VOL.10 NO. 2 © 2001
IN THIS ISSUE:
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
THE SEAT OF MOSES
REBEL WITH A CAUSE
FORGIVENESS A SALVATIONAL ISSUE
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
OCTOBER 3 THRU 10,2001
by Mark Carr
We urge all of you to join us for eight days of worship and fellowship. This year there are two beautiful sites to pick from. Arrangements have been made to hold the Feast of Tabernacles at Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, TN and Lake Worth, Florida.
For those who choose Lake Worth, FL you will have a wonderful time with Neville Gilbert and the Florida Church. For more information, call Neville at (561) 585-4580 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Those who come to Crossville, TN will be in for a huge surprise. This will be the most beautiful site we have ever gathered to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles since we hosted our first independent Feast in 1988. The accommodations are nice and the site is simply beautiful. We have reserved this 1,720-acre State Park that is situated on the Cumberland Plateau.
The atmosphere on the Cumberland Plateau with it's beautiful lake, mountain timber, paddle boats, canoes, row boats, play grounds, tennis courts, a baseball field, volley ball, badminton nets, basketball court, picnic areas and meeting rooms will allow us to capture the spiritual nature of "tabernacling" in a wilderness setting without the distractions and negative influences of a tourist location.
This is really a Biblical setting to worship God in. We look forward to eight days of worship, with singing, wonderful sermons, great Bible studies and fellowship with old friends and& lots of new ones. Please make your reservations today! If you could read the letters we have received from those planning to attend, and hear the phone calls, there is no way you would miss this. We have an opportunity this year that most people never get. We probably won't have a better Feast until Jesus returns. For more information check our internet site at www.JerusalemSentinel.com there are many pictures and cabin descriptions there.
If you have not yet made your reservation, you must contact us immediately at (1-865-922-5545) unless you are planning to camp. Almost all cabins are rented and we must release the remaining ones to the public. If you want to be put on a cancellation list for the rented cabins, contact us today!
Cumberland Mountain Park has a combined total of 147 tent and RV campsites with hookups provided. Picnic tables, grills and a bathhouse facility are also provided. There is a $2 shower fee. Reservations are not taken for campsites, they are first come, first served. Campsites are $17/night, seniors are $15.50/night.
Best Western 800-528-1234 $68/night
Comfort Suites 800-517-4000 $77/night
Hampton Inn 800-426-7866 $74/night
Heritage Inn 800-762-7065 $49/night
Holiday Inn 800-465-4329 $69/night
Inn of Cumberland 800-272-6232 $50/night
Ramada Inn 800-272-6232 $69/night
Remember to bring your musical instruments for song services, special music and the fun show. Ideas and volunteers are needed for special events to be held each afternoon and evening. If your children are planning to participate in the children's services, please contact Linda Lewallen email@example.com, Mary Carr mcarr@JerusalemSentinel.com, or Pat Myers firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them at PO Box 70635, Knoxville, TN 37938.
If you have any questions about the Feast, wish to volunteer for helping out or speaking, or have an idea to share, contact Mark Carr 865-922-5420 PO Box 70635, Knoxville, TN 37938 mcarr@JerusalemSentinel.com or Charles Kimbrough 352-621-7888 email@example.com
THE SEAT OF MOSES
by Ross K Nichols
Introduction: In 1995 I was given a copy of an interesting article written by Mark Allan Powell of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus Ohio. This article, published in the prestigious Journal of Biblical Literature [JBL 114/3 (1995) 419-435] proposed another interpretation of Matthew 23:2-3. This single text is becoming more relevant in our day as a result of a growing number of Christians who are being "drawn" to the Jewish/Hebraic roots of the Faith.
By the fall of 1996, I had almost forgotten about Mark Powell's article, and perhaps would have never looked at it again if I had not studied the Hebrew Matthew contained in the polemical treatise of a Spanish Jew named Shem Tob ben Isaac ben Shaprut. This treatise was composed in 1380 and had become the latest work of New Testament scholar George Howard of the University of Georgia. In 1987, Dr. Howard had published this Hebrew Matthew text in The Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text, Mercer University Press. Eight years later, Dr. Howard revised and re-published this text under the title, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, Mercer University Press. This later edition is the one that I had obtained, and the one which led me to discover a variant text that could shed some light on the subject at hand.
