Thursday, December 28, 2006


   In Acts 3:18-26 there is a war raging as to what "the times of refreshing" and "period of restoration" mean. Progressive Dispensationalists say the (1) refreshing has to do with this present church period, and (2) the restoration is about the millennial kingdom. Amillennialists believe that both expressions have nothing to do with the kingdom, which was forfeited by the Jewish people. The church is now taking the place of the earthly kingdom promises. Some amillennialists believe the restoration has to do with restoring the earth, and the realm of mankind, back to the Pre-Fall period. Everything will be restored to a time of sinless perfection. 

   Classical dispensationalists believe that both expressions have to do with the messianic kingdom reign of Christ, whereby He will bring peace to the earth and reign worldwide from Jerusalem "with a rod of iron" (Psa. 2:9), ruling with that "strong scepter" in "the midst of [His] enemies" (110:2). This position will be proven from Acts 3 by (1) context, (2) how the Jews would have understood the two expressions, and (3) by the grammar of the passages in view. 

   While few argue that the church began in Acts 2, there is some confusion about what the apostle Peter is talking about in Acts 3:18-26. (1) Is he discussing still the issue of the church, (2) Is he saying that the coming kingdom is somehow connected to the church, (3) Or has he moved to another subject, the future messianic kingdom, which is not related to the church age? 

   It is important to focus on the verses that are critical to what is being taught in the passage by Peter. Verses 19-21 are of special interest and need our attention in this discussion: 

   Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
   The Context
   Chapter 3 picks up with John and Peter right after the miraculous events of Pentecost in chapter 2. They had just healed the lame many at the temple gate called Beautiful (3:6-11). The gathering crowd offered the occasion for Peter to speak again about "faith in the name of Jesus," the Prince of life (vv. 15-16). Peter reminds the congregation of Jews that it was announced before hand in "all the prophets" that the Lord’s Christ (Messiah, Anointed One) would suffer. This "He has thus fulfilled" (v. 18). If the Jews repented He would come from the presence of the Lord (v. 19), the one who was appointed for them (v. 20) and bring "restoration of all things" which God spoke about through the holy prophets (v. 21). 

   While the church age had already begun in Acts 2, this was a promise of the return of Christ to reign over the restored theocracy. The "times of refreshing" coming with Christ would be what we label "the second coming." The first coming, when He came to suffer, was fulfilled literally (v. 18) when Christ went to the cross. The second coming will also be literal. 

   Peter continues and says that Christ was the one Moses prophesied about (in Deuteronomy 18:15) as the "other" Prophet the Lord said the people should heed (v. 22). If the people do not listen to Him they are to be destroyed (v. 23). All the prophets spoke of the day of His coming (v. 24), and, as the covenant with Abraham promised, He would bless "all the families of the earth" (v. 25). Peter sums up by saying: "For you first [the Jewish people], God raised up His Servant (Christ) and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways" (v. 26). 

   With verse 26 Peter is saying that the Sacrifice of the Messiah comes before the Reign of the Messiah! 

   Hermeneutics, Interpretation, and Acts 3
   Did Peter know of God’s timetable? Did he understand the length and breadth, and extent of the church age that had just begun? Did Peter even fully realize that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 would begin something new, and that God would be in the process of now rejecting the nation of Israel as a whole for their rejection of Christ? At this stage, did Peter fully understand that a new dispensation had begun, and that the kingdom would be postponed? 

   If we believe in Progressive Revelation, the answer is no. Progressive Revelation would mean in this passage that Peter did not fully understand all that was happening. His offer is legitimate though He did not know the full mind of the Lord in the matter of his imperative for the Jews to "Repent …" In hindsight we understand now that the Jews as a whole would not do this. Summarizing Progressive Revelation: 

   By progressive revelation we mean that the Bible sets forth a movement of God, with the initiative coming from God and not man, in which God brings man up through the theological infancy.1
   The progress of revelation certainly suggests that God may have had in mind certain facts that some of the human authors did not full comprehend, but that others may have known with additional revelation given later.2
   In many prophecies of Scripture, God did not reveal everything at once concerning a specific truth of doctrine. … Progressive revelation is especially important in gaining a full understanding of eschatology as the prophetic plan unfolds through the Word of God.3
   In conclusion, Larkin notes:
   God’s foreknowledge that the Jewish nation would not at that time heed the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and repent, does not militate against the sincerity of the announcement any more than the offer of spiritual salvation by a preacher of the Gospel to an audience of sinners who he has every reason to believe will refuse his offer, is not a sincere and "bona fide" offer.4
   The Amillennial View
   Many amillennialists do not know what to do with Acts 3. Their theology gets in the way, though generally, I appreciate their exegetical skills in the Greek text. They work hard to disavow what the text is teaching about the millennial hope of the nation of Israel. The old Princeton scholar Alexander writes concerning 3:19: "Looking simply at this verse, the times of refreshing, as observed already, might denote nothing more than the relief from pain, and other pleasurable feelings which accompany repentance and conversion."5
   Barrett writes on verse 21:
   "One aspect of the restoration of all things is given in 1:6 … Luke … suggests about the restoration of creation to the sinless and blissful state of Adam in Eden is clear that he did not think in [Jewish] nationalistic terms.6
   Disregarding the idea of an earthly, literal, historic messianic kingdom reign on earth by Christ, Hackett adds on verse 19 about the times of refreshing: This "refers to the present consolation of the gospel, or to the blessedness which awaits the followers of Christ at the end of the world, when he shall return and receive them to himself in heaven. … "The apostle [had] in view Christ’s second coming, when those who have believed on him shall enter upon their eternal rest in heaven." 7 Notice how any earthly kingdom idea is ignored. When interpreting a passage of Scripture, the interpreter must keep in view what the listeners had in mind. God does not speak with forked tongue! The Jews took the passage about the "refreshing" as the millennial reign! 

   Christ Should Suffer, He Thus Fulfilled (3:18)
   The sufferings of Christ were thoroughly announced in many Old Testament passages. It was predicted to happen literally and historically. Peter speaks of the predictions as the things using the relative pronoun a which is a neuter, plural, accusative in the Greek text. Broadly speaking, and by using the plural pronoun Peter may include Christ’s virgin birth, life ministry, death, burial, and resurrection, all of which are prophesied in the Old Testament. He would certainly be including the great body of verses about the establishment of the Davidic earthly reign of the Messiah! The expression announced before is the Greek word prokataggelo that is actually three words put together which means: "to before accordingly announce" (aorist, active, indicative). The prophets not only wrote all of these things down but they spoke about them "by the mouth."
   Peter then adds "He has thus fulfilled" (plarao, aorist, active, indicative). The word thus is houtos and should be translated likewise. The fulfillment was certain and guaranteed by the authority of God Himself. "Fulfillment" was almost always referring to a literal and actual completion that happened on earth, in time. 

