As the waters cover the sea.
I was talking to the Torah class last week, and I wanted to illustrate how confidence in one's Scriptural foundation is sometimes NOT a reflection of one's actual skill and insight.
Two people are at the beach. The water's surface is exactly at the same height for both swimmers. Neither swimmer knows exactly how deep the ocean may be. The swimmer standing up to his ankles believes he knows the depths of the ocean, for his confidence is based
on having his feet on the ground.
The other swimmer swims until the depth of the water is higher than his own height. He continues swimming. He swims and swims, and he realizes there is no way to know just exactly how far it is to the bottom. He has confidence that there IS a bottom, but he accepts the fact that he cannot know how far he is from it.
Those who post with great confidence on hot-button issues are often standing in a few inches of water. The water they have experienced is so shallow that they believe they know the depth of Scripture as it relates to that topic. The sand under their toes is evidence of the ocean's depth, right?
Abraham Lincoln once summarized a verse of Proverbs when he said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." That sounds rather harsh, but it is wisdom. When I'm tempted to declare my opinions staunchly or plaster them all over social media, it's time to ask myself, "How deep is the water here? Would it be so bad to acknowledge that I'm over my head?"
Such questions would surely limit the number of words we speak or write in public.
THE PASSOVER SEAL of Revelation
a short excerpt from Creation Gospel Workbook Six
After the Temple Destruction 70 AD
The earliest Mishnaic texts are helpful in locating the 1st Century practices, and the later glosses of the Tosefta demonstrate the transformation that had to occur in order to meet the antithetical purposes stated previously: 1) to reinforce the eternal spiritual essence of the Temple as though nothing had changed, and 2) to reinforce corporate worship without a Temple. The early and later Tannaic Mishnah scholars make it possible to see the process of taking the more "primitive" ritual meal seder elements and applying a uniform set of procedures that can be practiced regardless of location.
I know, I know...all you really wanted to know was what Yeshua had on his seder plate! We'll get there.
Although a more thorough investigation of the "seals" of Pesach is given in
CG Workbook Five Volume V: "Vaetchanan," Melito of Sardis (circa 190 A.D.) wrote some interesting lines concerning the apocalypse in Egypt that mirror John's expectations of an apocalypse in Revelation. Melito was a Jewish believer who wrote at the end of an epoch of Jewish practice in Christianity. Eastern Churches had already broken with the Asian Churches, many of whom still observed Pesach according to the Jewish practice. They were called "Quartodecimans" to indicate that they kept the Lord's Supper, as it had come to be called, on the 14th of Nisan.
The Quartodecimans, according to Hippolytus, "...conform to everything which has been handed down to the church by the apostles." (Stewart-Sykes, quoting Hippolytus in Refutation of all the Heresies, 8.18, p. 83) This is a valuable comment, for Hippolytus was writing
against the Quartodecimans' continued practice of regarding "only to that which is written in the law..." Even at this early stage, there is a failure to grasp the irony of labeling the Quartodecimans' continuation of the apostolic Torah tradition as a heresy. This was not even a dispute between Sunday-keepers and Sabbath-keepers, but between Quartodecimans with different understandings as to which time to keep Pesach on the 14th of Nisan!
Melito was a Quartodeciman, and a particular passage in Section 68 of "On Pascha" is particularly significant because it parallels Mishnah Pesachim 10.5, which is part of the Orthodox Jewish Passover haggadah. This first led scholars to speculate that like the Jews, early Christians developed a Passover haggadah to standardize observance after the destruction of the Temple. Just as parts of Revelation read like a Rosh HaShanah
machzor, some parts read like a
haggadah. It is almost as if John were preparing Yeshua's followers to continue their ritual observance of the moedim post-Temple destruction.
Melito's Pesach seder liturgy reflects the anti-Semitism (or anti-Judaism...not a point I want to belabor here) that had already crept into the Church, but within the liturgy are some clues to the apocalyptic themes that early Jewish believers applied to their Pesach observance. Melito writes in his liturgy "On Pascha":
(15) Then Moses, having slaughtered the sheep
and performed the mystery at night with the sons of Israel,
sealed the doors of the houses to protect the people and to avert the angel.
(16) But while the sheep is being slaughtered,
And the Pascha is being eaten
And the mystery completed,
And the people is rejoicing,
And Israel is being
Then came the angel to strike Egypt,
Those uninitiated in the mystery,
Those with no part in the Pascha,
sealed by the blood,
Those not guarded by the spirit
In one night he struck them and made them childless.
(17) For the angel had passed by Israel,
and seen him
sealed with the blood of the sheep..."
The sealing of the redeemed at Pesach is repetitive in Melito's liturgy, echoing some of the language John used a few generations previous. Since John parallels the seven seals to his appeals to the seven assemblies, it would be interesting to recover other 1st or 2nd Century Christian liturgy for comparison; if other literature compared the celebration of the feasts in the light of Yeshua as the Messiah, it could significantly change the way one studies Revelation and how the "seals" apply to contemporary practice and apocalyptic expectation.
