Dec 24, 2014

Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man

by Lambert Dolphin

Why God Became a Man?

The religion page in the Saturday newspaper these days treats Jesus as a great moral teacher whose words we may or may not have accurately recorded for us in the gospels. Jesus may have been a remarkable teacher, but so was Confucius, Buddha, or Mohammed.  The disciples of Jesus, and the majority of the Jews who enthusiastically followed the Master at the beginning of his public ministry clearly hoped he would bring in the kingdom of God by throwing out the Roman overlords and bringing Israel back to the glory the nation had in the days of Solomon. Reading through the gospels there is plenty of evidence that Jesus' teachings were inexhaustibly rich and profound and authoritative. His miracles were real and brought much relief from pain, suffering and even death. His manhood, lived out in total dependence on the indwelling Father, was startling to many because no man living or dead had ever come close to measuring up to Jesus' demonstration of what God intended normal manhood to be.
While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." (Luke 5:1-10)

Jesus probably first realized his calling when he was about 12 years old,
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:40-52)

From the time He first realized why He had been sent into the world, Jesus knew that His main purpose was to arrive in Jerusalem at a precise, exact time and date on God's calendar that had been prophesied by Daniel 700 years earlier, (Daniel 9:24-27). There he knew that he would be betrayed by one of his own, and that he would become a sacrificial lamb for the sins of all the world.
"...[Jesus] strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. (Matthew 16:20-27)

Men today are no different from the Jews of Jesus' day. We'd all like a Savior who would fix up the externals of our lives, solve our financial and emotional problems, deal with our enemies and give us at the happiness that constantly eludes us. But the Primary Mission of Jesus was much more serious and profound and terrible. He came to undo cosmic evil and to accomplish a permanent fix for the problem of human sin. The solution to human ills and to the cosmic problem of evil could not, cannot, and did not come from human skills, ingenuity, or from our meritorious efforts. It is the Creator Himself who formulated the plans---from the beginning of time---for the solution of man's terrible plight. Though the councils of God are conducted in eternity "before the foundation of the world," in due season,
"...when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4, 5)

God executed His plans, as He always does, according to His own timing and pre-planning. What God did to solve the problem of evil was to enter the human race in the Person of the Son, as a perfect, sinless man. Jesus,
"who, though he was in the form (morphe) of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied (ekenosen) himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found (schemati) in human form (homoiomati) he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:6-11)

Jesus, the Son of God became a substitute for each one of us, a sin-bearer, a reconciler. He is called in the New Testament, "the Author (archegos) and Finisher ( teleiotes) of our Faith" (Heb. 12:2). By a voluntary act the Son of God chose to become a man, to be an obedient servant, and to do everything, day by day throughout his entire life on earth, in total dependence upon the Father who indwelt Him.
 This passage quoted above from Philippians is of great importance to our understanding the nature of God and the radical solution to sin God accomplished through the incarnation of His Son. The early church wrestled over the issue of whether Christ had one nature or two (the problem of the "hypostatic union")---most Christians today agree that this passage implies that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man. Furthermore, Jesus lived His entire life on earth by faith in total dependence upon the Father who dwelt in Him, thus He did not, while He was on earth, exercise His sovereign power as God the Son. This right and privilege (that of acting as Sovereign God), in addition to His exalted and splendorous place beside the Father, were temporarily and voluntarily set aside by Jesus of his own free will.  The Son of God, having become a man, grew into maturity, through suffering and obedience, and so came to the age where He was fully qualified to die as a substitute for the sins of the world. Then, having accomplished that terrible, bloody work of the cross, Jesus was raised from the dead by the Father and by the Holy Spirit. Forty days later He ascended into the heavens. This same Jesus now sits at the "right hand of the Majesty on High." In this series of cosmic events, Jesus has actually gained a more exalted position in the universe than He held before. Because of his obedience and death on the cross, He has been elevated by the Father to the place of supreme authority in the entire universe. This "higher state" may be difficult for us to imagine---since Jesus was already the Son of God before He became a man---but such is the language used of Jesus in the New Testament describing his post-resurrection exaltation. Chicago's Moody Church pastor and prophet, the late A.W. Tozer wrote these words:
"The teaching of the New Testament is that now, at this very moment, there is a Man in heaven appearing in the presence of God for us. He is as certainly a man as was Adam or Moses or Paul; he is a man glorified, but his glorification did not de-humanize him. Today he is a real man, of the race of mankind, bearing our lineaments and dimensions, a visible and audible man, whom any other man would recognize instantly as one of us. But more than this, he is the heir of all things, Lord of all lords, head of the church, firstborn of the new creation. He is the way to God, the life of the believer, the hope of Israel, and the high priest of every true worshiper. He holds the keys of death and hell, and stands as advocate and surety for everyone who believes on him in truth. Salvation comes not by accepting the finished work, or deciding for Christ; it comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as his own and paid it, took our sins and died under them, and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ; nothing less will do."

The Seat of Original Sin

The late Arthur Custance, a gifted Canadian Bible scholar, in his book The Seed of the Woman, (Ref. 1) makes a case that "original sin" in the human race may very well be transmitted biologically from generation to generation [from Adam] through the male sperm, rather than through the female ovum. Custance took care to defend his premises thoroughly. The virgin birth, Custance believed, allowed Jesus to be born of Mary free from all sin so as to become a "lamb without spot or blemish," "tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin." Scripture also speaks of Jesus as "The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world." If original sin is transmitted genetically by the male sperm and not by the female ovum, then Mary, though she herself was a forgiven sinner and a mortal daughter of Adam and Eve, could give birth to a sinless son through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit without ordinary fertilization by her husband's seed.  The incarnation, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus the Son of God is an awesome intrusion into our limited space-time domain. These events which we see as merely historic in our time frame constitute an eternal event, a transaction (known in theology as "the eternal covenant") between the Father and the Son, which really takes place in eternity, outside of time. The prophet Isaiah records amazing "conversations" outside of time between God the Father and His servant the Messiah, (Isaiah was written about 700 years before Jesus was born) For example Isaiah 49 says:
Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me (Messiah) from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, 'You are my servant, Israel, (here the Messiah is spoken of as the true Israel) in whom I will be glorified.'

But I (Messiah) said, 'I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.'

And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength---he says: 'It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.' Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the servant of rulers: 'Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.'" (1-7)

Arthur Custance's argument about the mechanism by which sin may be genetically transmitted is a very reasonable one, (at least to my way of thinking), and helps us to understand why the blood line of the promise through legitimate heirs from Eve down through Mary is uninterrupted, while only the Kingly promise (not the blood line---see Jer. 22:30, 36:30) is preserved from Abraham to Joseph. The conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit interrupted the chain of genetic links beginning with the fall, allowing a descendant of Adam to be born into the world free from original sin. The perfect obedience of Jesus during His life on earth also was necessary to assure that He reached the cross as a fully qualified sin-offering. Scripture emphasizes the humanity of the Messiah as fully as it does His Deity. The Old Testament is replete with references to the Messiah as the "root out of dry ground," "the seed of David," "the suffering servant of the LORD," and so on.

