TOPHET AND MOLECH IN HINNOM
In II Kings 23:10 we read:
"And he [King Josiah of Judah] defiled [destroyed] Topheth which is in the valley of the children [son] of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire of Molech."
DEPICTIONS OF MOLOCH/MOLECH: BAAL OF THE CANAANITES
Molech or Moloch, whose name probably derived from Melech "king," was one of the deities worshipped by the idolatrous Israelites. He was referred to as "the abomination of the children of Ammon" (1 Kings 11:7) and the primary means of worshipping him appears to be child sacrifice or "to pass through the fire." Solomon was said to have built a temple to him.
Molech was a god worshipped by the Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Ammonites. Foolish Israel began sacrificing her children in fire to this pagan god. The Canaanites were a Semitic people who occupied Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean centuries before Israel invaded the land. The Phoenicians occupied what is today the area of Syria and Lebanon and were the foremost navigators and traders of the Eastern Mediterranean by 1250 B.C. The Ammonites (also a Semitic people) lived East of the Jordan in what is present day Jordan. The worship of Molech was well established centuries before Israel settled in the land of Palestine.
ANOTHER SPECULATION ON HOW MOLECH MAY HAVE LOOKED
But what has all this Molech/Tophet/Valley of Hinnom sacrificing have to do with us today? This is not something Christians today are guilty of so why try to tie it in with a study of Jesus threatening His disciples with "Gehenna fire?" Well, for one, the teachings of Jesus are likewise for His disciples today. The teachings on the Mount apply to all of the followers of Jesus down through the centuries. But is anyone today guilty of the sin prophesied in Isaiah 66 which introduces the "worm that dies not and the fire that is not quenched?" Surely godly men are not sacrificing to some dumb idol like Molech in a garden behind a tree today, are they?
Topheth may come from the Aramaic root t-ph-t or the Hebrew toph or taph, meaning "to burn," while others interpret it to mean "altar" whereon children were sacrificed. Still others claim it means "drum," suggesting that they used drums to drown out the cries of the children being burned as sacrifices on the altar to Molech. Perhaps there is an element of truth in all three suggestions.
Anciently Jerusalem was named Jebus or Jebusi (Judges 19:10; Josh. 15:8; 18:28 & Ex. 3:8). And the Jebusites were Canaanites (Gen. 10:15-16). God instructed Israel saying:
"For Mine Angel shall go before you, and bring you in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will cut them off. You shall not bow down to their gods [one of which was Molech] nor serve them, nor do after their works: but you shall utterly overthrow them, and completely break down their images" (Exodus 23:23-24).
God commanded Israel to utterly destroy them all:
"But you shall utterly destroy them, namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord your God has commanded you. That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should you sin against the Lord your God" (Deut. 20:17-18).
Although Israel killed many of these enemies in the promised land, they did not kill them all. Rather, we read this:
"And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and amorites, and perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods" (Judges 3:5-6).
David conquered Jebusi, now Jerusalem, and he named it "The City of David" (II Sam. 5:6-7 & I Chron. 11:4-5). Israel never did completely separate from the pagans in the land as God had instructed them. Rather they intermarried and absorbed them into their culture (Ezra 9:1). And just as God's "called-out Israel" "served their gods," so likewise does His [many] "called-out Church" serve these same gods of old by teaching similar doctrines.
Why did they ever stoop so low as to have their own children pass through the fires of Molech at Topheth in this valley of Hinnom? It was because that was the way to appease the god Molech. Must pagan gods be appeased by such a display of torture? Yes, of course. Does Christian theology also teach that the God of heaven and earth can also only be appeased by having people burned in real fire endlessly in the pagan Greek hell of hades? Yes, it certainly does.
John Hagee calls this torture of humans in fire "JUSTICE," while Dr. James Kennedy call hell, "FAIR," and prays thus: "Heavenly Father, I pray that your Spirit will give us a clear vision of the plight of the lost—those who are on their way to eternal perdition to damnation forever..."
TOPHET IN THE 21ST CENTURY
With that said, here is what Isaiah prophesied:
"For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the garden behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse shall be consumed together. For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather ALL NATIONS and tongues; and they shall come and see My Glory" (Isa. 66:16-18).
Here's the connection: Jesus said that Gehenna was a place:
"Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44). This is a direct quotation from Isaiah 66:24—"And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
It was IN GEHENNA (the Valley of the son of Hinnom) where Tophet was located. And in Tophet is where they sanctified themselves and purified themselves in the garden behind one tree in the midst by sacrificing to Molech and by sacrificing their children in the fires of Molech. But again, this is all ancient history, isn't it? One might expect some satanic cult to engage in such ancient pagan festivities, but not anyone with a lick of sense would do this today. But this IS prophecy for our day. The prophecy is dated to the time that God "gathers ALL NATIONS." And a time when all nations will see God's judgment and glory.
