Thank You from Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics–and an Update!

Current Projects

We are now back from our Summer traveling, and are eager to return to a more normal work routine! Resuming in mid-July will be regular audio and video podcasts, starting with an ongoing series on the Biblical festivals. We are in the process of upgrading some of our video equipment, and hope by August to offer weekly ministry updates and progress reports on various assignments.

Salvation on the Line, Volume I: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity–Gospels and Acts is now available for purchase! The book is 452 pages and retails for$27.99. The eBook for Kindle is $9.99.

The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION is now available in both paperback and eBook. The book is 762 pages and retails for $49.99. The eBook for Amazon Kindle is $19.99.

Salvation on the Line, Volume II: The Nature of Yeshua and His Divinity–General Epistles, Pauline Epistles, & Later New Testament is presently being written. We are anticipating a release sometime in 2017. Passages remaining which need to be completed are those for Hebrews and Revelation.

Writing is underway for the Confronting Issues volume Men and Women in the Body of Messiah: Answering Crucial Questions.

This resource will be following the discussion present in 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper & Wayne Grudem. It will be discussing the different perspectives of complementarians and egalitarians.

Salvation on the Line, Volume III: The Messiahship of Yeshua is presently in pre-production. This mainly involves the acquisition of various books and resources, and cataloguing the Bible passages, issues, and sub-issues which will need analysis.


We need you to get behind the efforts of Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics! Much of what we do is provided freely via our two main websites (Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics), often in the form of daily articles and teachings, both written and oral. This Spring, we have just added our new Messianic Apologetics app for iPhone and Android.

Please be a blessing to us so that we can continue to provide you with consistent, uplifting, and scholastically sound Messianic teaching! Supporting Outreach Israel is very important in the current, uncertain economic climate. We have many expenses, and new projects taking place all the time, which require your regular financial support. We encourage you to sign up for a regular donation via PayPal:


For exclusive updates, download the Messianic Apologetics app

July 2017 Outreach Israel News

 


Update

July 2017

During the first week of July, Margaret, John, and I traveled to Grantham, Pennsylvania to attend and work at the Messiah 2017 annual conference. In our capacity representing Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics, this was our second consecutive year to exhibit our books and publications. This year, John was a featured conference speaker, and delivered a message entitled, “Salvation on the Line: Encountering Yeshua’s Divinity, Messiahship, and Bible Difficulties.” It was a great blessing for us to directly interact with many of today’s Messianic Jewish leaders and teachers, as our family and ministry emerge into a new venue. We definitely feel the pull of the trajectory of history that Paul speaks of in Romans 11, as we witness the Messianic Jewish revival and anticipate the completion of all Israel being saved:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM [Isaiah 59:20-21], WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS [Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34]’” (Romans 11:25-27).

Thankfully years ago, in what our family has labeled our “spiritual scavenger hunt,” the Holy Spirit revealed this supernatural mystery to us through passages in the Scriptures, which include: Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 43; and Acts 3:19-21. As a result, we have dedicated our lives to reach, teach, encourage, and disciple other seekers of the Most High with our written and spoken teachings. This past year, in particular, I have been used to put together a mutually beneficial relationship between the MJAA’s Joseph Project and the Baylor, Scott, White, Health group of Dallas, to ship medical equipment and supplies to Israel. Among the many things which I am involved with, the MJAA has asked me to share with others the financial needs of the Joseph Project and some of its other ministries, notably including the Alliance for Israel Advocacy. With these new projects, I have been witnessing the hand of the Almighty using the MJAA to lead the greater Messianic Jewish community in its outreach to Israeli Jews with the good news of Yeshua!

While it is a great blessing to witness my responsibilities take on new dimensions, as I am able to network and interact with people across the Messianic Jewish and Christian spectrums—the reality that many people within the Messianic community are significantly under-educated and under-informed in critical matters of spirituality, continues to hit us very hard. During the week of the Messiah Conference, the bulk of our time was spent in the marketplace, exhibiting our books and answering various questions that people had. There were people we encountered who had been following us for years, who we had never met. There were people we encountered who had never heard of our ministry before, and were eager to take a look at our resources. There were people we encountered who were not too interested in our perspectives, and were instead wanting to teach us about the “new truths” that God had “shown them.” And, there were those who picked up a business card or catalog, who we will likely hear from in the near future.