Jesus and the Undoing of Cosmic Evil

The most famous passage from the pen of Paul describing the resurrection of believers also makes mention of Christ's victory over evil angels, and over death itself. Indeed Jesus will, ultimately "put all things under himself:"
"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 'For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says, 'All things are put in subjection under him,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one." (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

The Bible is full of evidence that both the spiritual dimension and human society are today influenced by an active and pernicious evil agency. The old creation has been ruined because of active evil perpetrated by fallen angels. Both the heavens and the material universe have become flawed and corrupted. Some of the laws of physics we now take for granted were evidently different in the past. Evil in the heavens means that malevolent spiritual beings, having great influence in the universe have access to the throne of God and to territories beyond the earth as well. Satan does not rule in hell, as popular cartoons usually suggest. As the prince of the power of the air he has access to heaven, (Job Chapter 1). As the god of this age he rules over the fallen social order of the nations.  Satan and his hordes of malevolent spirit-beings rule in the activities of men; however, only with permission from God. They are completely in subjection to God and can not go beyond boundaries established by God. Satan's pervasive influence of active evil influencing all human affairs is also temporary and soon will be coming to an end. In fact, the doom and fate of the Father of Lies has already been sealed in eternity. The victory of Jesus on the cross was a cosmic, all-encompassing one:
God has delivered us [who believe] from the dominion of darkness and transferred [translated] us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities---all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him...(Colossians 1:13-22)

We sons and daughters of Adam, who still live constrained in time, can rest assured that a bright, new world lies ahead for all who follow Jesus as Lord. A just and holy God cannot tolerate the present world situation forever. He must, and He will, intervene and change the status Que. One such direct intervention has already occurred, at the time of the Flood of Noah. God's next moves will be more grand, terrible, and awesome indeed. He reigns over the entire universe always, but He does not yet rule on the earth. The day of Christ's rule on earth is fast approaching.

Man's Three Enemies

Man is fallen, human evil is a reality---The first three Chapters of the Book of Romans spell this out for us in detail. How can we miss such a complete and thorough indictment before the bar of God's court of justice? Yet amazingly everyone of us seems intent on denying what should be perfectly obvious. Even though we all suffer from the effects of early in life, we persist in living for the moment denying the fact that the human mortality rate remains a flat 100%. The fact that we begin to die as soon as we are born, attests to the fall of our forefather Adam, "Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned--" (Romans 5:12). Even those of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord, and who experience his renewing life in us, (Rom. 8:11) still live in fallen physical bodies---bodies that are not yet redeemed. Non-Christians are described in the Bible as "dead in trespasses and sins." Thus those who do not yet know God cannot be expected to live what in God's eyes is truly moral and godly lives---by our very nature. The power to live a moral life comes from God as a gift, as does inherent rightness which is imputed to us when we become Christians. Becoming a Christian does not eliminate sin, rather, conversion to Christ is the time the real battle begins. Christians find themselves subjected to temptations and inclinations towards evil through three mechanisms. The Bible calls them "the flesh, the world, and the devil." However, neither the body, nor matter, nor things in the material world are, in and of themselves, evil.
The flesh might better be translated "the self-life." The seat of the flesh lies in the as-yet-unredeemed physical body of man, but it is Satan who energizes and empowers the lusts of the flesh that we all experience. The enemy seeks to draw us away from dependence upon the indwelling Lord Jesus, this produces self-centeredness---which is how the flesh operates. The flesh and the world are Satan's main instruments in this process. The flesh, according to the Bible, has both "good" and "bad" aspects. The flesh always springs to life when a Christian tries to live his life by self-effort---rather than by dependence upon his indwelling Lord. Christians are free to "walk after the flesh" but admonished instead to "put to death the deeds of the body" and to "sow good works by the Spirit" since there are inevitable consequences for evil or for good depending on all our daily choices. These contrasts are set forth in Galatians Chapter 5. The "world," (as the New Testament uses the term), is not the world of nature, but culture, custom, tradition, and human society as dominated by Satan. The Greek word cosmos, translated "world" means "ornament, decoration, arrangement." Cosmos gives us our English word "cosmetics." Hence worldliness is a concern for external appearances more than inner content and quality. The world system is outwardly religious, scientific, cultured and elegant. Inwardly it seethes with national and commercial rivalries. The influence of the "world" on a follower of Christ shows up in the following ways: a conformity to cultural norms or traditions and stifles individuality, the use of force, greed, ambition and warfare to accomplish objectives, the use of financial reward, position, power or social status as a important aspect of identity. The world cares nothing for the worth of the individual or his uniqueness, promotes myths and illusions which appeal to human vanity and pride, diverts attention from spiritual values by appeals to pursue pleasure, pride (vainglory), or to power, is permissive in regard to sexual, moral and ethical values to encourage self-indulgence, makes an appeal to immediate pleasure rather than long-term goals, ignores eternal values and invisible realities, offers false philosophies and value systems to support its goals. The root problem behind worldly values is pride. The world exalts man, his abilities and his supposed "progress"---e.g. through the myth of social evolution, glosses over and hides suffering, death, poverty, the depravity of man, and man's accountability to God. The "world" seeks to unify mankind under an atheistic humanistic or pantheistic banner, and emphasizes pluralism while denying Biblical absolutes. Worldly philosophy teaches human progress and advancement through better education or social welfare.  The third enemy of man is Satan. The Devil is "the god of this world" (or in Greek this "age.") He does not preside over hell, but over the earth, that is, over society. He has access to heaven. As a "liar and a murderer from the beginning," Satan seeks to twist, warp, cripple and destroy man, and to further ruin God's creation. His basic appeal is to persuade men to be their own gods, to be self-sufficient, to attempt mastery of their own fates and destinies. Satan is not equal to god, and must obtain permission from God for all that he does. He is clever, deceitful, treacherous, and man's deadly enemy. (C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters is an excellent fictional story of conversations between the devils---revealing much about the stratagems of Satan and his devices). The good news of the Bible is that God has already solved the problem of evil in both dimensions, that is, "in heaven" and "on earth". This is why the theme of victory, triumph, and hope pervades the New Testament. "...I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." writes Paul (Romans 16: 19-20) To the Corinthians he says, "For he (Jesus) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 'For God has put all things under his feet.'" (1 Corinthians 15:25-27)

The Work of the Cross: The Central Accomplishment of Jesus

In Scripture, when God has something important to say, it is sometimes repeated. Usually one repetition is sufficient to tell us to pay attention, as when Jesus would begin a statement with the words "Truly, Truly I say to you..." (In the original language the word "truly" is actually the word Amen. "Amen, amen, I say to you). Sometimes Scripture repeats something twice to make very certain we don't miss something important. A very few times does Scripture repeat something three times for emphasis---for example "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory," are Isaiah's words when he became aware of the holiness of God and his own deep-seated sinfulness (Isaiah 6).

 When it comes to the life of Jesus---His temptations, betrayal, trial, death and resurrection---four, not two, not three, Gospels were written. Surely this strategy by the Holy Spirit is intended to help us see the supremely great importance of God becoming a man. We must not miss the message that " Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them..." (2 Corinthians 5:19) John R.W. Stott has written a thorough treatment on the cross of Christ, revealing the importance of this subject from God's point of view (Ref. 2). But, the cross of Christ is all-too-frequently neglected or even crowded out of Christianity by other less "offensive" aspects of theology and Bible study. Not only is the subject of the Cross all about the death of Jesus on our behalf, but also it points to the fact that we, too, must be put to death, in Christ, on that same cross, to gain eternal life. Our crucifixion with Christ shows us that there is nothing in the old creation, in the first Adam, that can be saved apart from death. Paul writes, "I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification came by the law, then Christ died to no avail." (Galatians 2:20-21)  While writing to encourage the Christians in the early church at Colossae, the Apostle Paul reveals to them some of the mighty once-for-all-time accomplishments of Jesus on the cross:
"As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits (stoicheia) of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (permanently), and you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in (the) baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the (legal) bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside (blotted out), nailing it to the cross. He disarmed (stripped of power and authority) the principalities and powers (in the heavenly places) and made a public example (spectacle) of them, (bodily) triumphing over them in him." (Colossians 2: 6-15)

Christ's Return Seen from Eternity

Speaking of the return of Christ as one grand event, Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians:
"We are bound to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering---since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed (apokalupsis) from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)

If death for the follower of Jesus Christ means leaving time and entering eternity, then a similar kind of happening transpires when physical death comes to those who have rejected all of Christ's rights and claims to rule their lives. Since the issue of sin has been dealt with once for all by Jesus, it is only our proud unwillingness to be forgiven that ultimately stands between us and our full reconciliation with our Creator! Physical death for those who are not God's children means that spirit, soul and body exit our space-time dimension and "time travel" to the end of the age when the Day of Judgment is held. This event (in eternity) will also intersect human history, like the Second Coming, at some future date on our calendars. But it is no more than a split second away in the consciousness of a person who dies in unbelief! The passage quoted above describes the terrible last glimpse the lost have of Jesus before they are separated from Him forever.  The book of the Revelation records what is known as the judgment of the great white throne, which follows immediately:
"Then I (John) saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)

Most Bible commentators teach, first, that all those judged at the Great White Throne are non-believers, and second, that there are degrees of punishment in hell---because of the reference to books (angelic records) being opened and the dead being judged according to what they have done. All those present at this judgment will find that their names have not been written in the book of life.