   Repent therefore and return (3:19a)
   Peter here uses two aorist imperatives with the verbs (metanoeo, change the mind) and (epistrepho, turn around, turn back). The Jewish people today know perfectly well that repentance is required for the nation to be redeemed. In New Testament times repentance was necessary for the messianic kingdom to begin. Repentance was the burning message of both John the Baptist, and of the Lord Himself, when they began to minister to Israel. In the Gospels, as a verb and a noun, the word is used twenty-six times. Israel was to reject their sins, turn away from them, and turn to Christ. Some did, but most did not!
   The ancient Jewish rabbis even say, "The Messiah was prevented from coming because the generation was unworthy."8 Rabbi Eliezer said, "If Israel repents, it will be redeemed; if not, it will not be redeemed."9 Rabbi Y’hoshu’a hinted at the fact that the Messiah would send the Antichrist to bring about repentance. He wrote, "[Can it be that] if they do not repent they will not be redeemed? [No,] but the Holy One, blessed be He, will cause a king to arise against them whose decrees will be cruel like [those of] Haman, [whereupon] Israel will repent and turn to be good."10
   Avi-Yonah and Baras add to this in their historical analysis of New Testament times, that John "had to prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming by preaching repentance. … He exhorted the people to repent, for the kingdom of heaven [the earthly messianic rule] was near. … Baptism was one of the principle elements of conversion; John the Baptist now made it a basic requirement for repentance."11
   What did Peter mean by return (epistrepho)?
   In almost 100% of the uses, the word means to turn around, return, bring back, and in a few cases, to convert.12 While the word is certainly connected to the spiritual conversion of the Jews, and the wiping away of their sins, as well as being connected to the word repent, the idea behind the concept has further implications. It is connected to the purpose clauses hopos (v. 19, that) and hopou (v. 20, that), with the idea in order that. There is almost no difference in this construction and the conditional element in all purpose clauses that normally begin with hina.13 What we have then is  Repent … and return … in order that the times of refreshing may come and in order that [God] may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you. 

   While the repentance will certainly bring salvation and the wiping away of their sins, Peter has more than this in view. He had in mind the coming of Christ (the Anointed One) who is to reign on the throne in Jerusalem. Again, Peter did not understand all that was happening at Pentecost. He did not realize that a new transition was underway. But this does not mean he was wrong in what he said. He did not know what God had in view, and that the He certainly knew by His divine foreknowledge that the Jews would not repent. 

   The Seasons of Refreshing (v. 19b)
   For an honest interpreter of the Word of God, this passage is about the restoration of the theocratic kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament. It will be David’s Son, the Lord Jesus, who will rule on his throne from Jerusalem. The Jews had no idea when this would happen though they wanted it to happen immediately. The expression "times of refreshing" (kairoi anapsyxeos) (v. 19) and the expression "the period of restoration" (chronoi apokatastaseos) (v. 21) are without parallel in the New Testament, though the verb apokathistemi ("to restore"), which is the verbal form of apokatastasis ("restoration") is used extensively in the LXX of the predicted restoration of Israel (Jer. 15:19; 16:15; 24:6; 50:19; Ezek. 16:55; Hosea 11:11).14
   There is little doubt that this is what Peter had in view! 

   The seasons (kairoi anapsyxeos) picture a period of cooling winds from the presence of the Lord, sunshine and pleasant breezes. God will give rest, political and national rest when the Christ, appointed "for you the Jews," will return from heaven. 

   Progressive Dispensationalism Misses the Mark
   Progressive Dispensationalists believe this is the time of the church dispensation, but that the "period of restoration" is the kingdom. The expressions of "purpose" that flows together is unbreakable in the grammar. The two must be the same. In great detail Ryrie addresses this issue. Though what he says is lengthy it is worth quoting here: 

   A word should be said about the progressives’ revised interpretation of Acts 3:19-21 and the phrases "times of refreshing" and "restoration of all things." The former phrase, they say, refers to the present time [as they put it] (the "already" aspect of the kingdom) and the latter to the future return of Christ (the "not yet" phase). But that would not have been what Peter’s audience understood, nor is it supported exegetically. The "that" (hopos) in verse 20 introduces a purpose clause; i.e., repent for the purpose of or with a view to. The purpose involves two things happening—the coming of "times of refreshing" and the coming of Christ. Progressives believe that the times of refreshing refer to the present time, preceding the return of Christ. But the construction links the two events: the times of refreshing (the millennial, Davidic kingdom) will come when Christ returns and not before. The two clauses (with two subjunctive verbs) that follow hopos cannot be separated, as progressives do, in order to support their already (present Davidic kingdom, "restoration of all things") concept. Nothing grammatically separates the promises; in fact, they are joined together by the connective kai [and]. Therefore, both expressions refer to the promised restoration of the nation Israel in the Millennium. This teaching of an already inaugurated Davidic reign in revisionist dispensationalism is far from firmly established by clear exegesis of the relevant texts.15
   Christ is Appointed for Israel as their King (3:20)
   The amillennialists and the Progressives are grammatically wrong when they attempt to force the issue that Peter is "not" discussing the millennial promises of the Lord. Peter uses two subjunctives that are tied to the word repent. "That refreshing MAY COME " (v. 19b) and "That [God] MAY SEND" (v. 20). "One could just as easily read verse 20 as "that He may send the foreordained Christ again" (understanding the Greek word palin (again) to be in view) as "that He may send the foreordained and future Christ."16
   Peter said pointedly to the Jews that "the Christ (the Anointed One) was for them (v. 20b). This Christ is "His Christ" (v. 18), and this must refer to Psalm 2 where the messianic reign of the Christ, the Son of God, is in view, not His salvation work as prophesied in Isaiah 53. 

   As already shown, verse 20 is about a second "sending." Christ was "appointed" to come as Savior with His first appearance. This verse is speaking of another sending. The word appointed is a perfect, passive, participle in the Greek text. The grammar is saying that Christ "has been appointed" in the past and that appointment will come right on up until it happens, is fulfilled! The verb is procheirizo, with the hand, thus "to assign, signal with the hand, to take to hand," or "to appoint." Or, to gesture with the hand that something be carried out or done. In this case, God has signaled that His Son is the one designated to come to earth to rule and to bring peace to a near-destroyed planet. 

   The amillennialists keep missing the fact that Christ’s appointment here is "for you" the Jews. The messianic earthly reign is clearly set forth in the Old Testament. The king will rule over the world through the revived and regathered nation of Israel. Amillennialists like Lenski simply make His return as something that happens at the end of the world. He does not explain further what that means.17
   Heaven must receive (3:21)
   Christ ascended to the throne room of His heavenly Father before the very eyes of His apostles (Acts 1:11). They were told by an angel that He "will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven" Jesus told the Jewish Council upon His arrest that they would "see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:63; Dan. 7). 

   With a reference to the Messiah being deity, Zechariah says that "His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west" (Zech. 14:4), and "Then the Lord my God, will come, and all the holy angels with Him!" (v. 5). Christ who is the Lord will be king over all the earth (v. 9), and the survivors of the tribulation from among the nations will come up to Jerusalem year after year and worship the King, the Lord of hosts (vv. 16-17).
   Christ remains in heaven until (achri) "the period of restoration" (Acts 3:21). The Greek word restoration is a tri-compound word apokatastaseos that means "to again set in order." Or, "to restore something to the rightful owner." The word is also used to describe the "balancing of accounts." Some English texts translate this word as "the restitution." Liberal commentators, and some amillennialists, try to argue that the idea in view means the complete restoration of all things back to the time before the Fall of Adam. But that idea is not reflected in God’s holy prophets (plural) throughout the Old Testament, nor is it reflected in the context, and, in the discourse Peter is delivering to the Jews in Jerusalem! This idea is indicative of "a reach" by those who do not want to fact the obvious! But the millennial reign, the restoration of the theocracy, is cited with hundreds if not thousands of references "from ancient time." 

