Drunkenness is a sin, and claiming to be drunk in the Holy Spirit is blasphemy.
Nowhere in the Bible are believers encouraged to seek to be “Drunk in the Spirit”. When the Bible speaks of being drunk, it's always in the negative sense. The only place in Scripture that speaks implicitly of the idea of “spiritual drunkenness” is Isaiah 29:9-14, which refers to God’s judgment against sin and apostasy. In other words, the Spirit brings drunkenness and blindness as a punishment against Israel because of her refusal to listen to and obey God's instruction.
Those who promote being "Drunk in the Spirit" misuse Acts 2:13 as justification for their experiences, belief and practice. At Shavuot (Pentecost), while the (Holy Spirit filled) apostles were preaching the Gospel, some in the crowd said, “They have had too much wine.” The accusation was a mockery of the apostles, and Kefa (Peter), their spokesman, unequivocally denied this assertion of drunkenness (v. 15). In fact, to speak of being "Drunk in the Holy Spirit," is to impugn His character, because anyone who causes or participates in inebriation commits sin. Is the Holy Spirit capable of sin? A curse on that idea!
Shaul (Paul) the Shaliach (Sent One/apostle) wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:15-18).
Shaul is saying that getting drunk is part of our former sinful way of life, and that to be drunk is debased and “leads to debauchery” (compare Colossians 1:21; Romans 13:13). The Greek word asotia translated debauchery or excess, means “lawless, excess, riot”, the modern equivalent might be Anarchy (manifest lawlessness).
Shaul deliberately contrasts the state of drunkenness (a loss of control, chaos, the opposite of self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit) with the indwelling of the Spirit of God (through Whom we gain self-control, the opposite of drunkenness) [Galatians 5:19-23].
Galatians 5:19-21 lists drunkness along side the works of the flesh (fallen nature), which are, "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, contention, foolish zeal, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders..." and goes on to say, "Those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
While we may have ecstatic experiences of the Holy Spirit, He does not cause drunkenness, nor is being filled with the Holy Spirit measured by ecstatic expression. Rather, the measure of a person's being filled with the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Yeshua says, "You will know them by their fruit" (Matt. 7:16-20).
God is a God of order, drunkenness (chaos) is disorder, the fruit of Ha-Satan (The Accuser, Devil, Enemy).
Acting drunk and attributing it to the Holy Spirit of God is a blasphemous sin, and being made drunk by a spirit requires deliverance and should be discerned by those who have the gift of discernment, which is given by the Holy Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against such things there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23
© 2019 Yaakov Brown
When we place our trust in the implementation of immoral legislation and seek entertainment in the den of witchcraft, we are no better than that wicked ancient nation Babylon (confusion).
At the time it was first spoken (By Isaiah) and recorded (by Isaiah’s scribe) Isaiah 47 was prophetic of the near future. It is now also a description of history, because the events of Babylon’s demise alluded to in this portion of the scroll of Isaiah literally came to pass (Twice in close succession ref. Cyrus and Darius). Finally, it remains prophetically future, because Revelation 17 & 18 describe a similar destruction that is yet to come upon a revived Babylonian empire in the latter days. Thus, the reality of the nature of Biblical Hebrew prophecy is illuminated yet again. Biblical Hebrew prophecy is God speaking into time and space that which He has already seen complete outside of time and space. Therefore, within time and space Hebrew prophecy appears to take on a cyclical nature. From our purview it is rarely fulfilled once, to the contrary, almost every Biblical Hebrew prophecy has and will have multiple fulfillments within the time and space bound journey of human history.
Isa 47:1 Rediy Come down, sink down, descend usheviy and sit, dwell, remain al in, upon afar ashes, rubbish, dust, betulat virgin bat daughter Bavel (Babylon, confusion); sheviy sit, dwell, remain la-aretz on the land eiyn-kisei without a throne, Bat-kasdiym daughter Chaldea (increasing)! Kiy For, because lo no more tosifiy will you increase (be added to), yikreu lach you will be called rakah weak, tender va-anugah and delicate.
“Descend and remain in garbage virgin daughter confusion; remain sitting on the ground without any power, daughter of those who increase their wealth at the expense of others. For you will no longer increase your holdings and power, you will be called weak and delicate, vulnerable.” -Authors paraphrase
“Descend and sit in the dust, kingdom of the congregation of Babylon; sit on the ground, there is no throne of glory, kingdom of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called
tender and delicate.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The poetic allusions to virginity and youth are meant to convey the idea that Babylon as a super power, had stood for some time unchallenged and therefore, figuratively speaking had not been deflowered, that is, had its power taken from it.
In order to build a platform for avoiding the miraculous virgin birth of the Messiah, many modern Jewish commentators translate the Hebrew Betulat as “fair maiden, young woman etc.” However, with regard to the scroll of Isaiah, our ancient rabbis have always understood Betulah to refer to a virgin (a young woman “that has not been deflowered”-Iben Ezra) in the context of Isaiah. In referencing the current verse, Iben Ezra writes:
“Babylon is like a virgin…”
Additionally, the rabbis who translated the Hebrew text of Isaiah into Greek as part of the Greek version of the Tanakh (OT), the Septuagint, chose the Greek word “Parthenos”, meaning, a marriageable maiden, one who has never had intercourse, a virgin etc.
Babylon would lose her throne to Cyrus and Darius, kings of Persia. Thus she would remain in the dust (close to the earth) and no longer dwell at the height of her power on her throne (elevated, close to the sky). This stark contrast in poetic imagery conveys the prominent Biblical truth, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(Yaakov 4:6)
The Hebrew Kasdiym (Chaldeans) is a plural that comes from the root kesed (increase) and literally means “increasing, increasers”. Thus, the poetic irony of the latter part of verse 1. The daughter of increasers will no longer increase.
Revelation 18 details the fall of the yet future Babylon, head of the beast (empire) that opposes God and His tsaddikim (righteous ones, saints). The future Babylon, like the ancient one, will be both literal and spiritual, a world leader in opposition to God and his people Israel (ethnic, religious), and like its ancient seed, it too will be destroyed, this time, never to rise again.
Isa 47:2 Take rechayim millstones and grind kamach meal flour, galiy put off your veil, chespiy-shovel strip off your robe, galiy uncover shok your thigh, ivriy pass through neharot rivers.
“Receive this calamity and go into servitude; put away the glory of thy kingdom, thy princes are overthrown, the people of thy armies are scattered, they have vanished away like waters of the river.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
To work with millstones was the job of the servants and handmaids, thus the mighty will fall and become servants and slaves.
The uncovering of the thigh and exposing of the private parts is both a literal description of the raping of women by invaders and a figurative allusion to the deflowering of the kingdom which had been so proud of it’s political virginity.
The Targum rightly understands the stripping of the veil to be a figurative allusion to the removal of the crown of Babylon. Likewise, the stripping of the robe is seen as the removal of the princes and the revealing of the thigh, a figure for the removal of the armies of Babylon, leaving the femoral artery of the people (thigh) exposed.
The uncovering of the thigh may also be an allusion to the fact that in order to traverse the rivers as they flee, the Babylonians will have to hitch up their clothes exposing their thighs. The rivers in question being the Tigris and Euphrates.
Isa 47:3 Your ervatech nakedness will be uncovered, gam also cherpatech your disgrace, reproach, scorn will be seen. I will take vengeance, ve’lo and not efga make intercession for adam a man.
The rhyming Hebrew couplet “ervatech” (nakedness) and “cherpatech” (disgrace) emphasise the full extent of Babylon’s shame.
It is HaShem Who will take vengeance and will refuse to make intercession for those who have violated, abused, enslaved and murdered His chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious).
“Your disgrace will be seen” means that all of the known world will be made aware of Babylon’s demise.
The “Whore Babylon” of Revelation 17 will also be left naked and her flesh dined on by the ten rulers of the anti-Messiah empire. HaShem will take vengeance on that future Babylon, which is, and has always been the seat of Satanic power on earth (Rev. 18:20).
Isa 47:4 Goaleinu Our Kinsman Redeemer YHVH (HaShem: Mercy) the LORD Tzevaot Who goes warring (of hosts) shemo is His name--Kadosh Yisrael Holy One of Israel (Overcomes in God).