All paths in life lead ultimately to a face-to-face meeting with the man Jesus of Nazareth. There is no escaping Him. Jesus is the One who spoke the universe into being, carrying out the Father's design and plan for the creation. All things were made through him, and according to Colossians, "for him." He is the absent landlord who will one day come back and claim what is His own. We are only house-guests in Some Else's universe. Quoting from and applying Isaiah Chapter 45, the Apostle Paul says,
"None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:7-12)


1. The Seed of the Woman, by Arthur C. Custance. Available from Doorway Publications, %Evelyn M. White, 38 Elora Drive, Unit 4, Hamilton, Ontario, L9C 7L6, Canada 1980.  2. John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove, Illinois, 1986).

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Nine Questions and Answers from the Angels Visiting the Shepherds

Continuing our look at the Nativity story for Christmastime, the following are 9 questions from the story that appears in Luke 2 concerning the visit of the angels to the shepherds announcing the birth of Messiah. This story is taken from

1. Where is the story about the angels’ appearance to the shepherds found?

The appearance of the angels to the shepherds on the first Christmas day is only recounted once in the Bible. The story is found in Luke 2:8-14.

2. Is there any historical basis for this account?

Yes. In the opening sentences of his treatise on the life of Jesus, the Gospel writer Luke explains that he drew on eyewitness accounts as he wrote what Christians call the Gospel according to Luke. This would include talking to one or more of the shepherds who had shared this unforgettable experience.

3. Who were the shepherds and what was it like being one?

In the culture of that day being a shepherd was not considered to be a desirable job. Being a shepherd required being gone from home for long stretches of time, keeping watch over the flock twenty-four hours a day. Unlike the sheep farms of our day, there were no fences and the shepherds needed to keep sheep from wandering off. Plus, protecting the sheep from wild animals was dangerous work; it was equally dangerous to ward off the poachers who were very common at that time. Also, shepherds became unclean while doing their work, such as being in contact with blood when birthing lambs and disposing of the dead sheep, but the catch-22 was that their 24/7 work schedule prevented them from going to the temple for a ceremonial cleansing.

4. Why did the angels appear to the shepherds? Were they special?

Yes and no. We assume that in biblical times angel appearances were an everyday occurrence, but they weren’t then and they aren’t today. Angels were supposed to appear to priests, not shepherds who were at the lowest level of the Jewish social strata. No one could have anticipated that such an audience would be the first to hear the angels give the Good News that the savior had arrived. This is what makes the Christmas account remarkable. God showed that his interest and love extends to everyone in every station of life.

5. What do we know about the sheep the shepherds were watching?

The sheep were not ordinary. Since the shepherds’ fields in Bethlehem were close to the temple in Jerusalem, the fields were the domain of the temple and the sheep were used in temple sacrifices. The shepherds were responsible for raising healthy, unblemished sheep to be offered on the altar of sacrifice even though these same shepherds were excluded from the temple because they were considered to be ceremonially unclean.

6. Who was the angel that appeared to the shepherds?

Luke simply reports that it was the “angel of the Lord” without giving a name. It is likely the shepherds never learned the name of the angel. Some Bible scholars suggest that it was Gabriel who was the messenger angel in other parts of the Christmas story.

7. What was the light that surrounded the “angel of the Lord”?

“The glory of the Lord” that shone around the angel (Luke 2:9) terrified the shepherds who were unprepared for such a sight. No doubt they were also fascinated and drawn to this unique experience. “The glory of the Lord” is a technical term in the Scripture for what is also known as the “Shekinah” or the brightness of the perfection of God. Theologians have tried to explain it by writing that the sum total of God’s attributes combine together to make a brilliant, perfect light. This is what the shepherds saw on the Bethlehem hillsides. In the Old Testament, the Shekinah was the symbol of God’s presence with his people. For more info, see Exodus 24:16, Numbers 16:19, and 1 Kings 8:10-11.

8. What was the “angel of the Lord’s” purpose?

A primary function of angels is to serve as messengers. In fact, this is the basic meaning of the word angel. In the Christmas narratives within the Gospels, angels brought messages to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 2:13), as well as to the shepherds. The message the “angel of the Lord” proclaimed to the shepherds was that Jesus was born.

9. How was the “angel of the Lord’s” mission different from the mission carried out by the heavenly hosts that the shepherds also heard?

While carrying messages is an important task of the angels, it is not the only thing angels do. In fact, the Bible indicates that it may be secondary to their primary task in heaven: praising and worshipping. The many passages that show angels in perpetual worship include Isaiah 6: 3 and Revelation 4 and 5. How glorious must have been the anthem heard by the shepherds as the heavenly hosts lifted their voices in worship and the heavens rang with their words, “Glory to God in the highest!”

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Messiahmas - On the Birth Date of Jesus


by Uri Marcus

Most Gentile Christians wouldn't bother to speculate about the time when Yeshua (Jesus) was born. They celebrate it on December 25th even though they may suspect that there is no Biblical basis for choosing that date. However, there are many Messianic Believers who, from a Jewish perspective, are convinced that the time of year when Yeshua was really born was at the Succot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Taking into account certain Jewish customs and traditions, and applying them to the biblical birth narrative, it's not difficult to calculate and arrive at this season, known as "the season of our Joy."

While there is quite a wide consensus of opinion that Yeshua was born at some time during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hoshanna (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), or Succot (Tabernacles), the timing can be narrowed down to Succot, in the opinion of this author, because of the abundance of historical and traditional associations which surround it. It should be noted that all of these festivals normally occur in the Autumn, or during the September or October time-frame, but it varies from year to year because the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and doesn't track with the Gregorian calendar.

The calculation of the time of Yeshua's birth begins with Z'chariyahu (Zechariah), the father of Yochanan (John) the Baptist. According to Luke 1:5 he was a priest of the order of Aviyah. He was performing his duties, burning incense in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), when an angel appeared and said his wife Eli-Sheva would conceive and bear a son, and he would be called Yochanan (John).
The order in which the priestly families performed their duties is given in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. According to the Mishnah, the cycle begins on the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of Nisan, and each family of priests would minister in turn for one week. Since there are 24 families, each family would minister about twice a year. The cycle would be delayed slightly because all priests, regardless of their families, were required to be at the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) for the three festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavu'ot (Pentecost) and Succot (Tabernacles).

The family of Aviyah was eighth in line, so Z'chariyahu would have had his first period of duty during the Jewish month of Sivan (about June) and his second period during the month of Kislev about six months later. There is no way of knowing for sure which period of duty is referred to in Luke's Gospel, but if it is surmised that it is the first period we get some very interesting results.
Z'chariyahu finished his first period of duty about the middle of Sivan. Because of his unbelief, G-d struck him dumb. Nevertheless, he went home to his wife and she became pregnant. Count off 40 weeks, the usual period of gestation, and we get to the month of Nisan the following year. Beginning on the 14th of Nisan, and lasting for eight days, we have the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Matzot (unleavened bread) and Bikurim (First Fruits), which are all occur in the spring. This raises the distinct possibility that Yochanan the Baptist was born at Pesach, which coincides with the Jewish expectation that Eliyahu (Elijah) would come at Pesach. It has always been our custom to put an extra cup of wine on the table at Pesach, in the hope that Eliyahu will come and drink it.