   Grammatically, the expressions the "times of refreshing" (v. 19) and "the period of restoration" (v. 21) must go together. The two expressions cannot be split up by the Progressives nor the amillennialists who want to deny the idea that Peter is referring to the restoration of the theocracy. Peter did not know at this point God’s timetable. He, along with the other disciples, would much later. Here in these early Acts chapters, and that Peter and others knew was that the Holy Spirit was poured out as Christ predicted (1:8) and as then happened in chapter 2. 

   Amillennial scholars, like Kistemaker, work hard to make the church the same as the kingdom, doing so by ignoring the fact that kingdom statements have to do with Israel and not the church. Kistemaker writes: "While Christ’s gospel is preached on earth, Jesus remains in heaven, from where he directs the development of his church and kingdom"18 Those who attempt to deny the obvious generally have an agenda, or an ax to grind. They avoid what is most clear to attempt to prove a point. But the grammar of the passage cannot be denied! It makes it clear that Peter could have still been looking for the coming kingdom if only his people would repent. In a distant theory, this could have happened. But God knew what the Jews were going to do. The kingdom was postponed and the church age would accelerate and spread to all the nations! 

   There are other older scholars like Alford who seem to "see the light." On verse 19 he wrote: 

   No other meanings, it seems to me, will suit the words, but that of the times of refreshment, the great season of joy and rest, which it was understood the coming of the Messiah in His glory was to bring with it. That this should be connected by the Apostle with the conversion of the Jewish people, was not only according to the plain inference from prophecy, but doubtless was one of those things concerning the kingdom of God which he had been taught by his risen Master.19
   Ger well summarizes:
   The cumulative fruit of individual repentance would be the messianic king’s return to establish the era of His sovereign rule, the "times of refreshing." In other words, Jesus will not return until Israel repents. Jesus is, after all, Peter pointed out, "the Christ appointed for you," with reference to the Jewish people. … This is the long anticipated "age to come" (Is. 11:1-12), the coming kingdom which will be the final realization of all the promises God had made to the Jewish people through the prophets.20

1. Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 102.
2. Roy Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1991), 272.
3. Mal Couch, gen. ed., An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 64.
4. Clarence Larkin, Rightly Dividing the Word. (Glenside, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Est., 1920), 55.
5. J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956 reprint), 115.
6. C. K. Barrett, Acts, 2 Vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), 1:206.
7. Horatio B. Hackett, Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1992 reprint), 61.
8. Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1979), xxix.
9. Ibid., 61.
10. Ibid.
11. Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi Baras, ed., Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977), 210-11.
12. Horst Balz & Gerhard Schneider, ed., Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 3 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 2:40.
13. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 7 Vols. (Nashville: Broadman, 1930), III:46.
14. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 9:297.
15. Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 169-70.
16. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., Expositor’s, 9:298.
17. R. C. H. Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1961), 142.
18. Simon J. Kistemaker, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 136.
19. Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, 4 Vols. (Chicago: Moody, 1958), 2:36.
20. Mal Couch & Ed Hindson, gen. eds., Acts Steve Ger (Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2004), 65.

Ezekiel 38-39: The Coming Russian and Middle Eastern Invasion of Israel

Only someone blind would deny where things are going in the Middle East. What is happening is prelude to the prophesied coming Russian and Middle Eastern Invasion, described in detail in Ezekiel 38-39. In almost the identical words of Hitler, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently said, as quoted by Iranian News Channel Television:

Who are the Israelites? Where did they come from? Are they human
beings? They are like cattle, yes, more misguided! A bunch of bloodthirsty
barbarians. Next to them, all the criminals of the world seem righteous. When
I see the behavior of America and England, and their accomplices in recent
days, I get the impression that they are preparing even greater crimes. They
should know that the fire of wrath is about to fall and overflow them. The
Iranian people have nuclear technology. They should know that they are
making a bitter mistake. If they have not realized this by now, they soon will,
but then it will be too late.

The Jewish Rabbinical commentaries on Ezekiel 38-39 read like present day dispensational commentaries, because we both take the prophecies in their plain meaning. These things are building up quickly to come to pass. Further inflaming the situation, Ahmadinejad goes on to say that God’s people have no place in the land. “The Zionist regime is an illegitimate regime, there is no legal basis for its existence.” This is almost the same thoughts of liberal Covenant (so-called) theologian Stephen Sizer in his InterVarsity book, Christian Zionism. The Covenant guys have joined the enemy!

It is the dispensational and premillennial teachers who are truly faithful to the biblical text, and the literalness of the Word of God, as clearly seen by the great Rabbinical thinkers of Orthodox Judaism.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Theology Alert!

Change of Theological Definitions!
Dr. Mark Amstutz teaches a course at Wheaton College entitled “Forgiveness and Reconciliation.” You think this is a class about how believers are reconciled to God? Think again! It’s about international and social reconciliation, the dispensing of justice, and organizing humanitarian programs. 

Amstutz writes: “As Christians, we are supposed to go out and redeem the structures of society, but we need to watch that we’re not corrupted by any institution or by the culture itself.” He adds, our vibrant faith should be a check on the institutions, beliefs, and practices of any society. Note that theology is out, i.e., what God has done spiritually for mankind through the work of Christ on the cross. Political and social reconciliation is in!
Amstutz is simply advocating liberalism. Advocating social reconciliation is simply warmed over liberalism re-packaged for our generation. 

Secular Psychology clothed in the coat of Christianity
Wheaton College professors Drs. Richard Butman and Barrett McRay have written a new book for once-conservative (but now liberal) InterVarsity Press, entitled Modern Psychopathologies. The book is billed as a resource for students and mental health professionals that addresses contemporary secular understanding of psychopathology in relation to a Christian worldview. 

How can secular psychology that is evil to the core have any relationship with biblical Christianity? But the two have now wedded and formed a warped and twisted “emotional theology.” 

Evangelical Historian goes to teach at Notre Dame?
How does this work? Dr. Mark Noll has been a history professor at Wheaton College for twenty-seven years. He has now gone to Notre Dame to teach. The head of the history department there, Dr. John McGreevy, says Noll is a good historian because of his interest in “global Christianity.” 

How could Noll express with zeal his views about the sins of Catholicism, the importance of the Reformation as it moved away from the Catholic Church, and what is important today in true biblical and spiritual Christianity, while he is now locked into a premier Catholic establishment, and is on their payroll? 

Something is wrong with this picture!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Psalm 16

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

 Psalm 16

The Prophecy of the Resurrection of the Messiah 

16:1 The Jewish Rabbis have never considered this as a messianic Psalm, nor is it mentioned in the Gospels as such. Only after Christ’s resurrection and ascension were the eyes of the apostles opened to this fact. The disciple Peter got the picture and quoted it before the large Jewish crowd he addressed in Acts 2:22-36. Below is the commentary from the Rabbis:

   Michtam. This Psalm is a Michtam of David. The meaning of the word is uncertain though it is related to the Hebrew word meaning “to cover.” The Psalm may be dealing with the protection or covering of God over the righteous.

