Posts tagged “Prophecy

Genesis 4:10-15, Prophetic Patterns in the Cain and Abel Story

The story of Qayin and Hevel (Cain and Abel) offers practical knowledge about favor and jealousy, but perhaps more importantly, offers a great deal of prophetic revelation.

Perhaps no revelation is more apparent than “many who are first shall be last, and the last first.” (Matt. 19:30) This cornerstone teaching of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) was forecast long ago through the lives of these two brothers – not because Qayin was Hevel’s senior, but because Qayin had pride with an expectation to be “first”, compared to Hevel’s humility and servanthood as the “last”.

However, this is not the end of the “last shall be first” pattern.  The Scriptures soon show how Avraham is favored before his father Terah.  Then, Itzak (Isaac) is favored before Ishmael, followed by God judging Esau in favor of Ya’akov (Jacob), whose son Joseph is favored over his brothers, and so forth.  Through these examples a mystery is revealed to us: God’s favor does not come through entitlement.

The “last shall be first” is not the only prophetic pattern forecast in the Qayin and Hevel story. We also first witness the reoccurring pattern of  “wandering”.

During his judgment, Qayin was fearful that he would be “wavering and wandering” over the Earth (cf. Gen 4:14), but that particular word, “wandering” (Heb. nood) – is used elsewhere to denote how God “removes” Yis’rael in highly troubling times:

“ADONAI had told David and Shlomo his son… I will not have the feet of Isra’el wander any longer out of the land which I gave their ancestors — if only they will take heed to obey every order I have given them and live in accordance with all the Torah that my servant Moshe ordered them to obey.” But they did not take heed; and M’nasheh misled them into doing even worse things than the nations ADONAI had destroyed ahead of the people of Isra’el.Moreover, M’nasheh shed so much innocent blood that he flooded Yerushalayim from one end to the other..”. (2 Kings 21:6-9, 16 CJB)

By the time of King David, YHVH had already caused Yis’rael to “wander out of the Land” at the hands of Philistines, Assyrians, and other nations due to the breaking of her covenant.  By the time of M’nasheh, God’s prophets warned of the same fate for similar transgressions, and for the shedding of innocent blood.

Therefore, in the reading of Qayin and Hevel, YHVH shows that the punishment for Qayin’s refusal to listen to YHVH, and the shedding of Hevel’s innocent blood, is a “wandering from the land” – a foreshadowing of what the Prophets  call “desolation” (at least, how most Bibles translate various words to be “desolation”).  Moshe (Moses) saw and warned of Yis’rael’s future desolation to the nations just a few years after the Exodus (Lev. 26:33).  Yeshayahu (Isaiah) also saw that Yis’rael “would become without inhabitant” (Isa. 6:12).  There are dozens of other warnings in the Prophets but the highest example may be the desolation foretold by Daniel – due to the fact that Messiah reiterated it (cf. Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Matthew 24:15).

The long and short of it is that the desolation of Yis’rael is a common theme reappearing throughout the Scriptures. It’s warned of throughout the Prophets, witnessed in the times of Judges, and fulfilled in both the desolations of Shomron (Samaria) and Yahudah.  However, it’s greatest fulfillment came after the appearance of Messiah Yeshua, when Rome utterly destroyed Yerushalayim.

Thus we realize that the banishment of Qayin – who ignored the pleading of God and shed the innocent blood of Hevel – is a prophetic forecast of the desolations witnessed throughout time – occurring due to similar motivations as Qayin’s.  Yis’rael would ignore the pleadings of God through his prophets, and shed innocent blood, ultimately executing their own Messiah!

And of course, all this shedding of righteous blood comes with a price:

 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (Matt. 23:35)

So there were many desolations of Yis’rael, but one noteworthy point to mention is that even in His wrath, God never made a complete end of Yis’rael.  He wouldn’t excuse their guilt, but He also wouldn’t forget His mercy.  For these reasons He commanded that the nations whom He chose as the instruments of His wrath would treat Yis’rael well.

This decree of not harming Yis’rael began with Avraham, “by blessing will I bless those who would bless you; and cursing upon those who curse you” (Gen. 12:3), and in spite of God allowing Yis’rael to enter all her desolations, that same expectation of respect for Yis’rael never changed.  As the prophet Tzecharyah (Zechariah) declared, ““I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. I am very angry with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, but they added to the calamity”” (Zech. 1:14-15).

Previously I suggested that death was too good for Qayin, and while that may be true to his personal circumstance, I further suggest that Qayin was allowed to live in his isolation because it’s a prophecy of all the future times Yis’rael would be desolated – but not completely destroyed.  Hence, Qayin was allowed to live because Yis’rael would always be allowed to live.

In short, “Qayin and Hevel” is one grand prophetic revelation about all the times Yis’rael ignored the pleadings of God for repentance, killed its prophets and shed innocent blood, and entered into desolation, while at the same time, being allowed to live.  If we can grasp this concept, the rest of the Word of God will become much more compelling to us as readers as we will understand the prophetic patterns laid out for us to follow. ♦

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Genesis 4:10-14, The Way of Qayin Was and Is the Way of the Serpent

The LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.   Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  From now on, when you till the ground, it won’t yield its strength to you. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me out today from the surface of the ground. I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth. Whoever finds me will kill me.” (Genesis 4:10-14)

The majority of our Bibles translate YHVH’s words to Qayin (Cain) as “What have you done?” but I say we should interpret this as “what have you made?”  The verb in question is the Hebrew asah, which is used interchangeably with its synonym bara (to create) to describe God’s ordering of the heavens and the earth, as well as His creation of Mankind (ref. Genesis 1-2).

