Recently The Barking Fox posted a series on “The Jerusalem Debate”, which exhorted followers of Messiah Yeshua to consider seriously the commandment to go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the Feasts of YHVH (Passover/Pesach, Pentecost/Shavuot, and Tabernacles/Sukkot). This is not the first word on the subject, and certainly not the last. Several months ago Kimberly Rogers of BeastWatch News released a short video commentary about this question. In it she suggests that the division within the House of Israel/Joseph/Ephraim and between Joseph and Judah can only be healed when we all begin to go up to Jerusalem, regardless whether there is a Temple there or not. Watch this video and judge for yourselves:
If you will be in Jerusalem for Pesach this year, consider coming early to hear Kimberly at the Reconciliation of Israel conference – Pesach17 on March 28, 2017. The purpose of the conference is to consider how rebuilding the Temple can be an impetus between the two Houses for reconciliation.
Always remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and be intentional about going there and sending others to see the city of the Great King as soon and as often as you can!
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Astronomical Fact Check: A Review of The Bethlehem Star, The Star That Astonished the World, by Earnest L. Martin
Everyone knows when Jesus was not born. Even the most devoted Christians understand that December 25 is not the date their Savior came into the world. But when exactly was He born?
The average person would say that no one knows. That answer is incorrect. It is possible to know when Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth was born – at least within a few days of the event, if not the actual day. That is the message of Earnest L. Martin’s work, The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World.
If the book considered only the evidence of the Bethlehem Star, it would not be sufficient to establish the case with any degree of certainty. The title, however, does not embrace the comprehensive nature of the work. Martin delves into astronomy and the astrological practices of the ancient world, but that is only the beginning. His quest for truth leads him to investigate multiple avenues of evidence, including Roman, Judean, and Parthian records and historical data, Jewish cultural and religious practices of the era, and clues hidden within the text of the biblical accounts. In the process, he not only establishes with a reasonable degree of certainty when Yeshua was born, but also sheds light on a period that is considered one of the least known in Roman history.
This weight of evidence permits Martin to make this astonishing claim:
[The] historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs. There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.
There is a children’s story about a Little Red Hen who worked diligently to feed her chicks and keep her house in order. One day she found some grain, which she decided to plant. She asked the other barnyard animals to help, but each of them refused for one reason or another. The same thing happened each time she asked for help in tending the plants, harvesting the wheat, taking it to the mill to grind into flour, and bake the flour into bread.
At the end of this lengthy process, as the Little Red Hen pulled the fresh bread hot from the oven, all of the animals came running to help her eat it. But before any of them could come near, she said, “Not one of you helped me plant the grain, nor tend it, nor harvest it; none of you helped me take it to the mill, and you did not help me bake it into bread. Why should I share the bread with you now? It is for my chicks and I, and we will eat it ourselves.” Whereupon she shut the door, leaving her neighbors to watch longingly as her family enjoyed the fruit of her labors.
This story contains a moral for Hebrews who are debating whether the commandment to go up to Jerusalem for the Feasts of YHVH applies to them. Quite simply, if we are to enjoy the benefits of a restored Temple of the Living God, and of the nation that will be restored around it, then we had best be doing all we can to help in the process now.
Stop and ponder this for a moment. Step back from the paradigm which says that the structure on top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is a “Jewish Temple”. It is indeed very Jewish in the sense that only Jews have bothered to rebuild, care for, worship in, pray toward, and long for the restoration of the Temple since the days of the Babylonian Conquest. For 2,500 years, all that has existed of Israel has been the Jewish people, descendants of the Kingdom of Judah. It is understandable and logical that the world and the Jewish people themselves believe that the Temple and everything associated with it and with the nation of Israel is now, has always been, and ever will be Jewish.
Yet that is not what Scripture says. And that gets to the central question in this Jerusalem Debate: Can the Temple be rebuilt by Judah alone, or is it a project that requires some measure of restoration of Israel’s Lost Tribes – the House of Joseph/Ephraim?
By Bob Parham
I understand that my responses to the Eleven Objections against going to Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts still leave some HUGE questions for every one that is still in the Diaspora.
What SHOULD we do? Do we still celebrate the feasts as though we were in Jerusalem? Should we not meet at all? Are we sinning if we do or don’t do the feasts outside of Jerusalem?
Wow, these are some major questions! I’m not sure that I have perfect answers for them, either. First and foremost, you need to take this to your Father and ask Him to reveal truth to you. Second of all, maybe I can give you some ideas to consider.