Most of our time interacting with people in the Messianic movement is either conducted online, via direct inquiries made to our ministry, or in some of our direct interactions with people at our local congregation. In a wider venue like the Messiah Conference—the largest and oldest Messianic conference in the world—some of us were shocked to see how under-developed various Messianic people were on basic matters of theology. Our table featured over thirty titles, ranging from studies on the Torah, the Biblical feasts, various commentaries, and our new series covering the nature of Yeshua. Yet, we had various people—who had been in the Messianic movement for years, and who were even teachers at their local congregations—ask us questions about Bible versions, Hebrew and Greek lexicons, theological resources, Bible software, and other tools which can help them in their various capacities. For the most part, these people have been receiving teachings in their assemblies which have focused more on spiritual intimacy and reflection than on studying the Scriptures. While we all need to have a vibrant and dynamic heart relationship with the Holy One of Israel, the need for us to have transformed minds in this hour cannot be overstated!

Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics are entering into a new season of ministry, where we are going to do our best to humanly employ the resources and contacts that God has given us. We want to be sure that we are a voice of reason and stability, providing fair resolution and consensus, as pressures continue to mount against people of faith from the world, and anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments are on the rise. As many of you know, our ministry features new teachings and posts every day—especially with the launch of our free app for iPhone and Android this past Spring. The many new projects we have embarked upon, include the Salvation on the Line series, and we will also be steadily releasing a number of encyclopedic resources combining our Holiday Helper books into a single volume, and some other multi-volume works consolidated (announcements forthcoming). We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us, and especially need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Blessings,
Mark Huey


Matthew 11:13

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: Matthew 11:13: The Law of Moses was only in effect until John the Baptist.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.”

It is very easy to envision Christian layreaders, or even various pastors, quote the Messiah’s word of Matthew 11:13, in an effort to dismiss the continued relevancy of the Torah in the post-resurrection era. Yeshua first lauds John the Immerser, by stating, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” (Matthew 11:11a). Describing him as “born of woman” is likely taken from various Tanach sentiments (Job 14:1; 15:14), representative of the normal human order. John the Immerser is pristine among mortals. However, it is also noted, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11b). It is not difficult to recognize how there is a contrast between John the Immerser and Yeshua the Messiah.

John the Immerser/Baptist is a transitionary figure from what has come in the past, and what Yeshua the Messiah will inaugurate via His ministry activities—something he will not be around to experience (cf. Matthew 14:10ff). Yeshua observed, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The statement about the Kingdom of Heaven either experiencing violence, or being entered into violently, is representative of how when God’s Kingdom begins to manifest itself on the platform of history—controversy and violence will erupt.[1]

The arrival of John the Immerser onto the scene in the First Century C.E., immediately before the ministry of Yeshua of Nazareth, was indeed a sign that a significant shift was going to take place. John the Immerser represented the culmination, but also the closing, of a previous chapter in God’s plan of salvation history. Take important note of what Matthew 11:13 says: pantes gar hoi prophētai kai ho nomos heōs Iōannou eprophēteusan, “for~all the prophets and the law until John prophesied” (Brown and Comfort).[2] Textually, the issue from Matthew 11:13 involves how one approaches prophēteuō, “to foretell someth. that lies in the future, foretell, prophesy” (BDAG).[3] When it is properly recognized how anticipated prophetic fulfillment from the Torah and the Prophets until John the Immerser (heōs Iōannou) is what is being spoken of by Yeshua, then it can be properly evaluated whether or not an abrogation of Moses’ Teaching is even something possibly in view. As will be seen there are various Christian commentators who do not see an abolishment of the relevance of the Tanach or Old Testament, at all being what is described.

It is witnessed that there are examiners, some of whom do not at all believe in the continued validity of God’s Torah, who recognize that the issue in Matthew 11:13 is a transition into a new period of salvation history, brought about by the work of the Messiah:

