God. But we cannot as declared by Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8). What we often describe as the judgment/wrath of God upon this earth is actually fallen man expressing his fallen nature upon himself as evidenced in wars, murders and all other destructive acts that mankind is guilty of. How unfortunate it is when man calls destructive elements that occur on this earth as “Acts of God” when he truly cannot tell whether they come from Satan or God. And even if God were responsible for bringing forth His judgment/wrath, it usually is in response to mans rebellion to God’s laws, commands and statutes that He has set forth for man’s own good. In almost all cases, God will only unleash His judgment as a last measure and when man has reached a point of no return. We must never forget that His loving kindness and mercy are always so much greater than His anger and vengeance. This will be aptly shown in God’s dealings with the people of Israel.
Many have asked why God chose Israel and its people as His “chosen”. Probably as many Jews have disparagingly asked Jehovah the very same question. Considering all they have gone through; anti-Semitism, mass genocide, the loss of their homeland, etc., most people would not consider this to be an enviable position. However, God chose Israel as He could of any other people, for He is not a respecter of people. This means He does not discriminate upon mankind in any way as given in Acts 10:34. He choose Israel, as He could have any other peoples group to execute four main objectives; to teach all the nations in the world of Himself (Isaiah 43:10-12), to show forth His love and faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:7-8), to be a blessing to all peoples through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and to bring forth salvation to all mankind (John 4:22). In effect, God used Plan A to initiate His redemptive interaction with mankind by choosing the Israelites as a peoples group to represent Him, for His Glory.
As God choose Israel and her people to tell all about Himself, history paints a sad picture of Israel’s failure to fulfill the role God had commanded her. Worse yet, throughout her history Israel more often than not departed from God’s commandments, statutes and ordinances so that she became as “lost” as the heathen nations she was to be an example toward. We should keep in mind that any people’s group would have done the same. Time and time again, God would exact His wrath upon the nation of Israel after countless warnings given by the prophets. Knowing that He is slow to anger (Nehemiah 9:17), long suffering (Numbers 14:18), and the execution of wrath at times held back (Psalm 78:38), the appointed day of their wrath was well deserving when it did occur. This would be very similar to a father, who warns his son time and time again that he should stop racing the family car around the block before he hits someone. But if the son insists on doing as he pleases, not listening to his father while at the same time breaking the law, the father and the state would finally have the right to revoke his sons license as a penalty for his disobedience. So was it with Israel.
God, in dealing with Israel and the world, set up specific guidelines and administrations in its history called dispensations. A dispensation is identified as a moral or probationary period in human history, testing the free moral agency of mankind according to a fixed standard of conduct or responsibility under which man was to remain true to God and rule under Him. God related to mankind differently under each dispensation and for this reason, a new administration was instituted to allow Israel and the world to interact positively with God. Although there may be certain truths that always apply to each dispensation and the elements of one dispensation can be found in another, each dispensation is unique and has its own beginning and end. The beginning of each dispensation starts favorably, with God giving the conditions and principles of the administration. These elements define the basis of the administration that God hopes man and the angels will succeed in. Sadly, each dispensation by and large ends in failure and judgment, except the final and eternal one known as the Millennium. An example that could best describe a dispensation would be the choice of a president that the public would elect to lead our nation in the hope of effecting good government. Although human government and affairs continue during changes in an administration, each administration effects a certain change and direction for the country over a four year period of time. In the same way, each dispensation that God invokes also effects a change and direction for mankind. The word “dispensation” derives itself from the Greek word “oikonomia” and is identified four times in the New Testament (Eph. 3:2 & 1:10, 1 Cor. 9:17, Col. 1:25). God invoked a total of nine dispensations on the earth, two which specifically deal with angels and the remaining seven which deal with mankind. We will only look at the dispensations given to man as it relates to the history of our ancestors, the plan God had intended for Israel and the Church as defined by Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Apostles.
Dispensation of Innocence
The dispensation of innocence began when the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were created following the creation/restoration of the earth after the Pre-Adamite Period. It’s beginning was extremely favorable because God gave Adam and Eve a most perfect environment to live in, almost a replica of heaven itself. They were given a beautiful Garden totally under their dominion with no sin, no heat or cold of the day, eternal life, etc. They were also given the freedom to eat the fruit from all the trees, including the fruit of the tree of eternal life. The test God established in this dispensation was to see if Adam and Eve would keep their innocence and obey God by not eating the fruit of only one tree, and that was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet, by falling to the temptation of the devil, who came in the form of a serpent, both Adam and Eve became followers of the devil, for they rebelled against God by defying His one and only commandment. The results of this transgression were calamitous, for mankind forever lost all that God had promised and provided to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He lost; freedom from Satan, perfect God-consciousness, full power to do good, right to the tree of life (immortality), perfect self-control, a garden-home, all the benefits of perfect union and communion with God, perfect health, righteousness and true holiness with God’s glory, full dominion over all things, fellowship with animals and perfect physical health. This was the first sin committed by man, but certainly would not be the last. It ultimately led to the curse ( the consequences of sin) being conferred to mankind because of union with Satan and his demons which would result in; sickness, pain, sorrow, misery, suffering, condemnation, death, loss of soul, power and desire to do and be evil, selfishness, eternal damnation, but to name a few. However, God did not give up on man because of the sin of Adam and Eve. God’s plan for the redemption of sin was provided in two ways. First, God allowed this test to occur before Adam and Eve produced offspring, so that the entire human race could be dealt with in the same manner. Secondly, He provided mankind a redeemer who would come and restore man’s original dominion to the land.
We are not told how long this dispensation lasted, but believe it to be relatively short. It had to occur after God’s seventh day Sabbath rest during His creation/restoration and occurred before Cain was born. In all likelihood, it was the shortest of all the dispensations.
Dispensation of Conscience
This period began with Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Because both had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they had lost their innocence and acquired the conscience that mankind today has, a knowledge (awareness) of good and evil. The new dispensation God put before Adam and Eve was to allow them to exercise conscience, the knowledge of what was right and wrong, in the capacity of a free moral agency. God wanted man to come to the full knowledge that He truly was the only One who could be counted on as a helper and true friend. This was shown by God allowing Adam to offer unto Him a clean animal sacrifice as a means to atone himself from sin.
The length of this dispensation lasted from the fall of Adam to the 600th year of Noah, a total of 1,656 years. During this time, the lineage of Adam was brought forth into the earth, with only Enoch and Noah being noted as godly men. It is speculated that either Enoch or Moses will be one of the two witnesses that will come forth to walk the streets of Jerusalem and testify against the Antichrist during the Tribulation. Many believe it can only be Enoch since he is the first human being to have been Raptured by God (“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him”, Gen. 5:24) since he must fulfill the requirement to die once upon the earth as expressed in Heb. 9:2, “as it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after that the judgment.”
The dispensation of Conscience came to an end when God brought forth the great flood because of the sin of man. Near the end of this dispensation, evil was so severe, that God regretted that He had ever created man (Gen. 6:6). This certainly is a sad commentary regarding mankind. This dispensation was proof that man, in his fallen state, could not choose right over wrong since he was powerless to cope with the numerous fallen angels and demons that now had dominion over him unless he turned to God for help. Therefore, given the freedom of will and conscience, the innate nature of man was to serve Satan and oppose God. We also see that God allowed man to exercise the full potential of his wickedness upon earth until God could no longer tolerate or allow the corruption to continue. Again, we see that man fails to seek His Creator, a God who loves him dearly. The exception to this was Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he walked with God, was a just man, and was perfect in his generations.