What would my readers think if I were to tell them that many of our most prominent leaders (including our Presidents, Cabinet members, Generals, Scientists, heads of industry, entertainers, media magnates, leading bankers, and even foreign heads of state, sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the garden behind one tree in the midst, and actually and literally, make sacrifice to some dumb, giant, stone idol. You would call me crazy. Surely you would think that I josh. After all, none of our leaders are that brazenly superstitious, stupid, or abominable. You would think it totally absurd for even one such prominent leader to ever partake of such a pagan ritual, let alone hundreds and thousands of such leaders.
I assure you that I am not joshing. There is just such a place and just such a pagan idol sacrifice that takes place annually, and you will be shocked to find out just who it is that attends this pagan ritual of purification in the garden behind one tree in the midst of a giant Redwood forest.
IS THIS A MODERN SACRIFICE TO MOLECH? HOW MANY RECOGNIZE THIS MODERN SACRIFICIAL RITUAL?
[See a YouTube video on the Bohemian Grove:]
Isaiah 66:17 is undoubtedly one of the more enigmatic verses in all Scripture. Here are some variations on the key words of this Scripture:
"They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves, in the gardens behind one tree in the midst; eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, says the Lord."
Some might suggest that this verse is no more clear in English than it would be had the translators left it in its original Hebrew. Although from the Hebrew, for the longest time, this verse of Scripture was "Greek to me." Let's notice how a few other Versions handle this translation:
"They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves, in the gardens behind one tree in the midst."
Moffatt Translation: "to enter groves for ritual dances"
Young's Literal Transltion: "after Ahad in the midst"
Rotherhamn's Emphasized Bible: "a certain thing in the midst"
King James marginal reading: "to the gardens after an IDOL in the midst,"
Young's Translation possibly capitalizes "Ahad" because some thought that ahad was a god. The Moslem religion says: "Allah IS AHAD [one]." Most think when Moslems say: "There is no god but Allah" they mean that Allah is the only true god of all other gods that they do not recognize as gods at all. This, however, is not the whole truth according to some of their best scholars. Some Moslem experts say it should read, "There is no god, ONLY Allah." Or: "There is no god to be worshipped, only Allah. And so to them Allah is not "a god" or even "the god," but rather there is "ONLY Allah" and "Allah is ahad." The term "god," apparently, being beneath the dignity of Allah. Just thought you might want to know that little tidbit.
But here's the truth of the Scriptures: "God [Elohim] is ONE [echad/ahad]" (Deut. 6:4).
Does anyone recognize the above pictured sacrifice to a giant owl? Is this picture taken from the scene of some Hollywood production? Is this the tomfoolery of some Satanic cult? Or is there something more sinister afoot at this annual Cremation of Care? Hold on to your hats, for this is just as bizarre as the sheila-na-gigs of HELL Part C, but this annual sacrifice is still taking place in America. Does this fiery sacrifice to a forty foot idol in the Bohemian Grove have anything to do with Isa. 66:17?
The above secretly taken photograph is of a giant idol "...in the gardens behind one [giant Redwood] tree..." in a forest about 75 miles north of San Francisco. It is an extremely expensive facility open to the elite of society, by invitation only. The garden and grounds is know as The Bohemian Grove, and is the annual setting for the meeting of the very exclusive Bohemian Club which is headquartered in San Francisco. President Herbert Hoover once called it "the greatest party on Earth."
From Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove
The Bohemian Club (founded in 1872 ) is a private men's art club based in San Francisco , California , with a membership of many prominent local and global leaders. Some prominent figures are given honorary membership only, Richard Nixon and William Randolph Hearst being two notable examples.
Members include some U.S. presidents (usually before they are elected to office), many cabinet officials, and CEOs of large corporations, including major financial institutions. Major military contractors , oil companies, banks (including the Federal Reserve ), utilities, and national media have high-ranking officials as club members or guests
Every year the club hosts an annual two week camp at Bohemian Grove , which is notable for its illustrious guest list and its eclectic Cremation of Care ceremony involving a mock human sacrifice at the feet of a forty-foot stone owl.
The primary activities taking place at the Grove are varied and expensive entertainment, such as an elaborate Grove Play (known as "High Jinx") and musical comedies ("Low Jinx") — where female roles are played by men in drag — produced by the members and associate members of the Club. Thus, the majority of common facilities are entertainment venues, interspersed among the giant redwoods
The ceremony takes place next to a 45-foot (15 m) high concrete owl statue. During the ceremony, audio plays through nearby speakers providing the illusion of a speaking statue. The voice of the former-newsman Walter Cronkite , a member of the Bohemian Club, is used as the voice of The Owl during the ceremony.