  • D.A. Carson: “The Baptist belongs to the last stage of the divine economy before the inauguration of the kingdom (as in Luke 16:16)….here the point is to set out the redemptive-historical turning point that has brought about the transformation of perspectives explained in vv. 11-12…[T]he primary function of the OT in Matthew’s Gospel [is]: it points to Jesus and the kingdom…The Prophets and the Law prophesied until then and, implicitly, prophesied of this new era.”[4]
  • Donald A. Hagner: “The totality of God’s previous revealing activity…and the expectation for the future built up in the writings of the OT culminate in John…For Matthew, the law and the prophets bear a united witness to Jesus…This statement…cannot be understood to mean that John himself was the goal of the OT, since he has been identified already as the forerunner of someone else (v 9), but that John serves as a transition to the new (contrast Luke 16:16) and as such is here included with the new…The point is that a key turning point has been reached, marking off the old from the new.”[5]
  • R.T. France: “It was not only the prophets who pointed forward to what as to come; the law, too, had this function, preparing the way for a fuller revelation of the will of God which was to come in the time of fulfillment, and which Matthew now finds present in the ministry of Jesus…With the coming of John, the last and greatest of the prophets, that forward-pointing role is complete.”[6]

It would be entirely fair to take the statement of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until the time of John” (TLV), as representing how the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures isolated and on their own are incomplete. The vantage point of Yeshua, in making this statement, is highlighting the predictive prophecy component of the Tanach, and how such a purpose was to culminate with the arrival of John the Immerser. As the New Jerusalem Bible puts Matthew 11:13, “Because it was towards John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading.” Following John the Immerser, would be Yeshua the Messiah, and the new realities that His work would inaugurate. Leon Morris properly stresses that the central focus of God’s revelation and activity, is not supposed to be the Torah and the Prophets, but rather the Messiah. This hardly means that the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures are to be cast aside, but they are secondary to the Living Yeshua they prophesied about and foretold:

“This means that the whole of the Old Testament revelation is viewed as preliminary to the coming of Jesus. It is interesting that the Law is said to prophesy as well as the prophets; both had their origin in God and both conveyed the word of God to people. Both indeed conveyed the authentic word of God, but Jesus is saying that both were of limited duration. They both did their work until the coming of John, the herald of the incarnate Son of God in whom came the definitive revelation. Until has the force of ‘up to John but not beyond him.’ This does not mean that now that John has come the law and the prophets may be discarded. The whole Christian revelation insists on the continuing significance of both law and prophets. But until the ministry of John the law and the prophets were the sum of the divine revelation; nothing could be set alongside them. Jesus is saying that with his coming a new age has dawned. The law and the prophets are no longer the revelation that is the key to everything else. The revelation made in Christ is the key to the revelation in the law and the prophets.”[7]

The NEB offers a useful paraphrase of Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the Law foretold things to come until John appeared.” Until John the Immerser arrived on the scene, who would be a herald of the Messiah, the main purpose of the Tanach Scriptures was to prophesy of His arrival. Yeshua notes that John came in the spirit of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5). With Yeshua the Messiah having arrived on the scene, far from the Torah and the Prophets being dismissed as irrelevant, or dusty Bible history, the Tanach Scriptures become subsumed into the mission of the Messiah. As Michael J. Wilkins states, “John is the culmination of a long history of prophecy that looked forward to the arrival of the messianic kingdom. That prophetic hope has been realized in John’s preparation for Jesus’ inauguration of the kingdom of heaven.”[8] The parallel word of Peter in Acts 3:24 is, “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.” And indeed, not only is the Messianic Kingdom one where the Torah will go forth from Zion to be taught to the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3),[9] it is also one where all of Planet Earth will be keeping the Sabbath (Isaiah 66:23).[10] This is hardly a dismissal of the Torah’s validity!

Yeshua’s remark of Matthew 11:13 is not disparaging of the Torah and the Prophets, the Tanach or Old Testament Scriptures. Yeshua’s statement cannot be used to dismiss the ongoing relevancy of the Torah and Prophets as a means of guiding His followers in ways of holiness and piety. Yeshua’s statement can be used to emphasize how the Torah and Prophets by themselves are incomplete without Him and being a part of His Kingdom. “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John[11]; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached” (Luke 16:16).


NOTES

[1] Consult the further discussion in the FAQ entry on the Messianic Apologetics website, “Violent Seize Kingdom of God.”

[2] Robert K. Brown and Philip W. Comfort, trans., The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1990), 39.

[3] BDAG, 890.

[4] D.A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. et. al., Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:268.

[5] Donald A. Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13, Vol 33a (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993), pp 307-308.

[6] R.T. France, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 431.

[7] Leon Morris, Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 283.

[8] Michael J. Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 417.

[9] Consult the author’s exegesis paper on Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 2:2-4, “The Torah Will Go Forth From Zion,” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper.