Dispensation of Human Government
From the time of Noah to Abraham, when he was 75 years of age, God instituted the dispensation of Human Government for a total of 427 years. Noah, a man of God who was rich with experience and wisdom, was given this new covenant. Because man could not live by his own conscience, he needed a new standard of conduct by which to live by. This was given in the form of civil laws that included the right of man to convict and punish individuals for their waywardness, which ultimately is sin. Here we see the first commandment against murder and the appropriate punishment of execution for murderers. Some of these laws have formed the basis of human government to this day. Because the preservation of human society was at stake, law enforcement was needed to establish, secure, maintain, and support civil and family government against sinful man. Not unlike the conditions we see on earth today, punishment was exacted to criminals (prison) and criminal nations (war) who broke the laws of society and government.1 it is interesting to note that in this new covenant, God gave man a role as being judge over sin and wickedness. Since innocence nor conscienceness of man could be used to deter man from evil, God allowed man to become the defender of obedience to laws and government he intimated upon him.
Another important characteristic of this period was the distribution of the peoples over the entire earth. This is of some significance, because it helps us to understand the geographical areas that the Bible refers to later on, especially in light of prophetic events that still must occur. An example of this would be the future war between Israel and Gog of Magog as expressed in Ezekiel 38. This extremely important conflict involves the names of the offspring of Noah and his sons. Prior to the great Flood, Noah had three sons whom he named; Shem, Ham and Japeth. Shem is of special significance because he establishes the lineage of Jesus Christ. For this reason,ift is logical that Shem and his descendants settled in the Middle East. Ham is said to have settled in Africa while Japeth settled in Europe and Asia. We also find that all the races of mankind became expressed through the sons of Noah, which recently has been shown to be completely in line with Mandelian genetics (presented in The Evidence by H. Vandergouw). Following this family tree helps to give us a basic understanding to the establishment of the Gentile nations by the three sons of Noah that were brought into existence after the flood and during this dispensation. This dispensation ends when all the peoples of the world established one language and decided they would build a city and tower to heaven to make a name for themselves. This tower is known as the Tower of Babel and is described in the book of Genesis, chapter 11: 1-9. A description of the tower was found on tablets during archeological excavations in 1876 in what is today Iraq. It told of a tower and cfty that had been under construction and indicates that there was a grand court of 900 x 1,156 ft. and a smaller one of 450 ft. x 1,056 ft., inside of which was a platform with walls around ft having four gates on each side. In the center stood the tower with many small shrines at the base dedicated to various gods. The tower was constructed with seven stages in decreasing width as ft went to the highest point of 300 ft. The top platform measured 60 ft. by 80 ft. and included a sanctuary dedicated to the god Bel-Merodach which included signs of the Zodiac.
This would indicate that the whole race not only had one language but also worshipped the gods of the heavens. Because the Lord said in Genesis 11: 6 - 8 that, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” We have to understand that this project may have been planned and under construction for many a year, so that all the people of the known world of that time were aware of its objective. For that reason, the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth and “they stopped building the city.” One ancient Babylonian tablet records, “The building of this illustrious tower offended the gods. In a night they (the builders) threw down what they had built. They (the gods) scattered them abroad and made strange their speech. Their progress was impeded. They wept hot tears for Babylon”.2 This historical record authenticates what the Bible says about this event. From the name of the tower, “Babel”, we derive the word “babble”. In this regard, God’s judgment of confusing the language of mankind and scattering them abroad was very effective. Meillet and Cohen in “Languages of the World” lists that there are over 6,760 tongues and systems of writing in the world today.’
The numerous languages, tongues and dialects help to prove the existence of God and the execution of His divine plan to “confound the common language of the people” as occurred during the time of the building of Babel. Why? Because it always has been and still is the goal of mankind to converse in one common language, not over 6,760 of them! Although social experts would say that that the existence of multiple languages would emphasis the diversity and remoteness of peoples groups, the people during that time had one language as stated in Genesis 11: 6, which absolutely refutes this notion. Proof is provided in that we see the very same goal being attempted today as numerous nations have as their goal to speak English (or one universal languate), being known as the “world’s common language” throughout the globe.
Again, God had to bring an end to this dispensation because mankind desired to supersede Him as evidenced by the building a tower that would reach into the heavens and the statement, “let us make for ourselves a name” which is analogous to Satan’s statement to Eve, “and you will be like God (or someone like God)”. Finally, the last great judgment that God pronounced over the world occurred during the time of Peleg, the great grandson of Shem. To further seal and inhibit the peoples from repeating the goal of “making a name for themselves and establish a common language”, the earth was divided into continents and islands as given in Genesis 10:24,”...the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided...”. This explains how the American Indians, South American Indians and Aboriginal Indians of Australia became a people among themselves.4
Dispensation of Promise
The dispensation of Promise began with Abraham, who was called by God, located in the city of Ur on the Euphrates River. He was originally part of a peoples group called the Chaldeans in what is present day Iraq. God established His first promise through Abraham and his descendants, that a land and line of people would eventually predict the redemption of all mankind through the Messiah. Abraham was the first Hebrew (which means across or the opposite side) called by God to enter the land of Canaan, which generally encompasses the land of present day Israel. It was originally settled by the Canaanites, descendants of Ham. It was in this area that God promised Abraham that he and his descendants would inherit the Promised Land eternally and have it established as a base for world missionary and governmental operations so all would come to know about the revelations of God.
We find that during this dispensation the first priest, Melchizedek, predicted the identity of the Messiah when he established the first service to consecrate Christ. Melchizedek’s priesthood is eternal through Christ (Hebrews 5:10) as indicated by the bringing forth of the bread and wine before Abraham (Gen.17:18), showing that the he and the patriarchs fully practiced and understood the atonement as given through the Lord’s supper. Because of this understanding, numerous bible scholars believe that Melchizedek was either actually Jesus Christ or a type of Him. Also at this time, circumcision was first introduced and ordained, an act portraying the removal of the flesh which is always at war with the Spirit. The Lord also enlarged the covenant given to Abraham and his seed to include the land from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq (Gen. 15:18). Israel has never occupied the totality of this land mass and it is very apparent that it will not do so until the Millennium, the last dispensation. Abraham gave birth to two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, with Ishmael forming the basis of the Philistine tribes, the basis of where the word Palestinian originates from. From Isaac came forth Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel by God, from whence the name of the nation comes from. Jacob (Israel) gave birth to twelve sons; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin, Zebulun and Issachar, who became the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. These tribes will become important again during the Tribulation because they will be responsible for supplying the 144,000 Tribulation Jewish saints as witnesses, 12,000 from each tribe, as given in Revelation 7:4-8. Apparently, the tribe of Dan is not included in the Tribulation and will be replaced by the tribe of Manasseh (Manasseh and Ephraim were the two sons of Joseph) because it is reported that the tribe of Dan were the first to enter into idolatry.5 As the original twelve tribes constituted the land of Israel, so too are the disciples important in the formation of the Church that Jesus founded. It is suggested that the 24 elders that are before the throne of God as mentioned in Revelation 4:4 are in fact the twelve disciples of Jesus as He promised to Peter (in Matthew 19:28) and the eleven sons of Jacob with Manasseh, the son of Joseph, completing the tribe of Israel during Tribulation and the 24th elder.
