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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank You All

Thank you all for your very kind compliments and encouragement. I think that with these tibdits we can show folks that the Bible is an attractive and exciting book to read.
When these bits of information are shown to me, they always build up my faith, and in thanksgiving to our Great God I pass them on to others, and I would ask that you (dear reader) would pass them on as well.

Trinity and the Old Testament

With the upcoming Easter season comes many skeptics about the gospel message and the Divinity of Jesus. The Old Testament give us many hints to God being a Trinity. We as Christians looking back have the advantage, but might have been more difficult for the ancient Israelites to see that God was a plurality of persons before Jesus came.

First let's look at Genesis 1:26-27 - Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; … 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Jehovah’s Witnesses would say that he is talking to the pre-incarnate Jesus here but that he was not divine, but the context and a little examination give us the true answer.

If I said to you Dude, let us make a statue in our image, but after all the work was done, it only looked like me. Then it wasn’t made in OUR image was it? It was just in MY image.
Listen to Genesis again Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; … 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Man isn'tt in the image of both God and Michael the archangel as the Jehovah’s witnesses would have us believe, Man is in the image of God alone. So backing us when God said, Let US make man in our image. One person of the Trinity was talking with another. Because we are made only in the image of God.

Even before this in the very beginning of Genesis there are a few hits of the Trinity, when it says:
Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. 3 And God SAID, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
So in the beginning there is the Father, and the Spirit and the Father speaks the word- the Son.

More hints of the Trinity
Dr. Brant Pitre has suggested something very obvious and beautiful.
That in the Tabernacle (which was Israel’s portable Temple while in the desert) were signs of the Trinity because in the tabernacle were three things.
In the Holy of Holies was Ark where God sat. Then in the Holies was two more things: A table with bread and wine, called the bread and wine of the presence, and the menorah which was a seven candle stick tree looking thing, everyone knows what they look like.
So behind the veil is the Father, and bread represents Jesus and the Eucharist of course and this seven branched candelabra with tongues of fire on it represents the Holy Spirit.

St. Paul in the book of Hebrews attributes Psalm 45 to God the Father speaking to the son when he says: Psalm 45:7 Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows;

Another verse that I sort of stumbled upon was 1 Samuel 2:25. Eli has these two priest sons that are causing scandal and he says to them:
1 Samuel 2:25 25 If a man sins against a man, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?"
Eli is implying that no one can intercede for someone else who has offended God. Well we know that all sins offend God. And we must need someone greater than man to intercede for us that is what God the Son became man and died for us, so that we have a permanent intercessor.

Finally Zechariah 12:10 10 "And I (Yahweh) will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on ME whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.
Now some translations say they will look upon HIM whom they have pierced, but both the Greek and the Hebrew are clear that it should be - me they have pierced, and John sees this fulfilled in: John 19:37.

I am sure there are more, but that is enough for now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yom Kippur and Christ

So many people know that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament feast of the Passover with the last supper and his death on the Cross, but he was also fulfilling in a very large part the Feast Day of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur was the day to atone for the sins that you committed against God. On this day Israelites would "afflict themselves", meaning fasting, doing penance and they were forbidden to work.

Before I continue, I want to note that this feast is particularly complicated. For example, the high priest had to wash his entire body 5 times and wash his hands and feet 10 times.
Seeing its complexity I will point out the only main parts.

The High Priest would take a bull, confess his sins and the sins of his family over it, sacrifice it and then catch its blood in a bowl.

The High Priest would also take two goats.
One would be for God and the other would be for Azazel (who was possibly a demon?) sort of mysterious.
The one that was for God would be sacrificed and its blood would be collected in a bowl.
The other Goat for Azazel would have a red thread tied to its horns (while a similar red thread would be kept back in Jerusalem, which would turn white if the sacrifice was accepted) and then the High Priest would lay hands on its head confessing the sins of all of Israel, this goat got to escape out of town (where we get the escape goat), but in practice it was handed over to a gentile who would lead it out of town and then thrown it over a cliff.