[10] Consult the entry for Isaiah 66:23 in the Messianic Sabbath Helper.

[11] Grk. ho nomos kai ho prophētai mechri Iōannou; “the law and the prophets [were proclaimed] until John” (Brown and Comfort, 276).

The RSV has rendered this rather neutrally as, “The law and the prophets were until John.” This was inappropriately followed by the NRSV with, “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came.”


John 13:34

reproduced from the new book by J.K. McKee
The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION

Pastor: John 13:34: Jesus Christ gave us a new law of love to replace the laws of the Old Testament.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Many people can be caught completely off guard, or not quite know how to react, when various Christian teachers or pastors communicate that the Messiah came to give a new law, a law that is only of “love.” The challenge is not with the Messiah’s emphasis on the imperative of love; the challenge is that for anyone who reads the Bible, the commands to love God and neighbor were given in the Torah or Law of Moses, before Yeshua spoke this to His Disciples at the Last Supper:

“You shall love HASHEM, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources” (Deuteronomy 6:5, ATS).

“You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself—I am HASHEM” (Leviticus 19:18, ATS).

So what is intended by Yeshua saying, “a new commandment” (Entolēn kainēn)? Yeshua’s statement of John 13:34 was not adding a 614th commandment to the traditional Jewish 613 Torah commandments.

There are a variety of ways that John 13:34 has been taken by commentators of the Gospel of John, which do properly recognize and acknowledge how the Torah originally directed God’s people to love neighbor. The further statement of 1 John 2:7 notably implies, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” Yeshua’s word of John 13:34 of a “new commandment,” has frequently been taken to (1) involve either the quality of love that He directed His followers to have, one of self-sacrifice as He was preparing to be sacrificed, or (2) that the “new commandment” of love takes on new dimensions with His establishment of the prophesied New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The chart below has catalogued a number of significant opinions:

JOHN 13:34

A NEW QUALITY OF LOVE “NEW COMMANDMENT” TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH “NEW COVENANT”
“The commandment of love was not entirely new: all the law and the prophets were summed up in the twin commandments…{quoting Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18}…but by his teaching and still more by his example…Jesus imparted a new depth of meaning to it.”[1]
F.F. Bruce
“This commandment is new, not because it is intrinsically different from the law of love of the Old Testament. Nor is it new because of Jesus’ redefining of ‘neighbour’ (Lk. 10:29-37), though that is certainly significant. The ‘newness’ lies rather in its being the law of the ‘new covenant’ which Jesus is to establish through his death, and which he has so recently proclaimed during the supper they have shared {referencing: Luke 22:20; Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 34:25}. The new covenant brings with it the new life in the Holy Spirit which will as never before enable the fulfilling of the law. It is ‘new’ also in the sheer depth and demand of the summons to love which Jesus issues.”[2]
Bruce Milne
“The new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The standard of comparison is Jesus’ love (cf. v. 1), just exemplified in the footwashing (cf. vv. 12-17); but since the footwashing points to his death (vv. 6-10), these same disciples but a few days later would begin to appreciate a standard of love they would explore throughout their pilgrimage. The more we recognize the depth of our own sin, the more we recognize the love of the Saviour; the more we appreciate the love of the Saviour, the higher his standard appears; the higher his standard appears, the more we recognize in our selfishness, our innate self-centredness, the depth of our own sin.”[3]
D.A. Carson
“Its ‘newness’ would appear to consist in its being the Law of the new order, brought about by the redemption of God in and through Christ….The expression ‘new order’ is deliberately ambiguous. We have in mind the era of the new covenant, established through the sacrificial self-giving of Christ and his resurrection to rule. The establishment of the new covenant is integral to the traditions of the Last Supper (cf. Mark 14:24 par.)…The commands of the law were issued to Israel as their part in God’s covenant with them, involving their response to his taking them to be his people whom he had ‘redeemed’ from the slavery of Egypt (cf. esp. Exod 19:3-6). So the ‘new command’ may be viewed as the obligation of the people of the new covenant in response to the redemptive act of God and his gracious election which made them his new people.”[4]
George R. Beasley-Murray
“In the OT the Israelites were commanded to love their neighbor as they loved themselves (Lv. 19:18), but Jesus said to his disciples, As I have loved you, so you must love one another. This raised the ante considerably. The measure of love for their neighbour was no longer their love for themselves, but Jesus’ love for them. The Fourth Gospel speaks of Jesus’ love for the disciples in three places (1; 15:9, 13), a love that led him to lay down his life for them. Now he said they should love one another in the same way (cf. 1 Jn. 3:16). Jesus’ love command was ‘new’ because it demanded a new kind of love, a love like his own.”[5]
Colin G. Kruse
“Love itself was hardly a new commandment (Lev 19:18), as the Johannine tradition itself recognized (1 John 2:7; 2 John 1:5)…Still, loving one’s neighbor as oneself was such a radical demand that biblical tradition might depict its actual occurrence only in the most intimate relationships (1 Sam 18:1, 3; 20:17). In fact, Jesus’ commands to love God and one another in the Farewell Discourse (13:34-35; 14:15-16, 21) echo the language of the essential substance of the law of Moses, as in Mark 12:29-34….What is new here is the standard for this love: ‘as I have loved you’ (13:34; cf. 1 John 2:8). By laying down his life for others, Jesus loved the disciples more than his own life (11:5; 13:1).”[6]
Craig S. Keener
“Jesus’ ‘new command’ to his followers to love each other as he has loved them constitutes the third major topic. This will be the mark of his disciples (cf. Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 8:37; Rev. 1:5). The command to love one’s neighbor was not new. Love within the community was also highly regarded at Qumran (e.g., 1QS 1:10; cf. Josephus, J.W. 2.8.2§119), and neighbor love was emphasized by the first-century rabbi Hillel. What was new was Jesus’ command for his disciples to love one another as he has loved them—laying down their lives. This rule of self-sacrificial, self-giving, selfless love, a unique quality of love inspired by Jesus’ own love for the disciples, will serve as the foundational ethic for the new messianic community.”[7]
Andreas J. Köstenberger