President Richard Nixon: "The Bohemian Grove, that I attend from time to time — the (inaudible) and the others come there — but it is the most faggy g - - d - - - thing that you would ever imagine. The San Francisco crowd, it's just terrible. I can't even shake hands with anybody from San Francisco." — President Richard M. Nixon , Bohemian Club member starting in 1953 (Domhoff, p 15);
Other Bohemian members and guests include: George P. Shultz, Gerald R. Ford, Henry Kissinger, William F. Buckley, Jr., Merv Griffin, Joseph Coors, Edward Teller, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Casper W. Weinberger, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, Frank Popoff, Danny Glover, Alexander Haig, Chuck Yeager, Donald Rumsfeld, TV personality Chris Matthews, gay porn star Chad Savage, Charlton Heston, Jack London, Art Linkletter, Jimmy Carter, Dwight Eisenhower, and hundreds of other prominent politicos, businessmen, military leaders, and foreign heads of state and dignitaries.
I merely present a few facts concerning this strange ritual in the forest without lending credence to either of two broad interpretations of what this Club represents: pagan rituals with gross immorality involving prostitution and drunkenness, or just a little fun in the sun for high level movers and shakers to relax for a few weeks. But I think we seriously have to ask ourselves, of the thousands of possible settings and themes for a high level elitists men's club: why a sacrifice to a giant pagan idol in the woods to purge themselves of the cares of this world? And why are many of these same barons of politics, industry, and media also members of the Freemasons, Skull and Bones, and similar ghastly and secret fraternities.
Is not the spiritual attitude of the leaders of the western world also accepted and in concert with the rest of society? Have you seen or witnessed any major Christian denomination speak out against such rank heathenism practiced by the very men they support and elect to lead our nations? Does not "the Church" overwhelmingly support and elect candidates who are members of such secret fraternities founded upon rank heathenism. Look at that list again and you will find the answer.
So what's wrong with the leaders of our banks, news media, entertainment, industry, military, and government; foreign heads of states; and our own Presidents; taking part in such heathen practices as "sanctifying themselves and purifying themselves in the gardens behind a tree in the midst?" What's wrong with sacrificing a human being in effigy to a 45 foot dumb pagan idol? Is that such a terrible sin? Is this reason for God's wrath to come upon our peoples?
Just as I tried to show in my recent paper on the Twin Towers, it is a SYMBOL of man's defiance of God and His laws. The destruction of the Towers was not the fulfillment of God's wrath on our nation's sin, but rather what those Twin Towers represented. And the destruction of the Towers is merely a TYPE AND MANOR of the far greater destruction which is to follow. Many missed the point of my whole paper. I don't know how I could have made it more clear.
SELF-SANCTIFYING, IDOL SACRIFICING, SWINE AND MICE EATING,
ARE BUT SYMBOLS OF FAR GREATER SINS
Back to Isaiah's 66:17 prophecy: "They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves..." To whom do they look to be spiritually sanctified and purified? To God? No, to "themselves." They are "self-sanctifying" and "self-purifying," which then makes them "SELF-righteous." And what did God also speak through Isaiah concerning men's own brand of righteousness? "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." (Isa. 64:6).
Now it is true that God told the priests how to physically sanctify themselves, but only God can SPIRITUALLY sanctify or purify anyone: "And the very God of peace SANCTIFY you wholly...." (I Thes. 5:23). We will return to this mystery-solving verse later. It is GOD Who sanctifies us; we cannot sanctify ourselves, yet Isaiah prophesied that these last generations would attempt self-purification.
And notice that it is not even through God that they attempt to sanctify themselves, but rather through an idolatrous and heathen practice of sacrificing to a dumb rock "idol in the midst." And what else does Isaiah say that they do? "...eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse..." (Isaiah 66:17).
Again we must be consistent and acknowledge that these teachings are spiritual. God uses physical symbols to teach spiritual truths. If the physical teachings; if the literal teachings; if the parabolic teachings; are the way we are to understand these things, then why oh why would Jesus have stated so many times: "to him that has an ear to hear, LET HIM HEAR?"
Jesus powerfully proclaimed to His disciples:
"By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand: and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal [save] them" (Matt. 13:14-15 cited from Isa. 6:9-10).
The swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse" are all listed by Moses as unclean for physical food. Spiritually they represent the fact that our leaders spiritually feast on those things that God considers unclean and an "abomination." What are the spiritual philosophies and religions of the leaders of our country? Why are many of the most prominent leaders members of "Skull & Bones?" What is it about their Christian faith or even the Jewish faith (as many of these prominent leaders are Jewish) that does not satisfy? What principles of life and spiritual truths does Freemasonry fulfill that God and His Word do not? Why would most of our recent Presidents and many hundreds and thousands of heads of state, military, industry, etc., sacrifice to a giant idol in the woods which they know for a fact is in total defiance of the Word of God?