Both the prophet and all Israel interject with the words, “Our Kinsman Redeemer, Mercy Who goes warring is His Name, the Holy One of Israel.”
God is described as the Kadosh Yisrael, Holy One of Israel. He is the One Who kidush, sanctifies Israel.
Isa 47:5 Sheviy sit, dwell, remain dumam in silence, u’voiy and go va-choshekh into darkness, Bat-kasdiym daughter Chaldea (increasing); for you will lo no longer be called ge’veret mistress of mamlachot kingdoms.
“Remain in silence” means that Babylon will be defeated and remain a non-entity on the world stage for a very long period of time. This of course will come to a head in the latter days when Babylon will arise once more and meet her final destruction (Rev. 18).
“Go into darkness” is figurative of the literal imprisonment of the fleeing Babylonians, as well as a picture of Babylon’s ultimate spiritual destiny.
“No longer called mistress of kingdoms” This shows how far Babylon has fallen. We note that Babylon is referred to in the feminine and her punishment correlates to the Whore of Babylon, described in Revelation 17-18.
From a Jewish cultural perspective, sitting silently in darkness is associated with mourning. Thus, figuratively speaking, Babylon will go into deep mourning and will remain there.
Isa 47:6 I was angry with amiy My people; chilaltiy I profaned, made common nachalatiy My inheritance, heritage, possession; I gave them into your hand; you showed them no rachamiym mercies; upon the zakein ancient (old, aged) you placed your exceedingly heavy ulech yoke (teaching), burden.
“Amiy” Notice that HaShem continues to take ownership of Israel (ethnic, religious), even when she disobeys Him and He becomes angry with her. Thus, He uses the Hebrew “amiy”, people belonging to Me.
God had allowed Israel to be taken into captivity in order to discipline her, as a father disciplines the son whom He loves. Part of being a talmid (disciple) is discipline. Israel had sinned against God through idolatrous practices and hatred of His covenant with her, and by her refusal to keep the Torah He had given her. However, this did not mean that He saw Babylon as a righteous nation, to the contrary, the actions of the Babylonians had proved true to their character, born of the seat of Satanic power on earth.
“Chilaltiy I have polluted, profaned, defiled…” This is the counterpoint to the idolatrous and defiling, polluting, profanity of Israel. The chosen people had desecrated and compromised the cities of Israel by their actions and their rejection of God. Therefore, “I have polluted and made common My possession”. Notice yet again the ownership God takes of Israel, even in the midst of her hatred toward Him. He calls her “common” who was uncommonly chosen to be a light to the nations. This emphasises the depths of her sin and the need for her to repent and return to her true position as the chosen people of God reflecting His glory.
“I gave them into your hand…” God now addresses the Babylonians.
“You showed them no mercies…” God is by nature merciful, and requires those He employs to discipline His children to show due mercy in their dealings with Israel. Babylon, according to her Satanic root, showed no mercy, for she was and is the daughter of confusion (Bavel), the daughter of increasing darkness (Chaldea).
“You placed an exceedingly heavy burden, even on the elderly” The plain meaning revealing the depths of the Babylonian cruelty.
The Hebrew zakein can also be understood to refer to the entire nation of Israel, whose origin in God is ancient. Thus, we might read, “You placed an exceedingly (unjust) burden on the ancient people of God”.
“Ulech”, your yoke, can be understood literally but is also commonly understood to be a metaphor for a teaching: spiritual, philosophical etc. Thus, we can read, “You placed your own unbearable philosophy, religious belief, ideology on My ancient people”. In other words, the very Satanic ideology that had place Babylon under spiritual bondage, she sought to put onto God’s chosen people Israel. The irony being that Israel had sought out this bondage in spite of the love God had shown her.
Isa 47:7 You said, “Le-olam Forever (to worlds) I will be gevaret mistress,” so that you did not lay these things upon libech your heart (inner person), lo nor remember their end.
The Babylonian rulers considered themselves gods. They went by the title “King of kings”, a blasphemous claim equitable to El elyon “God over all other gods”. Note that the Hebrew text uses the feminine and exposes this arrogant claim according to ancient cultural norms by calling Babylon “gevaret” mistress rather than “Adon or Ba’al” lord, master. This is an intentional illumination of her subordinate status: exposing her delusional claims. Therefore, due to her self induced delusion, she is unable to lay the truth to heart, nor can she perceive the logical conclusion to her actions. Her power is temporary, her end is destruction.
The correlation between the present verse and Revelation 18:7 is incredible to say the least:
“As she has exalted herself and indulged herself in luxury,
so give her the same measure of torment and grief!
For in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen--
I am no widow;
I shall never see grief.’” -Revelation 18:7 (TLV) ref. Zephaniah 2:15
Isa 47:8 Ve’atah And you shimiy hear this, zot you adiynah lover of pleasures, hayoshevet who sit, dwell, remain la-vetach securely, who say bilvavah in your inner (collective) heart (inner being), “Ani I am, and there is no one besides me; I will not eshev sit, dwell, remain as an almanah widow or know the loss of children”:
The warning continues… Babylon’s arrogant claims and wicked actions provide evidence for the indictment being brought against her.
“Lover of pleasures” is an allusion to the practice of sexual immorality and other sensual sin (Rev. 18:4).
Describing of Babylon Curtius writes:
"no city was more corrupt in its manners, or furnished to irritate or allure to immoderate pleasures. Parents and husbands suffered their children and wives to prostitute themselves to strangers, so that they had but a price.'' -Curtius Hist. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 1.
Additionally, both Herodotus and Strabo describe a Babylonian practice that required women (by law) to prostitute themselves publicly (in the temple of Venus) at least once in their lifetime (Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199; Geograph. l. 16. p. 513.).
“Dwell securely” emphasises the fact that in her deluded sinful state Babylon truly believes herself to be “Mistress over all”. She is certain in her own eyes that she is invulnerable, never to suffer widowhood or lose her progeny to death. “After all” she thinks, “It is I who make the women of other nations widows and it is I who put their children to death”. Ref. Rev. 18:7.
Isa 47:9 These two things shall come to you in an instant, beyom echad in one day; the loss of children ve’almon and widowhood, ketumam fulness, completion will come upon you, in your many sorceries, and beatzemat in the great strength chavarayich meod of your exceedingly binding magic.
“But these two things shall come to thee, in an appointed time, in one day, loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection: notwithstanding the multitude of thy sorceries, notwithstanding the great strength of thine enchantments.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The two things mentioned in verse 8 will come upon Babylon by surprise and in an instant. She will suffer as a widow, and she will lose her children to death.
Babylon was quite literally bereaved of her king and all her royal household when Cyrus took the city in 539 BCE (Xenophon Cyropaedia, 1. 7. sect. 23.) Additionally, when Darius besieged Babylon (522), the occupants of the city “slew all their own women, wives, sisters, daughters, and all their children, reserving only one wife and maidservant to a man” (Dr. Prideaux Connexion, &c. part 1. B. 3. p. 188, 189.) Darius is said to have ordered three thousand of the principal inhabitants to be crucified.
The Hebrew text warns Babylon that, “The completion of your many sorceries (evils) will come upon you…” There is a direct correlation made between sorcery, witchcraft, and the death of husbands and children. The mishleiym (Proverbs) remind us that “An undeserved curse cannot land”, however, in the case of Babylon, the curse is deserved many times over. The curses she has prayed on others will come back upon her. The Chaldeans were famous for their witchcraft, sorcery etc. (Daniel 2:2).
Isa 47:10 Vativtechi You trusted ve-ra’atech in your evil; you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge hiy she (they f.) shovatech has turned on you (perverted you, led you astray), and you said ve’libech in your inner being (heart), “Ani I am, and there is no one besides me.”
“You trusted in your evil” Babylon had trusted in her own sinful actions and the fruit thereof. Today within our western democracies we do the same: trusting in laws that give sexual sin pre-eminence and allow euthanasia (the murder of the elderly, infirm, the intellectually and the physically disabled). We trust in the right of a woman to choose to murder her child, and advocate for criminals at the expense of their victims. We are enamoured by witchcraft and sorcery, and have allowed occult spirituality to usurp the sound doctrine of the King Messiah.