Today’s Messianic people will be more inclined than not, to consider Yeshua’s word about a “new commandment” in John 13:34, to be connected to the New Covenant promises of the Torah being supernaturally transcribed onto the human heart via God’s Spirit—something which involves more than just the love command. Still, it is textually appropriate to recognize the “new commandment” as being an expansion of the Torah commandment to love neighbor, per the direction, “that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (hina agapate allēlous, kathōs ēgapēsa humas). This would not be an annulment of the Torah’s instruction by any means—but that Yeshua’s love requirement requires His own to emulate Him, particularly in matters of service and self-sacrifice for fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.


NOTES

[1] Bruce, John, 294.

[2] Milne, 206.

[3] Carson, John, 484.

[4] Beasley-Murray, John, 247.

[5] Colin G. Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 293.

[6] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 924.

[7] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), pp 423-424.


FAQ

Why do you consult the Septuagint frequently?

The Septuagint (LXX) is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, dating at least two centuries before the First Coming of Yeshua. It was originally compiled for the Jewish community in Alexandria, and quickly became the authorized Scriptures of Diaspora Judaism. The Septuagint largely represents a Pharisaic style of theology, halachah, and messianic expectation, and clarifies many things in the Tanach where the Hebrew may be imprecise or vague. As should be expected, there are some distinct theological interjections into the text, as it is not a “word-for-word” translation of the Hebrew. The LXX would read more like today’s New International Version, when compared to the more literal New American Standard. The LXX gives us an excellent “bridge” of vocabulary words between the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, enables us to see how Jews translated the Tanach Hebrew into Greek, and allows us to see how they used the Greek language.

In the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), there has been misunderstanding among some Christians when it comes to words that are often only examined in the context of the Greek New Testament, and perhaps even classical Greek philosophy. The Septuagint, as it is known today, was well-circulated throughout the Mediterranean, and was the canonical Scripture of the Greek-Speaking Jewish synagogues of the Diaspora. The majority of quotations or allusions in the New Testament from the Old Testament come from the Septuagint. The author of Hebrews, for example, makes all of his unique arguments about Yeshua from the distinct renderings we see in the LXX. Keeping this in mind, we gain valuable insight in understanding the Greek vocabulary that is used in the New Testament, as the same would have been used in the Septuagint. Seeing these Greek words in the Septuagint, we can often see Hebraic concepts behind them via the Tanach, thus gaining a fuller theological picture of what a Biblical author may be trying to communicate.