I wrote an article on this particular reading and submitted it to Jouette Bassler, who was the presiding editor over the Journal of Biblical Literature at the time. She kindly told me that the article was "Not really suitable for publication in JBL." She wished me well and said that she hoped that my rejection did not diminish my interest in the Journal of Biblical Literature. It certainly did not. This journal is a very fine publication, and frankly my article was not as "academic" as the term is strictly defined. As so many others, I have resorted to the Internet in hopes of getting the message to the masses. It is hoped that this interpretation will earn a spot in many future discussions of this fascinating text as more and more people are directed to its location in the Web.
The Article (revised)
Perhaps no other passage in Matthew's gospel stands more at variance with the book's overall theology than Matthew 23:2-3. In Matthew as Story [2nd edition, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988], Jack Dean Kingsbury said, "To date, no scholarly proposal for resolving these apparent contradictions has proved entirely satisfactory".
In 1995, while engaged in a study of Shem Tob's Hebrew Matthew, I discovered a variant reading which deserves a place in this discussion. Although Shem Tob's Matthew text comes to us from a Jewish polemical treatise dating only to the middle ages, Professor Howard has effectively argued that the "evidence suggests that the Matthew text predates the fourteenth century". In both editions of Howard's work, he argues that the text predates the fourteenth century, and that Shem Tob received his text from earlier Jewish scribes, but beyond this he does not attempt to date the text.
Shem Tob's Matthew is the earliest known complete copy of the Gospel in the Hebrew language. It is replete with puns, alliterations, and word connections which far exceed what is found in the Greek text. For a complete list of such Hebrew word play, the reader is directed to Howard's, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, pp. 184-190. While early church sources report that Matthew was originally penned in Hebrew, Howard makes no claim that Shem Tob's Matthew is the original, nor even a copy of that missing document. His research is sound and non sensational. In fact there are many New Testament scholars that propose that when early sources say that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, they mean Aramaic - a related Semitic language prevalent in the time of Jesus.
However, the very lack of a definitive solution to the problem raised by Matthew 23:2-3 in previous attempts at resolution compels the seeker to look around for a possible explanation. I propose that the reading found within Shem Tob's Hebrew Matthew, and supported by the Old Latin ff2 is a good start to understanding this ancient saying of Jesus.
The Party Line
KJV Matthew 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
Whether taken literally or figuratively, the "seat of Moses" is generally understood to represent the authority to teach Moses. The authority to teach Moses means authority to teach the Law of Moses. Almost all interpreters begin here. According to our text, the Pharisees and Scribes occupy the seat of Moses, and so therefore most interpreters assume that "they" are the inheritors of this Mosaic authority - a fact that even Jesus apparently admits. The next thing we read, following the initial admission of Jesus, is that his disciples must follow these religious leaders - at least in word if not in deed.
KJV Matthew 23:3a All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;
Based upon the above reading, it would appear that Jesus is charging his disciples to do all that the Jewish religious leaders tell them to do. This is a most puzzling charge when the gospel of Matthew is viewed as a whole. The latter half of verse 23:3 is used to put the proverbial "nail in the coffin" for this interpretation:
KJV Matthew 23:3b but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
In this line of thinking, the only caution Jesus gives his followers is that they not follow their works - a path that would lead to hypocrisy. While these religious leaders are at times accused of hypocrisy, the Pharisees are most often pictured as doing what they say. The problem with these religious leaders is elsewhere defined as more serious than saying one thing while doing another. To Jesus, they say and do the wrong things. Jesus is displeased with the actions and teachings of his co-religionists. To Jesus, these religious leaders were perfectly described by Isaiah when he said;
KJV Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Compare Matthew 15:8)
According to Matthew's Jesus, the religious leaders teach commandments of men which make void the commandments of God (15:6). Their teachings are plants which will be uprooted (15:13) since they were not planted by God, but by an enemy (13:37-39). Their teachings placed emphasis on human ordinances which affected the outer man while leaving the inner man untouched (23:25-28). Their teachings miss the deeper spiritual truth which Moses intended; they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel (23:24). Jesus considered the teachings of these religious leaders to be likened unto leaven, which left unchallenged, would leaven the whole lump (16:11-12). The leaders erred because they knew not the Scriptures (22:29). Their traditions had led them away from true loyalty, truth and faithfulness - the weightier matters of the Law (23:23). Indeed, the Pharisees and Scribes practiced what they preached. The problem, according to Matthew's Jesus, was that they preached the wrong things. Hypocrisy then, as Powell notes in his JBL article, is a conflict between the "inward nature observed by God and the outward appearance observed by others".