By design, YHVH also responds with “asah” to Havah (Eve) and the serpent after their transgressions at the Tree of Knowledge (cf. Gen. 3:13-14).  These responses indicate that we who were created in the image of God are creative in nature, but we can “make” (asah) acts of mischief that are foreign to YHVH.  When we create such evil, God asks, “What is this you made?” for this is not the handiwork He respects.  Selah.

So the question to Qayin after he murdered his brother Hevel (Abel), “what have you made?” is similar to God’s response at the Tree, but it’s the fates of the serpent and Qayin that are eerily similar.  However, before delving into this mystery, we must understand how similar paths led to similar fates.

At first, both Qayin and the serpent were “the man”.  We know that the serpent was the wisest among the animals and Qayin was the stronger son who learned his father’s trade.  They were as privileged as royalty until someone else came along who – in their eyes – stole their favor.  To them, it wasn’t supposed to go down that way!

“Dumb humans, who don’t have any knowledge of good and evil? How could they be favored before me, the serpent, who is the wisest of all the beasts!? I will make them as I am and conquer them, and regain my rightful place over all creation!”

“Hevel!? That runt!? How can he be favored instead of me, Qayin!? I’m the one who was born strongest, and followed in my father’s footsteps!  Now it looks as if my parents favor him, along with God!  Nonsense! I will eliminate this competition, and regain my proper place!”

Thus the similarities in motivations led to similar fates:

 The Serpent’s Fate (Gen. 3:14-15)
Qayin’s Fate (Gen. 4:10-14)
Because you have made (asah) this…  What have you made (asah)? 
Cursed are you… Now you are cursed…
From all the cattle and every beast of the field… From the ground, which opened its mouth to receive the blood of your brother by your hand.
Over your belly will you go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life. If you work the ground, it will not continue to give its produce to you. A waverer and a wanderer shall you become in the Earth.
And I will put enmity between your seed and her seed… he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel… It will come to pass, that anyone who comes upon me will kill me. 
X Rightly so. Whoever smites Qayin, seven times will I avenge him.  And YHVH set upon Qayin a sign, lest anyone come upon him to kill him.

Both the serpent and Qayin were judged by God for their mischief (what they made/worked), and cursed them from their previous, comfortable lives.  Both of them were informed of how they would experience life as a “wanderer”, and would have to rely on a new means of sustenance.  Both of them also knew of the enmity they would experience with Mankind in the future.

I’ve written before how at the Tree of Knowledge we became more like serpents than gods, and this seems to bring that theory home to roost.  Qayin’s motivations were like the serpent before him, which is why the shared similar fates. Thus we have our main takeaway:  God is showing us that we might all become like the snake. The serpent’s venom is within us. 

If we don’t control our lusts, we might go what the Apostle Yahudah (Jude) calls
“the way of Qayin” (Jude 11). Jude explains how this theme reoccurs throughout the Bible, and so we also have to expect it in our own lives.  We must constantly be on guard against politicians, pundits, predators, and false prophets who want to manipulate us, and subjugate us under an insatiable lust for power.

There is one and only thing that differs between the fates of the serpent and Qayin, and that is the mercy which is inexplicable to most of us.  We all struggle with Qayin’s “punishment” – or lack thereof.

I want to encourage you that there is always an answer for what we don’t understand in the Word of God.  The reasons for Qayin’s banishment are both practical and prophetic, and we will get to those answers soon, Lord willing! Ω

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 4:9, If You Can’t Love Your Brother, How Can You Love Your Brethren?

The LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

After Cain smote his brother Abel, God begins to interrogate Cain even though He already knew the right answer (I’ve already written about why God would do this here).

It doesn’t surprise me that an all-knowing God asks questions of men, but what does surprise me is all the chatter over how Cain killed Abel.  Apparently it’s something inquiring minds want to know, but I think any investigation to uncover the murder weapon is just following a red herring.  The truth is, the weapon would’ve been included in the text had it been something we NEED to know.  That being said, there is one way we can uncover the lesson here that YHVH, the King of the Universe, wants our puny human minds to grasp.

If we read the text in Hebrew and identify trends in any words used repetitively, we can reduce some of our speculation.  It just so happens there is one word here that sticks out like a sore thumb, not just in this highlighted verse (of Genesis 4:9) but throughout the whole chapter.  That Hebrew word is “akhi”, the word for “brother”.  In the verses concerning Cain and Abel, akhi appears seven times (yes, there “seven” is again).  In fact, after YHVH asks, “Where is Abel your brother (akhi)?”, God ONLY refers to Abel as “your brother”.

The simple answer is that God isn’t concerned with us identifying the murder weapon. What He wants us to understand is that Cain targeted his akhi, his flesh and blood.

In response to God’s question (which is literally “Where did Abel your brother go?“), Cain literally responds, “the keeper of my brother is… me?” (If he would have said ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ as is traditionally translated we’d expect shamartiy or shamartiy-o, as in the literalDo I keep my brother?). In other words, from my chair it looks like he’s implying “you’re laying this on me!?”  I believe this is fitting for Cain, the quintessential narcissist, who responds to adversity by eliminating the competition.