The Apostles’ usage of the Septuagint in the Gospels and Epistles is a strong indication that they gave it a great deal of authority—otherwise they would not have used it. Unfortunately, much of today’s emerging Messianic movement does not consider the historical importance of the Septuagint, and the LXX gets frequently put aside in our exegesis. This will have to change in the coming years if we intend to have a better and more complete picture of the First Century world in which the Apostles lived. While our exegesis of the Tanach should come first from the Hebrew text, we should certainly give the Greek Septuagint strong consideration as it is its oldest textual witness, and was validated by the Apostles.

For a further examination on the importance of the Septuagint, consult the book The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research by R. Timothy McLay (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

 

I understand that the Greek Septuagint is a valuable resource for understanding Second Temple Judaism and for reading the Apostolic Scriptures, and that there are some differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Tanach. Are there any English translations of the Septuagint which can help me in my studies?

Many people are unfamiliar with the Septuagint (LXX) because of a limitation of either being untrained in the Greek language, or not possessing enough Greek competence to be able to read directly from the Septuagint, be that in either printed or electronic form. Fortunately, there are various English translations of the Septuagint available for the layperson, each of which can be used as a “crutch” of sorts, when comparing similarities and differences with the Hebrew MT, or for quoting to larger audiences. While each of them has a different order for the books of the Tanach or OT, the following English versions of the Septuagint also notably include the books of the Apocrypha, an additional incentive to make use of these resources.

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English by Sir L.C.L. Brenton (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), is a bit dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century, but does include a side-by-side English translation with the Greek Septuagint source text. This translation of the Septuagint is notably rendered in Elizabethan period English. Because it is in the public domain, the LXE and LXA versions are also widely available in electronic format with many Bible software programs. The Apostle’s Bible by Paul W. Esposito (2004), is an updated, modern English version of Brenton.

A New English Translation of the Septuagint (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) is an academic edition of the Septuagint, which includes introductions to each text and a selection of footnotes. Many of the proper names are transliterated from the Greek into English (i.e., Dauid, Iesous). What is most important about the NETS is that this is a modern English version produced for those engaged in research and teaching. Anyone who wants to seriously engage with the Septuagint will need the NETS.

The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008) is an eclectic resource, produced for Eastern Orthodox Christians in the English-speaking world. Its edition of the Old Testament is widely a modern English update of Brenton’s Septuagint translation, widely informed from Eastern Orthodox theology. The introductions and annotations are intended for Eastern Orthodox Christians; it is a useful tertiary resource to use in accessing the Septuagint.

Moedim: The Appointed Times for Messianic Believers

Today’s Messianic community widely believes and advocates that our Heavenly Father is restoring the celebration of the Biblical appointments or moedim, chiefly found in Leviticus 23, to all of His people. Messianic Believers find great enrichment every year of going through these annual festivals, rehearsing God’s plan of salvation history. We bereave the fact that too many of our Christian brothers and sisters have not partaken of the blessings of knowing things like the Passover, Shavuot, or Sukkot, and the significant enrichment all of us can have by seeing God’s plan for history present within them.

Some say that because of Yeshua’s sacrifice at Golgotha (Calvary), the Torah or Law of Moses has been abolished, and thus the moedim or appointed times are done away with, annulled, and abolished. Some believe that they might be important for us to understand in an historical sense for understanding the Bible, but are not to be followed as standard elements of our orthopraxy.

This publication, simply entitled Moedim: The Appointed Times for Messianic Believers, is an important synopsis of what the appointed times of Leviticus 23 actually are, and why they have not been abolished by the New Testament.

80 pages




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Mattot-Mas’ei

Mattot

Tribes

Numbers 30:2[1]-32:42
Jeremiah 1:1-2:3

Mas’ei

Stages

Numbers 33:1-36:13
Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4 (A); 2:4-28; 4:1-2 (S)

“Final Instructions”


by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

This week’s double selection, Mattot and Mas’ei, concentrates on the final instructions that are given to the Ancient Israelites as they were preparing to enter into the Promised Land. The forty years of wandering in the wilderness were coming to a close. God has some additional commandments that will assist the people as they enter into their inheritance.