They love the taste of unclean religion and worldliness more than the Word of God. And if they ever "...have tasted ['Take, eat; this is My body' Matt. 26:26] that the Lord is gracious" (I Pet. 2:3),
"...it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the power of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God again, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:4-6).
Skull & Bones, Freemasonry, The Bohemian Club, and many other such secret and elitists organizations, such as the Federal Reserve Bank, the World Bank, The Federal Trade Commission, The Illuminate, and on and on, are man's attempt to bring about a utopia for themselves through man's wisdom. God will bring it all down one day.
That being said, the Bohemian Club IS a place in the forest behind a tree where there is an altar on which they burn their cares of this world and purge themselves for the new year to a pagan stone idol... a true modern day Tophet as in the Valley of Hinnom [GeHenna] (Isa. 66:17).
How do the Rabbis and Orthodox Jews view GeHinnom/Gehenna? Are their traditions different from Christians seeing that they place no real authority on the New Testament Scriptures? Their view is a bit foggy, but let's look at it.
RABBINIC DOGMA, TRADITION, AND FABLES ON GEHENNA
"Needless to say the rubbish dumps of Christ's day were a far cry from the sanitary landfills we engineer today. Gehenna was an open pit, infested with rats and reeking with decaying food and human excrement. The bodies of executed criminals and other undesirables were also dumped there. When the pestilence that fed on the dump began getting out of hand, the entire thing was set on fire. But even the fires of Gehenna didn't purify - they sent billows of reeking smoke over the entire city, spreading disease and death." (Kaufman Koehler).
"Gehinom (Gehenna), according to rabbinic literature, is a place or state where the wicked are temporarily punished after death. The godly, meanwhile, await Judgment Day in the bosom of Abraham." Gehenna" is sometimes translated as "hell," but the Christian view of hell differs from the Jewish view of Gehenna. Most sinners are said to suffer in Gehenna no longer than twelve months, but those who commit certain sins are punished forever."
"The Rabbis saw Gehenna as a place of punishment for a person who did not live a righteous life, as defined by G-d and Torah for Jews, or the seven laws of Noah for non-Jews. The majority view of the Rabbis is that punishment in Gehenna is of limited duration. The maximum punishment was believed to be 12 months. The Talmud says in tractate "Shabbat" page 33b that 'The duration of punishment in Gehenna is twelve months.' This is also stated in both early and late rabbinical literature (ie, texts of the Rabbis of the Talmud). This 12 month limit is true for both Jewish and Gentile sinners ("Rosh HaShanah" 17a). This is true even of the generation of the flood, who were said to be very wicked. (Mishneh, Eduyyot 2:10; Genesis Rabbah 28:8). Though some individual Rabbis (a minority) expressed the view that certain sinners stayed in Gehenna forever, it was not the majority, accepted view."
"During the twelve-month period in Gehenna, the soul goes through a process of purification and atonement, and, as described in Midrash Pesikta Rabbati, 'After going down to Gehenna and receiving the punishment due him, the sinner is forgiven from all his iniquities, like an arrow from the bow he is flung forth from Gehenna' (Pesikta Rabbati 53:2). After this experience, the soul is sufficiently purified and able to enter the supernal postmortem realm of Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden (Exodus Rabbah 7:4)" (Raphael, Jewish Views of the Afterlife, p145).
"There is a minority opinion (in the Talmud) that holds that some people go to Gehenna (Purgatory is the Christian equivalent, not Hell) for ever. The majority of rabbis in the Talmud reject this view. So, while there may be a non-binding aggada (story) to illustrate a point of some kind (the wickedness of Balak, for example), it is just a story and does not reflect Jewish belief in the afterlife or in the duration of punishment in Gehenna."
"I don't have to ask any Orthodox Jew, since I have a book on Jewish views of the afterlife. You may believe Balak is in "Hell" forever, but it does not make it a Jewish belief. [note: DS is not Jewish] You may believe that Orthodox Jews believe that some people go to "Hell" forever, but that does not make it so. I have looked in 3 Orthodox commentaries on Balak, none of them mention "Hell" or even eternal Gehenna for Balak. As I said in one of my other 2 e-mails, there MAY be a legend about Balak being in Gehenna forever, but like all Aggada (stories) or Midrash, it is not to be taken as the literal truth. That is not just my opinion, it is the official position of Judaism of the Orthodox variety on aggada and middrash."