   Keep me, O God. A general prayer from a trusting soul, not a cry for help in a situation of danger.

16:2 I have said to the Lord … Both Yahweh and Adonai are used here in this verse. Yahweh means “the Ever Existing One,” and Adonai refers to the Lord as the Master. The God who ever exists is the Master of the writer. 

   I have no good besides You. God is the source from which comes all that he desires.

16:3-4 As for the saints (the holy ones) in the earth … Those who have obeyed the exhortation “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). 

   The majestic. The excellent ones, the nobles. They are truly distinguished who are holy, not the men honored because of their wealth or rank. In association with them he takes his delight.

   The sorrows. Those who play with idolatry, with the gods, “bartered with them.” God will have nothing to do with those who multiply their gods, literally “who give a dowry to them.” Those who play with the gods will experience disappointments, whereas the writer has only good from God.  

   Libations of blood. Drink offerings of blood. Blood libations to idols. Or it could be metaphorically of drink-offerings which are unacceptable to God because they are brought by men whose hands are blood-stained (cf. Isa. 1:15).

   Their names. The pagan names which have been preferred to the true God. Even to mention their names would soil his lips.

16:5-6 Inheritance. When the land of Israel was allotted to the tribes, one was assigned to the Levites, because God said, “I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel” (Num. 18:20). In like manner the Psalmist urges that his inheritance is God, and he does not long for a share of wordly goods.

   Cup. His thirst is of the spirit which finds its satisfaction in God.

   You support my lot. Rabbi Kimchi remarks that “tomich” is identical with “tomech,” the participle of the verb; thus “Thou are the holder of my lot.” The land was apportioned by the casting of lots (Num. 26:55), the result being determined by God. Similarly the Psalmist is contented with the knowledge that He holds his destiny in His hand.

   The lines. The measuring cords which mark off an area falling to the lot, and then used of the territory so allocated. His portion having been assigned to him by God, it must be of the best heritage.

16:7-8 The Psalmists relationship with God is given here. “I will bless the Lord” equals to “I will thank Him.”

   Has counseled me. Granted me the understanding to choose Him as the Source of my welfare.

   Instructs me in the night. In the stillness of the night the voice of God seemed to speak to him and direct his thoughts.

   I have set the Lord continually before me. This is the leading principle in trust of God, the upward strivings of the righteous who walk ever in the presence of God. To have the consciousness of being always before Him must profoundly affect man’s conduct in every circumstance.

   At My right hand, God is … Though the Messiah will go through terrible pain, He knows God is with Him. He is not shaken. God is the Messiah’s Guide and Helper.

16:9 My glory. God the Father is the glory of the Messiah.

   My flesh also will dwell securely. In addition to bliss of the spirit, the Messiah’s person can enjoy security, no matter what happens. The three terms “heart, glory, flesh,” denote the constituent elements of the person: mind, spirit, and body. And though the Messiah will die, He will still be secure because of what is said in verse 10.

16:10 This verse clearly has as a point of reference the holy Messiah. He is the Holy One of God. His soul will not be abandoned in Sheol, or the nether-world (or the pit of the grave). Since God is His Protector, and because He is innately holy, the grave cannot hold Him. While Christ indeed experienced true death, the cells of His body did not decay. Death is the penalty of sin and He was not a sinner, either by action, or by His very sinless and holy nature.

16:11 By His death and resurrection the Messiah will know and experience the true path of life. No other human being can say this. “In Your presence is fullness of joy” may imply that, though fellowship was broken between the Father and Son when Christ was on the cross, still the deific union of Father and Son could never be broken or severed. In a certain sense, the Son is ever at the place of honor at the right hand of God the Father. Specifically He is now, seated by the Father, waiting until God subdues all enemies so that the Son may return to earth to reign and rule on the throne of David!


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Psalm 2

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

Psalm 2

The Coming Prophesied Earthly Reign of the Messiah 

2:1 Rabbi Rashi says: “Our Rabbis expound this Psalm 2 as relating to the coming King Messiah.” 

   Why are the nations in an uproar? Uproar better means to be emotionally restless. The nations are stirred and agitated. The peoples (plural) and the nations (plural) implies the confusion and the restless tempest among the “Goyim,” the Gentiles and the pagans. The question does not seek the reason for the planned revolt, but expresses astonishment at its planning because it is futile. For men to set themselves against God’s decree is “as hopeless as if the stars were to combine to abolish gravity.” 

   Uproar. The word is the same word meaning milling crowd or throng. It conveys the idea of a noisy assembly or mob. The world is shouting and boisterous for two reasons mentioned in verses 2-3. They are angry and rebelling against (1) the Lord, and against (2) His Anointed One!

   They devise a vain thing. Better, “meditate a vain thing.” The plan they had gathered to consider, i.e. the overthrow of the Messiah is an empty scheme. The hatred of the Messiah is an awesome thing.

2:2 The kings of the earth. Eratz here best means the entire world, the whole earth. This is not simply a regional happening!

   Against the Lord and against His Anointed (the HaMashioch=Messiah). The ceremony of dedication to a divinely ordained office included the pouring of oil upon the head. It was done at the consecration of a priest (Exod. 28:41), a king (1 Sam. 10:1), and occasionally a prophet (1 Kings 19:16). David called Saul the Lord’s anointed (1 Sam. 24:7). The text refers to “His Messiah.”

2:3 Let us tear their fetters apart. The fetters would be chains, but ropes are also mentioned. This is the world wishing to rid itself of the influence and control of God and His Messiah (Greek=Christos). The evilness of humanity cannot stand the thought of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their names are repulsive to people, unless the Holy Spirit touches their heart and brings about conversion.

2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs. Better, “He who is enthroned in heaven.” As in the book of Job, the reader is transported into the heavens to see the workings of God’s designs, and to ascertain how He responds to the hatred of the world. God is not making fun of the world but He is laughing in response to their puny efforts at thwarting what He is doing. “Laughs” is an anthropomorphism which makes the scene most vivid. See Psalm 73:1.

2:5 He will speak to them in His anger. God will be furious with the world. What will cause this anger and terror to come upon a specific future generation. It would be the mistreatment of the nation of Israel. Whatever, the world will be traumatized with dread because of what seems to be about to happen.

2:6 But as for Me, I have installed (will install as a future event coming) My King (the Messiah) upon Zion, My holy mountain. The entire Psalm is a future event. The upshot of what is happening is that the Messiah, the King, will be placed upon His throne at the place called Zion, which was the hill of the residences of the kings of Israel. Zion became a catch word for Jerusalem, for the Jewish people as a whole, and for the entire Holy Land! Zion is a poetical name for Jerusalem, for which “My holy mountain” is another epithet, i.e. “the city of our God, His holy mountain.”

2:7 I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord. Now the Anointed, the Messiah, speaks. He is called “God’s Son.” The Messiah, the King, claims that He is no usurper of the crown, nor has He assumed the Kingship to gratify His personal ambitions. He holds His office by Divine Decree!

   Today I have begotten You. This is fulfilled and referred to concerning Christ in the book of John. John the Baptist said: “We have beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). Salvation comes through Israel’s Messiah. John the apostle wrote: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (born) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Only begotten” is monogenous and is better translated as “the unique born one.”
   In this verse, God the Father is addressing His Son just before He descends to earth to become flesh. He will be born as a human, though still the Son of God, yet without sin!

