Specifically, the stone is a victory pillar of a King in Damascus dated about 250 years after David’s reign, which mentions a “king of Israel” (probably Joram, son of Ahab) and a king of the “House of David” (probably Ahaziah of Judah). Another important find is the House of Yahweh Ostracon, which is a pottery shard dated to about 800 BC that contains a written receipt for a donation of silver shekels to Solomon’s Temple. Written approximately 130 years after the completion of the Temple, this appears to be the earliest mention of Solomon’s Temple outside the Bible.