If I were still in America instead of being in The Land, I don’t think I would want to participate in a glorious celebration like I would if I were in The Land. I think:
- I wouldn’t have a big ‘production’ or pay a lot of money for a celebration elsewhere.
- If I were to meet with a group of people it would be to teach about the feasts and call the people to mourn, because we weren’t in Jerusalem where we should be.
By Bob Parham
Following is a quick list of why we should WANT to go to Jerusalem:
- It’s a command. ( Ex 23:14-17) (Ex. 34:23-24) (Deut. 16:16)
- You will be HAPPY if your heart is set on going to Jerusalem. (Psalms 84:5)
- Your weeping is turned to blessing. (Psalms 84:6)
- You go from strength to strength. (Psalms 84:7)
- You meet with Yah there. (Psalms 84:7)
- Yah causes those holding your children and brothers captive to be kind to them and set them free. (2 Chronicles 30:9)
- You learn to revere Yah’s name always. ( Deut. 14:23)
- You will have long life. (Deut .6:2)
- Blessings for you and your children. (Deut 4:40; 6:2-7; 11:2-21; etc.)
- You will want to reconnect to your brother Judah and to the land. (I Kings 12: 26-27)
- You will eat in the presence of YHWH. (Deut 14:23)
- You can join with YHWH in making Jerusalem a place of praise. (Isaiah 62:6-7)
I’m sure there are hundreds more reasons to want to go up to Jerusalem for the feasts. As you think on more, write them down. Never let someone talk you into losing your joy for Jerusalem. If it’s extremely important to YHWH, shouldn’t it be as important to you?
© Bob Parham, Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, as well as to the original author (in this case Bob Parham) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 11: Paul sailed from Philippi AFTER the days of Unleavened Bread. Therefore he shows that we don’t need to go to Jerusalem for the feasts. | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
The first thing that comes to my mind when I heard this objection was this: SINCE WHEN does the behavior of another believer dictate how I am to behave with respect to Yah’s clear commands? I am to look to Yeshua and His Word, not to man, for my instruction.
IF Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem, we know him well enough to believe that he had good reason. Perhaps he was directed by the Ruach (Holy Spirit) to stay out on the mission field. Perhaps he was dealing with his illness again and was unable to travel. The fact is, I have no way of knowing what his reasons might have been, nor do I have the right to judge him without that knowledge. NOR DO I HAVE THE OPTION OF BASING MY OBEDIENCE ON SUCH FLIMSY EVIDENCE. My only responsibility is to know Yah’s commands and obey them to the best of MY ability.
As we will see, the facts are that Paul never TAUGHT us to abandon the Feasts (we have to INFER it from scattered verses taken out of context), but instead he DID teach us by his own example and by his writings that we should observe them.
The eleventh objection is taken from Acts 20. Let’s take a look at the verses in question.
Acts 20:1-6 – (1) After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. (2) When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. (3) And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. (4) And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. (5) But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. (6) We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days.
Something that believers often miss here is that the writer uses the Feast Calendar to measure time – something he would do only if he and his readers were observing the feasts. If they had abandoned the feasts, HE would have abandoned using them as a measurement of time. He would have used a term more familiar to his non-feast-familiar readers. Since he measures time by the feasts, we can be sure that he and his readers (including Paul) WERE observing them to the best of their ability.
These verses can, however, leave us with a few questions.
- Did Paul go to Jerusalem for Unleavened Bread?
- If so, why wasn’t he sailing from Jerusalem instead of Philippi?
- Did he skip the feast of Unleavened Bread during this missionary trip? If so, Why?
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 10: Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem for 14 years, so we don’t have to (or shouldn’t) go either. | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
The first thing I have to ask is this: When did Paul’s (or anyone else’s) obedience or lack thereof eliminate my obligation to obey Yah’s eternal Commands? Yeshua’s obedience didn’t cancel out Torah, so Paul’s apparent disobedience certainly doesn’t have the authority to cancel out Torah! And if I have to choose, I will choose to follow YESHUA before I follow Paul!
The apostles were human and made some bad mistakes – even sins. For example, Peter had to be rebuked and corrected for withholding the Good News of salvation from Gentiles. (Acts 10)
Paul was also a MAN and subject to sin just like the rest of us. For example, Paul and Barnabas had a big fight over a non-salvational issue (Acts 15:36-39), and it seems that it took a long time for them to forgive one another. Does that mean that it’s okay for me to be angry with my brother about such things and divide from him over it?