There is a big change from the backstory of Abel’s life once Abel’s sacrifice was looked upon by God.  Whereas at first Abel was almost an afterthought, Adam and Eve suddenly changed their minds and began to see the younger Abel as the seed to carry out God’s favor (cf. Gen. 4:25).  So when Abel gained this newfound favor by both God and their parents, Cain – as a narcissist – probably assumed that he lost their favor.

Thus Cain’s response “the keeper of my brother is me!?” might be understood with an air of both jealousy and insidiousness.  Cain thought everyone else was Abel’s keeper… everyone except himself, that is.  Cain’s unspoken narrative here is ‘You, O God, accept him, my parents favor him now… if you all love him so much, why didn’t you all protect him – why are you looking at me?)  Yes, I believe this reads like Cain was testing God, to see if YHWH would deliver Abel when Cain attacked him!

Cain failed to understand is that there was no reason to be enraged, as God told him (cf. 4:6).  The favor that comes from both God and parents isn’t a competition. Favor is meant to be shared; it’s not an exclusive entitlement!  I think this is the parshat (simple) and fundamental message of this early Scripture – a common truth that anyone reading the Bible would hopefully learn right away:  If you don’t love and preserve your brothers and sisters, you won’t have a home to come home to.  Like Cain, you will be a wanderer in the earth. You will ruin your life, and will set back the lives of your family as well.  As we continue to read this story, that’s exactly what we find.  Cain ruined his life and set back what his parents were hoping to accomplish.

And now for the prophetic implications of this verse.

The crux of the whole of Scripture, and the crux of what Messiah taught is:  you will not receive God’s favor if you are at odds with your greater “brethren”.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ is well known throughout Scripture, but the spiritual implication is: if you can’t love and shomer (keep/watch over/preserve/protect) your mother’s son who is your akhi, how could you love your neighbor who is also your “akhi”?  In other words, with the Cain and Abel story, God prepares everyone to love his family that he may grow up to love his neighbors… even the brethren… our fellow believers in the Kingdom of God.  In fact, there is one akhi in particular that we are to cherish and keep.

In Psalms 22:22, David foresaw that the Messiah is THE akhi, who says in the Spirit: “I will recount Your Name to my brethren (akhi) in the great congregation.” Of course, the entirety of Psalm 22 depicts Messiah as being surrounded by the wicked, pierced feet and hands, with great thirst – basically, everything that occurred at Yeshua’s final Passover when the great congregation was assembled for a major feast (cf. Exodus 23:17)- we also see this word “akhi” to describe how Messiah viewed Israel as his brethren, his family.

So Messiah Yeshua was an akhi to Israel as Abel was to Cain… and like Abel, the favored One was murdered.

Psalms 22 reads He trusts in Yahweh; let him deliver him. Let him rescue him, since he delights in him” (vs. 8).  In other words, David foresaw that Israel would treat Messiah the same way Cain treated Abel – “I’m not his keeper… why didn’t You, O God, deliver him from my hand?”

And like Cain, Israel was allowed to survive… into a period of wandering, with a declaration that none should harm Israel if they find him, and so forth…  a great topic for another time. Ω

Genesis 4:8, Outside the Camp

After God shows Qayin (Cain) how to regain His favor, and warns him about the marriage-like entrapment with sin, we read Cain’s response:

And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, ‘Let us go into the field;’ and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him. (Genesis 4:8, YLT)

About half of our Bibles follow the Masoretic text (Mst) omission of Cain’s last words to Abel, but the other half DO include the words which both the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and Septuagint (LXX) reveal: “let us go into the field”.  This may seem trivial, but in reality it’s anything but. Cain’s words help shape a deep, mysterious secret (sod) that points to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

First of all, without this phrase the Masoretic text doesn’t make sense. It basically says “And Qayin said to Hevel his brother […] and it was, in their being in the field…” The Masoretic text leaves the reader to wonder ‘what did Cain say?’ and doesn’t make any grammatical sense without the omission.  However, the other two sources (DSS and LXX) make complete sense.  “A matter must be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.” (Deut. 19:15)

This is an important to witness because Cain’s own words accuse him of premeditated murder. Without his words, the text looks like Cain acted in a spontaneous fit of rage while working alongside Abel in the fields.  With them, the text proves that Cain planned the murder for some time.  It’s the evidence we need for a first-degree murder verdict of “guilty”.

Cain’s words are also important for uncovering prophetic patterns.  If you study the story of “Cain and Abel” for any length of time you might uncover allegories to the Messiah; for example, “the last shall be first, and the first last” (cf. Matt. 20:16) is comparable to Cain’s expectation of being the favored one.  ‘Hating his brother without cause’ (John 15:25) would be another.  Several such parallels are embedded in this story, and Cain’s words “let us go into the field” is yet another.