If Yochanan the Baptist was born at Pesach, Yeshua must have been born during the fall feasts, and most probably at Succot. In Luke 1:26 and 36 we are told that Yeshua was six months younger than Yochanan.

When the decree went out for everyone to go to their home town to be registered, Yosef and Miriam set off for Beit Lechem (Bethlehem). They would have set out in good time, before Miriam was fully 40 weeks pregnant, because she wouldn't want to be jogged into childbirth while riding on a donkey. Besides, they would have wanted to complete the journey before Rosh Hoshanna, which is two weeks before Succot.

We are given a clue about the time of the birth by the angel who appeared to the shepherds and said "Fear not. For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.". (Luke 2:10). There are actually two clues here. Succot is known as "The Season of our Joy", and it is also known as the "Festival of the Nations (or Gentiles)". The angel was actually giving them a greeting for the Festival of Succot. This is the only festival where the nations are positively encouraged to participate with negative results if they do not. (Z'chariyahu 14:16-19). In addition, the narrative indicates that it was shepherds to whom the angels delivered their message, which is interesting in that for thousands of years Jewish literature ascribes a tradition known as "Ushpizin", only to Succot, and it is practiced even to this day.

After entering the Succah, and reciting certain prayers, the ceremony of Ushpizin bids us to partake in the privilege of inviting and welcoming the "Sh'kinah" ) G-d's Presence) and the seven "faithful shepherds" who enter the succah with us as exalted guests. These guests come to observe how their descendants FULFILL the mitzvah (commandment) of the Succah, in which they dwell under G-d's protection, in accordance with what G-d had promised in the Torah. These seven faithful shepherds of Israel are: Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'acov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, and Melech (King) David. Back in the Luke narrative, though the text does not specify "seven" shepherds who went to visit Meriam, there seems to be a hint, when one reads between the lines. Moreover, the purpose of their visit is recorded to be very similar with that of the Ushpizin, in which the text states that it was to "see this thing that had happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15).

Likewise, during Succot, Jewish families today in Israel construct a flimsy shelter called a "Succah", made of loosely assembled walls and a leafy overhead covering. In the Succah, we eat or sleep. This is a reminder to us that we were completely dependent on G-d as we wandered for forty years in the desert after departing from Egypt and were led by "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night." Because of this experience, we recall that "G-d is with us" (Emmanu-El).

In this same narrative in Luke 2 regarding the Shepherds to whom an angel of the Lord appears, note that the text says that they were "watching over their flocks, AT NIGHT." The angel brings them a message that their Messiah was born in the town of David, during that day which had just passed to night. This message was accompanied by the appearance of a great heavenly host, praising G-d. When we consider the seasons in Israel, and the weather patterns, one might ask "What is the latest time of year in which shepherds would still be outside with their flocks in the Judean hills, AT NIGHT?" November through February are far to cold in Israel to be doing this kind of activity. The answer of course points to the end of October, at the latest, for temperature reasons alone. Depending of the Hebrew calendar in any given year, as mentioned above, Succot always falls in the September-October time frame, when the weather is still warm and pleasant outside, especially AT NIGHT. For these reasons, and many others not documented here, we think Yeshua is very likely to have been born at Succot.

And so, the birth of Yeshua at Succot fulfills another prophecy: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanu-El - which means, "G-d is with us". (Matt. 1:23, quoting from Yishaiyahu (Isaiah) 7:14).

If this is not enough, we also have to consider the type of dwelling in which Yeshua was born. Had it not been for the inconvenience caused by the census, he would have been born in a house like all other children. But he wasn't, he was born in a type of Succah where servants of a household slept, or where they kept sheep and cattle. Luke uses the Greek word for "manger" but because Yeshua was Jewish, and it was most likely the festival of Succot, the text probably describes a Succah. This would make sense since we know that Yeshua would fulfill every aspect of Torah from his birth until his death. The link here is directly to commandment in VaYikrah (Leviticus) Chapter 23, verse 42, "Live in Succot for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in Succot so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in Succot when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your G-d."

Yochanan, in his Gospel narrative of Yeshua's birth, confirms this truth when he indicates that G-d had come to earth to dwell with (and serve) humanity. We read in Yochanan (John) 1:14 about how "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (Tabernacled) among us," which is a clear and obvious reference to Succot.

Eight days later, according to Luke 2:21, Yeshua was circumcised. Miriam would still have been ceremonially unclean for 33 days after the Yeshua's birth, in accordance with ViYikrah (Leviticus) 12. Owing to her requirement to present a purification offering at the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushali'im (Jerusalem) after this period, she would most likely have remained in Beit Lechem, just a short distance from Yerushali'im.

If the day of Yeshua's birth was the first day of Succot, then the day of his circumcision would be the eighth day after Succot which, in accordance with Torah is also day of sacred assembly. (ViYikrah [Leviticus] 23:39). On this day, called "Shemini Atzeret," or "the Eighth day of Solemn Assembly" and later called "Simchat Torah" or "Rejoicing in Torah," we complete our annual cycle of Torah readings and start again from Bereshit (Genesis). It is considered to be a time of "fulfillment" of the Torah and also a new beginning for it, in our lives, since Torah is never abandoned. This indeed would seem to be a fitting holiday for Yeshua's circumcision and dedication before G-d, since He came to set the Torah on a firm foundation by correctly interpreting it and fulfilling it (i.e., becoming the goal to which the Law and the Prophets pointed), thereby making a way to renew the Torah in our lives. (Matt. 5:17-19).

When the days of Miriam's purification were over, they would have then returned back to Natzeret (Nazareth) in the Galil (Luke 2:39). But each year, and in accordance with the required pilgrimage commandments in Torah, Yosef and Meriam went up to Yerushali'im for Pesach. (Luke 2:41).

During one of these visits, probably when Yeshua was about two years old, they went to Beit Lechem and stayed, not in a succah or stable this time, but in a house. (Matt. 2:11). They were visited there by the Magi, and then had to flee to Egypt to escape from Herod because he was killing all the male children two years old and under.

And so, by starting from Z'chariyahu, the father of Yochanan the Baptist, and his first period of duty in the Temple, and doing a few simple calculations, we discover that the Jewishness of the Gospel becomes profoundly evident, giving new import to many passages of Scripture previously misunderstood.

What then should we do now? Should Christians continue observing Christmas on December 25th (which incidentally is entirely pagan in its origins), or are we going to begin recognizing our Hebraic roots and understanding the purpose of the feasts which the Father in His wisdom has bestowed. He has given us an inheritance, that in them we might be in rehearsal for the day our King returns, for then, we shall all celebrate the feasts together with Him.

Some may belief that it does not matter when we celebrate the birth of the Mashiach; it can be any of the twelve months of the year! What is important is to celebrate His birth.

But this defeats the importance of Messianic prophecy and fulfillment! The birth of Yeshua at the Festival of Succot was for prophetic reasons foreshadowing the Torah, the goal to which it pointed, the seventh millennium and the kingship of Mashiach from Yerushalayim. These are important pictures to treasure in our hearts! If it is important enough to G-d that He would cause Yeshua's birth AND coronation as King to takes place at an appointed season (mo'ed z'manim) on the Jewish Calendar, then it should be important to us, regardless of the world's traditions. Therefore, we should heed the words of Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) who quoting the Father, urged the Church at Corinth to:

..."come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty.
If we do this (and we don't have to become Jewish to do it) we will be creating the conditions in which Z'chariyahu 14:16-19 can be fulfilled. People will say "Since we are celebrating the birth of Yeshua at Succot, why not do it in Yerushali'im?". Why not indeed?