Even John's use of Tanakh symbology to describe idolatrous or lawless practices as adultery or harlotry is echoed by Melito's oblique reference to "Come all families of people, adulterated with sin." (Section 103) Stewart-Sykes describes Melito's use of the Greek word
pephuromenai (translated into English as "adulterated") as the leaven removed from dwellings at Passover (p. 65).
Another interesting find in "On Pascha" is confirmation of the overlapping references to "the great feast" in sections 79 & 93. "In Melito's time Jews referred to the Passover rather loosely as the 'great feast', and did not make a close distinction between Passover and the following days of unleavened bread" (Stewart-Sykes, trans., 2001, p. 59). The gospels and Acts also present overlapping references, which can present hermeneutical problems to those trying to pin down whether Yeshua's seder was more of a Pesach "rebbe's tisch" or
arichat shulchan that preceded the family sacrifice and seder on the 14th of Nisan, or whether he participated in the ritual seder on the 14th and was crucified on the first day of Unleavened Bread.
Since it is impossible to locate the earliest dates of the practice of the
arichat shulchan, it would be difficult to prove that Yeshua and his disciples held one at the "Last Supper," but it is likely that the practice began during the formation of rabbinic Judaism, and admittedly the gospel descriptions parallel the modern practice. If the Quartodecimans quarreled about evening or midnight seders in the first two centuries AD (ibid. p. 82-83), then it is doubtful any modern argument for or against will add any new insights.
The successive text discusses the problems in the Sadducees' interpretation of the Pesach (family) lamb as a private rather than public sacrifice and how it affected the day that the people could actually sacrifice their lambs when a Shabbat approached. The conclusion, however, is that the Gospels document types and shadows of the many components of Messiah's work, and endless debate may be missing the point of the Pesach entirely.
 See CG Workbook One for a discussion of the Seven Churches as the Seven Feasts
A Personal Note about this Conference
Although I've been very busy preparing for the Israel study trip, I've also been meditating on what to bring to this wonderful Gathering the Scattered conference. As I was teaching the Torah portion to my Tuesday afternoon students this week, it finally clicked. It clicked because the writer of the Hebrews points out that all the suffering and trials we endure for His Name's sake are so that we can have a better resurrection.
That's huge, when you think of it. There is a resurrection, and all will be resurrected for judgment. Some will be resurrected to eternal life with Yeshua. For each of us, however, there is an opportunity for a BETTER, GREATER resurrection. And apart from those of us still alive today, all those heroes of faith listed in the Book of Hebrews were not made perfect. Another astounding statement! They are waiting for us to complete our suffering for the sake of the Word, and crying out, "How long, O, Lord..."?
So, at the conference, let's visit "How long, O Lord...?," what it means to be 50,00 Degrees and Cloudy, how to locate the Seven Shepherds of Sukkot and the Eight Princes of Chanukkah, and to look for a Better Resurrection at the Gathering.
BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!
Creation Gospel Workbook Six
, the study guide and new commentary to Standing With Israel is in its final stage of publishing, and the paper copies should be ready for purchase around the first of April. Although the general focus is on Hebrew worship and prayer, the emphasis is on Passover. It may just straighten out that egg-on-the-seder-plate controversy!
Another BEKY Booklet,
The Seven Shepherds: Hanukkah in Prophecy
will be released May 1. Again, by digging deep into the sources, the prophetic nature of Hanukkah emerges in some surprising ways. The one mention of the Feast of Dedication in the gospels is the very key that opens the door to the seeds of Hanukkah in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. It's also the key that explains why in this generation thousands upon thousands of non-Jewish sheep are listening to Yeshua voice, which is calling them back to the Torah. You may
The BEKY Booklet on Shabbat is finished and in the editing process. This will be a vital foundation stone in the BEKY curriculum for curious Christians and those beginning their walk in the instructions of the Torah. Another BEKY Booklet,
Growing in Holiness: Day by Day Through the Hebrew Calendar is almost ready, and
The Seven Shepherds: Hanukkah in Prophecy should be done in a couple of months. Good things are coming!
Messianic Shabbat Service in Spanish
The Kindle and paperback version of the Spanish version of BEKY Book
Messianic Shabbat Service
is now on
Two more BEKY Books coming soon!
The Sabbath: His Day of Delight by Jane Diffenderfer and
Growing in Holiness: the Hebrew Calendar Day by Day
by S. Creeger
You're gonna love 'em!
LaMalah Children's Centre
Orphanage Update: More Good News!
We have forwarded funds to the Children's Centre for the purchase of another cow, some special school needs for the children, and sundry Passover supplies this month.
We are saving toward the purchase of a vehicle for transportation. This vehicle will not just be for the orphanage, but for Brother Ndungu and the other elders to continue traveling to teach the Torah both within Kenya and surrounding countries.
The vehicle also will help in the procurement of less expensive maize (corn), a staple which has been affected by the famine in Kenya. Local supplies are much more expensive, and although less expensive maize can be found, it is some distance from the orphanage.
If you can help toward this goal, as always, we welcome your assistance. For those of you who send monthly support to the orphanage, we can't thank you enough for fulfilling Messiah's commission.
Thank you for your faithful donations!