Messiah’s death outside Jerusalem fulfills major prophecies.  The Torah is filled with symbolism of the scapegoat (the goat on whom all the sins of Israel were laid) being banished and eradicated from the Tabernacle every Yom Kippor (The Day of Atonement).  Thus Messiah Yeshua fulfills the prophecy of becoming the scapegoat for all our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul) saw this very thing. Commenting on the Torah (cf. Lev. 16:27), he wrote how Messiah died “outside the camp”:

We have an altar from which those who serve the holy tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. Therefore Yeshua also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate.  Let’s therefore go out to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach.  (Hebrews 13:11-14, WMB)

Yeshua Himself also emphasized his own death would be associated with the prophetic pattern of dying “outside the camp”:

There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a wine press in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country.  When the season for the fruit came near, he sent his servants to the farmers, to receive his fruit.  The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they treated them the same way.  But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?” (Matt. 21:33-40, emphasis mine)

Therefore, we must understand that Cain’s premeditated murder of his brother Abel was an ancient foreshadowing of the murder of Messiah Yeshua.  Spawned by jealousy and an effort to eradicate the competition, the motives behind murdering both of these innocents were identical.  The sign was also exactly the same – as both men were led away from the place of sacrifice and worship, and died outside the camp!

For whatever reason, Cain’s words were not included in the Masoretic text.  However, when we read them in the two older witnesses we can be confident we are looking at a prophetic pattern, pointing to the premeditated murder of Messiah Yeshua forced from the place of worship, recorded by God for eternity, so that we might recognize Messiah through the prophecies that foretold of Him. Ω

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 3:10, What Sound Did Adam Hear?

“I heard Your sound in the Garden and I was afraid because I am naked, and I hid myself. (Genesis 3:10)

Of the ten most popular Biblical translations, only the KJV and its surrogates (since 1611!) translates the ambiguous Hebrew word qol in vss. 8 and 10 as “voice”. The others render it “sound”, unless you read the NIV and NLT, which didn’t even bother translating qol at all! But I digress.

It’s obvious “sound” is the correct interpretation. Speech is produced from a voice, so qol’s other meanings – such as sound or noise, more likely fits the context. ‘Noise’ has an unfavorable connotation implying a degree of annoyance; therefore ‘sound’ is the best option. This is important because the correct interpretation of qol in vss. 8 and 10 carries prophetic weight. If we interpret it as ‘voice’, we envision God (or say, His convoy) proclaiming words we don’t get to know, but somehow this utterance made Adam and Eve hide.

However, if we read that Adam heard YHVH’s ‘sound’ – then we become enlightened. First, we realize Adam had previously experienced this particular sound as he said, “I heard Your sound…” However, before His disobedience, Adam had no reason to fear this sound – but this time, he was deathly afraid. That’s because the sound Adam heard unmistakably signified the appearance of YHVH into the Earth. Of course, the question which remains is, what was the sound?! We will theorize the sound’s identity, but first there still remains at least one glaring clue we can garner from the text.

Verse 7 records Adam and Eve using fig leaves to sew themselves garments, but when they heard the “sound of the LORD” they immediately ran from that fig tree into the canopy of the woods. If we don’t have a green thumb we might not realize that fig trees require a space in open sunlight; they cannot survive in shade… where Adam and Eve chose to hide. This means that it was in this open space that YHVH expected to encounter Adam. That’s why when YHVH appeared – likely in that spot – He asked, “Where are you?” (vs. 9). This makes perfect sense because in Scripture, the fig tree symbolized not only a place of study and prayer, but also a place of meeting– i.e. “In that Day everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and his fig tree (Zech. 3:10). The sound that Adam heard was YHVH’s call-to-assembly, the only problem was, YHVH was the only one who wanted to meet!

Now the sound Adam heard was (like all things from the LORD) meant for man’s benefit, as once upon a time, Adam met with God face-to-face, exactly how Moshe talked with YHVH in the Tent of Meeting (cf. Exodus 33:11). That area near the fig tree was Adam’s place of meeting – a type of Holy Place on the already holy grounds of Eden. However, instead of meeting God face-to-face, Adam and Eve hid from His face (vs. 8, Heb. panay = ‘face’).

This reminds me of another face-to-face meeting with YHVH, heralded by a certain sound, and producing a similar reaction:

…all the people, seeing the thunders and the lightning, and the sound of the shofar, and the mountain a smoke. And the people saw it. They trembled, and stood from afar. They told Moshe, “You speak with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” [(Exodus 20:18-19) Note: “thunder” is also Heb. qolot – plural form of “qol”.] In other words, just like Adam, the Israelites also heard His sound, and hid themselves.

In the book of Revelation, there is an oft-repeated phrase “There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake…” (i.e. Rev. 16:17). This is similar to… the conditions seen on Mount Sinai! Furthermore, Revelation 4:5 specifically states these sounds proceed from the Throne of God. And since this lightning-and-sound combo happened at the end of every prophecy in Revelation about the end of time, we shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction of God’s enemies: “The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. They told the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17)

So, we have ourselves a pattern. First, the “sound of the LORD” occurs. Then, the majority flee and hide themselves from fear. Then, YHVH appears for His visitation. Lastly, a few people joyfully and ecstatically meet the LORD. (Note: Moshe was so eager to meet the LORD that he almost disobeyed God. Read Exodus 19:16-25 as an excited, expectant Moshe).

In closing, the sound Adam heard was a call that mankind should prepare himself, for he is about to meet God. I believe that Adam heard a shofar blast – as witnessed at Mount Sinai and throughout Revelation. Furthermore, based on the other parallels with this story to end-time prophecies, I believe Adam hearing a shofar blast compares to the day Messiah Yeshua will return “with a mighty blast of the shofar.” (1 Thess. 4:16). It could have been some other sound – such as thunder – but I think the shofar is the only sound which is unmistakably tied to YHVH’s appearing.