A New Proposal
The Hebrew text found in Shem Tob's text reads:
"Upon the seat of Moses the Pharisees and the Scribes sit, and now, all which HE will say unto you - keep and do; but THEIR ordinances and deeds, do not do, because THEY say and do not." (My translation of the Hebrew found in Shem Tob's Matthew text) It should be pointed out that Howard translates the verb y'omer in the plural (they will say), while this is clearly singular (he will say).
The Hebrew of Shem Tob's Matthew allows for a clear distinction to be made between what He says and what Theysay. The context of the chapter, as well as the overall contents of Matthew, would suggest that the HE represent Moses while the THEY represent the religious leaders. While admitting that the religious leaders "sit upon the seat of Moses", the Jesus of Shem Tob's Hebrew Matthew does not demand that his followers do and keep what THEY say, but rather that they obey the teachings of Moses.
This reading should add some fire to the ongoing debate as to whether modern Hebrew Christian types should accept the Oral traditions espoused by the inheritors of Pharisaic Judaism or simply return to the words of Moses, words which Jesus said would remain forever (Matthew 5:17-20).
REBEL WITH A CAUSE
by P Myers
Have you ever noticed that if a person is a typical Christian, nobody seems to bother them; as in other Christians, or non-believers? They go ahead living their lives, without any hassles from anyone. But try being different from the typical mold of Christianity. Guess who it is that wants to give you a hard time? It's not non-believers ...but other Christians. We all experience this every day.
Our family recently moved out into the country. There is one neighbor of mine (Lynn), that says she is a Christian, and we got along just fine when we first moved in. She has children close to the ages of ours, and they began playing together, and everything was perfect. Our kid's were invited to spend the night at their house one night, and the next morning was when it all really started to happen. Mom got up, and started fixing breakfast, ...you know, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, ham... the typical farm style breakfast. My kids didn't hesitate to tell her that they don't eat pork. Their daughter Jamie, asked "Why?" When our daughter Melissa told her that it is in the Bible, that we are not to eat pork, Jamie stated, "No it's not!" Well, we let this go but it seemed like every time they would play together, the subject of pork would keep coming up.
As time went on, more and more things that we don't participate in would be the topic of conversation between our kids. Things like Halloween, Xmas, Easter, etc. John, our son and Melissa would very gently just tell them that we don't celebrate those days. This seemed to really bother them. They would just keep bringing it up, and bringing it up. I finally got fed up with it, and decided that our friendship wasn't worth listening to this all the time.
After we returned home from the Feast of Tabernacles, God really spoke to me. He told me that it was time for me to take a stand, no matter what the outcome would be. So I sat down one morning and addressed an e-mail to her. That is how Lynn and I did most of our talking since she takes a lot of medicine that makes her sleep a lot. As I started to write, it seemed like God took over. It was time for me to show her Scripturally where we were coming from. I told her to look at Leviticus 11:7 "and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you."
Then I told her we do not celebrate Christ's birthday on December 25, because that is not when He was born. He was born in the fall, at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is why there were no rooms available for Mary and Joseph, and Jesus was born in a stable. I then told her to look at Jeremiah 10:2-4, "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (KJV)
The heathen practice of Xmas was in existence long before Christ was born. Why then would Christians throughout the ages do this in remembrance of His birthday? We used to do this too, but when we read this in God's Holy Word, we knew that we were doing wrong.