When we place our trust in the implementation of immoral legislation and seek entertainment in the den of witchcraft, we are no better than that wicked ancient nation Babylon (confusion). Thus, we have entered confusion: depression and mental illnesses varied and debilitating have risen exponentially, our criminals are seen as victims and our victims as criminals, our children cannot decide what sex they are, because we have convinced them they are genderless spirits in human husks, and our modern families are nothing more than club houses for the wickedly like-minded. All who oppose the status quo of Liberalism are kicked out of the tribe-less Universal social engine of world consciousness. In short, we are about to succeed in destroying ourselves, and in the meantime, the armies of the East are rallying in order to wipe us from the face of the earth. On Yom Ha Din (The Day of Judgement), we will not be able to hide behind our democratic system, nor will we be able to justify ourselves by our inaction. When we fail to act against evil we become culpable.
“No one sees me” Babylon had convinced itself that its hidden witchcraft and secret political plans could not be seen by any other nation or people. While this may have been true, Babylon had neglected to understand that the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient Creator of the Universe and God of Israel could see and was well aware of her secrets and the ineffectiveness of them.
“Your wisdom and your knowledge has turned on you, perverted you.” Neither human wisdom or knowledge are synonymous with truth. Thus, the accumulation of knowledge is no guarantee of a truthful reality. Babylon had gained great knowledge and had acted wisely in her wickedness but that same knowledge, wisdom and wickedness was about to come back on her. She had worked tirelessly only to bring about her own demise. All the while, like a numb navel gazer, she claimed “I am, and there is none besides me!”
Isa 47:11 Uva And coming alayich upon you, ra’a evil, you will not know when it will dawn; hovah a ruin will fall upon you, which you will not be able to endure or kaperah atone for; and coming upon you suddenly, a shoah desolation unknown to you.
We note that the previous verse says “You have trusted in your own evil (the root being ra’a)”. Now we read, “ra’a (evil) will come upon you”. Like the wicked of the latter days, the Babylonians did not know the day or the hour of their demise.
“A ruin will fall upon you, which you will not be able to endure or atone for”. This ruin, while clearly historical, is also a spiritual reality. We note that the Hebrew kaperah (atoning sacrifice) is used. Thus, there is a ruin that will come upon the wilfully unrepentant, a ruin for which there is no further atonement. In other words, “It is appointed unto human beings to die once and then the judgement…” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Therefore, any human being who has not received the atoning sacrifice (Kaperah) of the King Messiah Yeshua before passing into sheol, is left without the necessary atonement to deliver them from eternal punishment. This comes down to the human being exercising his or her free will. God does not send people to eternal punishment, to the contrary, those who end up there will have chosen to go there: their hatred for God being such that they refuse His sacrificial love and reconciliatory offer of redemption.
“For if we keep on sinning wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no further sacrifice for sins…” -Hebrews 10:26
Isa 47:12 Stand now vachavarayich in your magic (company) uvero and your great keshafayich witchcraft, with which you have laboured from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire fear.
“Vachavarayich in your magic (company)” We note that the Hebrew can be understood to mean both magic arts and or a company or club of practitioners of the aforementioned arts. Thus, the prophet calls out that which has been hidden and demands that the occultists stand in the light of God’s judgement. The witchcraft of the Babylonians had been “great, prolific”, it had been a way of life, a religion. Not unlike the many philosophies and practices of our own time, many of which claim to be non-religious but are in fact religious in the worst possible sense, born of the deceiver himself (Satan).
“with which you have laboured from your youth;” This is evidence of the sin of the fathers upon the children. Indoctrination from youth had meant the demise of an entire society.
“Perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire fear.” This is not mockery, to the contrary, it is a challenge to the self-deluded and arrogant Babylonians. “Do you really believe that your magic is undefeatable, that your work cannot be torn down, that you can inspire fear in the One Who has swallowed up fear with victory? It is of course a rhetorical question and the answer is “You will not, you cannot!”
Isa 47:13 Nileit You are wearied, grieved, impatient, offended bero in your many counsels; let them stand up now veyoshiuch and save (deliver) you, hovereiy those who divide shamayim the heavens, hachozim visioners, seers bakochavim who gaze at the stars, modiyim predictors (knowers) who make known lechodashim at the new moons (months) what will come upon you.
“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let them now rise up, and save thee, who are familiar with the Zodiac of the heavens, who look at the stars, who make known appointed seasons: deceiving thee, saying, Thus it shall happen unto thee each month.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The Targum correctly understands this as an indictment against the magicians, astrologers, false prophets and sooth Sayers of Babylon. We note that the Babylonians had become wearied and grieved by the predictions of their magicians and sooth Sayers. Daniel 2 describes events in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, where the astrologers, magicians and sorcerers were unable to divine the king’s dream. This was the kind of unreliability the Babylonians had come to expect from their spiritual advisors, those who practiced various forms of demonic witchcraft.
“let them stand up now and save you” This is similar to the taunt of Elijah when challenging the worshippers of the Ba’aliym to call on their gods to save them.
“Who make known at the new moons (months), what will come upon you.” This is a taunt which exposes the inaccuracy of the predictions made by the star gazers (astrologers), particularly in reference to the new moons, the beginning of months. It is frightening to note how closely this describes the teaching of so many eschatological Christian preachers and so called Prophets in the present day. The evidence of their inaccurate predictions has been seen on mass recently when following the arrival and departure of a number of blood moons, none of the things they predicted had come to pass. I have yet to see them held accountable for their false testimony. God will not be mocked.
Isa 47:14 Hineih Behold, pay attention, now they have become stubble; eish fire serafatam will burn them; they cannot deliver et-nafsham their souls miyad from the hand (fig. power) lehavah of flame. Eiyn-gachelet No coal to warm nor ur fire (fire emanation, fire light) lashevet to sit, dwell, remain before!
“Behold, they shall be weak as stubble. The nations which are as strong as fire shall consume them, they shall not deliver themselves from the hand of the slayers: there shall be no remnant nor escaped of them, yea, not a place, in which one might deliver himself.” - Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Iben Ezra, in agreement with the Targum, reads the Hebrew eish (fire) as a figure for the invading armies. As support for this reading he references Num. 21:28.
“Hineih” Now, pay attention, look upon this. A final call to sobriety. The people of Babylon will become as stubble burned up by the invading armies. The prophet writes in the past tense because God has already seen these things complete.
“They cannot deliver their souls from the hand (fig. power) of flame.” This is once more both literal and figurative as well as spiritual. The Babylonians will not be able to overcome the flame of those who come to destroy them. In fact, that is exactly what happened on at least two occasions in history. Nor can they deliver their own souls from the flame which emanates from God’s Spirit and judgement.
“Nor ur fire (fire emanation, fire light) lashevet to sit, dwell, remain before” This final clause is of great significance and is drenched with irony. Avram (Who became Avraham), the father of Isaac and Jacob, came from Ur of the Chaldees. Our text says that there will no longer be ur (light emanating from fire) for the Babylonians to warm themselves by. They will no longer be privileged to sit by the true ur light emanation that proceeds from God. Their connection to Avram will be snuffed out. Why? Because the seed of Avram (the Jews) are about to be taken from them, and via Darius, returned to the Land that Avraham was promised on oath by God, the land covenanted by God to Avraham and his ancestors (Isaac & Jacob [Israel]) while he slept.
Isa 47:15 Kein so (yes) you have become as those who laboured for you, your merchants with you from your youth; ish each man le’evro will go beyond, tau erring, wandering, astray, staggering, none moshiyeich will save you.
Babylon became like those she had used, abused and traded with from her infancy. She had been a mistress, now she would be a slave.
She had spared no one, now there would be no one to save her. The Hebrew moshiyeich is related to Mashiyach (Saviour, Anointed One). Thus, because she had not known the Mashiyach, she “erred, wandered, went astray, with none moshiyeich to save her”.
“The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning;” -Revelation 18:15 (ASV)
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
When most modern Christians use the term "Jesus Culture" whether they are aware of the reality of what they're saying or not, they are essentially teaching assimilation and the replacing of Israel (ethnic) by the Church: this, in place of diverse unity (The true Biblical image of the Body of Messiah).