"I remind you, that a Midrash is non-binding and usually is written to teach a lesson, or to encourage certain behavior (such as the desirability of not committing adultery, perjury, or blaming a neighbor in public). It is not intended to be the literal truth in any way. As you can see, the majority of Medieval Jewish Rabbis did NOT believe that "Hell" was forever. That view was a minority view." (From: The Jewish View of Gehenna based on Jewish Views of the Afterlife by Simcha Paul Raphael).
So clearly the majority of orthodox Jews and Rabbis didn't believe there was an eternal hell according to the Hebrew Scriptures. But after the time of Malachi, the Jews did start adopting the pagan beliefs of the heathens against the commands and warnings of God. We will now examine the Greek Scriptures and see whether Gehenna fire is literal and eternal in the afterlife, or a symbol for judging Christ's disciples in this life.
SOME OF THE STRANGEST SCRIPTURES IN THE BIBLE
We will examine the usage of Gehenna beginning with the very first time Jesus ever used this word. Gehenna is first found in the familiar section of Scripture known as "The Sermon on the Mount." It starts off fairly simple and innocent: "Blessed are the poor in spirit... Blessed are they that mourn... Blessed are the meek... Ye are the salt of the earth... Ye are the light of the world... Let your light so shine..." Etc. (Matt. 5:1-16). But then Jesus suddenly takes a sharp turn into what has got to be one of the most mysterious sections of Scripture in the entirety of the Bible, and it is in this context that Gehenna fire is first mentioned.
Beginning with Verse 17 we read:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
Why would Jesus ever suggest that His disciples would think that He came to destroy the law or the prophets? Well, for one thing, because He appears in the next few verses to contradict what the law and the prophets had to say, and therefore, this could be a logical deduction that Jesus was doing away with the law of Moses. The primary law of the Covenant God made with Israel consisted of the Ten Commandments:
"And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments and He wrote them upon two tables of stone" (Deut. 4:13).
However, there were approximately 613 laws contained in the law and the prophets, and Jesus makes references to several of them which are not contained in the Ten Commandments.
In fact, Jesus made a big deal about teaching the very laws that He did not come to destroy, plus a new and higher application of those laws:
"...but whosoever shall do and teach them [the very least law], the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19-20).
Next, Jesus pulls out the law against murder, and explains the consequence of murdering under the Law of Moses: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill [Gk: 'murder'—illegal killing]; and whosoever shall kill [murder] shall be in danger of [Num. 35:17] the judgment" (Verse 21). What was this "judgment" of which Jesus spoke?
JUDGMENT IN ANCIENT ISRAEL UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES
THE LORD IS JUDGE:
When first God began to deal with Moses and Israel in Egypt, He was the sole Judge,
"For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD" (Ex. 12:12).
Is God executing judgment in the world today? YES! But where, and to whom?
MOSES AND HIS CAPTAINS OF 50, 100, & 1000 JUDGE:
"So I [Moses] took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him... for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it" (Deut. 1:15-17).
Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt
"Judges and officers shall you make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God gives thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment" (Deut. 16:18).
THE HIGH PRIEST WITH THE URIM AND THUMMIM JUDGE
Whenever one sees a reproduction of the garb of the high priest of Israel, one sees a breastplate with colored stones set in it. This is the mysterious "urim and thummim." Urim and thummim typically translate as "lights and perfections" or "revelation and truth." It is on the shield of Yale University and is translated as "light and truth." The words Urim and thummim are both plural suggesting to some scholars that urim and thummim were not the actual device, but rather the process or procedure by which truth was conveyed to the priest by God. Others believe that this was the way lots were cast to determine a favorable answer. Regardless, this was the first way in which God aided Israel (through Moses and Aaron) in righteous judgment.
Urim and Thummim
"And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the Lord: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually" (Exodus 28:30).
JOSHUA CONTINUES USING THE ELDERS AND JUDGES IN CANAAN:
Joshua was chosen of God to take Israel into the land of Canaan, and God promised to be with him just as with Moses:
"There shall not any man be able to stand before you all the days of your life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5).
Joshua continued with the Judges and Elders system established by Moses:
"And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests and Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel" (Josh. 8:33).
"And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived [outlived] Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel" (Josh. 24:31).
THE JUDGES CONTINUE JUDGING ISRAEL WITHOUT A TRUE LEADER:
After the death of Joshua and the elders under him, we read this concerning the future of Israel:
"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim. And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, and the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger" (Judges 2:11-12).
"And the children of Israel dwelled among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites [remember that Hinnom is a Jebusite name]. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods [among which was Molech to whom they sacrificed their children]" (Judges 3:5-6).
Occasionally a good Judge such as Deborah came along for a short period of time, but for most of the century and a half that Israel mingled among the heathens and their gods under this system of judges, it was a one-way street to crime and corruption: "In those days there was no king of Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Josh. 21:25). Between Judges and I Samuel is the book of Ruth. Here we have an example of Ruth a Gentile Moabite marrying into the line of Judah through Boaz the great grandfather of King David. Yes, Jesus came out of Judah, but He did also have Gentile blood in His veins.