2:8 Ask of Me and I shall surely give you the nations as Your inheritance. Now the Father asks the Son to beseech Him for rule over the entire world. The “very ends of the earth” clearly indicates that this is a worldwide reign and not simply a localized rule.

   The language of the verse is poetical hyperbole. So close is the relationship between God and His Anointed that any request would be granted, even dominion over the whole earth. Not that any such ambitious thought is first in the King’s mind; but it indicates the hopelessness of any attempt to dethrone Him.

2:9 You (the Messiah) will break them (the rebel nations) with a rod of iron (scepter), You shall shatter them like clay pots. If the plotters venture to proceed with their scheme, their fate will be utter destruction, like the shattering of a clay vessel. The “rod of iron” is the King’s club, His scepter of judgment He would use in warfare.

2:10 O kings, show discernment. Now there is an appeal for the rulers of the earth to think twice about what they are doing. Judges are also addressed, in other words, all those in authority are warned about their course of action—their rebellion against God and His Anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

   Two ways confront them. One is to rebel against God’s decree, which will bring upon them severe retribution; the other is to submit to His will, and His Messiah, with peace as its sequel. They are exhorted to adopt the second alternative.

2:11 Worship the Lord with reverence. To worship the Lord is to accept the reign of His Son. Whatever He has said about Him, and the appointment of His rule, they must bow to. Instead of going forward in their downfall, they must rejoice in God’s choice of a King, standing in awe of His infinite Majesty!

2:12 Do homage to the Son. Literally, “Kiss the Son.” When a courtier came before a king, his son was seated at his right. The subject then kissed the hand of the son to show that he had the same respect and loyalty to the son as his father the king! Jesus Christ receives the same honor and loyalty as does His heavenly Father.

   Lest He become angry. This idea is seen in John 3:17. The Messiah did not come the first time to judge men but to provide salvation. To turn away His anger is to accept Him as Savior! 

   His wrath may soon be kindled. This would probably be a reference to the impending and coming seven years of tribulation that will fall upon the world. 

   How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! “Take refuge” is the Hebrew verb khoss. It could better be translated “who hide under the shadow of, trust in” Him. They receive Him with favor and not with animosity or disdain. This verse sounds a lot like John 3:16. God gave His only begotten Son (Psa. 2:7) and whoever trusts in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Deuteronomy 30:1-10

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

 Deuteronomy 30:1-10

The Prophesied Restoration of the Jews to the Land 

30:1 When these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse … Punishment is not God’s last word to Israel. When Israel seeks God, and accepts the Messiah, Israel will find mercy at the hands of the Lord, and be brought back to the Land of the fathers.
   You will call them to mind. The Jews will realize there is no place to go but back to the Lord, and the accepting by faith the salvation of their Messiah.

30:2 You will return to the Lord your God. Israel will take to heart the hard lessons learned in the exile. They will come back literally to the Land. How foolish of the allegorists and amillennialists to think that this will not happen, or that it is applied in some “spiritualized” or mystical way to the church!

30:3 The Lord you God will restore you from captivity. He will change your fortune, restore you to your former blessed state. The Talmud renders this, “And the Lord your God will return with your captivity.” When Israel was in exile, God was, so to speak, in exile with him. The Divine Cause which it is Israel’s mission to champion was in eclipse. By “fortune” means prosperity in the land, but it also refers to the fact that they will be blessed in body, heart, mind, soul and spirit!

30:4 The Lord will gather you and bring you back. It has to be a satanic ploy that would spiritualize these thoughts and apply them to the church. This is a literal, actual, historic return back to the “Promised Land.” Though the Israelites be scattered to the four winds of heaven, yet will God re-unite them in the Land of the fathers and work in Israel a change of heart. They will trust their Messiah for salvation and as their King!

30:5 The Lord will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed. This is a pointed and specific promise that must be fulfilled by some future generation of Jews. We are seeing the “beginning of the beginnings” as to what is now happening in Israel. The complete and final return will come about when Jesus the Messiah’s feet touch the Mt. of Olives. He will begin then the 1,000 year Davidic kingdom reign and rule! The prosperity and blessing of the Jews will be greater than their fathers!

30:6 The Lord your God will circumcise your heart. Physical circumcision was an outward command and it was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant. It was hygienic in that circumcision helps because the foreskin is cut away. It shows that the Jewish people are to be clean physically, yes, but more; they are to be clean morally and spiritually. This spiritual circumcision is part of the New covenant that will replace the Mosaic covenant, the Law, as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-on. The Jews will obey the Lord “with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.” The words of Jeremiah 31:32, which is the prophecy about the New covenant, “I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it,” are taken by Rabbi Nachmanides to express this particular teaching of Deuteronomy.

   The heart of the Jews will no longer be closed up, impenetrable, and unreceptive of spiritual teaching. God will help Israel to fulfill its divine purpose. 

30:7 The Lord your God will inflict all these curses. The evil that has fallen on the Jews the last two thousand years will come upon the pagan, Gentile nations who have so persecuted the Jews. This is vengeance (which belongs to the Lord) and it is retribution.

30:8 And you shall again obey the Lord. The New covenant, activated by the Holy Spirit, will be the instrument of Israel’s obedience. Christ, the Messiah, ratified the New covenant by His death on the cross.

30:9 The Lord will again rejoice over you. Notice the word “again.” This cannot be something new for the church age. This is a restoration of “rejoicing” over God’s earthly people, the Jews. He will completely bless them in every area of their existence. This will be carried out by the working of the Messiah in His earthly reign over Jerusalem and over the Holy Land!

30:10 If you obey the Lord your God … with your heart and soul. The word if is the Hebrew word key and is better translated “When” you do this. The conversion of Israel is not in doubt, neither is God holding back His plans, waiting for Israel to respond. These things “will come to pass.” The NAS sees this issue over “if” and correctly translates it in a side note: “For you will obey the Lord your God …”   


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Deuteronomy 29:16-29

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

Deuteronomy 29:16-29

Further Prophecies of Dispersion (The Diaspora) 

29:16 For you know. For you have experienced the idolatry in both Egypt and among the other nations bordering on Canaan; and you can judge consequently their sins. 

    You came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. You experienced trying times and endured their sinfulness, when you contacted the people of Edom, Ammon, Moab and Mdian.

 29:17 Their abominations and their idols. Or, “detestable things.” A contemptuous reference for idols, with an implied reference to the immoral rites that went hand in hand with idol-worship. Their idols were “inanimate blocks,” fetishes of silver and gold. The costly ornaments with which their worshippers beautified themselves. (Talmud)

 29:18 Lest there be a man or woman … whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God. An elliptical phrase with the full sense: “I adjure you to enter into this oath and covenant, for fear lest there should be among you someone who falls away and goes the way of the pagans. 

    A root bearing poisonous fruit. “Rosh,” a poisonous herb—gall. “Wormwood,” Poison and bitterness—the consequences of idolatry. The sinner is here pictured as a bitter root bearing deadly fruit, destroying the life of the nation—the theocracy over which God rules!

 29:19 When he hears the words of this curse. The sinner will rebel against the curse that God says will come when he walks away from the Lord. He will congratulate himself or delude his own heart. Because of God’s oath to Israel, this one flatters himself that he is secure, no matter how recklessly he indulges in evil.