"My friend says there will be no cultural distinctions in heaven and that we should focus on our identity in Christ because as believers we have only one culture, that being Jesus Culture. What is your take on this?"
Your friend's heart may be for equity within the body of believers, and that's admirable. It is also true that we should focus on Messiah and be aware of our redeemed identity in Him. However, the theology your friend is proposing is tragically flawed. Both the seed and the fruit of this theology is Supersessionism (Replacement theology: the Church replacing Israel [ethnic, religious]).
The flawed premise is that culture is intrinsically sinful. I say this because if the theology says there will be no cultural diversity in the world to come (heaven) and we know that the only thing unwelcome in the world to come (heaven) is that which opposes God. Then the assumption is that human culture is inherently opposed to God. It is of course ludicrous to say that culture in and of itself is sinful or opposed to God, Yeshua (Jesus) Himself was born into, and practiced a specific human culture for His entire time on earth, that culture being the Jewish culture. In fact, it was necessary for Messiah to be born into and live within the Jewish culture in order for the prophesies concerning Him to be fulfilled. What is more, He is yet prophesied to rule over Israel (an ethnic people) and the nations (a nation is a collection of cultures living together) as King of the Jews, on the throne (in the lineage of) David (A Jew: ethnic) in the world to come (heaven). Therefore, if there are to be no cultural distinctions in the world to come, Yeshua (Jesus) cannot fulfil the prophecy and is therefore, not the Messiah. Utter nonsense.
Each and every culture may have sinful aspects within it, but all cultures are also rich with markers that point us to the attributes of God and His redemptive plan for humanity. To say that there will be no culture in the world to come (What Christians mistakenly call heaven), is to say that there will be no Jews, therefore there will be no King of the Jews, therefore, there will be no Yeshua (Jesus), therefore, there will be no "Jesus Culture"... This is circular and redundant logic at it's finest. The conclusion defeats the premise.
By definition, culture is intrinsically connected to ethnicity, thus, if one wants to demand that we have "Jesus Culture", they are either asking that every believer become culturally Jewish, (this is not what Scripture requires), or on the other hand they insist that "Jesus culture" is heavenly culture (A divine monoculture) and in doing so they deny the humanity of the Messiah (a Jew by birth). This is in fact a form of Gnosticism (heresy).
When most modern Christians use the term "Jesus Culture" whether they are aware of the reality of what they're saying or not, they are essentially teaching assimilation and the replacing of Israel (ethnic) by the Church: this, in place of diverse unity (The true Biblical image of the Body of Messiah). Assimilation makes everyone the same, whereas diverse unity allows for uniquely different parts to work together. Assimilation subjugates and moulds the unique parts of the body so that the body is a mass of hands, or a mass of lungs and so on. Thus, it is the destruction of the body, because a body of lungs devoid of a heart is dead etc. The truth is that the unique expression of diverse culture within humanity is like the parts of a body, each intended to help and support the other, resulting in a healthy functioning whole. The false theology of "Jesus Culture" (a universal monoculture) seeks to first redefine Jesus (Yeshua), removing His Jewish identity (which by the way would make Him an illegitimate Messiah) and making Him a universal non cultural entity: and second, demands the syncretisation and assimilation of all cultures in order to form a monoculture (Like Chairman Mao's, grey suit wearing, red book carrying communist China).
This is a sin seeded model that reflects imperialism and communist dictatorship rather than authentic Godly diversity in the unity of the body of Messiah. In short, the phrase "Jesus Culture" amounts to a call for the dissolution of cultural diversity. Scripture is full of examples of Godly culture and rich with accounts of a beautiful cultural diversity within the early believing community (body of Messiah).
While it is true that all culture must submit to God's moral standard through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), it is not true that culture will have no place in the world to come (Heaven). After all, how will the nations and tribes of humanity come to Jerusalem to Celebrate the feast of Sukkot (Zechariah 14:16), if there are no tribes, or nations (both nouns denote diverse cultural entities).
How about we learn more about Yeshua's (Jesus) actual culture, the Jewish culture of the first century CE.
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Like so many of the psalms, the weighty distant steps of the coming Messiah can be heard ringing through the hallways of history, approaching with glory, and “commanding the blessing!”
Regardless of when this psalm was penned in its final form, it is attributed to King David. Psalm 133 is one of the fifteen Songs of Ascents (Shir Ha-ma'alot), and one of the three Songs of Ascents consisting of only three verses (131; 134). It’s not known when David wrote this psalm, however, some suggest it was written on the occasion of his anointing as king in celebration of the people’s unification under his reign (2 Sam. 5:1), while others suggest it was written following the quelling of Absalom’s rebellion, when the tribes of Israel jostled for the honor of bringing David back to his rightful place in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 19:9). Still others make a more general and much more likely suggestion that he wrote it while observing Israel gathered together for one of the Regaliym/Aliyot (Pesach, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) festivals. In addition to these suppositions some scholars suggest that this psalm was added to the collection of psalms nearing the end of David’s life in approximately 1015 BCE.
The Jewish commentators Kimchi and Ben Melekh see this psalm as being prophetic of the times of the Messiah (yet future), and take it to be a prediction of the peace that will exist between the King Messiah and the High Priest of Israel. This is in keeping with the figurative typing of Joshua (Zechariah 6:11-13). In fact, Yeshua united the Kingship and Priesthood of Israel through His immersion (baptism), His death and resurrection, and sanctified these roles with the pre-existing priesthood likened to the order of Malkiy-Tzedek (My King of Righteousness): a perfect priesthood (Hebrews 7) that functions to reconcile all who believe to the Father, causing both Jew and Gentile to truly abide together in a union that is everlasting, purchased through the blood of the Messiah’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice.
The two figures of the oil running down Aaron’s beard and the dew upon Mt Hermon convey a sense of extravagant blessing and the empowering of God’s chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). These Hebraic poetic couplets denote a firmly established future for the Jewish people, in fact, in the context of this psalm they reveal and established eternity. The imagery is more than simile, it is “ki” because of these similitudes that brothers and sisters dwell together in union.
There are many side rooms in this psalm that lead us to greater depths of understanding: each symbol and figure brings to life the intricate workings of God as He weaves together a picture of unity that surpasses even our greatest attempts at manufacturing oneness. The Hebrew poetic couplets further enforce the strength and certainty of these richly prophetic words, and remind us again of the everlasting value of the promises seeded into time and space by God through the mouth of His servant David, king of Israel, beloved of God.
Like so many of the psalms, the weighty distant steps of the coming Messiah can be heard ringing through the hallways of history, approaching with glory, and “commanding the blessing!”
133:1 Shir A Song ha-ma’alot of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; le’David attributed to David (Beloved of God). Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, mah how (what) tov good umah-nayim and how (what) delightful, pleasant(ness), lovely(ness) it is, shevet sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding achiym brothers and sisters gam-yachad again, also, united, in union, alike, as one!
Another way to read this would be:
A song of the ascending of David: Look, now, what is this good, and what is this loveliness; it is brothers and sisters sitting together also in union.
Notice that the brothers and sisters are not merely sitting in close proximity but are sitting and are in union.
The Jewish sage Iben Ezra interprets “achiym” to refer specifically to priests (which is similar to the teaching of 1 Peter 2:9); the Jewish commentator Kimchi interprets “achiym” as the King Messiah and the priest together (which is similar to the teaching of Hebrews 7); and the Jewish commentator Yarchi, interprets “achiym” of the Israelites (which is consistent with the remainder of the psalm).
The 2nd century Aramaic Targum reads:
“1. A song that was uttered on the ascents of the abyss. Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of Zion and Jerusalem, together indeed like two brothers.”
The Targum understands well the locational aspect of this psalm by merging the latter similes of the Hebrew text with the opening clause. Where others have focused only on the unity aspect, and have thus, misunderstood the whole. The idea of ascending from the abyss is one of transcendent quality that alludes to the redemptive priestly work required in order for Godly union to be made manifest.
“Shir A Song ha-ma’alot of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; le’David attributed to David.” (133:1a.)