This was all it took to make her spitting mad at me. She wrote back and told me "don't preach to us, preach to someone that doesn't go to church." She told me that if we call ourselves Christians, God doesn't want us arguing over what we believe in - Old or New Testaments - and that I shouldn't be trying to change her beliefs. I found this pretty amazing since all I was doing was showing her Scripture. It was in her Bible just like it's in mine. I couldn't resist telling her that going to church every Sunday didn't make them or anyone else Christians. There is more to it than that. Churches today are full of people that are there simply to say that they attend church. They could care less about what the Bible says. They don't read their Bibles, but rather sit there and listen to a man talk about a few Scriptures for an hour. They are content with this, but Jesus says in Matthew 7:23, "And then I will declare to them,' I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
Lynn hasn't talked to me since. Maybe I was a little harsh ...or was I? I just find it funny how Christians love to try to discredit us for doing what God wants us to do. I'm sure we are not the first, nor will we be the last that this will happen to. I urge you brothers and sisters, stand up and hold fast to the truths that the Lord has blessed you with. You will make enemies by doing this, but what is more important, making man happy, or making God happy? You know the answer.
A SALVATIONAL ISSUE
By Ted Maynard
As Christians, being able to forgive our brother when he sins against us is essential. Not only for salvation, but to have a better life while we are down here on earth in this temporary physical existence that we find ourselves in. When we forgive our brother, we show him mercy, just as we so clearly need mercy from our Father in heaven.
Proverbs 14:21 He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Proverbs 21:21 He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.
Clearly, your life will be happier if you learn to forgive others. Further, we can prove that a blessing is offered to those who forgive and show mercy.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Lookout!...Here comes the hammer! If you can't simply forgive someone from the goodness of your own heart, be advised that we are commanded to do so by the Lord, our God.
Leviticus 19:18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
James 2: 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. :13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
If you don't forgive and love your brother, you are a murderer. What Father doesn't intervene when His children are squabbling? What Father wouldn't be grieved by His childrens' hurtfulness toward each other?
1 John 4:20 If someone says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
How many times must we forgive our brother and what are all the ramifications if we don't forgive?
Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? :22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. :23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. :24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. :25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. :26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' :27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. :28 But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' :29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' :30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. :31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. :32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. :33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' :34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. :35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
If you don't forgive your brother, Jesus cannot forgive you of your sins. This is an important salvational issue!
Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. :26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
This is also clearly shown in the Lord's prayer.
Matthew 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. :10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. :11 Give us this day our daily bread. :12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. :13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. :14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. :15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
If we don't forgive our brother, but hold a grudge, our prayers will be hindered. Our relationship with the Lord is damaged right along with the falling out with our brother. Nothing, especially not a grudge, is worth carrying if it keeps us from our Lord! The price is just too high!
Matthew 5:23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, :24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
1 Corinthians 6:7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; :13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Satan's demons are hanging around us trying to take advantage of situations like a grudge between brothers. A grudge, therefore, can be very dangerous to your very salvation.
2Cor 2:10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, :11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
We are warned in this next passage that brothers will rise up in the church trying to spread heresies, or lies, against the word of God. We are to expect this and stand firm in our faith. Being a forgiving person does not mean that you should let this person try to corrupt members of the Church. This situation needs to be dealt with immediately lest someone be led astray by false teachings. Sometimes, we need to firmly and lovingly guide someone back to the right path. We have had this come up before at a church service or other gathering of believers. However, this loving correction does not mean that we hold anything against anyone. There is no room for hatred against a brother in the act of lovingly correcting him (or her).
1Cor 11: 18 For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it. :19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Isn't this startling? We are told here, straight out, that heretical people will be sent out to test our faithfulness. Forewarned is forearmed...the full armor of God.
In conclusion, we need to forgive our brother and not carry grudges in order that our lives might be happier, God will hear our prayers, and be pleased with His children in that we don't violate God's Law. And also we need to forgive our brother so that Jesus can forgive us, so that we may inherit eternal life.
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