    “In the stubbornness of my heart.” “Though I persist in the strong wayward impulses of my heart.” See Jeremiah 23:17. People know when they are sinning but they delight in the experience and in the expression of evil. Somehow it feeds the sinful soul!

    “[My stubbornness] will destroy the watered land with the dry.” Or, “to sweep away the well-watered soil with the dry. A proverbial phrase, denoting a hurricane of destruction that would annihilate the community through the sinfulness of individual members here and there. The consequences of idolatry.

 29:20 The Lord’s jealousy will burn against that man. God’s anger will break forth in a destructive fire. See Psalm 18:9. “Every curse that is written in this book will rest on him.” The Hebrew word “will rest” denotes the crouching of a wild animal at the moment of pouncing upon its prey. So here, retribution will pounce upon the evil-doer unawares.

 29:21 The Lord will single him out for adversity. Or, “shall separate him for trouble.” Sin has a consequence and a repercussion, a result, a residual effect. If the sinners be a whole tribe, then shall it be cut off from the other tribes and its members carried away into exile. (Ibn Ezra) This is a fate which later came upon the Ten Tribes when they were taken into exile into Assyria (2 Kings 17:6).

 29:22 When the generation comes and sees the plagues of the land with which the Lord has afflicted it, it will say … The Jews will turn from God, as here prophesied. They will depart from God and the land will suffer. The “foreigner” (or stranger) will come also and see what God has done to Israel for their sins. The entire land and its people will suffer for apostasy, and future generations and the most distant nations will learn with horror God’s judgment upon the depopulated land.

 29:23 All the land is like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. The land will become like a great big desert or swamp. This is exactly what happened over the last 2,000 years when the Jews were dispersed and scattered around the world. Touring Palestine, Mark Twin said it was a cursed land and nothing but ruin and sand. This curse was literal; the Jews’ return and their restored blessing will be literal. Only the foolish amillennialist and allegorist denies the prophecy of the literal return of Christ, as Israel’s Messiah, to reign and rule for 1,000 years in the Holy Land!

   Brimstone and burning waste. The imagery is drawn from the desolate surroundings of the Dead Sea. See Genesis 19:24-29.

 29:24-28 The world will ponder the reason Israel was devastated by the Lord. They will understand that they forsook the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers; they departed from both the Abrahamic covenant and the Mosaic law covenant. They served other gods whom they had not known. Therefore, the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land—the land of the pagan. God put upon them every curse that is written in the books of Moses (the Torah). The Jews had it all! They had protection and prosperity in the land. But most of all they had the Lord but they departed from Him in every way—body, soul, and spirit!

 29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God. God has things that are unknowable to finite human beings, but the things revealed to us and our sons should be observed forever, i.e. “all the words of this law.” 

    There are limits as to what mortal beings can know. Certain things are in the hands of God alone, and must be left with Him. But there are other things which are “revealed”—the words and ordinances of the Torah—and to these we and all successive generations must render willing obedience.


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Friday, December 8, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Deuteronomy 4:27-31; 30:1-10

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

 Deuteronomy 4:27-31; 30:1-10

Restoration of Israel to the Land 

4:27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples. This is the prediction of the great scattering by which Israel will be disbursed throughout the nations of the world for their sins. Their ultimate sin is in the rejection of their own Messiah! However, a warning to Christians: the Church does not replace Israel. The main point in these verses is that God will restore the Jews, based on their repentance, back to blessing, and back to their own Land, the Holy Land! Repentance was the message of both John the Baptist and Christ. The majority of the Jewish people refused to do this. The consequences of idolatry are exile from their native land, dispersion to the four winds of heaven, and diminution of numbers.

    4:28 From there you will seek the Lord. Before the exile to Babylon, in their own land they served images as symbols of something higher. But in exile the Israelite would sink to the level of fetish-worshippers and grovel to idols of wood and stone (Hoffman) Such things cannot, however, permanently satisfy human souls that have known higher things. This very lowering of moral standards called forth a spiritual reaction among the religiously-minded, the “remnant” in “the Exile.”

    4:29 You will seek the Lord your God. The idea of “seek” is repentance. But the sinner must “seek” God; i.e. he must feel the “loss of God, and take active measures to find Him and regain His favor.” And that search must be with the sinner’s whole heart and soul. Sincere repentance always and everywhere secures the Divine Mercy. It would be so in the Exile, if they sought God with a radical change of heart, and the devotion of the whole being. And indeed it was in the Exile that repentant Israel would find God, rediscover itself.

    4:30 In the latter days you will return to the Lord your God. The repentance will come at some far future moment. The Jews will search and find their God. They will recognize their Messiah! The repentance will be sincere. The object of their repentance will be the person of the crucified King!

             It will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations
            that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David
            and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication,
            so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for
            Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like
            the bitter weeping over the first-born. (Zech. 12:9-10)

   4:31 A compassionate God. Although He is a “devouring fire” to those who are perversely wicked, He is merciful and gracious to the sincerely penitent; and His hand is outstretched to receive the sinner returning to Him.

    He will not fail you. He will not give you up forever (Hoffman); or, He will not withdraw His hand from upholding you. (Rashi) God is not through with the Jewish people.

    He will not forget the covenant with you fathers. This would be the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic covenant, the Law covenant, which they broke when they came out of Egypt (Jer. 31:31-34). This is the basis of Israel’s selection and eternal preservation.

    30:1 So it shall be … the blessing and the cursing. Punishment is not God’s last word with Israel. Restoration to the Land, in the Kingdom, with the Messiah, is. When Israel seeks God, Israel will find mercy at the hands of the Lord, and be brought back to the Land of their fathers and find peace. Israel has experienced the curse. This judgment will continue into the Tribulation period, but the blessing will culminate in the Kingdom reign of the Son of David!

   Call them to mind in the nations. The Jews are still going back to the Land from the nations. This will accelerate as the world draws closer to the Tribulation period.
    30:2 You shall return to the Lord your God. Israel will take to heart the hard lessons learned in the Exile. With “heart and soul” implies repentance!

    30:3 The Lord your God will restore you from captivity. God will change the fortunes of Israel, restore them to their former state of blessing. The Talmud renders this: And the Lord you God will return with your captivity. When Israel was in Exile, God was, so to speak, in Exile along with him. The Divine Cause which it is Israel’s mission to champion was in eclipse!

    He will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. The world is witness to the re-establishment of the nation of Israel and the continual return of the Jews from around the world.

    30:4 He will bring you back. Who could deny what has happened the last fifty years in the Land! From all parts of the globe the Jews have returned!

    30:5 The Lord your God will place you into the land which your fathers possessed. The Land belongs to Israel; they hold the title deed to the Land from their father Abraham. The Land is not the Arabs, the Muslims. How can Replacement Theology people say the Church has replaced Israel. These promises are not fulfilled in the Church! 