The opening clause can be understood in multiple ways, both spiritual (esoteric) and literal:
One may also paraphrase the opening clause as a spiritual drash for all who believe:
“We each have a song that we offer up to the Father, a song that comes to mind as we ascend through the redemptive work of the King Messiah, a song that testifies of His love, sung by the beloved of God.”
However, the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text is locational, situational, and refers specifically to the ascent of the Temple mount in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel and as it relates to the Jewish (ethnic, religious, empirical) people, the elect (chosen) of God, through the priesthood and the redemptive, substitutionary sacrificial system. These words being, “of king David”, one of the most influential and prophetic kings of Israel’s history, and the one from whom the Messiah would come forth (with regard to His humanity).
“Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, mah how (what) tov good umah-nayim and how (what) delightful, pleasant(ness), lovely(ness) it is, shevet sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding achiym brothers and sisters gam-yachad again, also - united, in union, alike, as one!” (133:1b.)
While the majority of English translations render “mah” as “how”, it seems equally likely and more colloquially intuitive to translate “mah” with regard to its common use as “what”.
Therefore, I prefer to read:
“Wow, look, pay attention, what goodness and what delight is this? Sitting, dwelling, even remaining, brothers and sisters, also, in union (or: also as one).”
In other words, “What is this incredibly beautiful and truly impossible thing I’m seeing? True Godly union between brothers and sisters.”
Notice that the text does not say simply that brothers and sisters dwelling is good and pleasant, rather it says that both dwelling and also union (oneness), is good and pleasant. Nor does the entirety of this psalm promote unity alone. Rather, it shows Godly unity to be the fruit of a priestly order via a sacrificial system of atoning substitution. Empowered by the Spirit (oil), which produces the fruit of unity.
Unity is not the goal. Messiah is the goal and unity is the fruit of Messiah at work in us through the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual principal which can be applied to all believers, is none the less first and foremost (in its plainest sense) specifically prophetic of Israel’s (ethnic, religious) future. As we will see from the latter verses, the blessing that results is locational, yet future, and for a specific people (Jews) in a specific land (Israel).
Good and Pleasant:
“Tov”, is good in the purest sense. Yeshua, revealing His own deity, said, “Why do you call me good, only God is good” (Mark 10:18). For something to be good in all its fullness is for it to be “On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
“Nayim”, is pleasant to the olfactory sense (sense of smell). In other words, this will be pleasing not only based on sight but also on smell. This is why the psalmist goes on to use the fragrant anointing oil as a simile.
We note that the observing of this form of unity brings a sense of “tov” goodness, wellness, pleasure, and of “nayim” pleasing experience, delight etc. The unity described is in fact not truly achievable in a perpetual sense within a sin affected world, not even by the community of believers. Therefore, the unity described is intentionally and specifically prophetic. It is a unity that will be experienced at the coming of the King Messiah at the end of the age, and will be evidenced in the redeemed ethnic religious nation of Israel (and subsequently in all of redeemed humanity).
“Yachad” means union, unitedness, unity (noun masculine), together, all together, alike (adverb). It occurs 147 times in the Tanakh (OT) and is most often (124 times) used to denote togetherness, that is, individual persons, entities, or objects, together in close proximity. It is related to the Hebrew word “echad” meaning “one” which is used to describe the intimate union of man and wife “the two shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). However, “yachad” specifically refers to separate entities in proximity rather than denoting an intimate conjoined union. Thus, when a husband and wife are walking together they are yachad, but when they are joined in the sex act they are echad.
When we consider the weighty emotion brought to this psalm by David, who had many wives, concubines, sons and daughters, we must grapple with the turmoil he must have felt as he considered the disarray and division caused by his sin choices and looked forward in hope to a time when, through the Messiah, all of his family would live as one (unified) in the presence of God in the New Jerusalem, in the land of Israel.
This union that is being spoken of is not possibly except through the Messiah.
“Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves the one born of Him. 2 We know that we love God’s children by this—when we love God and obey His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world, if not the one who believes that Yeshua is Ben-Elohim?” -1 John 5:1-5 (TLV)
133:2 Ka-shemen Because, like, as oil (fatness) ha-tov the good, the best, al ha-rosh on the head, yareid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al ha-zakan on the beard, zekan-Aharon beard of Aaron (Bright, Many Mountains, Light bearer, Ark bearer, latter days), shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al piy on the collar, outer edges (mouth) midotayv of his robes, stature, measure, extent!
David now proceeds to explain not only what the union of brothers and sisters who dwell together is like, but also the mechanism and process required in order for the fruit of unity to be seen in Israel.
The Hebrew “Ka-shemen” is most often translated “Like oil”, however, the Hebrew “kiy” which begins the composite “Ka-shemen”, can be understood to mean, “because, as, like etc.” Therefore, we may read:
“Because the precious oil upon the head of Aaron runs down the beard, Aarons beard…”
In other words, the imagery is associated to the mechanism which perpetuates the peaceful dwelling together of brothers and sisters in unity. The images of oil on Aaron’s beard and dew on Mt Hermon are more than simile, they are the outworking of the blessing that brings about the unity observed by David in the first verse of this psalm, and in turn becomes witness to the locational blessing commanded by God in the last verse.
The poetic imagery used here is of great importance. The oil is not just oil but “The good oil” or “The precious oil”, and refers specifically to the mixture of oil assigned by God for use in anointing the Cohen Ha-gadol (The High Priest) and sprinkling on the priests. It was not to be used for any common purpose or by any common Israelite (Exodus 30:22-23).
The oil was to be poured upon the head of Aaron subsequent to the donning of the priestly garments, including the head covering (Lev. 21:10) and was to overflow to the very ends of the garments. It is interesting to note that Aaron was never to uncover his head or rend his garments (Lev. 21:10).
The specific event described here occurred only once. That is, it is specifically Aaron’s anointing that is described and likened to a time when brothers and sisters will dwell together in union. Aaron was the first Levitical High Priest and father of Israel’s subsequent Levitical priesthood. Therefore, this figure is not intended as a general image to be likened to every act of anointing ever performed, rather it specifically alludes to the anointing of Israel’s first Levitical High Priest Aaron, and to the mixture of oil used to anoint him. Therefore, failing to understand the context means misinterpreting the text and misunderstanding its application and future fulfilment.
Ka-shemen Because, like, as oil ha-tov the good, the best, al ha-rosh on the head, yareid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al ha-zakan on the beard, zekan-Aharon beard of Aaron (Bright, Many Mountains, Light bearer, Ark bearer, latter days)… (133:2a.)
“shemen ha-tov”, the precious oil, is described as follows:
“23.“Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, 24.and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. 25.And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26.With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27.and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28.and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. 29.You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. 30.You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31.And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32.It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33.Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’” -Shemot (Exodus) 30:23-33 (ESV)
The fine fresh olive oil smelled strongly of cinnamon (cassia being of the same family, a bark), myrrh, and an uncertain sweet aromatic cane, possibly from Sheba or some part of Arabia. It is perhaps for our own protection that the exact blend is impossible to fabricate today.
The perfumed anointing oil (being a symbol of the Holy Spirit), offers an opportunity for us to experience at very least in part the fragrant nature of the experience of Aaron. The Ruach (Spirit) of God is illuminated in the components of the perfumed oil. He is the fragrance of sweet salvation to those who are being redeemed.
We note that the oil of anointing was not poured over Aaron’s sons, though it was sprinkled on them. Thus, Aaron is “Ha-Cohein Ha-Mashiyah” (The Priest The Anointed), whereas subsequent priests experience “Meshuchiym” (Anointings) [Numbers 3:3]. Additionally, it was never to be used on the common Israelite. Therefore, the anointing in question is for priests alone, and more importantly, the fullness of that anointing is upon the head of the High Priest.
Therefore, in keeping with this imagery we are able to properly interpret the life of Messiah Yeshua, His unification of the Kingship and High Priesthood of Israel and His perfect Priesthood in the order of Melki-Tzedek. Ultimately, it is from the anointing of Messiah and through Him that all who believe become participants in the priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) that is offered to all according to the type or order of Melki-Tzedek (My King of Righteousness) [Hebrews 7]. This is not to say that anointing others with oil is in and of itself inappropriate, but simply that the anointing in question is intentionally specific and refers to a prefigure that illuminates the Messiah.