Bottom line: Even if Paul DIDN’T attend the feasts for 14 years, for ANY reason, what bearing does that have on MY obligation to obey Yah’s commands?
Now I suspect that IF Paul remained away from Jerusalem for 14 years, it was for the same reasons you and I might remain away: inability to travel. But I believe that Paul DID go to Jerusalem during that 14 year period, and here’s why:
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 9: Yeshua took away any commands concerning Jerusalem in John, Chapter 4. | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob ParhamSo which scripture(s) in John, Chapter 4 are being referred to?
John 4:19-26 – (19) “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. (20) Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (21) “Woman,” Yeshua replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. (22) You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (24) God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (25) The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” (26) Then Yeshua declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Now, did you see where this passage is talking about doing away with the three Pilgrimage Feasts? Me neither! So let’s look at this passage a little more closely.
Yeshua says in verse 21 that “a time is coming when YOU will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.”
First, it’s important to understand who the “you” is in this passage. Is it everyone? believers? Jews? or the Samaritans?
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 8: We don’t have to keep those commands because we aren’t in The Land. | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
Many people feel no need to appear in Jerusalem at the Pilgrimage Feasts because they live outside of Israel. More than once, someone has told me, “We don’t have to keep those commands, because we aren’t in The Land.”
I would have to ask, “Which commands do we not ‘have’ to keep?”
First of all, I want to stress that we don’t HAVE to keep any of Yah’s commands. He sets them before us and asks us to choose: life or death.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deut. 30:19)
So to put it another way, which commands can we safely ignore? If we aren’t in The Land, can we kill, or steal, or have sexual relations with our neighbor’s wife? I hope the question is easy to answer: NO! Of course we can’t! If there is a WAY for us to obey a command, we are foolish to ignore the command.
I would ask you to look again at the passage we first looked at under Objection Number 6:
Deut. 30:1-3 – (1) When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, (2) and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, (3) then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
We should be obeying all His commands with all our heart in whatever nation we have been dispersed to.
OK, so maybe we are talking about laws that are tied to The Land, but those laws might be more in number than you would think. Yah’s Sabbaths are tied to The Land. According to the logic of Objection Number 8, if we’re not IN The Land, we don’t need to be concerned about keeping ANY of His Sabbaths, right? WRONG!
In fact all His feasts and Sabbaths are tied to The Land, although only three were commanded to be observed in Jerusalem proper.
So why would we be concerned about observing any of His feasts if we cannot be in The Land?
We are concerned because we want to keep all of Torah that we are able to keep.
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 7: Keep the feasts outside of Jerusalem! | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
Deut 30 – (1) When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, (2) and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, (3) then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
What a beautiful passage! What does this passage have to do with whether it is good to keep the Pilgrimage Feasts outside the land or not? Very much! But what is it telling us: To keep the feast outside the land, or to NOT keep the feast while outside the land?
It was (erroneously) explained to me that when we keep the Pilgrimage Feasts outside the land, we show Yah that we are returning to Him and that we want to keep His commandments fully. Therefore, we should do the feasts in any of our cities that we choose, to show Him that we are doing our best to keep His commands, relying on Him to honor our obedience and ultimately bring us home (with the implication that when we come home we will be able to do ALL the commands).
But what are the commands concerning the Pilgrimage Feasts that would tell us whether we are or aren’t being obedient to Yah’s commands when we observe the feasts outside of Jerusalem?
Here are a few verses that might give you a hint as to one of them:
Deut 12:18 – But thou must eat them before YHWH thy God in the place which YHWH thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before YHWH thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Deut 14:23 – And thou shalt eat before YHWH thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear YHWH thy God always.
Deut. 16:5-6 – You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name.
See also (Deut 15:20) (Deut 16:2) (Deut 16:5-7) (John 4:45; John 11:55); regarding the Pilgrimage Feasts, see (Deut 16:11, Deut 15-16) (Deut 17:10) (Deut 31:10-12) (Joshua 9:26-27) (2 Chro. 7:11-16) (Psalms 122:1-6) (Isaiah 18:7).
If you took time to read any of these verses, you found that the Pilgrimage Feasts are only to be observed “at the place YHWH your God will choose”! Scripture only gives us ONE place in which He wants us to observe the Pilgrimage Feasts, and that place is JERUSALEM! So are we really ‘keeping His commands’ if we are breaking parts of them that we could keep?