    30:6 The Lord you God will circumcise your heart. Physical circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, and even commanded in the Mosaic covenant, the Law. Also, it was for hygienic purposes that made the Jews cleaner in the physical sense than the pagan world. But the physical became a sign of the spiritual. When the Kingdom comes, and the Messiah is reigning, God will cut away the “flesh” that brings illness to the heart. This was repeated in the New covenant prophesied by Jeremiah in 31:31-34. And it is repeated in a parallel thought in Ezekiel 36:23-29. God will “remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, … And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers …” (Nachmanides)

    30:7-8 A judgment will fall upon the nations that cursed the Jewish people. Christ repeats this idea. When He returns He will judge the nations that mistreated the Jewish people (Matt. 25:31-46).

    30:9 The Lord will again rejoice over you. God will prosper Israel in the Kingdom (the 1000 year reign of the Messiah). In every way they will be blessed—materially, with children, with livestock. And more, “the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers.”

    30:10 If you obey the Lord your God. The “If” is the Hebrew word key and does not imply a doubt. It should be translated “When.” It is for certain that they will someday turn to the Lord; there is no question about it! As mentioned in Jeremiah, the Jews will plant within their hearts God’s laws and moral principles. Whether on stone or parchment, the law goes nowhere! Outward laws and principles do not really change people. God’s moral commandments must be internalized. This comes about with the incorporation of the New covenant that is ratified by the blood of the Messiah!


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Deuteronomy 28:63-68

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

Deuteronomy 28:63-68

Worldwide dispersion of the Jews Prophesied 

28:63 This section, through verse 68, gives the prophecy of the dispersion of the Jewish people, the climax of which took place in AD 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the great temple by the Romans. This brought about the final scattering of Israel worldwide. The Jews have wandered throughout the nations until most recently. Many started returning to the Holy Land, the Promised Land, around the 1880s. This flow increased in the 1920s following the Balfour Declaration in which the British government promised to carve out a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. The establishment of the nation of Israel in 1947 brought about the near-complete restoration of the Jews from around the world.

    The Lord will delight over you. When a son walks in the right way, it is the father’s joy to help him and to show him kindness. If the son falls on evil ways, the father’s joy must find some means—evil painful ones—to bring him back to the right path. In like manner, God “rejoices” to bring upon sinful Israel the trials and sufferings of exile, in order thereby to purify and elevate him, and thus restore him to His favor.

    28:64 The Lord will scatter you. In 2 Kings 24 it is reported that Jehoiachin was carried away to Babylon with 10,000 of his subjects.

    Shall serve other gods. Being taken to a pagan land would mean ultimate absorption into the religion, as well as into the life, of heathenism. This happened to many of the Jews who went into the Seventy-year Babylonian captivity, but not to all. A remnant survived to return (50,000 total) over a one-hundred year period to re-establish in Judah the city of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple. But many, many ended up being scattered around the globe!

    28:65 Among those nations. Israel is to have no rest—never-ceasing anxiety, life in perpetual jeopardy, an unendurable present, and a future of undefined terrors.
    Failing of eyes. Usually taken to mean the gradual extinction of all hope; or, the eyes refuse their function of seeing, because they view only horror. 

   Despair of soul. A mind tortured and restless.

    28:66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Like an object suspended by a tender thread and held in front of one’s eyes—about to fall down and break at any moment; but in the next comment, even worse!

    No assurance of your life. “You shall expect every moment to be your last.” (Driver) Better, “You shall not believe in your life,” i.e. “You cannot believe that these things are happening that are happening to you, that they are real; deluding yourself with the vain hope that it is all an evil dream.” (Steinthal)

    28:67 In the morning you shall say … Even as he that suffers acute pain yearns for the hours to pass. This verse graphically depicts the agonized uncertainty, protracted by day and by night. These things listed above were the continual experiences of the Jewish people scattered among the Gentiles the last two thousand years! The pogroms and holocausts that fell upon the Jewish communities were horrible events!

    28:68 And the Lord shall bring you back to Egypt in ships. The Jews were to never go back to Egypt for commercial purposes (see 17:16), but they would return in slavery. This would happen in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed. Josephus reports that the prophecy of this verse (28:68) was fulfilled before his very eyes when 97,000 young Jewish men and women were chained together and taken to work the salt mines in Egypt as slaves. At the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, both Titus and Hadrian consigned multitudes of Jews into slavery with Egypt receiving a large proportion of them. 

   Under Moses, 600,000 Jews came out of Egypt in 1445 BC on foot. They became a disciplined force in the desert, but now it is predicted they would be carried back cooped up in slave ships. The Romans had a fleet in the Mediterranean, and this was an easier and safer way of transporting prisoners than by land across the sands. 

    Shall offer yourselves for sale. You will in vain seek and yearn to be bought as man-servants and maid servants. (Rashi)   

   But there will be no buyer. Josephus records that when at the destruction of the temple, the Roman troops grew weary of slaughter, and 97,000 of the younger prisoners were spared. Those over seventeen years were sent to the mines, or the arenas to fight as gladiators or against wild animals; those under seventeen were sold as slaves; but the market was so glutted that, though offered at nominal prices, none would buy them! Those who remained un-purchased were sent into confinement, where they perished by hundreds and thousands from hunger.

    Of course, those who were taken, which was almost all the Jews of the city of Jerusalem, “will never see it (the land) again!”


    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Jewish Commentary: Genesis 25:19-26:5

The Jewish orthodox sages and Rabbis understood the literalness of all of the Old Testament prophecies. Premillennialists and dispensationalists are in good company in seeing the Bible interpreted in a normal, literal hermeneutic. Someday, the eyes of the Jews will be open in seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, their interpretative notes and commentaries on great prophetic passages continue to support the “rightness” of looking for future prophecy being fulfilled actually, and literally!

Genesis 25:19-26:5

God Confirms the Covenant with Jacob (not Esau) 

Generations of Isaac

25:19 Abraham’s son. With this passage a new section of Genesis begins with the descendants of Abraham. “Abraham’s son” is Isaac (meaning “He who laughs”) the child of Sarah. The Covenant promises will go down to Isaac (not Ishmael, the son of the Egyptian handmaiden Hagar).

 [Abraham] the father of Isaac. When Abram’s name was changed to Abraham (meaning father of a multitude) (17:5) that Isaac was born.

 25:20 Padden-Aram. This is the same as Aram-Naharaim, or Mesopotamia (24:10).

 25:21 She was barren. At this moment, Isaac was a good man and spiritual in that he prayed to the Lord about the barrenness of his wife Rebekah (Rev-kah) Sarah before her was barren (16:1) and so Rachal after her (29:31). Their sterility was intentional by the Lord to show that the children who would come along were a gift of grace from the sovereign God, that would ultimately fulfill His promises. This shows that the Jewish people did not propagate “naturally” but happened to come about by a divine Plan!
 Rebekah means “cow” and Rachal means “ewe.” Rachal would be the youngest daughter of Laben, the second wife and cousin of Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. 

 25:22 Struggled together. This was a premonition and a preview of the rivalry which was to come about between the brothers and even their far off descendants. Jacob will be chosen of God over Esau in a providential twist. The descendants of Esau (meaning red or ruddy) are part of the present Arab stock now in the Middle East at war with Israel!

    “If it is so, why then am I this way?” The struggling within her womb seemed a sign of something wrong. Maybe she would accidentally abort the children. Rabbi Nachmanides says she was in an unbearable state and even wished to die! 

    To inquire of the Lord. According to the Jewish Midrash, she went to the School of Shem, where the knowledge of God was expounded. Some feel she went and inquired of the Lord through Abraham who was still alive at this time.  