Back at the temple the blood that was collected was then taken up into the temple with great amounts of incense. The blood would then be sprinkled in the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people.

Christ fulfill this feast in his own day in several ways:

Just as the High Priest in the OT wore a seamless Linen garment, so also St. John tells us in
Chapter 19: 23 that Jesus was wearing a seamless garment at the cross.

Something else that is significant here is that Leviticus 21:10 says that the high priest may never tear his own garment.

And if you recall when Jesus is on trial before Caiphas the high priest and Jesus says that he is the Christ Caiphas tears his own garments and charges Jesus with Blasphemy.
But they were dividing Jesus' clothes while he was on the Cross, John 19:24 tells us that his garment was not torn, but they drew lots for it. This action is confirming the high priesthood of Jesus.

Remember also how the high priest in the OT had to take the blood into the Holy of Holiest and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat. When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem he made each part higher then the next. So the Temple had three parts, one for the people, but then you would walk up some stairs to the Holy place and from their you would walk up some more stairs into the Holy of Holies.

Well on the day of atonement remember the priest had to have to ascend these stairs with a great amount of incense, almost like he was riding on a cloud up into the Holy of Holies.
This points to the Ascension of our Lord, and where is he ascending to? To the real Holy of Holiest in heaven where he is interceding for us...

Hebrews 9:11-12 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, 12 he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

One more beautiful tidbit is what happened to the thread that was left in Jerusalem:
"The Talmud bears an amazing witness to the work of [Jesus] in altering the system of atonement. The background is that on [Day of Atonement], when the [high priest] sacrificed a goat (Leviticus 16), a piece of scarlet cloth was tied between its horns. If it later turned white, it meant that God had forgiven Israel’s sin in accordance with Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow."
"Our Rabbis taught that throughout the forty years that [Simeon] the Righteous served,…the scarlet cloth would become white. From then on it would sometimes become white and sometimes not.... Throughout the last forty years before the Temple was destroyed... the scarlet cloth never turned white." (Yoma 39a-39b)" Jewish New Testament Commentary – By: David H. Stern (page 84) - I don't recommend this book, while sometimes it does have cool Jewish insights into the life of Christ, David Stern is a Protestant and misses much in his commentary.

I again point everyone to Brant Pitre's CD set on this topic. It will make so much come to life in your reading of Scripture.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Daily Sacrifice and the Sabbath

There are many feast days and holy days in the Catholic Calendar, but the Jews had special Holy Day and feast days as well. Jesus fulfilled many of these Jewish feasts in his own ministry.

Let's look at two special feasts that Jesus fulfilled: the Daily Sacrifice and the Sabbath.

Every day the Jews has two sacrifices called the Daily Sacrifice. The first sacrifice was called the Morning sacrifice and it took place at 9AM, while the second sacrifice was called the evening sacrifice and it took place at 3PM.
The sacrifice was the same for both the morning and evening sacrifice. What would happen is that a lamb would be sacrificed and that bread and wine would also be offered up. Numbers 28 tells us that this sacrifice is to be a continual offering, meaning forever.
During both of these sacrifices certain prayers would be said.

If you look to the gospels you can see how this is fulfilled in Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark Chapter 15 verse 25 it tells us that Jesus was crucified at 9 AM, this was at the same moment that the morning lamb was being slaughtered. Mark continues in Chapter 15 verse 34 and tells us that Jesus dies at 3 PM. This, of course, is the time of the evening sacrifice when the second lamb was being sacrificed.

Now, at Mass we are participating in the sacrifice of the Cross. Not that Jesus is dying anew, but that His sacrifice is being presented to the Father continuously throughout the world, fulfilling the Old Testament daily sacrifice.

Here are some of the prayers that were said during each of the sacrifices while Jesus was being crucified:

"Lord, you are almighty forever, who makes the dead alive... who supports those who fall, heals the sick, frees the captive, and keeps your word faithfully to those who sleep in the dust... Blessed are You, Lord, who makes the dead alive."