During this dispensation, we see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God, two cities in the southern area of the Dead Sea. The meaning of this incident has great significance to us today because it is a form and type of the Rapture and God’s view of homosexual sin. Let’s review the situation. Lot, the nephew of Abraham, and his family moved to Sodom because they ran out of grazing land when Abraham and Lot lived in the same area. God saw that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were great and intoned to Abraham about the eventual destruction of the two cities. Abraham asked God if He would spare any righteous man from destruction, starting from 50 people and ending up with only 10 individuals left in the city. God said he would, meaning that He would not destroy the city for the lives if no more than 10 righteous men and women lived in the area. As the sins of the two cities became too great to bear, God sent two angels to take Lot and his family out of Sodom. That night, as the angels were invited to spend the night at Lot’s house, homosexual men from Sodom came to Lot’s house to demand the angels, whom they thought were ordinary men, for homosexual service. Lot asked that they be spared to the point of offering his two virgin daughters to them. In anger, they lounged forward to take Lot when in the nick of time, the angels pulled Lot back and shut the door. To prevent the Sodomites from breaking through the door, the angels smote the Sodomites with blindness. That very night, the angels told Lot to warn his immediate family members to leave Sodom because God was going to destroy the city the next morning. Sadly, his sons-in-law mocked Lot at the mere suggestion that such a thing would happen. Because Lot lingered in the city from departing, the angels forcibly took hold of Lot, his wife and two daughters to get them out of the city. Then God destroyed Sodom and Gemorrah with fire and brimstone. Today, Sodom and Gomorrah have been located by the archeological work of Ron Wyatt, who with his team, where able to locate the brimstone that God rained from heaven (see more regarding this discovery at AmazingEvidence.org).
We find this incident as a form and type of the Rapture since it shows God does not destine His righteous sons and daughters to wrath. For this very reason, it will be Christ Jesus, “who with the shout of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, shall first raise the dead in Christ and then we (Christians) who are alive will be caught up together (with those who were in the ground) to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16,17). Also shown in this example are the sons-in-law of Lot who are a form and type of the heathen of this age who will not harken to the warnings of the prophets who now say that the coming of Jesus is at hand. At the same time, the Rapture will take all true believers in Christ Jesus, whether they themselves may not believe in this event or desire to go or not. As the angels forcibly compelled Lot and his family out of Sodom, so will the Spirit of the living God immediately transform us into our resurrected bodies when Jesus comes in the air. Regarding homosexuality, there is no question that it is a sin and abomination to the Lord as given in 1 Corinthians 6: 9,10) which states, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminates (by perversion) nor homosexuals, nor thieves, not the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, not swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” We must recognize that Jesus still loves the homosexual as any person that has gone astray in sin. And we should never forget that we all have gone astray at one time or another. For this very reason, Jesus says “...for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners...”(Matt. 9:13), which points to the fact that we must never forget where we once all came from. All need to repent of inequities and have to ask Jesus to set us free from our sinful lifestyles. Therefore, the Christian obligation is not to judge or condemn, but to stand ready to share the word and love of Christ as He so shared with all to redeem mankind of the penalty of sin.
Lastly, we find that this dispensation comes to an end when that the seed of Abraham, the Israelites, relocate to Egypt because of famine in the land of Canaan. Some believe the famine came about because of the misdeeds of the sons of Jacob who threw his favorite son, Joseph, into a pit because of pride and jealousy. Joseph was saved by some merchant nomads who eventually sold him to Pharaoh. Joseph prospered greatly under Pharaoh and was made second ruler because Pharaoh recognized the Spirit of God in him. When famine in Canaan finally did arrive, Jacob’s family came into Egypt and ultimately had to face Joseph. When Joseph revealed himself, he had all the power to smite his brothers to death. Instead, he cried over them and forgave them, inferring that Joseph was a type of Christ by his ability to forgive, a characteristic that all Christians need to embrace and practice. The tribe formed under Jacob came to live in the land of Goshen, which was in the eastern part of lower Egypt near the old city of Ramses. It was a land that was rich and well watered by springs and the Nile, known to overflow its banks yearly and leave a rich soil deposit. Here, they dwelt very securely and in prosperity until the next Pharaoh, believed to be Ramses II, became intimidated by the prosperity of the Hebrews. Pharaoh’s fear caused him to oppress the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and in time brought them into slavery. Through their own choice, the Hebrews failed to fulfill the promise of God, that they would be given a “promised land” by the covenant God had made with Abraham. Only under the oppression of slavery, bondage and death did Israel’s children finally cry out to their God for deliverance. This brought forth the next great move of God, who brought forth Moses, both the deliverer of the Israelites and the giver of the law, which becomes the next Dispensation.
Dispensation of Law
The dispensation of Law is one of the best known administrations of the Lord because of the many miracles that God produced for both Israel and the entire world. It was a time of the giving of the “10 Commandments”, which most of the entire world places its laws upon. It was a time for the Exodus of the Hebrews into the “Promised Land” which led to the momentous event of the parting of the Red Sea. It takes us through the time of the slaying of Goliath by a young shepherd boy named David who became a mighty king and whose son, Solomon, became the richest and wisest man in the world. It was a time of both triumph and tragedy for Israel. From the heights of the great kingdom of Solomon to the depths of despair under Babylonian captivity, Israel seemed to shuttle back and forth from embracing God as their Lord and at other times of disgracing Him with idolatry, divination, wickedness, deceit, and all evil things. The end of this dispensation came to a climax, when Israel was offered to accept the Messiah as Jesus Christ whom she did not recognize. Mighty God, because of foreknowledge, knew this was going to happen. He set into motion plan B, which transferred the mantle of His “Chosen” to others known as the Gentiles (Eph 3:6), to become ambassadors to spread the good news, known as the Gospel, “unto the ends of the earth”. In this respect, not only was Israel given an opportunity to accept the Messiah forevermore, but those who were known as the Gentiles were now afforded the opportunity of God’s most incredible promise, that of eternal life in Him, whether it be in heaven, Paradise, the Millennial Kingdom or the New Jerusalem. In this way, the whole world could be saved because of the indescribable mercy and love of God which became available through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. During the dispensation of Law, God has also given us the major and minor prophets who would reveal His plan to the whole world. Let us look at the promise and the vision that God has given to us all and see all the symbolism and references that are provided to show the coming of the Messiah was indeed fulfilled almost 2,000 years ago and will be fulfilled again in the last day.