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the G-d of Ya'acov. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Tzion, the word of the LORD from Yerushali'im. -- Yishaiyahu (Isaiah 2:3)

In Israel it's impossible to miss these festivals, but for the benefit of those in the Diaspora, the 1999 dates are:
Rosh HaShana (Festival of Trumpets) Fri Eve 10 September

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Sun Eve 19 September

1st Day of Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) Fri Eve 24 September 8th

Day of Assembly (Shemini Atzeret) and

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) Fri Eve 01 October
The Jewish day begins at sunset which means, for example, Rosh Hoshanna begins at sunset on Friday Eve, 10 September and continues until evening on the 11th of September.
Uri Marcus
Adapted from various sources, including my brother's book "Signs In the Heavens" (by Avi Ben-Mordechai), available from him by calling 1-800-880-2656. Revised November 19, 1998.
Uri Marcus (former member)
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Handel's Messiah - The Birth of a Classic

Posted by Jerry Newcombe

I have heard that the opening lines of the “Hallelujah” Chorus are the most recognizable piece of music the world over.

Of course, the “Hallelujah” Chorus comes from “Messiah,” an oratorio (a sacred opera) by George Frederick Handel. The whole work is heavenly, and its highlight is the “Hallelujah” Chorus. (Sometimes, I view “Messiah” as the zenith of Western civilization.)

 I remember when the millennium change-over first hit on January 1, 2000 (although geeks like to say technically the first day of the millennium was January 1, 2001). In one far eastern country’s time zone after another, people the world over were celebrating the new year, the new century, the new millennium.

As I recall watching television of the celebration, the one song that I heard more than any other on that day, from various countries, was the “Hallelujah” Chorus. It is universally loved.

Within months of the Berlin Wall coming down, Pepsi had a beautiful TV commercial celebrating the historic event. The piece they chose for that spot was the “Hallelujah” Chorus. It worked perfectly.

  There’s something deeply touching about that piece of music.

By the time he was twelve, Handel wrote his first work.

Later, after his father’s death, he tried to study law, but he had no interest. So he studied music at the University of Halle.

In 1712, Handel moved to England and never returned to Germany.

While he experienced various successes through various compositions, including operas and sacred operas (oratorios, based on biblical themes), Kavanaugh notes that his failures threatened to overwhelm Handel: “His occasional commercial successes soon met with financial disaster… He drove himself relentlessly to recover from one failure after another, and finally his health began to fail. By 1741 he was swimming in debt. It seemed certain he would land in debtor’s prison.”

But 1741 proved to be the turning point. On the one hand, he gave what he feared was his farewell concert. On the other hand, a friend of his, Charles Jennens, gave him a libretto (a text) for a sacred work. It was essentially 73 Bible verses, focused on the Messiah, both from the Hebrew and the Christian Bible. Furthermore, a charity in Dublin paid him money to write something for a charity performance.

“Messiah” was the result, and it was very successful.  

It’s interesting to note in this year, 2011, the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, that Handel’s work was impacted by that literary masterpiece. Every word of “Messiah” comes from that book.

 Oxford professor Alister E. McGrath wrote, “Without the King James Bible, there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s 'Messiah,' no Negro spirituals, and no Gettysburg Address. These, and innumerable other works were inspired by the language of this Bible.”

Charles Jennens’ role in this masterpiece is often lost, even on fans of “Messiah.” He is the one who carefully gleaned through the King James Bible and assembled the verses about the Christ that Handel so brilliantly set to music.

 I count that 42 of the verses come from the Old Testament, including many passages from the Psalms and Isaiah. Thirty-one come from the New Testament.

“Messiah” was first performed in Dublin in 1742. It was a benefit concert for charity. According to one source, proceeds freed 142 men from debtors’ prison.

A year later, King George II was present at the first performance of “Messiah” in London. Is it said that the monarch fell asleep, and at the opening of the “Hallelujah” Chorus, he rose to his feet, thinking it was his cue. Whatever the reason, he stood, and that has been the custom ever since—to stand during the “Hallelujah” Chorus.

About 100 years later, even the aged Queen Victoria, who sat in her wheelchair as the chorus began, struggled to her feet as the choir sang, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” She said, “No way will I sit in the presence of the King of kings.”

So out of one genius’s pain and low point in his life came a work of beauty that continues to uplift millions of people the world over. Kavanaugh notes the secret of Handel’s success, “He was a relentless optimist whose faith in God sustained him through every difficulty.”

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Christmas and the Cause of Truth - John Piper

Ivan the Terrible Murdered Philip of Moscow

Ivan the Terrible Murdered Philip of Moscow
Csar Ivan IV of Russia was so noted for his cruelty he became known as "Ivan the Terrible." Among the many monstrous actions of this sixteenth-century monarch was the murder of Philip of Moscow.
Philip was born into a good Russian family in 1510 and named Fyodor Kolychev. The Kolychevs were active in government service, and Fyodor spent his youth at the court of the czar. One day while at church, Fyodor was convicted by Christ's warning that a man cannot serve two masters. Fearing that the court was keeping him from Christ, Fyodor fled the Russian capital and went north to the Solovetsky Monastery, just within the Arctic Circle on an island in the White Sea. It was a primitive place compared to the glitter of the capital.

The monks accepted Fyodor and gave him the name Philip. He won a reputation for piety, intelligence, and a sense of duty in following monastic rules. In 1547, the same year that Ivan the Terrible was crowned czar, Philip became abbot of the monastery. Demonstrating exceptional administrative abilities, he transformed the monastery into one of the great industrial complexes of the empire. Under Philip's administration, the monks cleared fields for cultivation; established a dairy farm, a mill, and a workshop for leather and fur clothes; built storage bins for the monastery's grain; developed a system of dams, reservoirs and canals to drain the swampland and bring water to the monastery; built a hospital for pilgrims; and new dormitories. In addition to all this, they erected a new cathedral. They consecrated all of their agricultural and industrial labor to God.

The czar was so impressed with these accomplishments that he appointed Philip to be metropolitan--head of the Russian church. Philip. however, was not a yes-man. On religious grounds, he opposed many of Ivan's policies and his mass executions. Ivan tried to intimidate him, but Philip asked himself, "Where is my faith if I am silent?" He continued to speak against the czar. Once he warned the czar, "Your earthly rank has no control over death, which sinks its invincible teeth into everything. And remember that each person must answer for his own life." Ivan would try to reform, but then lapse back into brutality.

At last he beheaded Philip's cousin and sent the head to Philip sewn up in a leather bag. The next day, the czar sent one of his brutal underlings to arrest Philip in the middle of service. Ripping the metropolitan's church clothes off him, they dressed him in sackcloth. They threw him onto a sled and hauled him to prison. After that they moved him again and again until he was far from Moscow.
On this day, December 23, 1569, one of Ivan's henchmen, Skuratov, rode to the monastery where Philip was held. He demanded Philip's blessing on a particularly horrible massacre that Ivan had begun at Novgorod. When Philip refused to give it, Skuratov smothered him.
  1. Based on an earlier Christian History Institute story.
  2. Bobrick, Benson. Ivan the Terrible. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1987.
  3. Various encyclopedia and internet articles.
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Dec 23, 2014

Why Did the Angels First Announce the Birth of Messiah to the Shepherds?

The Angels and the Shepherds

We all know the story.  The shepherds were sitting there on the hillside minding their own business, looking after their sheep, when suddenly a single angel appeared to them and announced the birth of Jesus.  This was then followed by the appearance of a multitude of angels praising God.  Why did the angels appear first to the shepherds?

To answer that question, we need to backtrack a little.  Remember we said that Bethlehem was a centre for the production of wheat and barley but also a place where sheep were raised?  But these weren't just ordinary sheep.  They were lambs destined to be sacrificed in Jerusalem at the temple.  The law required that every household had to sacrifice a lamb at Passover time - if they could afford to do so.  This amounted to a very large number of lambs.  Moreover, the regulations dictated that each lamb had to be without blemish.  (Ex 12:5). 