Samuel was a good judge, priest, and prophet in Israel. Israel accepted Samuel, but they rejected his sons from being judges over them, "And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment" (I Sam. 8:3). Aren't you glad that we don't have judges like that in America? Imagine that: taking bribes and perverting judgment! Surely I josh.
They requested of Samuel that they should have a king to judge and rule over them. God assures Samuel that they have not rejected him, "...but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken Me, and served other gods...." (I Sam. 8:7-8). "...Unto this day..." was a period going back 450 years! (The phrase "about the space of four hundred and fifty years" in Acts 13:20 should come at the end of verse 19, not in the middle of verse 20. From the dividing of the land until Samuel was only about 150 years. It was from the time Israel began to prosper in Israel until Samuel that accounted for about the space of 450 years).
KING SAUL JUDGES:
Saul was a poor excuse for a king and sinned against God. We can't hate him, however, as he does admit his faults even though he doesn't repent very well, "Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in your eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly" (I Sam. 26:21).
Later when God no longer speaks to Saul, neither through dreams, nor prophets, nor urim and thummim, he inquires from the lying spirit of a witch concerning his future. How interesting that it was Saul himself who enacted legislation forbidding witches in Israel, yet it is he who seeks out a witch for his own pleasure (I Sam. 28:7-9). So as Saul despises the Word of God and consults with a witch; so God foretells Saul's own demise through that witch ("With the pure You will show Yourself pure, and with the forward You will show Yourself forward," (Psalm 18:26).
KING DAVID JUDGES:
"And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people" (II Sam. 8:15). David had his ups and downs, but was for the most part, a righteous judge over Israel.
KING SOLOMON JUDGES:
"And God said unto him, Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life; neither have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies; but have asked for yourself understanding to discern judgment... Then he made a porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment..." (I Kings 3:11 & 7:7).
Although very wise, Solomon allowed his passion for many wives to draw him into sin and idolatry.
There briefly was how God executed judgment in Israel under different administrations from God instructing Moses to the reign of Solomon. From there on we find some good kings and some bad kings ruling Israel and Judah, but nowhere is there mention of any threat of punishment in some kind of hell at the death of a sinner. Flagrantly breaking any of the Ten Commandments could bring the penalty of death by stoning. There were numerous others crimes and sins also punishable by stoning. Some of these include: being a witch or wizard; sacrificing one's children to Molech; and whoredom.
It may come as a great surprise to some to realize that in the entire Law; that is the first five books of the Bible, the first two hundred pages of your Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), there is but one case of anyone ever actually being stoned to death. This is the case of the man who presumptuously broke the Sabbath day of rest by gathering sticks for firewood (Num. 15:30-36).
But there was no greater judgment or penalty for any possible sin no matter how evil, than the penalty of death. And the death was relatively quick—usually seconds, not minutes. Certainly there was no such penalty as being continually burned in literal fire for trillions and trillions of centuries as is taught in some pagan religions and more specifically in Christendom. Just when did the wages of sin change from "death" (Rom. 6:23) to an eternal life of torture in fire, as taught in Christendom? We shall see.
One great lesson from all of Israel's history under the law of Moses is that it ultimately never had a positive effect on them so as to make them a greater or morally stronger nation than those pagan nations they came in contact with. For this reason God drove them into captivity, and finally utterly destroyed them as a nation and kingdom. Under Ezra and Nehemiah God started to bring some of the Jews (Judah), some of Levi, and some of Benjamin back to Jerusalem, but never to be a formidable power ever again.
From the prophecy of Malachi till the coming of Messiah, there are nearly 400 years missing in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptural records. There is secular history to fill in much of this period, but nothing recorded in the Scriptures.
Much happened in those 400 years. The religion and doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees was decidedly different and unscriptural by the time Jesus confronted them. Much of their doctrines regarding the afterlife were now firmly entrenched in sheer paganism.
And just forty short years after the crucifixion of Messiah, all Judicial government of the Jewish nation ceased. The Sanhedrin may have sprung up from the council of the nobles and chiefs and ancients and carried on down to the re-establishing of Judah with some of her former powers under Nehemiah and Ezra (Neh. 2:16; 7:5; Ezra 5:5, 9; 6:7, 14; 10:8). At any rate, the first undisputed first mention of the gerousía of Jerusalem which may represent the Sanhedrin is connected with the reign of Antiochus the Great (223-187 B. C.; Joseph. "Antiq.", XII, iii, 3). From that time on, we are able to follow the history of the Sanhedrin until its disappearance in the overthrow of the Jewish nation in 70 AD.