The dispensation of Law began a little over 1,718 years B.C. It began the day that the Israelites left Egypt during the “Exodus” and ended the exact moment that the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom when Christ Jesus gave up His Spirit in death by the Cross. This was the sign to the Israelites that the Temple services were no longer capable of atoning for man’s sin. The moment the veil was torn in two, the atonement offered by Christ by His death on the Cross became the only manner that one could receive eternal redemption. Yet, about 1,718 years B.C., the Hebrew’s needed redemption from the slavery and bondage they were experiencing through Pharaoh in Egypt. In order to accomplish this, God chose a man who was, in many ways, as much an Egyptian as he was a Hebrew. Moses was born a Hebrew, but in order to be spared the death of Pharaoh’s edict that all male children born to the Israelites be killed, Moses’ mother placed him in the Nile in a little boat. Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and raised him until the day came when Moses killed an Egyptian in retaliation for him beating a Hebrew. At that point Moses had to flee from the penalty of death Pharaoh had issued against him. It was not until forty years later when God called Moses from the famous “burning bush” at Mt. Horeb in the land of Midian (which is identified today as Saudi Arabia as given in Ex. 2:15) and gave him orders to deliver His people from Egypt. God gave Moses a helper, Aaron, and they went to order Pharaoh by the word of the Lord, “Let my people go!”. After 9 plagues, Pharaoh would still not let the Hebrews depart after God ruined the Egyptians’ crops with hail and locusts, killed their cattle with disease, inflicted people with boils, brought on plagues (of frogs, flies, lice and vermin), brought on famine, pestilence, darkness and the Nile River which was turned to blood. The tenth plague was the last warning God issued to Pharaoh whereby the first born males of each family would be killed. God instructed Moses to tell his people that a death angel would “pass over” each household and that for his people to be spared, they would have to employ a special provision to be called the Lord’s Passover. God commanded Moses to tell the people that on the 10th day of the first month of the year, the 10th of Aviv, each household (comprising 10-20 family members) had to take a male lamb, one year old (mature but young), without spot or blemish. The household was to keep and inspect the lamb for four days to make sure it was perfect. So was the case with Jesus as he came to make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9,
Jesus, as a type of Passover lamb, would be inspected and looked at for four days as given in Luke 20: 20,
For four days, Jesus went to the Temple to teach and while doing so was being clandestinely watched while 1,718 years earlier, Moses and his assistants were instructing the Israelites about the Passover supper as each family member was inspecting their lamb for fault. According to Deuteronomy 15:21, only that which is perfect can make atonement. Jesus the Messiah presented Himself to Israel in public ministry for about three years and showed Himself perfect in heart and deed toward the Father and all mankind. Then 1,718 years ago at about 3:00 P.M. our time, the head of the household would take his lamb in the doorway of his house and slay it. He would collect the blood and apply it to the lintel (headpost) and to each sidepost around the door with a weed known as hyssop. This specific action took place three hours before the start of Passover, which would begin the next day, the 14th of Aviv at 6:00 P.M. This was the promise and assurance that the death angel would “pass over” and spare the first born sons of each family who performed this action. It is interesting to note that a fair amount of faith would have to be exercised by the household to believe that such a procedure would prevent the death of a precious member of the household. The fact of the matter is that they did not have a great amount of time to doubt the word of God as we do today, for if they did, their first born boy would have died, period. It is also interesting to note that certain non-Christian religions, such as Hinduism, also apply blood over the headpost and doorposts of a house that is going to be lived in by a Hindi family. This is done as a prevention against evil spirits from encroaching on the household of the family. In essence, it is a copy of the command given to Moses from the Levitical law and was adopted by the Hindus around 500 B.C. as their religion began to evolve. Sadly, the applying of the blood through their god Vishnu rededicates, reaffirms and continues to seal the very spirits (evil) that continue to blind the Hindu to believe in the lie of this false religion. This is evidenced by their belief in reincarnation
(the soul inhabits successive human bodies) or transmigration (the soul inhabits succesivesuccessive bodies-human, animal, even plants or inanimate objects). It is in this exact manner how demons operate; angelic beings of Satan that take possession of individuals and animals. Also, we find many religions throughout the world in both ancient and present times that practice the ritual of sacrifice that were originally initiated by Judaism. However, Judaism specifically forbids the sacrifice of humans which satanically inspired religions aspire for. Ever so sad is the ultimate sacrifice that Satanic worship desires; the sacrifice of a baby for its characteristics of being pristine, innocent and undefiled.
However, there were specific laws that had to be followed regarding the Passover lamb. First, the sacrificed lamb’s legs could not be broken. So was it with Jesus. The Roman soldiers did not break the legs of Jesus as they did the legs of the other two crucified men (John 19:36). Secondly, the lamb had to be roasted by fire and two pieces of wood were used to support the lamb on the skewer. One piece went through the mouth of the lamb and passed out through rear. The second piece was affixed perpendicular to the first piece around the ribcage of the lamb to keep it open during the roasting of the lamb. There is no doubt that this is a representation of the cross that Jesus was crucified upon. Lastly, it was the blood of the lamb that redeemed the first born of God’s wrath. In subsequent Passover’s and Seder’s (the Jewish traditional dinner that commemorates Passover), the slaying of the lamb is used to confer the sins of all the people upon the lamb so that they could be forgiven of all unrightousness. For this very reason, Jesus is called the lamb of God, because He in effect became the Passover lamb for us all. It is His blood that forgives and cleanses all men of sin and unrighteousness to those who believe.
As soon as it became the eve of the new day, the 14th of Aviv, the Israelites in Egypt ate the Passover meal. In reconstructing the probable chronology of events that took place in the Exodus to depart from Egypt, since Exodus 12:29 states the first born were struck dead at midnight and Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron at night, it appears the Israelites began to assemble for their journey that early morning. The first day of travel took place on the 15th and began at Ramses, in the land of Goshen. From there they traveled to the town of Succoth, located about 30 miles away for the purpose of collecting the bones of Joseph so he could buried in Hebron, the town of his forefathers. They continued into Etham in the Sinai Peninsula where they set up camp for the night. That following morning (the 2nd day) they continued on to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon and camped between Migol and the sea. The following day (3rd day) around the fourth watch (3:00 to 6:00 A.M.) they journeyed from there to the place where God performed the great miracle of dividing the sea as given in Exodus 14: 2 1,22.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east all night, and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided And the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and their left. The bottom of the Red Sea was actually made dry. At the place where Israel crossed it was about 12 miles wide, and from 75 to 100 ft. deep. The walls of the channel was made to thicken, congeal or freeze as the Hebrew suggests.
As the Israelites were crossing the sea, Pharaoh came after them with a multitude of his men. At daybreak, the Lord commanded Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea so that the waters would drown the Egyptians, thereby legally releasing the Israelites from the slave ownership of Pharaoh, who himself was killed by drowning. In this way, God delivered the Israelites from the hands of their adversaries three days after the Passover in the same way God has delivered mankind through the wages of sin by the resurrection of Jesus three days after His crucifixion.