One day, mostly everyone –both small and great, rich and poor- will hide themselves, like their ancestor Adam, but a few of us will hear the shofar blast and rejoice. We will be going to see God face-to-face (Rev. 22:4), like Moshe spoke with YHVH as a friend.♦

Genesis 3:8, Why is the Fig Tree Specified?

…and they sewed leaves of the fig, and prepared for themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of YHVH Elohim walking in the breaking of the day, and Adam and his wife hid from the face of YHVH Elohim in the midst of the wood of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

Why is the fig mentioned here? The text could have simply stated that Adam and Eve sewed together leaves of any tree and we’d have deduced the passage’s literal intent, that Adam and Eve were covering their nakedness. Yet God orchestrated the text to specify the fig, and since nothing in the Scriptures is coincidental nor extraneous, we should conclude that this is hinting at a bigger picture.

We have already identified part of that bigger picture, as the more sensible word for ‘garments’ was forsaken for the word chagorot typically used in the context of soldiers donning heavy body armor. I think this is key to understanding why God specified the fig as well.

In figurative language, a healthy fig tree is associated with the grapevine to denote joy and peace. The idiom “everyone dwelt under his grapevine and fig tree” denotes times of safety and rejoicing within Israel (i.e. 1 Kings 4:20,25). In reality, the fig tree is easy to grow, doesn’t require much water, is pleasant to the eye, highly fragrant, produces sweet fruit and provides shade throughout the summer. In ancient Israel, mostly everyone owned a fig tree… because who wouldn’t? It was everyone’s favorite because of all its benefits. Therefore, dwelling “under the fig tree” became associated with life as it should be – as a blessing from Almighty God. In later times being “under the fig tree” became associated with prayer and studying the Scriptures, being the most tranquil spot for self-study at home. For example, when Yeshua told Netanel, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48) He meant that He saw Netanel in prayer and meditation at home, like a man with no deceit.

For these reasons, it shouldn’t surprise that Adam and Eve gravitated towards everyone’s favorite, the symbol of peace, prosperity and prayer: the fig tree. It was a place of comfort and safety, which is a lesson to us all.

I believe that the message is this: first, obedience to God’s Word – including His commandments – were meant for our peace. If everyone studied them, and put them into practice, everyone would dwell under the canopy of YHVH Elohim, as men dwell in the shade and scent of their fig trees. However, if we rebel as Adam and Eve, and transgress the commandments designed for our peace, it has the exact opposite effect. Instead, by our own hand we tear apart our peace to make “armor” for enmity and warfare against the Almighty. This sort of rebellion provokes God to destroy our fig trees (our peace) in order to convince us to return to Him (i.e. Hosea 2:17).

Secondly, this is also an end-times prophecy, concerning the time when everyone will proclaim “peace and safety!” (1 Thess. 5:3). If we accept that the fig tree represents prayer and study in peacetime, and Adam and Eve ripped apart the fig tree after wanting to “be like God”, this prophesies that all Mankind will have a false peace- a time when lawlessness will abound, and everyone will forsake sound study (doctrine) and prayer, and will likewise put on “armor” against God. Therefore, by God showing up to judge Adam and Eve at the breaking of the day, God is warning all mankind that there will be a similar “Falling Away” before the breaking of THE Day – when the feet of Yeshua will stand on the Mount of Olives and walk toward the sons of Adam in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:3, Acts 1:12), clothed with judgment at a time when the figs are in season. (Mark 11:1,13) When He calls for us, I pray we all say “Here I am” instead of “I hid myself because I was naked”.

I understand the prophecy is a deep mystery, but the life lesson in this passage is clearer: obedience to God means to have no deceit, and this has many spiritual rewards, “for whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who serves his master will be honored.” (Prov. 27:18). If we serve the Master YHVH we will not destroy the things made for our peace. Therefore, let us cultivate the fig tree! Let’s be obedient to the commandments meant for our peace, and the Master YHVH will cause us to lie down safely.

Genesis 2:16-17, A Matter of Abundant Life and Death

And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, `Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die. (Genesis 2:16-17, YLT, emphasis mine)

On Genesis 2:15, I saw Adam was to “work” and “guard” the Garden, which is a parallel to labors in the Kingdom of God, and its preservation through the guarding (or keeping) of His commandments. As this passage continues, we now understand Adam was to guard the Garden from perversion by keeping just one commandment (to not eat from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil). Adam’s labor and keeping of God’s commandment was reasonable service for his prototype-of-salvation experience. [Note: The “work” Adam would do is implied throughout several chapters – to gather food, to keep the fruit producing, giving names to animals, and other labors inspired by God]

Today I used Young’s Literal Translation because it is the only English version that captures two similar and glaring linguistic patterns which amplifies our understanding of Adam’s mitzvah (commandment). The phrases “eating thou dost eat” and “dying thou dost die” are translated repetitions of one Hebrew word:

way’tzah yahweh elohim al-ha-adam lemor miKol etz haGan akhol tokhel
wme-etz haDaat tov wara lo tokhal mi-menu kiy b’yom akhal-kha mi-menu mot tamut.