As you read these instructions, you will note that they cover a wide variety of topics. They deal with issues concerning oath-taking by daughters and wives,[1] the astounding military victory over the Midianites,[2] the details about the spoils of war and how to divide them,[3] and the request by the Reubenites and Gadites to settle on the east side of the Jordan.[4] We also see a roadmap summary of Israel’s entire journey through the wilderness,[5] and a description of the proposed borders for the land they will receive,[6] including delineation of the tribal leaders[7] and the establishment of cities for the Levites to occupy.[8] Details concerning cities of refuge[9] and how the justice system was to operate are given,[10] as are details on how inheritance for daughters was to be handled.[11] This wide array of material seems to wander all over the board. As you read and meditate upon these final instructions, you might wonder if there is any rhyme or reason for how broad they are. If there is one thing for certain: there are many background studies that can be launched from Mattot-Mas’ei, for better understanding of how these laws were to be followed in an Ancient Near Eastern context.

One hint that there was a sense of urgency, to get these last instructions communicated, comes at the opening of Numbers ch. 31, as the Lord told Moses to prepare the Israelites for the battle against the Midianites:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people’” (Numbers 31:1-2).

If you will recall from last week in Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1[29:40]), Moses had just reiterated the details about the daily offerings and the appointed times (Numbers 28-29), and how important it was for Israel to remember these commemorations in a very specific manner. Just prior to this, Moses had laid his hands upon his successor Joshua, who, with the high priest Eleazer, was preparing to replace the duo of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 27:15-23). Moses knew his days on Earth were winding down. Just after the census was taken to determine who had died in the plague resulting from the idolatry and licentiousness induced by Balaam’s advice to Balak (Numbers 26), Moses knew that the Promised Land would be apportioned out to the Israelites, but he was also mindful that the Levites were not to receive a physical inheritance because they were to be in full time service to minister. Moses was also confronted with the issues about inheritance for these ancient families, particularly those who only had daughters and no sons. In Numbers 27, he relayed God’s thoughts on the rightful means for handling the process of passing property on to the future generations. After he did this, the Lord told Moses that once he saw the Promised Land he would die:

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go up to this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel. When you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was; for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water.’ (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd’” (Numbers 27:12-17).

At this point in the narrative, it appears that Moses was finally resigned to his impending death, and like any good shepherd, his concern was for the sheep of his fold. Interestingly, Moses did not suggest Joshua, but instead asked the Holy One to only appoint someone over the people. He was not presumptuous about whom he might have chosen, but instead was still depending on God’s voice to make the selection. In MattotMas’ei we realize that the defeat of the Midianites will trigger his death, and so Moses was rapidly explaining to Joshua and Eleazer some last minute details about how to handle the issues I previously listed.

Moses had to be very pleased with what he was witnessing in his final days of life. Even though his life was a very unique adventure from the bulrushes of the Nile to now overlooking the Jordan, he witnessed an astounding victory over the Midianites that must have been comforting, considering all of the errors that Israel committed along the way. It is recorded for us that after companies and squads were selected for the army from each of the twelve tribes, the cohesiveness of the people of Israel was finally on display:

“Moses spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD’s vengeance on Midian. A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war. So there were furnished from the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand” (Numbers 31:3-6).

It appears from the reading that the Israelites were finally “getting their act together.” Not only were they prepared to induce God’s vengeance upon the Midianites for the sin of Baal Peor, but the victory was blessed incredibly by Him, as not a single Israelite died in the ensuing battles:

“Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, approached Moses, and they said to Moses, ‘Your servants have taken a census of men of war who are in our charge, and no man of us is missing’” (Numbers 31:48-49).

Can you imagine how proud Moses must have been when he got this report? Not one of the soldiers sent into battle was missing. This is an incredible testimony to show that when Israel worked together in harmony, victory was achievable. When you read the account of how the Levites performed their functions via the guidance of Phinehas, and that all of the kings, including Baalam, were slain, that all of the cities were captured and burned, all of the booty was taken, and all of the people and livestock were captured (Numbers 31)—you see a vivid picture of absolute victory.

In spite of Moses’ aged condition, Moses still had the faculties to give some final details to the Israelites about how to handle the captured people and the booty. This is particularly poignant, so that the men of Israel did not fall back into temptation over possible sexual favors. Moses also wanted the people to avoid becoming unclean by contacting corpses, garments, and various vessels confiscated in the war:

“Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. And Moses said to them, ‘Have you spared all the women? Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. And you, camp outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves, you and your captives, on the third day and on the seventh day. You shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of leather and all the work of goats’ hair, and all articles of wood’” (Numbers 31:13-20).