"Proclaim our liberation with the great trumpet, and raise a banner to gather together our dispersed, and assemble us from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are you, Lord, who gathers the banished of your people Israel."

"And to Jerusalem, your city, return with mercy and dwell in its midst as you have spoken; and build it soon in our days to be an everlasting building; and raise up quickly in its midst the throne of David. Blessed are you, Lord, who builds Jerusalem."

Now, let's see how Jesus fulfills the Sabbath.

As everyone probably knows the Sabbath, which is Saturday, is the day that God rested from creation.
It was on the Sabbath that the bread of the Presence, which was in the Temple, was to be eaten by the priests.
This bread was to be prepared on Friday and eaten on Saturday, or the Sabbath, but if Friday was a feast day then the bread was to be prepared on Thursday.
Jewish tradition tells us that the bread was anointed with oil in the shape of a T. The Sabbath was also a day of rest from servile work, though some Jews saw this as rest from absolutely all work.

Jesus fulfills the Sabbath in several ways.

First, as recorded in the gospel of Mark Chapter 2 verse 23, Jesus and his disciples are going through the fields on the Sabbath and plucking grain to eat. Well, this gets them in trouble with the Pharisees who accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
Jesus then reminds them about when David went and ate the bread of the presence even though he was not a priest.
Jesus is saying that "Me and my guys here are a new priesthood, so we are allowed to pluck grain on the Sabbath."
Jesus heals on the Sabbath - I think that this might be pointing to Jesus healing the old creation.
Also Jesus rests in the grave on the Sabbath.
Jesus also reveals his divinity concerning the Sabbath when he says:

John 5:16-18 16 "Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is at work until now, so I am at work." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God."

Mark 2:27-28 27 "Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

(This information came from an awesome CD set by Dr. Brant Pitre - linked below - yes it is expensive, but it is worth every penny)
The Bible and the Mass: The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sin and Guilt Offerings

During this season of Lent we are all called to make different sacrifices. But in the OT, the Israelites made sacrifices that prefigured the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Last week, we saw how sacrifices were made to express communion with God. This week we are looking at sacrifices that restored communion with God.

In Leviticus Chapters 4 and 5, it very clearly spells out two different sacrifices that restore communion with God.
The first sacrifice is found in Lev 4. It is called the "Sin Offering." The second, which is found in Lev 5, is called the "Guilt or Trespass Offering."
Now, a Sin Offering actually wasn’t called a Sin Offering. It was just called a "sin." Here are some great examples:

2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Ezekiel 44:29 "They shall eat the cereal offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs."

Hosea 4:8 "They feed on the sin of My people, and direct their desire toward their iniquity."

I have heard whole sermons on Protestant television about how Jesus became sin, and so God hated Him and damned Him to Hell.
And in the Creed, when we say that "He descended into hell," that is what we are talking about.
Well, they are confused on two points. The first is that Jesus became a Sin Offering and not sin. You have to know the Hebrew language for that one. Second, is that Jesus descended into Hades, or the abode of the dead, and you have to know Greek for that one. So these people are just unstudied I guess, or had poor training.

Anyway, back to the Sin Offering.

What it did was made atonement for the sinner and restored communion with God.
An example of this is in the Jewish feast of the "Day of Atonement," which hopefully we will talk about soon.
But it is, of course, fulfilled in Jesus with His death on the Cross for us, that is why
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

What about the "Guilt Offering?"

A Guilt Offering is like a Sin Offering, except that it is specific to one offense. For example, if you make a rash oath, sin unwittingly, or become ritually unclean.
For example:

Mark 1:40-44 "And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41 And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42 And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43 And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, 44 and He said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."

We see another aspect of this Offering in that penance is involved. Not only do you have to restore what is lost, but more must be added.

This is Leviticus 6:
Leviticus 6:1-5 "Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3 or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 4 then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery, or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full, and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering."

So not only did they have to fix what was broken, but also pay for the inconvenience of it being broken in the first place.

We do this today as Christians when we sin against someone, or at least we should.