Obviously, this is no accident; it shows a specific choice given to Adam: to feast for eternity, or to experience the long process of dying.

Grain for Sustenance, Fruit for Feasting

We must keep in mind that it wasn’t just fruit that Adam could eat:

Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food.” (Gen. 1:29)

The difference is that grains and herbs of the field appear literally “over the face of the whole earth”; they are abundant and designed for sustaining life (sustenance) as they can be produced in a single growing season. Fruiting trees are much rarer and sparse in the wild, and may not set fruit for 20 years! However, it was not so in the Garden – every fruit tree created was present and productive.

As I previously noted, this fruit orchard in the Garden would have been considered a treasure by the ancient Hebrew culture. We may have lost sense of how much our ancestors valued fruit as a delicacy (we’ve been spoiled by the ‘produce section’ of supermarkets), but if we could pick any fruit in his own backyard – at any time of the year – who would complain?

Adam had just seen the land of dust and clay where he was made, but then saw the “pleasant to the eye” Garden, complete with every delectable fruit. God has told him that not only will he eat the grains of sustenance (ref. Gen. 1:29), but he would spend his life eating fruitful delicacies (Gen 2:16).

Therefore, God actually gave Adam the option to feast in a type of abundant, luxurious life that would never end, versus experiencing the process of dying and decay. By stating it through a redundancy of words, God captured Adam’s attention to weigh his options seriously. As we were all in the loins of our common ancestor, God was trying to get our attention as well.

A Matter of Abundant Life and Death

We only have one ultimate choice to make in this life: we partake of God’s blessing, or part ways to death! This is no false dichotomy, but a fact of life. This may be the first time this choice is presented in Scripture, but it’s certainly not the last! Our covenant relationship with God has always been a choice between a blessing of an abundant life, or one that leads to destruction:

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods, which you have not known. (Deut. 11:28-29)

“…one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber… Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door… If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:1-10)

Since the time of Creation, we have been presented with merely one choice: Shall I live life to the fullest, or shall I just wait to die? If we are not walking with God, we are simply “dying until we die”. On the other hand, if we accept God’s salvation, we can have purpose and vision, and feast on all His benefits. The invitation to know God is still open, as is His promise of abundant life. This one choice culminates with the fullness of God found in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), as His death and resurrection is also a blessing and a curse. Just as God took Adam from the land of dust and clay, He can take us from our ‘waiting-to-die’ routine and bring us into an abundant life – one of power, purpose, and joy. Don’t let anyone rob you of your opportunity, make that one and only choice today!♦

 

Genesis 2:15, A Message of Salvation

   “The LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15, ESV)

First and foremost, this verse might proffer the question, ‘why not create man in the garden in the first place?’ A fair question, but the answer lies within the text itself!

On the surface, this verse seems simple. Most English translations opt for common verbs “take” and “put”, which rank an estimated 10th and 26th among the most common English verbs, respectively. “Work” and “keep” are two words we’d expect to see associated with a garden. These four words are not mistranslated, but we can miss the takeaway – literally – occurring in the Hebrew:

w’yiqach Yahweh Elohim et-haadam w’yanichehu v’gan-eden l’avdah w’l’sham’rah

From left to right, the above transliteration highlights four key words translated in English above: yiqach (“He would take”), yaniche (“He would put”), avdah (“to work”) and shamrah (“to keep”). Like their English translations, these Hebrew terms are fairly common; their most accurate meanings are easily verified throughout the Scriptures.

yiqach (fm. laqach). The verb “yiqach” is the most important in the passage because everything else hangs on this initial action. Appearing in many forms, qach is used 965 times in the Scriptures “in the widest variety of applications”. “marrying (as in “Avram and Nachor took wives…” Gen 11:29) and even the buying of goods! Common to any use of qach is the act of removing an entity from its original place or owner, such as the taking away sheep from the flock (as Rachael instructed Yaakov, “fetch me from two kids of the goats… Gen 27:9) buying a field or grain from the market (e.g. Proverbs 31:16, Nehemiah 5:3), and even marriage (e.g. as in “Avram and Nachor took wives…” Gen 11:29). In all contexts, qach describes the act of “taking away” something to a new owner or new place, as in the context of Gen. 2:15. YHVH Elohim takes Adam away from the place he was formed to the newness of the Garden.

Why Adam was Created Outside the Garden

Therefore, God didn’t create Adam inside Eden because Adam had to see his roots with his own eyes, in order to appreciate the beauty of a better life. He came from a land of clay and dust, but after seeing the beauty of the garden – its topography, its perfect climate, and its lush vegetation, he appreciated the gift of God when he received it.

yanich (yanach). The “put” in Gen. 2:15 (yanach) differs from the “put” of Gen. 2:8 (yasem) – yasem being closest to the generic and oft-used “put”. However, in Gen. 2:15, yanach entails an act of establishment, or rest, which usually follows a transference – sometimes upheaval – of one position to another. Biblical examples include the placement of Lot outside Sodom by the angels’ hands (ref. Gen. 19:17) and the placement of pots before the altar (throughout Deut. 26), and several examples of holding one’s position in warfare. Therefore, yanach describes objects and persons being left, set, or established in a fixed position. In Gen. 2:15 this makes perfect sense because it is paired with laqach (as described above). In other words, God takes Adam away from the mire in order to establish him in the Garden.