At this juncture, we are reminded that Balaam had actually counseled Balak to have the Israelites bring curses upon themselves (Numbers 31:17). While Israel as a nation cannot be cursed by outsiders, it can curse itself by falling into the sin of fornication or being contaminated by the spoils of war. Moses knew his people well, and he also knew the sinful inclinations of the human heart. To the very end of his life, he warned and continually instructed the people of Israel.

As you contemplate this, this is probably the way we should all depart this Earth. For those of you who have children and grandchildren, imagine wanting to continue to give instructions to your beloved all the way to your last breath. For someone like Moses, who had such a huge spiritual responsibility, the urge, to continue correcting and fine-tuning his protégées to the very end, is what one would expect. Now that the victory over the Midianites was complete, echoing in the back of his mind had to be the comment from God about being “gathered to your people” (Numbers 27:13). Over the course of nearly forty years, Moses had witnessed the Exodus generation die off. In these remaining chapters of Numbers, he spoke out instructions that would aid the new generation, which would take inheritance of Canaan.

As you read each of the different vignettes of Mattot-Mas’ei, the final instructions from Moses were earnest attempts to communicate about issues that he knew would be addressed in the years, if not millennia, after his departure. Since Moses had the spiritual authority over such an unruly group of people, and understood the human propensity for individuals to “do their own thing,” he faithfully communicated what God wanted, so order could be present as the Israelites entered into the Promised Land.

How should these instructions from Moses affect us today, as we seek to obey God’s Torah and incorporate its principles into our lives?

We need to recognize that the problems with humanity are not that unique, as they often repeat themselves over the generations in different places and times. What we see today are patterns firmly imbedded in the human psyche. But for Believers in Yeshua today, things should be different. With those of us who have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we should be moving closer to desiring order and direction in our lives. As we grow and mature in faith, we are to become more and more like our Lord and Savior, Yeshua, every day. Today, however, far too many who claim belief in the Messiah have moved not only away from words of Moses’ Teaching, but His own teachings as well!

The question we have to ask ourselves, as we come to the close of Numbers, is whether we will be willing to study and inculcate the Torah’s instruction into our hearts and minds, so that the Ruach HaKodesh can bring them forth in an orderly manner. Are we willing to submit our wills to the will of the Holy Spirit who resides inside of us, and who desperately wants to use us to perform God’s work? Are we willing to pass our knowledge and wisdom onto the succeeding generations? Where will you be in your relationship with God when you are preparing to die? Are you committed to fully serving the Lord?

Consider the words of Paul imprisoned in Rome, as he reflected back on his life, and perhaps thought that he would die soon:

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Messiah Yeshua. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Messiah Yeshua. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Philippians 3:12-17).[12]

Paul, just like Moses, had a vision for his life and understood that he was called to the service of the Holy One. Both understood order and the pattern of life that they were called to walk in order to glorify the Almighty. But what about your life? Have you discovered what God has called you to do in today’s emerging Messianic movement?

If you have not discovered what you should be doing, I would recommend that you read and listen again to the final instructions that have come down through the ages, from the many servants of God who have preceded us. Most importantly, look at the ministry example of Messiah Yeshua, and understand that you are being conformed to His likeness. You will be amazed at just how profoundly you are empowered to perform God’s tasks in the Earth when you take His Word seriously!

My friends, these final instructions are important for all of us to consider. In the coming weeks, we will be examining even more final words from Moses as we approach the end of the Torah cycle and read through Deuteronomy. Of course, in Deuteronomy we will witness Moses reiterate many of his earlier teachings—but who among us does not need to continually rehearse the truths of who we are and know who our spiritual forbearers were? We need to understand and emulate their triumphs, and likewise hopefully avoid their mistakes. If we can do these things, we will be able to have victory over the battles that we face through the power of Yeshua!


NOTES

[1] Numbers 30:1-16.

Be sure to consult the previous teaching on this subject, offered in TorahScope, Volume I.

[2] Numbers 31:1-24.

[3] Numbers 31:25-54.

[4] Numbers 32:1-42.

[5] Numbers 33:1-49.

[6] Numbers 34:1-15.

[7] Numbers 34:16-29.

[8] Numbers 35:1-5.

[9] Numbers 35:6-15.

[10] Numbers 35:16-34.

[11] Numbers 36:1-13.

[12] Many scholars are agreed that Paul was released from the imprisonment described here, but that he eventually was arrested again. The Epistle of 2 Timothy may actually be considered Paul’s farewell address.