The corrupt sacrificial system which was in operation during the time of Jesus ensured that the Temple always made a fat profit.  If you brought your own lamb to sacrifice, it was inspected by one of the Temple priests and the chances were high that it would be rejected as having some blemish.  You were therefore forced to buy a lamb from the Temple itself.  These lambs, naturally, commanded a high price and you couldn't just buy one with ordinary money.  You first had to change your money into Temple money - at a disadvantageous exchange rate!  These are the moneychangers referred to in passages such as Matt 21:12 and it was these types of "sharp" practices which made Jesus so angry.

The bottom line is that the Temple not only sacrificed lambs, but it supplied them too - in industrial quantities!  Where did these lambs come from?  The answer is that many of them were reared in fields near Bethlehem by shepherds who effectively worked for the Temple in Jerusalem.  Now here's the important part: whenever a new lamb was born, it was the duty of the shepherds to immediately inspect the new born-lamb to determine whether or not it had any blemish.  A lamb which had some deformity (no matter how slight) was of absolutely no use for Temple sacrifice.  It was slaughtered immediately. 

This is the reason the angel appeared firstly to the shepherds: the most important sacrificial Lamb of all had just been born, and the angel therefore sent the shepherds hastening to see the One who, thirty-three years later, at Passover time, would be lifted high on a cruel cross as the one, perfect sacrifice for their sins. 

For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Cor. 5:7)
You've heard the Christmas story dozens of times. But I want you to slow down and consider what it was like to be a shepherd -- seeing and hearing what they saw and heard that night. I've taken some effort to research the various aspects of the story and angel's message. Ssssh. Quiet, now, the sheep are resting quietly....

Shepherds Keeping Watch over Their Flocks (2:8)

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night." (2:8)
Tending flocks, with agriculture, formed the basis of the Palestine economy, and sheep raised on the hillsides around Bethlehem may well have been destined for temple sacrifices in Jerusalem, only six miles to the north.[1]

Jeremias describes a shepherd's life: "The dryness of the ground made it necessary for the flocks of sheep and cattle to move about during the rainless summer and to stay for months at a time in isolated areas, far from the owner's home. Hence, herding sheep was an independent and responsible job; indeed, in view of the threat of wild beasts and robbers, it could even be dangerous. Sometimes the owner himself (Luke 15:6; John 10:12) or his sons did the job. But usually it was done by hired shepherds, who only too often did not justify the confidence reposed in them (John 10:12-13)."[2]
Some of Israel's great heroes were shepherds -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Both Psalm 23 and Jesus compare God's care to that of a Good Shepherd. But in the First Century, it seems, shepherds -- specifically, hireling shepherds -- had a rather unsavory reputation. Jeremias cites Rabbinic sources to the effect that "most of the time they were dishonest and thieving; they led their herds onto other people's land and pilfered the produce of the land." Because they were often months at a time without supervision, they were often accused of stealing some of the increase of the flock. Consequently, the pious were warned not to buy wool, milk, or kids from shepherds on the assumption that it was stolen property.[3] Shepherds were not allowed to fulfill a judicial office or be admitted in court as witnesses.[4] A midrash on Psalm 23:2 reads, "There is no more disreputable occupation than that of a shepherd."[5] Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher of Alexandria (25 BC - 45 AD), wrote about looking after sheep and goats, "Such pursuits are held mean and inglorious."[6]

In contrast to rabbinical contempt for shepherds, however, Jesus distinguishes between the good shepherd and the hireling (John 10:11-13). He tells a parable of the shepherd leaving ninety-nine sheep in the fold while searching the hills to find the missing one (Luke 15:3-7). Perhaps this is because Jesus, who has fellowship with the despised and sinners, knows and appreciates them as people. There is no suggestion that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were not devout men, though they were from a despised class.[7]

They lived most of the year outside, away from the townspeople. "Abiding in the field" (KJV) is the Greek verb agrauleo, "live out of doors."[8] Flocks were kept outside in this way from April to November, and, sometimes during the winter in suitable locations.[9] They were constantly with their sheep, since the sheep were vulnerable to all kinds of trouble. "Keeping watch" is a combination of two related Greek words. The verb is phulasso, "to carry out sentinel functions, watch, guard."[10] The noun is phulake, "the act of guarding." Together they carry the idea of "keep watch, do guard duty."[11] The shepherds made sure that the sheep were safe from wandering off and injuring themselves, as well as dangers from thieves and wolves.

The Glory of the Lord (2:9)

One minute the shepherds are talking quietly in the blackness of the winter sky. The next moment the hillside is ablaze with light and booming with the sound of an angel's voice.
"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." (2:9)
This appearance wasn't at a distance, but upfront and personal. "Appeared" is the Greek verb ephistemi, which here means "to stand at or near a specific place." Often this use of the verb occurs with the idea of suddenness.[12]

The brightness is more than just mega-candlepower. It is the radiance of God's own glory. "Glory" is the Green noun doxa (which we also see in verse 14). Here it refers to "the condition of being bright or shining, brightness, splendor, radiance."[13] Throughout the Old Testament the presence of God is referred to as overwhelmingly bright, burning as fire, such as the cloud above the temple by day (Exodus 16:7, 10; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:11; Isaiah 6:3; 40:5; 60:1; Ezekiel 3:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:4; etc.). God's angels sometimes bear this same bright glory (Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4; Daniel 10:6). In this case the glory shines around the whole area (Greek perilampo). The result in the shepherds is predictable -- abject terror. "Terrified" (NIV) or "sore afraid" (KJV) reads, literally, "feared with a great fear."

The Good News Angel (2:10-11)

The angel moves first to calm their fears....
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" (2:10-11)
This Good News angel has the enviable task of being the first herald of Messiah's birth. "Bring good news" (NIV) or "bring good tidings" (KJV) is the Greek verb euangelizo, from which we get our English word, "evangelize." Here it means, "bring good news, announce good news." Later in the New Testament it is widely used for "proclaim the message of salvation, preach the gospel."[14] The message the angel brings is very good news that results in joy. "Joy" is the Greek noun chara, "the experience of gladness, joy."[15] Here joy is intensified by the Greek adjective megas, "great, pertaining to being above standard in intensity"[16] -- great joy!

Notice how broad is the angel's message. It's not for just the pious or the Jew, but "for all the people." What wonderful news for those who are estranged from God and struggling under oppression! The baby is not just born to Mary and Joseph. Verse 11 indicates that the baby is born "to you" -- to the shepherd recipients of the message and all others. This birth is unto everyone and to everyone's benefit. It is also an immediate message -- "Today" (NIV) -- "this day" (KJV).
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“Chemtrails” Exposed – Global Geoengineering PsyOps Documented

HAARP and the aurora borealis. Image:
HAARP and the aurora borealis. Image:

By: Jay Dyer
From Chemtrails to Directed Energy Weapons, the System is Set on Total Control
There has been much speculation in the last few years as to the authenticity of the claims of “chemtrail” spraying of the ionosphere by secretive groups for unknown reasons, with such claims generally receiving the scorn of tinfoil hat insanity. Distinguished from “contrails,” the normal water and ice crystal formations that result from aircraft exhaust vapor, “chemtrails” is the popular name for aerosol spraying by planes in different layers of the atmosphere under the cover of numerous global geoengineering programs.

Is this possible? Could there widespread global aerosol spraying programs? Not only this possible, it’s already being done, and has been going on for decades. With origins in World War II cloud-seeding, the development of weather modification and mass geoengineering programs is no longer even covert, with numerous papers, programs and examples now made public.

With this in mind, it is somewhat shocking the number of trolls and deniers that exist, telling us daily these are fictions of paranoid conspiracists, while any of the above notions can be easily verified with Google and a few minutes of research. Of course, this is not likely to happen, as the public has never heard of the Royal Society, much less “geoengineering,” since Kim Kardashian’s butt is a much more accurate weathervane of the tides of public interest (a very big weathervane).

“Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty”

In this article, I will document several papers from officialdom, including scientific journals and white papers that demonstrate the programs are real. Not only will we see they are real, we will in fact see these programs integrate with one another and provide the establishment the potential for tremendously disastrous social engineering effects, as well as environmental dangers that result from such dark pragmatic scientistic ends.