Easter and the Passover
Many of the early Christians were Jewish. They celebrated the resurrection of Jesus at Passover time and called it Pascha. Later it was mistranslated to Easter. They continued to celebrate the resurrection in this manner during the time of the first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem, who were of Jewish descent. The bishops sent out Paschal epistles (letters) every year to notify the Christians when Pascha would fall according to the Jewish lunar-solar calendar (i.e. the 14th day of Aviv). By A.D. 325, however, paganism and anti-Jewish sentiment invaded the Church. From this comes the rabbit and Easter eggs, which was and still is a pagan celebration of fertility. Emperor Constantine, who presided over the Council at Nicaea, prohibited Christians from continuing to celebrate the resurrection at exactly the same time of the Jewish Passover. However, to this day both holidays are celebrated at approximately the same time, both being based on the lunar calendar.6
Let us examine the relationship of the Passover meal Jesus held with His disciples the day of His crucifixion. Jesus instructed His disciples to go into Jerusalem and secure the room and Passover meal elements the day of the 13th of Aviv. Due to the fact that it has been reported that up to 1.5 to 2.5 million pilgrims would come to Jerusalem to take part in the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, it is likely the priests would began sacrificing the lambs well before Passover Day. This would have to be if 100,000 to 200,000 lambs were sacrificed for the entire Passover. Actually, this is a conservative estimate calculated at one lamb per 10-20 individuals per household(s) at an average of 2 million pilgrims who would attend the feast. It is estimated that one lamb could satisfy the needs of 10-20 people, so if needed, multiple households were served to eliminate waste. During the Temple days of Passover, only the priests could sacrifice the lambs. For this reason, during Jesus’ time you could bring in your own lamb to be sacrificed by the priests or you could purchase an “approved” lamb from the Temple authorities. In the same way, it is customary for 20th century Jews to purchase koshered foods from “approved” manufacturers. As the disciples obtained their Passover “lamb”, they prepared and ate the Passover in the evening of the next day, which would be the beginning of the 14th, the day of Passover. Later that evening (after twilight), Jesus and His disciples took part in what is most commonly known as the “Last Supper”. He and the disciples ate the unleavened bread which Jesus referred to as His Body. As the children of Israel ate the Passover lamb with bitter herbs (relating to their hardship and bitter experience under bondage in Egypt), they were instructed by God to remove all leaven from their household and only eat unleavened bread a full seven days afterward, which is commemorated in a feast called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leaven in the Bible is a reference to sin. The Hebrew word for leaven, “Chometz” means to make “bitter” or “sour”. It is the nature of sin to make people bitter and sour. Also, as the leaven causes the bread to rise, so too does the sin of pride cause people to become puffed up in themselves. This affliction of sin is the most dangerous because pride causes a person to exalt himself above all others and in the worst of cases, the person exalts himself above God. During communion, unleavened bread such as a cracker is often served, which in effect is bread without leavening. Today, such a cracker called “matzo” and is included in the Passover meal known to the Jewish community as the Seder, which in Hebrew means “order of service”. It looks the same as a typical saltine, except that it is more brown because it is baked a little longer. It is said that the “matzo” is a picture of the sinless Jesus, as the perforations in the “matzo” identify with the spear wound that He received, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10, The browning of the cracker identifies with the scourging, which is prophesied in Isaiah 53: 5.
There is a dish that was introduced into the Seder after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. known as the unity. We should recall that the temple services were no longer valid the moment the veil was torn from top to bottom immediately upon the death of Jesus. Nonetheless, the symbolism inferred by this dish is most incredible. In the beginning of the Passover meal or Seder, three wafers of unleavened bread or “matzo” are brought out on a plate. They are each separated by white cloth. Near the beginning of the service, the leader of the service, usually the head of the household, takes out the middle wafer and breaks it in half. He puts one of the halves back into the middle of the unity and the other he wraps with a white napkin and places it into a white silk bag. While the children cover their eyes, he hides or “buries” the middle piece in the silk bag under a pillow or the tablecloth. This special piece of “matzo” is called the aphikomen, which means “that which comes last”. After the entire service is completed, the children are set out to find the missing aphikomen. Once it is found, it is returned to the head of the feast and the one who found it receives a reward. The host unwraps the aphikomen and distributes pieces of it to all who took part in the Seder whereupon it is eaten in reverence. We see then that the three pieces of matzo contain a wealth of truth that has been hidden from the Jewish community to this day. That truth of the unity of the eternal God is expressed in the shemah, the most widely spoken utterance of faith in all of Judaism, found in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” In the original Hebrew, the word for “one” is echad, meaning a composite oneness, rather than the absolute number “one”. This same word appears in Genesis 2:24 to signify that Adam and Eve became “one flesh” as a marriage is construed to mean in the eyes of the Lord.7 The three pieces of “matzo” therefore depicts the Trinity of God. The top piece represents the Almighty Jehovah, the middle piece, Jesus and the bottom piece the Holy Spirit. The piece representing Jesus is taken out in the beginning of the Seder to represent the foreordained first advent of Jesus as Messiah whereupon its breaking is indicative of His body being “broken” relative to His death by crucifixion. Looking to the time when Israel would be left without an altar and sacrifice from the time the Temple would be destroyed in 70 A.D., Jesus used the aphikomen (after dish) for the first time to represent not only the Passover lamb, but His own body which would be broken that very day!’8
The hiding of the aphikomen is best seen to portray the burial of Jesus. Immediately before the third cup of wine is drunk, coincidentally known as the cup of redemption, the aphikomen is returned to the host of the Seder and “resurrected” if you will. It is shown to all and then broken for all to eat in reverence. A double meaning may be attributed to the aphikomen in that the hidden “matzo” could describe the blindness that has come over the Chosen of God, which is expressed in John 12: 37-41, It should be pointed out that Orthodox Judaism today does not believe in Jesus either as the Son of God or in some cases that He even existed. For this reason, only the Old Testament Bible is used in most of orthodox Judaism and is also the reason the birth of Christ is not recognized (Hanukkah taking its place). Because of what Isaiah foresaw and prophesied, he became known as a Christian Jew, a believer in Jesus otherwise identified today as a Messianic Jew.
The other half of the aphikomen that is left remaining may also be a representation of the dispensation of the Church or Grace, which will be discussed at length in the following chapter. Suffice it to say that the middle “matzo” left in the unity is the representation of Christ available to all, the Jew as well as the Gentile during this dispensation of Grace. This is best described in the scripture given by Paul in Romans 11:25. Again, the Messianic Jew would represent this remnant in Christ.
In Christianity, part of the communion involves the drinking of wine that represents the blood of Jesus. The gospel accounts of the Last Supper mention only two of the four cups of wine that constitute a present day Seder-the first and third. According to early Jewish tradition, these two were the most important. In the Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples, two standard sized cups of wine would have been prepared-for the service. It was real-wine mixed-with-heated water, portraying the blood of the Passover lamb as given in Mishnah (Pesahim 7:13). The first cup was special because it consecrated the entire Passover service that followed. The Mishnah states that the third cup is the most significant of all. The third cup had two names: the “cup of blessing” because it came after the blessing or grace after the meal and the “cup of redemption” because it represented the blood of the Passover lamb which took on the sins of the people. It was this cup that Jesus said...
Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”9 Most certainly it is!
