Twenty-four Elders and Twenty-four Thousand Missing Persons
Numbers 25:10-30:1
1 Kings 18:46-19:21
Psalm 50
Revelation 22

So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.  And  those who died in the plague were twenty-four  thousand . (Nu 25:8-9)

Oddly positioned with the conclusion of the disaster of adultery and idolatry with the Midianite and Moabite women is the recap of the sacrificial offering: daily, weekly, monthly, and at the annual appointed times.  The list of sacrifices concludes with the musaf (added) offerings of Sukkot and the 70 bulls that represent the nations along with the lambs that represent Israel. What does Sukkot have to do with with Pinchas' zeal in spearing Zimri and Cozbi in the act of sexual immorality and idolatry?

Sukkot is the Feast of the Nations.   Israel's "job," in addition to being servants of the Most High, is to be the light that draws the nations to Him.   This is pictured in the Sukkot offerings, which are the last ones described in  Pinchas .  There was something gone awry in the incident with  Zimri  that could be corrected by a reminder of the sacrificial offerings.  There were more, but these are the basic types of the musaf offerings:

A ram

The bulls, because Abraham ran to the "cattle" (Ge 18:7); the ram, because Isaac's resurrection substitute was the ram (Ge 22:13); the lambs because Jacob separated the lambs and later built sukkot for them in the Land (Ge 30:40)

An  olah  lamb offering went up regularly, twice per day. It was not a  musaf like a festival sacrifice . Olah means "going up," and it represented a perpetual resurrection, for it was slaughtered in the morning on the western side of the of the tethering rings assigned to each of the twenty-four courses of Temple service. There were six rows of four rings, each running from north to south.   In the evening, it was slaughtered to the east of the tethering rings. A tethering ring was assigned to each of the twenty-four courses of service for the Temple.  The tethering rings prevented the sacrifice from wandering around the area while it awaited slaughter, and it held the sacrifice still for slaughter.

Pinchas contains a key commandment related to these twenty-four tethering rings that permitted the priests, Levites, and another very special group to fulfill their mission of "guarding" the sacrifices:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying ,' Command the sons of Israel and say to them, "'You shall  be careful ( tishmeru to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me,  at their appointed time .'" (Nu 28:1-2)

Remember, the animal is not Adonai's physical food.  It's the devotion of the heart in preparation that He "feeds" on. From the verse above was derived the "courses," of service, or  ma-amadot .

Tishmeru  ( shamar ) is the command to the Israelites to be careful, or "to keep watch over" the sacrifices for the appointed times, including:
  • Daily olah offerings, evening and morning
  • Weekly Shabbat offerings
  • First-of-month offerings
  • Festival offerings
In other words, some Israelite had to be watching 24 hours per day, seven days per week, twelve months per year, and seven special times per year.  
The offering must be watched/guarded while it is offered. This is the principle of the  maamadot , or "standings over."  

Someone who watches, stands.  There is directed attention to the task.
The  maamadot  is the group of watchers over the offerings. The  mishmarot  is comprised of twenty-four watches of Levites and priests which alternated in representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel in  officiating  the Temple Service.  The  maamadot  were twenty-four groups of those Levites, priests,  plus lay Israelites  to represent the rest of Israel during that watch of service on the grounds of the Temple.  ( Sifrei  142;  Taanit 27a)

The beauty of being a "pillar in the Temple of my God" is found in the 24 courses of maamadot, for amad means to be a pillar, to stand.

The 24 courses of lay Israelites  fasted and recited portions of Scripture in their watches. This describes how  Channah  could have come to be an everyday Temple watcher :

And there was a prophetess,  Anna  the daughter of  Phanuel , of the tribe of Asher . She was advanced in  years  and had lived with her husband seven years after her  marriage,  and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.  She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers .  At  that very  moment  she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued  to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem . ( Lk  2:36-38)

Anna didn't show up only for a single course per year as a lay Israelite from the Tribe of Asher.  She never left her watch!  She spoke to those "looking," for the redemption.  Let's look at the outline of uses for the Greek:

to receive to one's self to admit, to give access to one's  self, to  admit one, receive one into companionship, to  receive one (coming from some place to accept a thing offered to expect, the fulfillment of promises

One who "looked" for the redemption was one who was willing to receive that Word to themselves.  In order to "look for" the Messiah, one has to watch over the Word with expectation and with discernment for its accuracy. This is what the Temple watchers did, they made sure that everything was done according to the Word, and they offered prayers of Scripture and fasting because they looked for the redemption prophesied by the sacrifices.