The text of Exodus details the dressing of Aaron in his High Priestly garments prior to his anointing. Further still, contrary to the depictions of this event in popular Christian art, we are not told that Aaron’s head dress was removed prior to anointing. Therefore, he must have been wearing the head covering (which symbolised the need for blood atonement) and the gold plate engraved with the words “Kadosh le’YHVH” Holy Unto The Lord.
The anointing oil runs down Aaron’s beard and over his shoulders, down his breast and to the very edges of his priestly garments:
“shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al piy on the collar, outer edges (mouth) midotayv of his robes, stature, measure, extent!” (133:2b)
In order for the oil to reach the outer edges of Aaron’s robes, it must have been poured in copious quantity, and would have flowed over the stones on his shoulders engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, over the breastplate and each of the precious stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, down behind the breast plate over the uriym (lights) and tumiym (completions) which were tucked into a pocket behind the breastplate, over the blue outer garment, over the pure white linen garment, soaking through to his skin and symbolically covering every aspect of his priesthood and headship as the spiritual shepherd of Israel (Exodus 28). The obvious correlation to the ministry of the Messiah is to say the least, mind-blowing.
We must not cheapen our understanding of this imagery by seeing only a few drops of oil being applied to the head of a petitioner. The text denotes a flood of specifically composed fragrant anointing oil.
The oil is poured forth from a horn (Ram’s horn), thus signifying the One through Whom all believers would one day receive the promised Ruach Ha-Kodesh Holy Spirit (Yeshua being the substitutionary Ram of God and the horn being a symbol of His strength in redeeming Israel [Isaac]). The oil is poured over the head in order to convey the spiritual headship of the High Priest, and is therefore a prefigure of the Perfect Great High Priest Yeshua, the King Priest of the Perfect Priesthood (Hebrews 7).
What is more, all of this is preceded by Aaron and his sons participating in the offering of substitutionary sacrifice for the atonement of sin and a meal of matzot (unleavened bread) [Exodus 29]. Therefore, the anointing with the precious oil was not performed until right relationship with God had been established (at least symbolically). This of course is a prefigure of the body of Messiah broken for us (matzot) and the blood atonement purchased for us through Messiah’s blood poured out on the cross (rams).
The Holy Spirit (oil) was not poured out on the believing Jewish community until after Messiah’s return to the Father following His death and resurrection (Acts 2), nor is the Holy Spirit given to anyone who has not understood and received the saving work and Person of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
In one sense the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first century Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua (Acts 2), is a foretaste of the ultimate manifestation of the unity of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the return of the Messiah. Both events are the literal outworking of the similes in the present psalm.
It’s important to note that while David alludes to the imagery of Aaron’s anointing, which occurred outside of the land of Israel following Israel’s escape from Egypt, he is none the less writing this psalm from his purview within the land of Israel and is therefore uniting the imagery of Aaron’s anointing with the anointing of the land from Hermon (in the north) to the mountains of Zion in the centre. David writes this psalm as a psalm of ascent (Aliyah: going up [to Zion, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]), not just localised ascent to the Temple mount but also as an Aliyah psalm for all those who ascend three times a year to observe the Regaliym/Aliyot (Pesach, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) festivals. Thus, the fragrances of the festival foods and the offerings, both sacrificial and celebratory (freewill) is presupposed by the union of the two similes of the anointed High Priest and the anointed mountains of the land of Israel. The former having occurred immediately post bondage (in Egypt) and the latter being the hope of Israel’s future redemption through Messiah.
Aside from the depth of symbolism in the process of anointing Aaron, there is also the simple grandeur of the oil flowing over his head, stinging his eyes and soaking into his skin, beard, and garments.
In order to better understand the kinetic reality of the anointing of Aaron, I had myself anointed in a similar way and was stunned by the stinging sensation in my eyes as the oil made its way down my face. The pain was great, “What’s going on” I thought, “Shouldn’t this be an enjoyable pain free experience. Isn’t this supposed to represent the Holy Spirit being poured out on me? It’s killing my eyes, I can’t see… Wait a minute… I can’t see…”
It occurred to me that the Holy Spirit does not always make me feel comfortable, in fact, He often makes me feel uncomfortable. God is present in my discomfort, just as He is in my comfort. The eyes I use for seeing this world are stung by the presence of the Holy Spirit, but when I become accustomed to the oil I am able to see things that are not of this world, pure, eternal, unseen things.
There are those who claim that the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are evidence of His abiding with a believer, however, Yeshua reminds us that “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:22-23 TLV)
I think (or should I say “Scripture teaches”), that the Holy Spirit is more often evidenced in the way we respond to suffering than He is in the ecstatic gifts that are often counterfeited by so many. In one sense, God is saying to Aaron the High Priest and to we who follow the High Priest Yeshua (The Suffering Messiah), “If you want to be a priest, you best get used to both the healing balm and the stinging pain of the present, overflowing Spirit of God.”
133:3 Ketal Because, like, as the dew, night mist of Chermon (Hermon, Sanctuary, devoted, dedicated for destruction) shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al-Har-reiy on the mountains of Tziyon (Zion, Parched land)! Keey Because sham there tzivah commands, orders, charges, HaShem (YHVH, Mercy, The LORD) et (the) certain ha-berachah the blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peaceful Chayyim living, perpetual life, ad ha-olam going round, perpetually, as far as forever in the world (to come).
The Mt Hermon/mountains of Zion simile (literal and figurative mechanism) works perfectly alongside the imagery of the anointing oil running from Aaron’s head to the edges of his garments. In like fashion the dew of Hermon runs from the top of Israel’s northern border and down to the place where Israel collectively goes up to worship God during the Regaliym/Aliyot festivals. Thus, all Israel (the people) and all of her land, is covered by the dew of Hermon both literally and figuratively.
“There” is a locational term indicating the mountains of Zion, where the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) dwell together in unity.
“HaShem commands the blessing”. The blessing is commanded upon the mountains of Zion when Jews dwell there together as one (yachad). This is a prophetic statement. God is speaking into time and space an observation of the future redemption of the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious), when, following the fullness of the nations, all of Israel (ethnic, religious) will be saved (Romans 11).
We note that the Hebrew text does not say, “There the Lord commands a blessing” but rather, “There the Lord commands the blessing.” The “berachah”, blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peace, is one that brings “chayim”, not life but living (plural, perpetual). Living that will be “ad ha-olam” going round in the world perpetually forever. The world being the Olam Haba (World to come).
Therefore, the text is not saying that wherever believers in general dwell together in unity that God will command a blessing, rather, it is saying that when Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) dwell together through redemption and the anointing supplied by the King Priest Messiah, in the land (literal) of Israel (at the return of the Messiah), then and only then, there and only there, will God command and establish the blessing of everlasting life on the New Earth.
“Chermon” (Hermon), from charam, to dedicate someone or something to the afterlife or to death.
The Law of charam is expounded in Leviticus 27:28-29, and states that whatever is labelled as charam cannot be redeemed (bought back or ransomed out). In the Tanakh (OT) there are no instances of human beings designated as charam who aren't subsequently executed, however, there are a number of people who have names that are derived from this verb. Which may indicate that the verb once denoted salvation.
Not everything designated charam was automatically destroyed. In Numbers 18:14 HaShem declares “Every devoted thing (charam) in Israel is yours (Aaron and his sons) [see also Lev. 27:21 and Eze. 44:29]. When Joshua sacked Jericho, the whole city and all it contained (apart from Rahab and her house) was designated charam, yet the gold, silver, bronze and iron objects went into the tabernacle's treasury (Joshua 6:19).
Mt Hermon therefore, carries the symbolic meaning of being charam dedicated to the Lord unto the afterlife and is equally representative of salvation.
“Hareiy Tziyon”, the mountains of Zion (the parched land), also have significant figurative value and show Israel’s need for the mayim waters of chayim living. Waters that she receives through the dew that results from the charam (dedication) of her Messiah, and the salvation that results from His substitutionary sacrificial death and resurrection.