25:23 Two nations. The founders of two nations were in her womb. They would “be separated” at birth, implying they would distance themselves from each other and be antagonistic from birth. 

    The older shall serve the younger. This prophecy came about when king David defeated the Edomites who were the descendants of Esau. Both words, “Edomites and Esau” imply being red or ruddy, though some believe that “Esau” simply means “thick haired,” though red-like hair. The Edomites today have melded into the Jordanians who live on the east side of Israel. They are part of the larger Arabic peoples who are Muslim in belief. The descendants of Ishmael, the sons of Abraham’s wife Kiturah (25:1-4), Ammon and Moab (the incestuous sons of Lot’s daughters) are all part of the mix of the Arabs today. This is what partly exacerbates the Arab/Israeli problem today.    

 25:25 Red over all … hairy garment. Both descriptions describe Esau who was the eldest and should have been the first out of the womb of the twins. The Jewish Midrash explains the ruddiness as a premonition of his love for hunting and the shedding of blood.

 25:26 His hand holding on to Esau’s heel. While this seems simply to be a naturalistic happening at birth, it was somehow part of the mysterious providential dealings of God in this story. It was as if the one child, Jacob, was holding Esau back from coming forth first. Esau thus was the first and “oldest” of the children but the antagonism would continue through their lives. 

    Jacob means the conniver or supplanter. Though he is far from perfect, God in His providence would make him the prominent son from whom the twelve tribes would come.

Sale of the birthright

 25:27 When the boys grew. Jacob would be the homebody and the favorite of his mother Rebekah. Esau would be a skilled hunter and a man of the field. Apparently also, he would care little that he was to be the one who carried on God’s promises to the family through the Abrahamic Covenant.   

    Skillful hunter. Literally, “knowing hunting.” Or cunning. “Peaceful man” means a “quiet, perfect, harmless” man. “Living in tents” implies he was a shepherd. The Midrash explains “tents” to mean “schools of religious study.” It is certainly possible that Jacob was studying or thinking about God with his parents at home and thus knew more of the Lord than brother Esau.

 25:28 Now Isaac loved Esau. Isaac loved his son Esau because he was a hunter and supplied to the tent wild game. However, Rebekah favored Jacob. While the Rabbinic writings show Esau as a roving hunter, he is depicted like Nimrod as a bad character because of his bloodshed and cruelty to animals that his hunting life entailed. Yet Esau is praised for his devotion to his father Isaac. To have merited his father’s love is regarded as the consequence of Esau’s filial piety.

    Rebekah loved Jacob. Each parent had a favorite, which would lead to heavy tension in the household. The Medieval Rabbinical teachers said “Love your children with an impartial love.”

 25:29-30 One day Jacob had cooked up some stew meat just as Esau was coming in from the field. Esau was “famished” or weak and weary. Esau begged for a bowl of the food possibly because he thought he was going to die (v. 32). Some believe he had diabetes and was about to pass out. From this day forward he would be called Edom” or red. Why is not clear. Maybe his face had turned red, or the food was red in texture. The Edomites today are the descendants of Esau and part of the larger Arabic peoples, especially now living in Jordan. 

    Swallow. Used only here in the Old Testament, the word implies an animal-like voracity, a gulping down of his food. Again, this adds to the theory that he was physically hurting and maybe about to faint. Esau’s manner in this account shows he did not think of where his impulsiveness would lead.

 25:31-32 In a conniving and diabolical way Jacob saw his chance to have the family covenant that had been made by God with Abraham passed down to him.

    Sell me your birthright. This certainly may imply that Jacob knew the attitude of Esau to his inheritance. Verse 32 shows how contemptible in his mind was the covenant! “What use then is the birthright to me?” Some side a little with Esau and say he but thought that he was indeed going to die that very day, so the inheritance would be of no use to him. But most feel the Bible is clearly telling us he cared little for this divine promise made to his grandfather Abraham. 

    The Rabbis say, at first Jacob’s conduct appears reprehensible, but on closer examination the privileges of the birthright so coveted by Jacob were purely spiritual in nature. Jacob suspected Esau thought little of the blessing and wanted the integrity of the promised covenant to be kept with the family. Of course in God’s providence Jacob nor Esau could thwart God’s ultimate plans with this family. “As to power and command, Jacob never exercised any over Esau; but on the contrary humbly and submissively addresses him as ‘my Lord.’” (Rabbi Abarbanel)

 25:33 “First swear to me.” Jacob had Esau swear in a binding oath or contract. Generally, contracts were not written but simply made verbally. Esau then “sold his birthright [to the covenant] to Jacob.”

 25:34 Esau despised his birthright. Esau’s true colors are now revealed. He cared little for the birthright. The spiritual inheritance of Abraham, which would normally have passed into the hands of Esau, was not worth to him as much as a dish of stew. Esau was a sensualist! He was fickle and impulsive, apparently hunting for the gratification of the moment, of the moment of the kill. This was the most noble thing he could do. He could not think in spiritual terms but physical only! 

 Abrahamic Covenant Confirmed to Isaac

 26:1 The previous famine. There had been an earlier famine during the lifetime of Abraham. Is this passage saying there had been no famines in the land of Canaan until the time of Abraham? Possibly but not probable! We know the land was very fertile in these early days, full of trees and pasture land.

    Abimelech. “Ab” means father and “melech” means king. Or, “kingly father,” or “my father is king.” Many scholars feel this was a dynastic title and not a personal name. The same name is mentioned in 12:10, but is probably another ruler. See also 20:2. 

 26:2 Do not go down to Egypt. With the famine, Isaac would naturally do what his father Abraham had done—go down to Egypt to escape the famine. See 12:10. 

 26:3 Sojourn in this land. God then adds: “I will be with you and bless you, because I haven given all these lands to your descendants.” The Lord adds that He is now establishing His promise, His oath that He had made with Abraham. On the Lord’s very nature and attributes, He is guaranteeing that the land is Isaac’s to his children. God will be faithful to His promises! Today the land belongs to the Jews through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not to Ishmael, and Esau, nor the children of Keturah, Abraham’s wife after Sarah. 

 26:4 I will multiply your descendants. God uses the same language, the same phrases, He used with Abraham. The covenant promises are repeated. But more. All the nations will be blessed through Isaac’s children. Ultimately, this happened with the sending of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Jewish people. And yet, the blessing will also come when He reigns over Israel, and the world, in the near coming kingdom. Before that kingdom comes, the world, and Israel, must go through the birth pangs, the worldwide tribulation and wrath of God poured out on the earth!

 26:5 Abraham obeyed Me. What God charged Abraham with, he kept! He believed the Lord! “Commandments” were the rules that emphasized a moral sense to Abraham. The Mosaic Covenant had not yet been given. The “statutes” may have been prohibitions that the Lord passed down to Abraham. The “laws” were customs and traditions Abraham may have received. These definitions are given in the Jewish Midrash. This verse may tell us that many, many principles and guidelines were given to Abraham that were not recorded here in Genesis. They may have been passed down in some form of writing or in verbal form. Moses may have incorporated them in his Law Covenant code.
    The Pentateuch and Haftorahs.
    Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period, Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi  Baras (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977).
    The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1979).
    Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, William Green, ed. (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 1999).