 Our first document under survey is the Royal Society report “Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty,” a 2009 paper that details the various potentialities for numerous approaches to curbing CO2 emissions, naturally tied in with population reduction and a return to neo-feudalistic model of global ecomonic realignment.

Given that the United Nations was established by Royal Society backing, the “Agenda 21″ implementation we have heard much about in the last few decades is part of a much larger strategy foisted upon the global community by these very shadow players. I have detailed previously the connection between mass depopulation, economic overhauls and realignment and the so-called dangers of resource-based economies being directed into a staged crisis by the corporate elite.
Royal Society/IPCC image of methods of geoengineering.  Image:

Royal Society/IPCC image of methods of geoengineering.  Notice the “space mirrors.”  Image:

In perfect establishment orthodoxy, the Royal Society paper promotes all the classic fear-based canards of melting ice caps, Malthusian disasters, etc., that have been the harpy screech for some 40 years, not the least of which has manifested. However, for our purposes here, we see the Royal Society is very much a proponent of atmospheric aerosol spraying:

“Mimicking the effects of volcanic eruptions by injecting sulphate aerosols into the lower stratosphere..” (pg. XII)
“Of the Solar Radiation Management methods considered, stratospheric aerosols are currently the most promising because their effects would be more uniformly distributed than for localised Solar Radiation Management methods, they could be much more readily implemented than space-based methods, and would take effect rapidly (within a year or two of deployment).” (pg. XIII)
This is an interesting claim, as Lord Rees, an important member and contributor to this report authored a book, Just Six Numbers, on the mathematical tuning of the universe , expounding how it demonstrates an amazing balance of symmetry creating the conditions for life. Yet here, we are threatened with humans tipping the perfect balance because humans exist as carbon-based beings, drive cars and fart – cows, too! Like an inside joke from the kleptocryptocracy, the double-talk of promoting a universe with telos and order, and at the same time requiring a mass genocide and reorganization by the scientific priest-class smacks more of a con job than a legitimate scientific endeavor. Rees would have us believe the universe perfectly balances itself to “create” life, and then the IPCC and U.N. will step in to save us from a conversely chaotic, meaningless universe.  Which is it?  The following quote is highly revealing:

“The greatest challenges to the successful deployment of geoengineering may be the social, ethical, legal and political issues associated with governance, rather than scientific and technical issues. For some methods, like ambient air capture, pre-existing national mechanisms are likely to be sufficient, for others, such as ocean iron fertilisation, existing international mechanisms may be relevant but require some modification. There will however be some methods, particularly those that require transboundary activity or which have transboundary effects, for example stratospheric aerosols or space-based mirrors, which may require new international mechanisms. Appropriate governance mechanisms for deployment should be established before Carbon Dioxide Removal or Solar Radiation Management methods are actually needed in practice.” (pg. 13)
Translation: The pesky humans (carbon) and their morals will get in the way of our program, so we will need to do it covertly under the guise of science and global crises.  Space-based mirrors will be needed to aid in the reflecting process, we are told, yet if my analysis is correct, and the invention of the climate threat is a scam, the real reason for “space-based” technology of this sort would likely be weaponized.  Modern science itself is not based on altruism – on the contrary, most modern technological advancements are based around militarization and global population management (and destruction).

Have we seen any examples of some space-based weapon with similar features?  In fact we have, as I have written numerous times about the Skynet grid that will incorporate the Internet, global tracking, micro chipped humans and directed energy weapons.  A “mirror” in space to reflect “radiation,” or a space based directed energy weapon named Skynet – which do you think is more likely?  The 1996 paper from the Air Force has Skynet described as “Figure 4-1. Cyber Situation Vision: “Eye” See Everything.”   I believe this “eye” is the real “mirror,” as the geoengineering programs are intimately connected to weaponized weather control programs and psychological warfare, as we will see.
Space-based directed energy weapons.
Space-based directed energy weapons. Image graphic from the Air Force report on the “Eye in the Sky” that “sees everything.”
The report continues:
“A wide range of types of particles could be released into the stratosphere with the objective of scattering sunlight back to space. Important factors that differentiate the effects of different types of particles include their size, and whether or not they conduct electricity (Teller et al. 1997,
2002). For non-conducting particles, the optimal size for scattering sunlight is a few tenths of a micron. Particles much larger than this become effective at scattering outgoing long wave (heat) radiation and thus have potential to cause a warming influence.” (pg. 29)

The Shinar Directive - Part 4 - Mystery Religion and the Nephilim

by Dr. Michael Lake

What started false religions? In the beginning, everyone knew Noah and believed in the One True God. The Scriptures call Babylon the mother of all false religions, because under Nimrod the original false religious system was successfully implemented. We learn from the Church fathers that the root of this madness started with the sons of Ham.
Fallen angels taught men the use of magical incantations that would force demons to obey man. After the flood Ham the son of Noah unhappily discovered this and taught it to his sons. This became ingrained into the Egyptians, Persians, and Babylonians. Ham died shortly after the fall of the Tower of Babel. Nimrod, called Ninus by the Greeks, was handed this knowledge and by it caused men to go away from the worship of God and go into diverse and erratic superstitions and they began to be governed by the signs in the stars and motions of the planets. (Recognitions of Clement 4.26–29)
Nimrod turned the government into a tyranny and set up twelve idols of wood named after the twelve months of the year, each representing a sign of the Zodiac. He commanded everyone to worship each idol in its proper month. (Jasher 9:8–10; Ancient Post-Flood History—Ken Johnson, ThD)[i]

All Pagan Roads Lead to Babylon

As stated in the previous entry, Noah and his family were selected by God to be saved from the Flood on the ark because they remained genetically pure (or still fully human). Unfortunately, the purity did not extend to all of their minds as well. Resting within the safety of the ark lay the seeds of the arcane knowledge given by the Watchers of Genesis 6. Ham became a sleeper agent of darkness, if you will, infected with the forbidden knowledge that resulted in the severe judgment of God upon humanity. Within the mind and heart of Ham were the foundational concepts upon which Babylon and Egypt were built (and upon which the kingdom of the Antichrist is being built today).
We find in Genesis 9:20–23 that the seeds of the Watchers already began to sprout within the heart of Ham.
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. (Genesis 9:20–23)
There is much speculation as to the actual sin of Ham contained in these verses. Was this sin the great dishonor and disrespect that Ham had shown to Noah? Alternatively, was it possible that he had sexually violated Noah in some way? Over the centuries, Christian theologians and rabbinical scholars have debated these issues. The New American Commentary dives into the subject and provides a sensible conclusion:
What was Ham’s sin? Why did Noah invoke curses against Canaan instead of the culprit, Ham ([Genesis 9]:25)? The meaning of the phrase “saw his father’s nakedness” has been variously interpreted. Both Jewish and Christian interpretation speculated that Ham’s deed was a sexual offense since the same language is found in the Pentateuch describing sexual transgressions. Further support was garnered from v. 25, which refers to what Ham “had done to him.” Many suppose that the original story contained the sordid details but that they were excised for reasons of propriety when later placed in the Torah. Castration was thought to have been the crime by some Jewish and Christian interpreters, and others argued for a homosexual act. Jewish midrash explained that physical abuse by Ham answered why the curse was directed against Canaan; this act prevented Noah from having a fourth son, and thus Canaan as Ham’s fourth son should suffer (Gen. Rab. 36.7). This may have been fueled by the absence of any notice that additional children were born to Noah, since all the other patriarchs are said to have had “other sons and daughters” (5:3–32; 11:10–25). This lack of reference to other children, however, may be due to the author’s desire to parallel the Sethite and Shemite lines, which both end with three sons (5:32; 11:26).