In the traditional Seder, the second cup of wine is raised in a toast of thanksgiving to the goodness of God. As the cup is put down, the entire group recites Psalm 113 and 114, known as the Hallel, from whence we get our word Hallelujah, which literally means “praise”. For this reason, this second cup of wine is appropriately called the “cup of praise”. The last cup, or fourth cup, which is not reported to have been drunken by Jesus and the disciples, is either called the “cup of acceptance” or the “cup of Elijah”. Both terms are appropriate. As the cup of acceptance, it signifies what the Lord will accomplish as given in Exodus 6:7, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God”. In The New Union Haggadah, by H. Bronstein, is noted that the fourth cup commemorates: “The redemption is not yet complete. The Fourth Cup recalls us to our covenant with the Eternal One, to the tasks that still await us as a people called to the service of God, to a great purpose for which the people of Israel live.”10 Here, we see an admission by a learned and orthodox Jew that the work that God called Israel to do is not complete nor has the redemption been fulfilled. Only to those who accept Christ as their Passover lamb is redemption made complete.
The cup of Elijah is also a prophetic symbol that awaits the arrival of Elijah who will herald and proclaim the advent of the Messiah during the period of Tribulation (see Rev. 11: 3-12), which fulfills the last week of Daniel’s 70th week vision which is explained in the chapter, the Rebirth of Israel.
The Giving of the Law (and its relationship to Pentecost)
As the Israelites were delivered from Pharaoh, they traveled forty seven days until they reached Mt. Sinai, the mountain of God. During this time, God led the Israelites through the Sinai desert providing for them in all regards. When they were thirsty, He provided water from springs, wells and even rocks. Interestingly biblical archeologist Ron Wyatt who claims to have found the true route of Exodus discovered both the springs of water at Elim and the rock Massah-Meribah which Moses struck and produced water (for more information, see AmazingEvidence.org). When they were hungry, He provided quails for meat and bread out of heaven called manna. In Exodus 16:31, manna is described as being like coriander seed; white, small, round, hard and easily melted. Only a days supply was provided in just the right amount needed for each person except the day before the Sabbath. In this instance, twice the amount was given so that the Israelites would not have to labor on the Sabbath day. Yet, Israel broke this commandment as she had other future Sabbaths. We will see later that these were serious infractions in the eyes of God which Israel would have to pay dearly for in the future. This was the first time the Lord had asked Moses regarding His people, “How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28), indicating God’s frustration with His people.
When the Israelites reached reached Mt. Sinai, God instructed the people to prepare and purify themselves before the giving of the Law to Moses, otherwise known as the Mosaic law or Torah (Torah means law in Hebrew) for a total of three days. The Lord told Moses that He would visit the Israelites during the giving of the law. This would be the first time in the history of the world that the Lord would visit the house of Israel in the physical realm. When the third day arrived, there was thunder and lightening as a thick cloud came upon Mt. Sinai. Then a exceedingly loud trumpet sounded which caused the Israelites to tremble with fear. As Moses brought the people forth, the Lord descended on Mt. Sinai with fire and smoke and the ground shook violently. The Lord then gave the 10 commandments, which are given here for review.
The Mosaic Law was given exactly 50 days after the departure from Egypt. During the giving of the Law, all the Israelites agreed to obey the laws which God had given to Moses. We should be aware that the Lord God gave Moses many more laws than just the ten most people are familiar with. In fact, a total of 613 laws were given and can be viewed in Exodus 21:1 thru 23:33 which total a 100 scriptures pertaining to the additional laws and penalties besides the 10 commandments that we are most familiar with. After a holy convocation was held with all the Israelites, Moses was called to go up to Mt. Sinai and dwell with God for the sixth time. On the seventh day, The Lord called Moses and he was taken in by the cloud of God for an additional forty days and nights. During this time, Moses was given the specific instructions and rules regarding the building of the Tabernacle, which would be the place of worship for the Israelis while they were traveling in the desert until the day the Temple would be constructed. At the end of forty days and nights, God inscribed the 10 commandments on tablets of stone which would forever more be kept in the Ark of the Covenant and form the fundamental principles of law for most nations including our own and helped establish the constitution of the Jewish nation.
While Moses was with God during the forty days and nights, the Israelites already corrupted themselves and sinned against God by lying to Him about following the 10 commandments by breaking the first two. First, they made an idol of a golden calf in the likeness of the Egyptian god named Apis. Secondly, they worshipped the golden calf. This would be the the first of four times God wanted to destroy Israel because of its apostasy. Because of this and the wanton immoral acts that were being committed by the Israelites, God commanded the sons of Levi to slay 3,000 wicked men who were involved with the most grievous sins. From that time on, Moses led his people into the wilderness for a total of forty years.
When we consider the significance and culmination of events that took place in the 50 days from the time of coming up out of the Red Sea to the giving of the Torah, it truly is a dispensation that not only saved the children of Jacob (Israel) from the bondages of slavery, but it brought an entire nation forth that would forever change the history of the world. As the children of Israel lost all hope when they were cornered at the Red Sea by the murderous intents of Pharaoh and his forces, God opened a way of escape for them in the midst of peril. A recent Christian song expresses the same message, that God will make a way when there seems to be no way. Not only was it true over 2,500 years ago for the Israelites, but it is true as well today. There can be no question that it took great faith for all Israel to go into the channel of the sea carved by a God they were not all that familiar with. Yet, what a redemption took place as all the Israelites climbed onto the banks of the other side and saw Pharaoh and his troops smitten by drowning! What a paradoxical setting took place 1,750 years later when the people of God, whom He had saved from annihilation by Pharaoh, decided to annihilate God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, by crucifixion.
As Jesus entered the ministry when He was 30 years of age, the age all Jewish men were allowed to become rabbis. At that time, He went into the synagogue and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him where from He read...
God gave Israel the opportunity to receive their King, but rejected Him. From this, Plan B was instituted by God which in effect became the best plan for the whole world. As Messiah lay in the grave for three days, on the 18th of Aviv He came up alive, never to die again. On the day Jesus was resurrected, the first day of the week (our Sunday), the day of the Firstfruits of the Barley Harvest began. In this Feast, God instructed all Israel that the first fruits of its barely harvest be offered to Him. In the same way, Jesus was the Firstfruit of man, being able to fulfill that which Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthian church (I Cor 15:22,23) that as in Adam all die to sin, so in Christ shall all be made alive. So as God gave this world an opportunity to be redeemed and delivered from sin by enacting the resurrection of this world’s Savior, so too did Jehovah offer redemption and deliverance for the Hebrews from the hands of Pharaoh. The legal basis of this was provided by the death of Pharaoh, who had legal ownership of all slaves in Egypt. When the owner of a slave died, he no longer had title to ownership. In the same way, as we die to become new creatures in Christ, being born again, no longer are we slaves to Satan who holds claims to us by the wages of our sins. And as God proved Himself by providing and leading the Israelites throughout the desert for forty days and nights after crossing the Red Sea unto Mt. Sinai, so too did Jesus present Himself alive by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). And as God commanded the Israelites to purify themselves for three days before the giving of the Law and His appearance, so too did Jesus instruct His disciples to remain in Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4,5). As Jesus said these things, so too did Moses tell the Israelites to be ready on the third day, for the Lord would come down in the sight of all the people. As the third day came, the Lord came upon the Israelites and delivered the Law as His presence was manifest in an awesome way. So too, about 1,718 years ago did the fire and presence of God come upon the disciples in a mighty way by way of the Holy Spirit.