DID CHRIST'S STATEMENT FAIL?
We saw a short history of the law of Moses and how judgment was administered during part of Israel's history in Canaan. Jesus begins His ministry by declaring that He did not come to "destroy the law or the prophets," so are we to believe that this "judgment" of which He warned His disciples is still in effect? Where? In the tiny little state of Israel today? Is the Israel of today the seat of judgment for Christian believers? Hardly.
America is the largest Christian nation on earth, and no one is being judged in America by the courts of the Jews from the state of Israel. Then what in the world is Jesus talking about in this Sermon on the Mount regarding, "Judgment," "the Council—Sanhedrin," and "Gehenna fire," "imprisonment?" Where are these four venues of justice of which Jesus so sternly warned? Seriously, WHERE ARE THEY if we are to, "Think NOT that Jesus came to destroy the law, or the prophets: Jesus came NOT to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17)?
"YOU HAVE HEARD [UNDER THE OLD COVENANT... BUT I SAY UNTO YOU [UNDER THE NEW COVENANT]..."
After stating that under the old law, a murderer would be in danger of the judgment (the judgment found in Israel under Moses), Jesus makes some mighty curious statements that seem to be out of context with everything:
"But I say unto you..." This is not Moses speaking now. This is not the Old Covenant speaking. This is not the Old Testament Scriptures speaking, but rather Jesus is speaking, and He is saying something totally new:
"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother ['without a cause' is not found in all manuscripts] shall be in danger ['liable'] of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the Council; but whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell [Gk: 'GeHenna'] fire; agree with your adversary quickly... lest... you be cast into prison" (Matt. 5:21 & 25).
What in the world kind of judgments is our Lord talking about? And when, when are these things to be administered, and to whom?
Jesus was talking specifically to His disciples, and not the Pharisees or multitudes in this "Sermon on the Mount"
"And seeing the multitudes, He [Jesus, not the multitudes] went up into a mountain: and when He [not the multitudes] was set, His disciples [not the multitudes] came unto Him: and He opened His mouth, and taught them [His disciples, not the multitudes] saying" (Matt. 6:1).
The multitudes were present at the mountain, and Jesus did teach them there and heal them, but they did not go "up into the mountain" with Jesus—only His disciples, privately.
Now then, when do we hear of any of Jesus' disciples being brought before "the judgment" in Israel for being "angry" with a brother? Never!
When do we hear of any of Jesus' disciples being brought before "the council" [the Sanhedrin] for calling a brother "Raca?" Do we have a Scripture? A record in history? Anything?
When do we hear of any of Jesus' disciples being thrown into "Gehenna fire?"or the Jerusalem city garbage dump for calling a brother "fool?"
Where do we hear of anyone ever being brought before the Judgment (probably the local courts in Judea allowed by the Roman rulers), or the Council (the Jewish high council called the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem), or Gehenna fire (the Jerusalem city garbage dump), for committing the sins of being angry toward a brother, or for calling a brother Raca or fool? Where is the proof of any such judgment ever carried out against the Jews in Jerusalem or against anyone in the entirety of the world, ever? Well, most would probably agree that this has never been done.
Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5:18). Is heaven and earth still here? Even if we take "heaven and earth" to be solely a symbolic term, still, heaven and earth has not spiritually passed away from humanity. Then where is this law of "Judgment," "Sanhedrin," "Gehenna fire," and "imprisonment" ever administered for "anger toward a brother?" Where? Or, are we to believe as some theologians would teach that this is the law as it will be administered during the millennial reign of Jesus and is not for us today? Okay, so then I guess not just "one jot or one tittle" has passed from the law, but rather ALL jots and tittles have passed from the law for going on two thousands years now.
The text as it is written in a Torah scroll shows the "jots and tittles"--the crowns and other markings--that adorn the letters.
If these detailed judgments of Jesus were not for His disciples, then why did Jesus teach these things to His disciples? Of what value was this information to His disciples if it had nothing directly to do with them? Of what value were these four judgments for believers during the past two thousand years if it has no application to them? Of what value is this information to the followers of Jesus today if the warning Jesus gave for US, has no application for US? Are we to really believe that these Scriptures regarding these four sins and their four judgments or punishments had nothing to do with His disciples who heard them, or His disciples down through the centuries, or His disciples reading these words today?
Certainly the precepts taught by Jesus on the Mount will be the precepts enforced during His thousand year reign ("till heaven and earth pass & all be fulfilled"), but they have far greater application than that. If one is not spiritually converted, he will never understand the Sermon on the Mount, nor will he believe it. And that goes for every person in the Church who claims to be a Christian. If he is not converted, he will never understand or believe these profound verses of Scriptures.