Strong's gives the cognate Hebrew word for "looking" from the LLX (Septuagint) as  lakach , which means "to take" or "take and join to one's self," such as Isaac taking Rebecca.  This intimacy is reflected in receiving the Torah:

Yea , he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall  receive of thy words . (Dt 33:3)

To establish the first mention of "taking," which is to receive into companionship, let's take a look at Genesis Two:

The First Mention of "taking" is in the context of serving (avad) and watching/guarding (shamar).  The Israelites had to "watch" or guard (tishmeru-imperative of shamar) the sacrifice, a most important commandment that birthed the twenty-four watches in the Temple.  
Elohim "took" the man to Himself in expectation that the man would fulfill prophecy by "cultivating" or serving and "keeping," or watching over it.  By standing, not falling.  

Obedience to the Word is preparation for being received once again into the Garden to fulfill prophecy and promise.  We are received when we receive the Word and obey it; we  avad  (serve) and shamar watch over  the Word to perform it, just as the Father watches over His Word to perform it.

No mingling with the knowledge of good and evil was permitted in the Garden. The fruit was an idolatrous fruit for Adam and Eve.

Together, they ate it.  
Together, they "received" the twisted word.  
Together, they fell down.  
Together, they abandoned their service.  
Together, they were pushed away with the sword.

Zimri  the Israelite and  Cozbi  the Midianite together introduced a doctrine of diversity, but not based on the teaching of Sukkot, every nation tribe and tongue and diverse types of fruits.  Good and evil were bonded together.  It's always confusing when sin feels good.

When matched to the LLX Greek uses, the Hebrew "receiving" and "watching" words are paired by Jude 1:17-23:

"But  you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that  they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts."  These  are the ones who cause divisions,  worldly-minded devoid  of the Spirit But  you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit , keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously  for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life ."

Jude connects watching and waiting to resurrection, eternal life, the return to the Garden of guarding, serving, and receiving.  

Now  to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,  and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy to  the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and  forever . Amen . ( Jd  1:24-25)

Standing is for those who "watch" over the service (avad/ avodah ).  Twenty-four represents the number of the group representing all Israel in the Temple courses: priest, Levite, Israelite.   This "great joy" that Jude promises is an idiom of Sukkot, the "season of our joy." Just before the verses introducing Anna the Watcher , the shepherds of Israel are told in Luke 2:8-10:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and  keeping watch over their flock by night ...But  the angel said to them,  'Do  not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of  great joy which will be for all the people ...'

The Greek word for "watch" is cognate to the Hebrew  shamar  in the LLX.  Sukkot is the final "watch" of Israel in the portion  Pinchas .  These shepherds were watching the flocks near Bethlehem, for from there came the Sukkot lambs!

Although 24,000 men fell in the wilderness due to their failure to watch, serve, and receive, there are 24 elders who watch the Throne:

Around  the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads . (Re 4:4)

They wear white garments (righteous deeds) and have golden crowns (Jewish tradition says the two crowns of Sinai were "we will do" and "we will hear"). The Israelites had to surrender those crowns when they worshiped the Golden Calf, but had they kept them, the rabbis believe they would have ascended to eternal life in when they reached the Land of Israel.  

The twenty-four elders have been given authority "around" the Throne, which should make you think of the rivers of Eden that  savav (circled)  around the Tree of Life.

T he pattern of the rest of the mentions of the 24 in Revelation is:

1.  They FALL before Him who sits on the Throne, not the serpent
2.  They "worship," and do service, which is aved, like  avodah , service in the Temple
3.  They know that their crowns of authority are rightfully HIS, not theirs.

"... the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying..." (Re  4:10) 

"When  He had taken the  book , the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders  fell down before the Lamb , each one  holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints ."  (Re 5:8) 

Remember the "service of the service" performed by the Levites who played harps while the others worked and served in the Tabernacle?  They played harps to accompany the service of the Tabernacle.   The job of the lay Israelite in the  maamadot  was to pray and recite Scripture in the Temple.  The saints playing their harps are playing the song of the Holy One.   Zimri means "my song," and he  was playing "my song," not the song of the Holy One or righteous Israel.  He added to and  took  away from the words of prophecy and his own promise of eternal life .