In addition to the profound poetic value of this simile there is the practical reality of the geography and climate of Israel:
Van de Velde writes in regard to his Travels (Bd. i. S. 97):
“What we read in the 133rd Psalm of the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion, is now become quite clear to me. Here, as I sat at the foot of Hermon, I understood how the water-drops which rose from its forest-mantled heights, and out of the highest ravines, which are filled the whole year round with snow, after the sun's rays have attenuated them and moistened the atmosphere with them, descend at evening-time as a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie round about as its spurs. One ought to have seen Hermon with its white-golden crown glistening aloft in the blue sky, in order to be able rightly to understand the figure. Nowhere in the whole country is so heavy a dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon.”
Therefore, the simile is both powerfully figurative and practically literal.
Psalm 133, has been misused to claim an illegitimate unity over certain groups within the body of Messiah, devoid of respect for the plain meaning of the text as it applies to the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the contextual and locational elements in the text. In addition, and with great fervour it has been misused as an excuse for believers in general to demand a blessing from God based on their dwelling together, despite the fact that the blessing is for a specific people (The Jews), time, and in a specific location (The mountains of Zion in the land of Israel).
While it’s true that in some sense there is a principal here regarding unity and blessing for all believers, it is only the case in a secondary sense and must be made subject to the plain meaning of the text.
This psalm observes the ultimate union of the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) in the land of Israel, through an anointing that flows from the head of her priesthood (both literal and transcendent), and shows through the use of simile, those things that must take place in order for this union to be fully filled at the end of the age.
Therefore, David, by the Holy Spirit, employs the poetic imagery and occasion of the anointing of Aaron the High Priest alongside the majestic beauty and natural precipitation of Mt Hermon, in order to show both literally and figuratively, where and when God (YHVH: Mercy, the God of Israel [ethnic, religious]) will command the blessing of life everlasting upon the union made possible by His Son and empowered by His Holy Spirit poured out on Israel (and the nations).
Let us therefore, show due respect for the plain contextual meaning of this psalm by appropriately applying the principal of unity and ceasing to demand a temporal blessing where a locational (place, time, space) blessing upon a specific people (Jews) with an eternal purpose, is intended.
133:1 A Song of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; attributed to David, (the beloved of God). Behold, now, pay attention, how good and how delightful, pleasant, lovely it is, sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding brothers and sisters again, also, united, in union, alike, as one! 133:2 Like oil the good, the best, on the head, running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the beard, beard of Aaron (the bright one, of many mountains, a light bearer, an ark bearer, in the latter days), running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the collar (mouth) of his robes, stature, measure, extent! 133:3 It is like the dew, night mist of Hermon, (a sanctuary, devoted, dedicated for destruction) running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the mountains of Zion (Parched land)! Because there (the mountains of Zion) commands, orders, charges, HaShem (YHVH, Mercy, The LORD) (the) certain blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peaceful living, perpetual life, going round, perpetually, as far as forever in the world (to come).
2nd Century CE Aramaic Targum of Psalm 133:
“1. A song that was uttered on the ascents of the abyss. Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of Zion and Jerusalem, together indeed like two brothers. 2.Like the fine oil that is poured on the head, coming down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, that comes down to the hem of his garments. 3.Like the dew of Hermon that comes down on the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
Regardless of how early one sees evidence of a rapture theology within Church writings, the deciding of this issue must rest on the inspired Word of God and what is written in it. Therefore, what follows will be an examination of the Scriptures that are supposed to prove the Rapture construct (teaching of men).
I have been asked to share my views regarding the so called “Rapture” of the saints (believers). This article is by no means exhaustive; however, it does seek to address the common misconceptions and Biblical misinterpretations offered by Rapture proponents.
For many followers of Messiah (Christ) the theological construct known as “The Rapture” is presumed rather than considered. In fact, in speaking to most Messiah followers I find that few if any contest the idea of the Rapture. For the most part the only issue that arises from discussing the Rapture with other believers is whether or not they are pre-tribulation or post-tribulation believers. When I’m asked my thoughts on the so called “Rapture” I often respond, “Rapture? What Rapture?” This is because as both a Jew and a follower of Messiah, I am unable to find evidence for the so-called Rapture in either the Tanakh (OT) or the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT). However, before I address the concept (conceived, not self-evident) itself by testing it against Scripture, I will give a brief history of this relatively recent theological phenomenon.
A Brief History of the Rapture Construct:
Proponents of the theological construct called “The Rapture” often sight the writings of early Church fathers as evidence that the Rapture Theology dates back to the earliest days of Gentile Christianity. They interpret the writings of these early fathers of the Gentile Church in a revisionist fashion in order to read into them their preconceived view. In this respect their interpretation of the early Church fathers’ writings is no different from their interpretation of Scripture.
From the writings of Ephraim the Syrian (306 CE – 373 CE) they read “gathered” as “raptured” or “taken up”, and thus conclude a rapturing of believers. In the writings of Cyprian (200 CE-258CE) they read “delivered” as “raptured”. In the writings of Irenaeus (130 CE – 202 CE) they read “tribulation” and presume a “rapture”. In every case they are not quoting explicit evidence for the Rapture but instead are misinterpreting the writings of the Church fathers in the same way they have misinterpreted the Scriptures that they misuse to support the concept of a rapture. The truth is that there is no explicit evidence of the teaching of a rapture in any of the writings of the early Church fathers (1st to 3rd Centuries CE). Even more importantly, a rapture of believers was not taught by Yeshua (Jesus) or the apostles, and further, has never been a theological concept within ancient Biblical Judaism.
While there is evidence that rapture theology was present in the Church for some time prior to the 19th century (Though not as early as the 3rd Century), Pre-tribulation Rapture theology became popular in the late eighteenth century, with the Puritan preachers, and was popularised extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby. Darby’s assertions were picked up by Scofield and distributed further in the United States in the annotations of the Scofield Reference Bible in the early 20th century. Thus, the popular presumptions regarding the Rapture are largely premised on its recent revival in modern Anglo-American Church history.
Regardless of how early one sees evidence of a rapture theology within Church writings, the deciding of this issue must rest on the inspired Word of God and what is written in it. Therefore, what follows will be an examination of the Scriptures that are supposed to prove the Rapture construct (teaching of men).
Scriptures that Prove the Rapture?
1. The most famous of the Rapture passages is found in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-17 and reads:
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left until the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the shofar of God: and the dead in Messiah will rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up (gathered, taken away) in the clouds (of the presence: nephele Ex. 13:21), to meet the Lord in the (open) air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
I have placed in brackets the full meaning of the Greek words used, for the purpose of exposing some of the primary misunderstandings that are concluded from the text. First, the Greek word harpazo translated “caught up” in many English versions, rarely means “caught up”. In fact, out of its eighteen uses in the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT), there are only three that explicitly mean “caught up” (2 Co. 12:2, 12:4; Rev. 12:5). In all other cases (15) harpazo means “to gather, take away, catch, pluck, seize”, none of which explicitly refer to being lifted into the sky. Further, harpazo is related to the word aihreomai meaning to take for oneself, that is, to prefer, and is used exclusively in the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) to refer to the act of choosing and or those who are chosen (Php. 1:22; Heb. 11:25; 2 Th 2:13).
Neither does the mention of nephele “clouds” denote the sky. In fact, unless otherwise qualified i.e. “the clouds of the sky” (Matt. 26:64), the word nephele (clouds) can refer to clouds or a cloud appearing on earth, like the cloud of the presence that lead Israel through the desert (Exodus 13:21). In fact this same Greek word nephele is used by the Septuagint (Greek OT) to translate the Hebrew anan (cloudy mass, covering) in Exodus 13:21 and refers not to the clouds of the sky but to the cloud of the presence in which the Malakh HaShem (Messenger of the Lord) manifest Himself (Many understand this to be a manifestation of the Messiah Himself). This bears much greater continuity within the context of the present passage.
Nor does the use of the Greek word aer “air” denote the sky. In fact this Greek word refers specifically to the breathable air of the lower atmosphere. The more accurate translation would be “open air” i.e. “I’m going outside into the open air”. In common 1st century Greek speech this would not have been confused with the upper atmosphere of the sky. Thus, the Greek recipient of this first century letter to the Church would not have understood this to be describing a rapture (lifting up into the sky, levitation).