On that day, three thousand souls were added to them, being baptized in the Holy Spirit as opposed to the 3,000 that were slain because of their evil ways. To the other Israelites, what God had shown on the mountain (fire, wind, and trumpet) by way of His glory and power during the giving of the Law would now be observed upon the believers in Christ Jesus through the giving of the Holy Spirit, the power from on high that gives believers the ability to walk in holiness.
From Mt. Sinai On
For the next 1,112 years, the Israelites developed themselves into a people and eventually a nation that we know today as Israel. During that time, God developed elaborate and specific guidelines of how Israel would worship the Lord. This was specifically expressed in the book of Leviticus, one of the books composing the Pentateuch (first five books) of the Old Testament written by Moses about 1,686 B.C. This book developed the Levitical priesthood that would be responsible for helping God’s people fulfill their call to be a holy people. It involved the building of the first tabernacle, which would be the forerunner to the Temple in Jerusalem.
The next book in the Bible is known as Numbers because of the two census that were taken of the tribes of Israel while they were out in the desert. The book is also believed to be authored by Moses and would be more apt to be known by its Hebrew title Bemidbar, meaning “in the wilderness” as the book accounts for 38 out of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. From the point of Israel’s encampment at Mount Sinai, the book of Numbers gives an account of the journey to the east side of the Dead Sea, which today is eastern Jordan. Throughout this journey, God never ceases to provide for His people, albeit their murmuring, rebellion and lack of trust in Him. For nearly four decades we read that God provides for them in the way of manna, water, quails and direction; by the pillar of a cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
The fifth book of Moses, titled Deuteronomy, completes the Pentateuch, written about 1,645 B.C. In it, Moses tries to summarize the essence of Israel’s religion, not as a number of laws that would only impart a robotic coldness and harshness to the people, but a manifestation of love that would forever guide the people of Israel to the call God had expected of them. Through this book, He admonishes His people to develop a genuine love that would produce such a reverence and respect for Him that they would naturally be concerned with obeying the divine instructions to holy living. Although the English title comes from the Greek title Deuteronomion, meaning “Second Law”, it actually is an adaptation and expansion of the original law given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Following the 40 year period of journeying through the wilderness, the Israelites are now east of the Jordan River in the land of Moab in what is today modern Jordan. Before the death of Moses, he elects his most capable captain, Joshua, to succeed him after which the next book in the Bible is named. This book forms the first of the twelve historical books of the Old Testament, from Joshua to Esther. It primarily accounts for the period of Joshua’s leadership of Israel through three major military campaigns involving more than thirty enemy armies. One of the greatest miracles that God performs during this time was the conquering of Jericho. Not only was the miracle a proof of the power and glory of God, but it also was meant to show His never ending involvement in the welfare of His people. Jericho is an example of the Lord’s might, with God showing His people that victory comes through faith in Him and obedience to His word, rather than through human military might. Jericho was one of the oldest cities in the Holy Land and occupied by an alien tribe. God stated that He would give the city to Joshua by following His instructions. Joshua was told to surround the city with men of war for 6 days while 7 priests with 7 rams horns would go around the city with the Ark of the Covenant. On the 7th day, they were to walk around the city 7 times and upon the last trip around, they were to blow a long blast on the rains horn and the people were to shout with a great shout, “and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:5). And so when Joshua and his fellow countrymen did this, the wall surrounding Jericho fell down flat and Jericho was given to the Israelites, just as God had promised. This is but one example of the blessings that God will provide to those who simply obey Him. As a point of interest, recent archeological investigation has confirmed the original site of Jericho to exist during Joshua’s time. Archeologists have also determined that the wall sunounding Jericho collapsed at the same time of Joshua in what they believed was an intense earthquake that struck the site.
Before Joshua died, he warned his people against idolatry. Yet, at the time of his death, the Israelites fell into great apostasy and oppression from enemy tribes such as the Mesopotamians, Moabites (area of Jordan), Philistines (on the coast of modern day Israel), Canaanites (central Israel west of the Dead Sea) Midianites (Saudia Arabia) and Ammonites (southern Syria). After Joshua died, the book of Judges looks at 15 rather nondescript individuals that were divinely called to repulse the enemies of Israel covering a period of approximately 440 years until approximately 1,126 B.C. The book of Judges actually is a record of Israel’s failure during the rule of the judges, which is shown in the weakness of Samson, known to be the strongest man that ever lived; Although known for such feats as defeating a lion barehanded, slaying 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass, tearing away the gate of the city with 2 posts and a bar, breaking 7 green cords of braided rope, and other incredible feats; Samson’s weakness was in women. In this weakness, he told Delilah that he received his incredible strength from his long hair. Knowing his weakness, Delilah proceeded to cut Samson’s hair while he was asleep. She used this information to blackmail him so he would be delivered to the Philistines. It was not his hair that gave Samson his incredible strength but the vow of a Nazerite (which included the vow never to cut ones hair) that he had made with God. Thankfully, after Samson repented and asked for forgiveness of his sin, he renewed his Nazarite vow to God who then restored his strength. Samson died while slaying 3,000 Philistines, accomplished by pulling down the great pillars of a building being used in a religious festival honoring Dagon (means little fish), the national god of the Philistines.
The two Books of Samuel describe the transition of leadership from the judges to kings. It was apparent that the judges were not the answer to Israel’s needs. The moral failure under the priesthood of Eli, the moral failure of the judges as exhibited by Samson and the overall lack of leadership and direction of Israel brought its people to desire a king to head their government. Samuel, being the last judge and first prophet, was instrumental in installing the first king chosen by God whose name was Saul. Yet, even Saul succumbed in his position by failing to keep the commandments of the Lord. Because of this, the Lord instructed Samuel to anoint David when he was a young boy to be the next king. David proved to be a valiant man as was shown by his conquest over Goliath, the Philistine giant who David slew with three stones from his slingshot. The importance of this event is to show that God can choose any person He wishes to empower and that size, ability and popularity are not the characteristics which the Almighty relies upon. Generally, it is usually based on three criteria; 1.) the love that the individual has for the Lord 2.) The heart condition of the individual in following His holiness, commandments and obedience. 3.) How yielded of a vessel that the person can be to God. Throughout his life, David was a man after God’s own heart. This is not to say David was perfect, far from it, for he committed both adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. Because of his failure to uphold the commandments, God made David pay dearly for these sins on the basis of the Dispensation of the law. Yet, David will inherit the rule of Israel when Christ returns to set up the Millennial Kingdom. This shows that the most important thing to God is our heart relationship to Him. If we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, He will be quick to forgive us for our sins and transgressions. Today, this is all the more true for there is no sin greater nor powerful than the atoning power and strength of Christ Jesus’ blood that He shed for us all.
The second book of Samuel records the highlights of David’s reign, which began in the territory of Judah and eventually covers the entire nation of Israel. It is now about 1,000 years B.C. and a period of government rule by the kings. King David’s son, Solomon, is successor to his throne around 971 B.C. and under Solomon’s leadership, Israel rises to the peak of her size and glory. One of Solomon’s greatest achievements was the building of the beautiful and vast temple on Mt. Moriah, the mountain were the first animal sacrifice took place when Abraham was spared the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, by God and in place of his life, substituted the life of a goat. Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam, who lost the northern part of the kingdom to his brother Jeroboam from whence get the two kingdoms known as Israel, in the north, and Judah, in the south. It was during this time that Elijah the prophet lived and in a confrontation against King Ahab, brought down fire from heaven in a display to prove Jehovah was the true God against Baal, an idol. At this time, most of the Israelites were worshipping Baal, the sun-god of the Canaanites, under the submission of King Ahab’s evil wife, Queen Jezebel. Elijah is best remembered as being Raptured into heaven and is prophesied to come back as one of the two witnesses during the Tribulation.