And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God,  fell on their faces and  worshiped ( avad God , (Re 11:16) 

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures  fell down and worshiped  ( avad ) God  who sits on the throne saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!" (Re 19:4 )

These are the twenty-four of life, the maamadot the twenty-four courses of service in the House of YHVH.  They are priests, Levites, and the lay representatives of the tribes Israel.  They stand to watch, they fall to the Holy One in worship, and they receive the Word with gladness so that they may received in companionship with the Holy One to the Tree of Life:

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come;  let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost . I  testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will  add to him the plagues  which are written in this  book; and  if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and  from  the holy city , which are written in this book . (Re 22:17-19)

The Lamb is not just a Lamb of Passover, or Israel's salvation.  He is also the daily, never-ending olah lamb of resurrection and the Lamb of Sukkot, the salvation and inclusion of the righteous from the whole world.  He is those spiritual Rivers of Eden who "gave drink" to the whole Garden when mankind (adam) was one Adam.  Let us prepare for Sukkot.  Stand to serve.  Watch over the Word to perform it.  Receive the Word with gladness and great joy.

"After  these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from  every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands..."  (Re 7:9)

Spotlight on Sukkot in Israel 2019
October 10-22, 2019
Kisha Gallagher

With each trip or tour to Israel, we meet amazing people and build lifetime friendships.  We'd like to highlight some of those people that have been such a blessing to the tours and The Creation Gospel ministry.  One of those steadfast, amazing people is our tour coordinator and teacher, Kisha Gallagher.  

When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. (Psalm 126:1 NASB)
For years, I dreamed of going to the Land that I read about every day. The perfect timing and opportunity arrived with a tour hosted by Dr. Alewine in 2017. It seemed like a dream come true. Before our departure, Adonai prepared me in ways that are difficult to explain, but one was studying Psalm 126, a Song of Ascent. Each step on that tour, and each precious soul in our group, reminded me that we are the dreamers in this Psalm. Though I only knew some of the registrants, the entire group became like family in those ten days. We were home, and I knew I was getting a foretaste of what is to come. 
Dr. Alewine's teaching and our tour guide's knowledge infused our journey with life changing insight. The Bible stories and songs that I held dear were transformed from black and white to vivid technicolor. Even simple things became profound. For example, the first time I walked through the Old City of Jerusalem, I was mesmerized by the golden hue of the limestone roads, walls, and buildings. All those years of singing about streets of gold came to life. (Rev. 21:21) If this is true for Jerusalem below, what will the streets be like in Jerusalem above? I can only imagine, but my imagination has been enriched by taking my feet to Zion. 
On another trip to the Old City, I was blessed to be at the Kotel on erev Shabbat. I had brought a Siddur to pray through the Psalms for Kabbalat Shabbat (Receiving the Sabbath). As I stood in drizzling rain, looking up at the lattice of the Wall, the veil to the Holy One felt very thin. Doves nesting in the high crevices kept their gaze upon those gathered. Their eyes were like the eyes of HaShem, watching over us as we prayed. The fluttering of their wings beat to the Spirit of Reverence that was like a thick, misty cloud in that Place. As I read Psalm 92, the words leaped from the page and came alive:
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.  Psalm 92:12-14 (NASB)
Tears began to free fall from my face, and my knees wanted to buckle beneath me. My ability to read further was stopped by the sheer Grandeur of Adonai. His Majesty was overwhelming. Worshippers danced, sang, prayed, chanted, and rejoiced in the Sabbath, adding to this glorious experience.
This is why I have become a tour coordinator. I want YOU to know the Land intimately. It has been said that studying the translated Word is like kissing a bride with a veil covering her face. The same thing could be said about the Land. Until you touch the soil, see the hills of Judea, taste the water, eat the fruit, and mingle with her people, some things will remain hidden. 

While it is a sacrifice of finances and time, it is worth each one to walk where Yeshua walked. To worship in Jerusalem. To experience the circuit around the Galilee. To sleep under the stars in the wilderness. To sit by the well at Beersheva. To weep for Adonai's children at Rachel's Tomb. To dip your feet into the Mediterranean Sea. Don't wait. Don't just dream. Be a first fruit of those that return or send someone to represent your family or assembly. In fact, join us this Sukkot!
Consider this an official invitation. It's not a coincidence you are reading this particular newsletter at this particular moment. Make the dream real. It's time to go home. The Spirit and the Bride are calling. They say, "Come." 
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6 (NASB)

If you haven't decided where to spend Sukkot this year, dust off your passport and click on  SUKKOT IN ISRAEL  to read the itinerary.   

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