Therefore, a correct reading of the Greek text, even out of context (which is how proponents of the Rapture have taken this text) would be:
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left until the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the shofar of God: and the dead in Messiah will rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be gathered in the clouds of the presence, to meet the Lord in the open air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This is in keeping with the fact that God will make His dwelling with us on the new earth and not aloft in the heavens (Rev. 21:3). Rapture proponents must ask themselves, “Why would God rapture up believers only to drop them down again so that they can dwell with Him?”
These things aside, proponents of the Rapture take the 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 Scripture entirely out of context.
In the context of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) answers questions that believers in Thessalonica had concerning death. What has happened to our loved ones who have died before the return of the Messiah to earth? In the end, what will happen to us? What will happen to them? Rav Shaul’s (Paul’s) answer explains the bodily resurrection at the return of Messiah to earth, and not an escape into the sky (Rapture, mass levitation).
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4:15-17, Shaul (Paul) is making a drash (comparative teaching) using two specific images from the Tanakh (OT) that were familiar to Jewish believers and Gentile converts who were familiarising themselves with the Hebrew tradition. The first has to do with Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, from out of the cloud of the Lord’s presence, carrying the Torah accompanied by the great blast of the shofar (Exodus 24).
The second image is taken from Daniel chapter 7 where the “one like the son of man” (or “human being” or “The Human One”) and the community He represents is vindicated over the enemies of the people of God. Clouds here symbolise the power and authoritative judgement of God in rescuing, delivering, protecting His people Israel (Ethnic, religious). Shaul (Paul) now applies this idea to Gentile Christians as well as to Jewish believers, who were facing various forms of persecution in the first century CE.
Rapture, as it is popularly understood, is nowhere to be found in this “Rapture” passage. Scripture clearly teaches that the Messiah will return to resurrect, to cleanse, to heal, restore and to establish the eternal kingdom of God on this earth. Heaven and earth will be united forever as a result of the sacrificial death and resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua.
Concerning the Messiah’s return, the Bible teaches, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4).
The renewed world will be our eternal home with God and His King Messiah Yeshua, and we have the opportunity in the present world to reflect that hope. Rapture on the other hand invites us to escape this world: which is the opposite of the truth seen in the life and ministry of Yeshua (Jesus). We pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” according to His instruction, and not “in heaven away from the earth!”
2. Some claim that Matthew 24 proves the Rapture.
“And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left: two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left. Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord comes. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through.” -Matthew 24:37-43
When reading this teaching of Yeshua we should understand it according to its proper context. The flood destroyed the earth, taking away the wicked and leaving behind God's people (Noah's family). Thus, It was the wicked who were taken and Noah and his family who were left behind. Therefore, these verses cannot and do not support a rapture of believers. It is the wicked who will be taken away in the last days and the righteous that will remain.
3. There are those who claim that Luke 17:20-37 proves the Rapture.
“Two women shall be grinding wheat together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said to Him, Where, Lord? And He said unto them, where ever the body is, there will the eagles (Vultures) be gathered together.” - Luke 17:35-37 (context v.20-37)
As in the case of the previous Scripture, the context is relative to the days of Noah and those taken are the wicked while those left are the righteous. In the text of Luke 17:35-37 the disciples ask for clarification saying, “Where Lord?” They were not wondering where the one left behind would be? That one had gone nowhere. The disciples were asking “Where will the one who was taken be?” Yeshua (Jesus) answers, "Where ever the body is, there will the birds of prey be gathered together." The Greek aetos translated eagle is also used to translate carrion, thus “birds of prey” is perhaps a better rendering. Carrion (Vultures) gather over dead bodies, therefore, we read “carcass”. Even if we read “eagle” the result is the same, the dead body is the subject.
“Does the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwells and abides in the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeks the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there she is.” - Job 39:27-30
In the Matthew 24 account, Yeshua (Jesus) makes it clearer by saying that the body is a “carcass”. Thus, those taken away cannot have been raptured, rather, they are the wicked dead.
4. There are many Christians who use the phrase "coming as a thief" as proof of a rapture.
By separating it from the context and believing that Yeshua (Jesus) is coming as a thief for the body of believers, they establish a false theology on a flawed premise. Here’s what the Shaliach (Apostle) Shaul (Paul) says regarding the phrase “comes as a thief”:
“But of the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need that I write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, ‘peace and safety’; then sudden destruction will come upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” -1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
First, followers of Messiah understand that there are times and seasons in the outworking of God’s redemptive plan, and Shaul sees no reason to write to them regarding the certainty of their hope in Messiah’s return (v.1).
Second, Shaul clarifies what the believers already know, that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night”. Note that it is the day of the Lord and not the Messiah that is referred to.
Third, “they” (not believers but unbelievers), “shall say, ‘peace and safety’; then sudden destruction will come upon them…” This cannot refer to believers because v2 already clarifies that believers know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief upon those who are unprepared.
Fourth, Shaul reaffirms that the believers will not be taken or surprised by the day of the Lord (v.4) because they are not in darkness (night).
Therefore, the day of the Lord will come “as a thief” for the world. It will “come suddenly”, on those who are unaware of Messiah? Shaul (Paul) reminds the community of believers that followers of Messiah Yeshua are not overtaken “as by a thief”, because we will be watching and waiting for the Lord, expecting His return (v.4).
“The thief comes for no other reason, than to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'” - John 10:10
The Messiah is not a thief, nor should we understand Him figuratively as one who steals. What does a thief come to do? To steal and destroy! Yeshua (Jesus) is not coming to steal and destroy His bride (Body of believers)? Rather, the day of the Lord will bring about the destruction of the wicked.
The day of the Lord will not come like a thief for the body of faith. Rather, the day of the lord will come as a great surprise to the wicked, just as a sleeping man is surprised by a thief at night.
Therefore, this scripture is also devoid of any evidence supporting a rapture.
5. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” -John 14:3
Where will Yeshua be? He will be with the Father in the New Jerusalem on the New earth (Rev. 21). Therefore, what need is there for Him to rapture those who He will gather to Himself? There is no need, nor does this Scripture support this false idea.
6. “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” -Luke 10:20
Yes, our names are written in the book of life which is presently held in the heavens. However, Revelation clearly teaches that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and that God will dwell with us on the New earth (Rev. 21). Therefore, our names being presently written in heaven does not qualify the Rapture construct. In fact, this verse is identifying believers as Ben Elohiym (Sons of God: God fearers), as set apart from Ben Adam (Sons of humanity: idolaters).
7. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud shofar call, and they will gather His elect (Jews) from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” -Matthew 24:30-31 (Mark 13:24-27)
Notice that it is Yeshua Who will come “in the clouds of heaven”, and not the elect (Jews). Notice also that He will gather the elect (Jews) from the four points of the compass. He does not lift up the elect, He gathers them. The phrase “From one end of the heavens to the other” is an ancient Hebrew idiom meaning “all of the earth”. Therefore, this verse does not support the Rapture construct.
8. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” -Philippians 3:20-21
As alluded to previously, our names and subsequently our citizenship are presently recorded in the heavens. However, as also stated previously, the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and our residence will be on the new earth in the presence of God the Father and the King Messiah Yeshua.
Not one of the Scriptures proposed, when read in context using the original languages, support the Rapture construct. In fact, to the contrary, they refute it and in addition, when coupled with the text of Revelation and the wider body of Scripture, they instead properly illuminate the truth that God intends to come down and dwell with us rather than steal us away up into the heavens.
With this in mind, and the fact that neither the books of Daniel or Revelation (the ultimate prophetic descriptions of the latter days) mention a rapture, not once, nor do they imply any kind of rapture, not once; we must conclude that there is no Rapture. Scripture demands it. The reality is that the Rapture theological construct has more in common with the levitation of false esoteric eastern religions than it does with Biblical Judeo-Christianity. In short, the Rapture is a foolish exercise in spiritual escapism.
So when I’m asked, “Yaakov, what’s your take on the Rapture?”, I will continue to respond, “Rapture? What Rapture?”
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.