ANGER... RACA... FOOL
One theologian's theory: "The three offenses [actually there are four] are scaled from least to most serious. To be angry is bad, but to consider a brother as Raca is worse. It is an insult to his Creator (James 3:9). And to characterize a true brother as wicked is worst of all"
Here's another: "The ascending order of punishment, judgment, that before the Sanhedrin, condemnation to Gehenna, points to a higher degree of seriousness in each of the offenses" (From: Footnote to Matt. 5:22, The New American Bible for Catholics).
WHAT? Are they crazy? Calling someone a "fool" is a higher degree of seriousness than calling him "Raca?"
Is saying "Raca" to a brother really a worse sin than being "angry with his brother," especially when John tells us "Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer..." (I John 3:15)? Is it really worse to call someone a name than to have murder in one's heart? And is it really a worse sin to call a brother you fool,' than to call him "Raca" ['I spit on you, you cursed empty headed fool'], when both are epithets, albeit, saying Raca' seems far worst than saying fool'?
I found the following quotation somewhere on the Internet. I don't know where, or I would give them credit for it. Since he went to seminary maybe he won't sue me. Anyway, here it is:
Jesus warned about the one calling another a fool being in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5:22). Earlier in the text Jesus warned about insulting another... Now are 'idiot' and 'guttersnipe' synonyms for 'fool'? 'Raca' and 'fool' are of course insults. Raca sounds like spitting and means empty head'. Fool is the Greek moron', which I learned in seminary was their common word for 'stupid person.' My faithful e-sword informs me that Eugene Peterson's translation uses the word 'idiot' and 'stupid'; other translations: 'fool', 'worthless'... Elsewhere, 'numbskull', 'airhead'' (End of quotation).
And we could also add to those explanations and translations the following: fool & lost soul,' maligns & curses,' worthless & rebel,' I spit on you & cursed fool,' fool & apostate wretch.' Several Versions translate Raca' as fool, and fool' as fool,' so how much difference is there really between these two words? Is there enough difference that one will incur a figurative slap on the back of the hand, while the other (virtual identical sin) will incur eternal torture in literal fire for all eternity? Are you crazy? Although the doctrines of the Church are crazy, you don't need to be.
Although Raca and fool are similar offenses, the difference in punishment between the two sins is greater than astronomical. The difference in punishment would be greater than the entire universe as compared to one grain of sand. Do you still not see the problem with the Christian teaching of eternal hell fire?' Does not this verse prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that whatever "hell [Gehenna] fire" is, it cannot be any worse substantially, than being in danger of a council of judges, or the local town judicial court, or serving jail time.
It might be ridiculously compared to paying a parking ticket for $25, as opposed to running a stop sign with an imposed penalty of $875,000 in fines and life in prison! Am I going too fast for anyone?
It is at times like these that the greatest thinking theologians on earth, all of a sudden, get real dumb. They want to worship the god of context,' do they? Then let them CONTEXT this teaching of Jesus according to their insane doctrine of eternal torture: In context,' if a person calls his brother fool,' his punishment is to be billions of quadrillions of times long and more painful than if he was angry with his brother which James calls murder. If you will promise to pay for my window replacements and my hospital bills, I will authorize you to show this Installment to all your pastors.
If anything, the reverse is true: saying "Raca," is a greater sin than saying "you fool," and having "anger in one's heart" (spiritual murder), is still greater than either. Has your minister ever called this Christian absurdity to your attention before? Or perhaps this is just one more thing that he is "willingly ignorant" of? Or perchance your minister has never read the Sermon on the Mount? If any of my readers know of a Christian minister anywhere in the world, who explains their eternal torture in hell' doctrine by starting with the very first time their King James mentions "hell [Gehenna] fire," in Matt. 5:22, please write me so I can share it with all. I would dearly like to know how saying "you fool" is billions of trillions of times greater a sin than saying "Raca?"
And furthermore, being angry (wroth, enraged, hate) with a brother is worse than accidentally killing a brother. In an accidental killing under Moses, God did not hold the offender guilty if he never hated the victim, (Deut. 19:5).
These sins are all virtually the same: "Angry with a brother, calling a brother Raca, calling a brother fool, or not being rectified with a brother" are for all practicality all the same. They are all sins against our brothers and they must ALL be repented of or they will all be brought into appropriate judgments. They assuredly do not represent higher degrees of seriousness' as stated in the American Bible footnotes, which would warrant insane differences in judgment. This is one of the great lessons we are going to learn when we understand the meaning of Christ's Gehenne of fire.' Gehenna fire is a vital ingredient in the process of: "sanctifying us WHOLLY" (I Thes. 5:23), so that "our WHOLE body should be CAST into Gehenna" (Matt. 5:30).
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT IS
FOR CHRIST'S DISCIPLES
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT IS FOR YOU, NOW!