Avad and shamrah. After Adam’s establishment in the Garden, “avad” and “shamrah” describe Adam’s response to God’s gift of a well-established garden, but not surprisingly, these terms also describe pious and godly lifestyles. While avad literally means “work”, it also means “to serve”. Yeshua often described the Kingdom of God by terms associated with working a field- such as sowing and reaping, the planting of seeds, and plowing. These parables relate to our service in the Kingdom of God. Like Adam was expected to enhance the Garden, God expects His followers to advance His Kingdom.

Shamrah” (to keep or guard) is most often used in conjuction with keeping God’s commandments (called mitzvot). It is also used in the context of a soldier keeping watch over a wall or tower. In other words, the preservation of God’s commandments are ensured as they are “kept” from perversion and nothingness. It’s more than just fulfilling the letter of the commandment – it’s the mindset to also guard His words from corruption. The takeaway from this context however, is that just as Adam was charged to preserve the Garden for future generations, we are expected to preserve the legacy of God through the keeping and preservation of His commandments.

A Prophecy of Salvation

In this verse, there is deep prophetic significance in the language. Adam wasn’t just saved from a birth in mud, muck, mire, and clay, he was rescued! He had no knowledge, he had no direction or purpose in the mud. Yet Yahweh Elohim took Adam away, and “took” is the same word used elsewhere used in Scripture to describe purchasing, marriage, and personal gains. Not surprisingly, similar terminology is used to describe our salvations in Messiah Yeshua who represented God Himself:

“You were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23).

For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Messiah and of the assembly.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)

God takes us, then establishes us in His Kingdom, and in return, we are grateful. Our eyes have seen the mire that we call “the world”, or the “evil age” (olam hazeh), but when we see His kingdom, we appreciate the Kingdom’s newness and abundance of life in contrast to our former life, and how mundane, boring, and sinful it was. In appreciation and love for so great a rescue – which the salvation of our souls – we aim to live a life of guarding his commandments, and advancing the Kingdom of God:

“Whoever believes that Yeshua is the Messiah has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-5)

God’s rescue can await any of us, so believe in Him today! He will take you away as one of His own child kidnapped into a world that wants you to return to dust. God wants to take you from that place, into a life that abounds with joy, and peace, and perhaps most importantly, a purpose for life! His work is purposeful but light, and His commandments are not burdensome. Everything was designed to favor you, so let Him take you away in His salvation today!♦

Genesis 2:14 — Was Eden a forerunner of the “New Jerusalem”?

“A river went out from Eden to irrigate the garden; and from there it was scattered, and became the source of four headwaters. The name of the first is Pishon: it flows through the whole land of Chavilah. The name of the second river is Gihon. It is the same river that flows through the whole land of Kush. The name of the third river is Chiddekel. This is the one which flows in front of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:14)

It is impossible to pinpoint the locations of the Pishon and Gihon Rivers with absolute certainty. In order to propose a theory on these locations, I assume the following:

1) As I previously proposed, the original water source of Eden was scattered (not “parted”) in accordance with the common meaning of the Hebrew word yiPared. The four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:14 became four new “heads” after the Great Flood. There are other references to the pre-Flood world from a post-Flood perspective throughout Genesis 2, including Genesis 2’s introductory sentences.

2) I assume there was both a greater region of Eden, and a lesser “Garden in Eden”. I assume the four rivers which came from a now-defunct original source filled the greater region of Eden, which would make Eden a fairly sizable place.

3) I condone the scholarship of Farouk El-Baz and James Sauer, the former of whom discovered the now-defunct river system of the Wadi al-Batin and Wadi Al-Rummah, and the latter of whom argued for this ancient river as the Pishon. This river, which flows through Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, passes through a land in which is found gold, gemstones (including onyx), and indigenous trees having bedolach (gum resin). Additionally, it fits the geographic disposition described in Genesis 25:18 and 1 Samuel 15:7, as both sources cite a “Chavilah” situated between Egypt and ancient Assyria (modern-day Iraq). This area corresponds to modern-day Kuwait.

4) I also agree with Juris Zarins’s conclusions associating Iran’s Karun River with the Gihon. There are two “Kush” families mentioned in Scripture; one is in Ethiopia and the other is in Mesopotamia – where lived the Kassites, who originated from the ancient civilization of Elam. Associations with Ethiopian “Kushites” lead many to associate the Gihon with the Nile; however, the Nile is far removed from the Tigris and Euphrates, while the Karun empties into the Euphrates delta. Additionally, known communities of dispersed Jews still live beyond the Karun, which matches descriptions in Isaiah 18:1-7 and Zephaniah 3:10. Therefore, the “Kush” described by these verses must lie between Israel and Persia, the latter being the known site of the Babylonian Diaspora. Even today, the cities of Hamadan and Susa both lie “beyond the Karun” with respect to Israel, and host the shrines of Esther and Daniel, respectively. When all the facts are weighed, the Mesopotamian “Kush” – the Kassites – is the only civilization which had a dynasty in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates, and was situated between modern-day Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

If these assumptions are correct, I imagine that Eden was a sizable place filled with rivers – perhaps a delta teeming with life, as each of the four rivers previously identified still have several tributaries feeding them. In fact, the three extant rivers comprise the lush “Fertile Crescent” as it’s known today. This area is still filled with gold, gemstones, trees which produce aromatic resin, and edible fruit. This area, at least at one time, also contained fertile soil from nearby volcanic activity.