The first and second books of Chronicles covers the same period of Jewish history described in the books of Second Samuel, First Kings and Second Kings. This time period extends from approximately 1,000 B.C. to 600 B.C. While II Samuel through II Kings gives a political history of Israel and Judah, I Chronicles presents a religious history of the Davidic dynasty of Judah. II Chronicles continues in the same vein but virtually ignores the northern kingdom of Israel because of its worship to Baal and refusal to acknowledge the Temple in Jerusalem. Although Chronicles focuses on godly kings such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah, it was from around 750 to 606 B.C. that Israel and Judah fell to great apostasy. Yet God, out of His incredible mercy and love, responded by sending numerous prophets to warn both kingdoms that they should repent and turn from their wicked ways or be doomed. Both the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea and Micah all prophesied at length that great tragedy what would befall both kingdoms if they would not turn back to God. An excerpt from the prophet Hosea 4 is given to the right to validate the apostasy that occurred with the Israelites.
Yet, its people did not listen and heed the warning of the prophets. Its end was made thereof by the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians between 722-721 B.C. and finally Judah falling to the Chaldeans in 606 B.C., which led both Israel and Judah into captivity under Babylon rule by Nebuchadnezzar for a total of 70 years to fulfill the Sabbath Rest of the Land. Additionally, the prophets also predicted the first coming of Jesus Christ, to Israel.
This fairly well summarizes the basic history of the Jews with the exception of the prophets, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the return from Babylonian exile, which will be discussed in length in the following section. The following section is an incredibly rich period, not only for Israel but for the entire world since it unfolds God’s plan for all mankind until the end of the time known as the Millennium. Over 28% of the Old Testament covers Bible prophecy which is largely represented by the major and minor prophets, all found in the latter portions of the Old Testament. As such, they also conclude the writings found in the Old Testament. After the prophetic ministries of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi, the remaining period of approximately 400 years is best known as the period of the Maccabbeans, which are considered extra-biblical. This time period sets the stage for the Median-Persian Empire to arise and allows Israel to retun to their homeland, rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Around 300 B.C., the Grecian Empire under Alexander the Great conquered all of Israel until the Roman Empire came to full power in 31 B.C. when the forces of Octavian crushed the fleet and army of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. This gave incredible validity to the prophet Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchnezzar’s dream of the metallic man wherein the Roman Empire was symbolized by the legs of iron, which made the Israelites feel very much trampled upon by the rule of Rome over Israel.
Under Solomon, the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah enjoyed the peak of their size and glory. As so often is the case with cultures that reach the peak of their prosperity; decadence, decay and social deterioration take place to destroy the existence of that culture. Israel was no exception in this regard. As early as 720 B.C., Isaiah began warning the kingdom of Judah against wickedness, apostasy and the worship of false gods such as Baal. Isaiah prophesied to King Hezekiah that the time would come when all in the Temple would be carried away to Babylon (Isaiah 39). In addition to prophesying the more recent events that would befall Judah, Isaiah also prophesied the coming of the first advent of Christ, the Tribulation and the Millennium. Isaiah was slain by being cut in two by Manasseh, the wicked son of Hezekdah, who reigned from 696-642 B.C. Just based on this heinous act, It is evident Judah was in a very wicked state of affairs.
Approximately a century after Isaiah first began warning the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, Habakkuk and Micah (prophets found in the Old Testament) all came on the scene to once again warn Judah about its impending exile to Babylon. Although a short period of revival was seen under the rule of Josiah from 640-609 B.C., after his death in 609 B.C., the kingdom of Judah again quickly fell into total wickedness and apostasy. As one reads the book of Jeremiah, he or she cannot help being overwhelmed at the long-suffering nature of God. Time and again through His watchman and prophets, God warns His people about coming judgments in hopes they will turn from their evil ways. Given here is a final warning to the sons of Israel who are on the brink of destruction.....
Yet, those from Judah would not heed to the warnings of the prophets such as Jeremiah. When it became evident that the people were not going to repent, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah these words…..
God kept His very word, for on 606 B.C., the Chaldeans under King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon began their invasion of Judah. They finally reached Jerusalem on 586 B.C. and utterly destroyed it. Many Judaens were mercilessly slain by the Babylonians. They demolished the Temple during the reign of King Zedekiah who was able to escape in a rather dramatic fashion “by way of the gate between two walls” and exiting at the king’s garden as given in II Kings 25. This tunnel is 1-1/2 miles long and runs underneath the entire Temple mount. It has recently been discovered in Temple excavations and research confirms this to be the tunnel mentioned in both the book of Kings and Jeremiah. Although he was able to avoid detection as he exited, he was finally caught in the plains of Jericho. From there he was taken captive to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and saw his sons slain before his eyes. After seeing this most horrific act, Nebuchadnezzar had his eyes gouged out. Later, he was brought to prison where he died. As for the people, a total of 4,600 of those in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:30) where taken to Babylon and an undetermined number were left to take care of the land as husbandman (Jer. 52:16). Also, the Temple riches were taken away to Babylon. Although the anger of the Lord was seemingly implacable, He still showed his mercy to His people by having Jeremiah prophesy that whoever would voluntarily give themselves over to the Chaldeans would live (Jer. 21:9).
One probably wonders why the Old Testament emphasizes and concentrates on this rather short period of Israeli history. Certainly this was a very sad time for God’s chosen as the book of Lamentations (written by the prophet Jeremiah) so expresses. But was it any worse than, let us say, Israel’s bondage to slavery while in Egypt, or the time of the flood during Noah, or the Roman occupation during the time of Jesus? Probably two points make this period significant. First, it had to be a severe blow to God to see His people reject Him as their Lord. After all, He had saved them against the bondage of slavery, delivered them from the murderous hands of Pharaoh, provided for them with food and water while in the desert and give them direction by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. It was God who wanted to give them the land of milk and honey that He promised the forefathers of Israel. Yet, the Israelites continuously rejected Him by leaving Him and serving other Gods. To add insult to injury, they committed evil and wicked deeds that were an abomination to Him. Israel’s rejection of God can be best equated to the relationship a father has to his earthly family, where in this case, the children reject their father and go to another, a false one. How it must have pained God to see His children rejecting and running away from Him. What hurt and sadness this must inflict upon a loving father who has nothing but the best in store for his children.
Secondly, we find that the prophets foretell God’s plan for Israel. In them, it has been possible to inter-relate all the prophetic events not only applicable for Israel, but see with historical perspective how they will effect the entire world to this day we live in. In them, we can see the course of events our own future will invariably take us.
The following chapters in this book will offer you evidence and prophetic information that not only substantiates the Word of God but will also give you a view and understanding in how close we are to the fulfillment of the Age of Grace.