Concerning a homosexual desire or act, there is no indication that a sexual indiscretion occurred when Ham viewed his father or that Ham desired his father in an illicit way. Levitical language for the homosexual act is “to lie with a male,” which we do not find here. “Saw”…is the common term for observing and does not convey necessarily the idea of sexual lust; the term can be used in this way (cf. 6:2; 34:2), but such meaning must be derived from the context and not the term by itself. On the contrary, the expressions “to see…nakedness” (Lev 20:17) and “to uncover…nakedness” are used of heterosexual actions, not homosexual encounters. The expression in our passage is not a figurative statement since the two sons actually cover up the exposed nakedness of their father, who was in a drunken stupor in the tent. This is reinforced by the description “their faces were turned.” If in fact some lecherous deed occurred inside the tent, it is inexplicable why the covering of their father is in juxtaposition to Ham’s act. On other occasions Genesis is straightforward in its description of sexual misconduct (e.g., 19:5, 30–35; 34:2). There is no reason to assume that homosexuality or, for that matter, heterosexual misconduct would be described euphemistically by the author.

Ham’s reproach was not in seeing his father unclothed, though this was a shameful thing (cp. Hab 2:15), but in his outspoken delight at his father’s disgraceful condition. The penalty against Ham’s son may be thought too severe for mere sibling gossip, but this is because we fail to understand the gravity of Ham’s offense. We have commented elsewhere (see 2:25; 3:7) that nakedness was shameful in Hebrew culture. In later Israel specific prohibitions guarded against the public exposure of the genitals and buttocks (e.g., Exod 20:26; 28:42), and nakedness was commonly associated with public misconduct (e.g., Exod 32:25). It is not surprising then that the euphemism “nakedness” was used for the shameful travesty of incest. Ham ridiculed the “old man’s” downfall. In the ancient world insulting one’s parents was a serious matter that warranted the extreme penalty of death. Mosaic legislation reflected this sentiment. This patriarchal incident illustrated the abrogation of the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” To do so means divine retaliation, for the crime is not against parent alone but is viewed as contempt for God’s hierarchical order in creation. Shem and Japheth, unlike Ham, treated Noah with proper respect. They refused to take advantage of him despite his vulnerable condition.[ii]
The book of James warns us about wisdom that does not come from God. This dark wisdom produces specific effects within the souls of men.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:15–16)
I believe that the dark wisdom of the Watchers was brewing within the mind of Ham. The result was that he became arrogant, boastful, and disrespectful (just to name a few). Instead of showing honor to his father and covering his nakedness, he mocked his father and made sure this disgrace was brought to everyone’s attention. Once Noah realized what had happened, he uttered a curse that flowed through Ham to his son Canaan. The rabbis of old have debated why this curse was directed upon Canaan and not Cush. Some have concluded that he was an active participant in the disgrace and held the tent open for all to see. This, of course, would be mere speculation as the Scriptures are silent regarding it.
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (Genesis 9:25) 
In the sad history of slavery in Great Britain and the United States, there were individuals who justified its practice by quoting Genesis 9:25. However, this misinterpretation does not bode well in the light of historical facts. Finis Dake provides us with a quick summary of the descendants of Ham and where they settled:
1. Cush (Gen. 10:6–12; 1 Chr. 1:8–10; Isa. 11:11), progenitor of various Ethiopian tribes that settled south of Egypt and also overran Arabia, Babylonia, and India.
2. Mizraim (Gen. 10:6, 13–14; 1 Chr. 1:8–11), progenitor of various Egyptian tribes. Mizraim means “double.” Tribes of the double Egypt (upper and lower Egypt), called the land of Ham, came from him (Ps. 78:51; 105:23–27; 106:22). The Philistines also came from Mizraim (Gen. 10:14).
3. Phut (Gen. 10:6; Ezek. 27:10), progenitor of the Libyans and other tribes in northern Africa (Ezek. 27:10; 30:5; 38:5; Jer. 46:9; Nah. 3:9).
4. Canaan (Gen. 10:6,15–19; 9:18–27; 1 Chr. 1:8–13), progenitor of peoples that settled mainly in Palestine, Arabia, Tyre, Sidon, and other parts of the land promised to Abraham. These nations are often mentioned in connection with Israel (Gen. 10:15–19; 15:18–21; Dt. 7:1–3; Josh. 12).[iii]
Since Canaan’s descendants stayed primarily in the Middle East, there was no validity to their claim that this referred to the Africans sold into slavery. What we do find is that Ham’s children became major problems for God’s people throughout history, both in ancient times and today.
From a mystery religion[iv] point of view, we can examine how the Watchers’ seeds of defiance spread like wildfire through Ham’s children.

1. Cush

Cush is named in the Bible as the father of Nimrod. Ancient history tells us quite a bit more about this barely footnoted individual within the Word of God. Cush was a leading influence in both the formation of Babylon and in the construction of the Tower of Babel. As we begin to investigate Cush historically, it is obvious that the seeds of the Watchers had taken root and begun to spring forth. Alexander Hislop, in his classic work The Two Babylons, sheds light on both the activities of Cush and the various names he bore within ancient history:
Now, assuming that Ninus is Nimrod, the way in which that assumption explains what is otherwise inexplicable in the statements of ancient history greatly confirms the truth of that assumption itself. Ninus is said to have been the son of Belus or Bel, and Bel is said to have been the founder of Babylon. If Ninus was in reality the first king of Babylon, how could Belus or Bel, his father, be said to be the founder of it? Both might very well be, as will appear if we consider who was Bel, and what we can trace of his doings. If Ninus was Nimrod, who was the historical Bel? He must have been Cush; for “Cush begat Nimrod” (Gen[esis] 10:8); and Cush is generally represented as having been a ringleader in the great apostacy. But again, Cush, as the son of Ham, was Her-mes or Mercury; for Hermes is just an Egyptian synonym for the “son of Ham.”

Gregory attributes to Cush what was said more generally to have befallen his son; but his statement shows the belief in his day, which is amply confirmed from other sources, that Cush had a preeminent share in leading mankind away from the true worship of God. The composition of Her-mes is, first, from “Her,” which, in Chaldee, is synonymous with Ham, or Khem, “the burnt one.” As “her” also, like Ham, signified “The hot or burning one,” this name formed a foundation for covertly identifying Ham with the “Sun,” and so deifying the great patriarch, after whose name the land of Egypt was called, in connection with the sun. Khem, or Ham, in his own name was openly worshipped in later ages in the land of Ham; but this would have been too daring at first. By means of “Her,” the synonym, however, the way was paved for this. “Her” is the name of Horus, who is identified with the sun, which shows the real etymology of the name to be from the verb to which I have traced it. Then, secondly, “Mes,” is from Mesheh (or, without the last radical, which is omissible), Mesh, “to draw forth.” In Egyptian, we have Ms in the sense of “to bring forth”, which is evidently a different form of the same word. In the passive sense, also, we find Ms used. The radical meaning of Mesheh in Stockii Lexicon, is given in Latin “Extraxit,” and our English word “extraction,” as applied to birth or descent, shows a connection between the generic meaning of this word and birth. This derivation will be found to explain the meaning of the names of the Egyptian kings, Ramesses and Thothmes, the former evidently being “the son of Ra,” or the sun; the latter in like manner, being “the son of Thoth.” For the very same reason Her-mes is the “Son of Her, or Ham,” the burnt one—that is, Cush.

Now, Hermes was the great original prophet of idolatry; for he was recognised by the pagans as the author of their religious rites, and the interpreter of the gods. The distinguished Gesenius identifies him with the Babylonian Nebo, as the prophetic god; and a statement of Hyginus shows that he was known as the grand agent in that movement which produced the division of tongues. His words are these: “For many ages men lived under the government of Jove [evidently not the Roman Jupiter, but the Jehovah of the Hebrews], without cities and without laws, and all speaking one language. But after that Mercury interpreted the speeches of men (whence an interpreter is called Hermeneutes), the same individual distributed the nations. Then discord began.”[v] (Emphasis added)
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