Interestingly, the distance between the head of the Pishon (Kuwait River?) – located near Medina, Saudi Arabia – and the head of the Karun – located in Bakhtiari Province, Iran – is only about 950 miles. The distance from the northernmost head of the Euphrates – near Erzurum, Turkey – to the southernmost tips of the Karun or Kuwait Rivers is just shy of 1,100 miles (no matter which waypoint is used).

Even if I assume the borders of Eden lay at the northernmost points of the Euphrates in Turkey, the Eastern and southernmost points of the Wadi-al-Rummah in Arabia, and at the westernmost point of the Karun River in Iran – the entire area could lie within a 1,200 mile square wall. In actuality, the entire Fertile Crescent, stretching from the Eastern Persian Gulf to West of the Nile, could fit into a 1,400 mile square, perhaps looking something like this:

Photo Credit: tourofheaven.com

Photo Credit: tourofheaven.com

What’s interesting is that the above photo was a 1,400 mile scale not of the distance around Eden or the Fertile Crescent, but of “New Jerusalem”- as measured in Revelation 21:16. This 1,400 mile-scale is a conservative estimate, as other interpretations determine a 1,500-mile measurement!

The eerie thing to me is the similarities in descriptions of Eden and the New Jerusalem. Both areas contain gold, gemstones including “onyx”, rivers, trees of life, new names, trees for food, and most importantly, the Presence of the One True God. If that were not enough, both areas seem to be comparable in size, at least when assuming the boundaries of Eden’s four rivers.

This may all be my vivid imagination at play, but I like to believe that the description of New Jerusalem is a picture of a type of ‘Second Eden’ – perhaps larger than the first, but nevertheless a Paradise with plenty of room. Perhaps what God is saying through His word is that His Paradise is a place where everyone can have a spot on the river, surrounded by resins smelling like frankincense and myrrh, a perfect climate, with fruiting trees and fellowship among all peoples.

This past year (2014-2015) has seemingly been the exact opposite of this promise: There is no healing of the nations, though there have been plenty of riots among the races! There is no new titles given to anyone, though plenty have their good reputations tarnished! I don’t read about perfect climates anymore, although today I read news about heat waves and floods claiming many lives! I only read about gold and gemstones when they’re robbed or sold swindled, so I don’t know about you, but going home to a Second Eden sounds pretty good right about now!

So be it! King Yeshua, maranatha! (O Lord, Come!)♦

Genesis 2:1-3, Yom Shabbat: Out With the Old, In With the New

[This is the last in a series about Creation week, specifically, how each day corresponds to the progress men and women make as they exercise their salvations, showing that the fruitfulness of the physical earth is God’s foreshadowing of spiritual success.]

On Yom Echad – the First Day – I separated God’s Word from “darkness”, which is everything that attempts to overcome the truth.
On Yom Sheni – the Second Day – I learned that I have excesses like the earth had excess water. God not only “circumcises” my excess but teaches me how to rely on “Heaven.”
On Yom Shlishi – the Third Day – I accepted that Israel (the Kingdom of God)- differs from “the nations”. In Israel, I discover faith produces good works of fruitfulness.
On Yom Revi’i – the Fourth Day– I learned that the temporary lights of Torah are the key to experiencing God on his time, and preparing me for more difficult days to come.
On Yom Chamishi- the Fifth Day– I brought the message of Good News to the nations, and sought that which is lost.
On Yom Shishi Part 1-the Sixth Day– I resigned myself to oversee the Kingdom in the twilight of my life, because I have lived it, and seen everything.
On Yom Shishi Part 2-I am resurrected to be a part of Messiah Yeshua’s kingdom when the government will be upon His shoulder.

Yom Shebebee – The Great Enduring Sabbath  

The heavens, the earth, and all their vast array were finished. On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work of creation which he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3)

At the literal level, this clearly says that God “rested”. But does it make sense at the literal level? Does God actually “rest” like I would relax in a hammock? Yeshua didn’t think so:

“Yeshua answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.”” (John 5:17) In context, Yeshua said this on Yom Shabbat (The Sabbath Day), when challenged by religious fanatics who thought that all things – including the healing of a blind man – should cease on Yom Shabbat. This tradition was eventually recorded in the Talmud, as it instructs to say to a sick person: “”It is Sabbath; we dare not lament: healing will soon come; celebrate your Sabbath in peace” (Shabbat 12a).”” The Jews also believed that God Himself ceased from working on the Sabbath, “evidenced” by His cessation of providing manna on the seventh day (Mekilta 104 a,b). In other words, Yeshua demonstrated the foolishness of thinking God does nothing on Yom Shabbat. In fact, Yeshua proved that God never ceases to work for man, if not especially on Yom Shabbat (“Shouldn’t this woman be healed on the Sabbath?” – Luke 13:16). This was the reason 75% of Yeshua’s miracles occurred on Yom Shabbat; it was and is a day set-apart for men.

So in returning to the text of Genesis, does it literally say “God rested”? Yes, the word is “wayish’bot (And He rested)”. However, it says He rested… from all His work which He HAD done. This “work” is creation; He had accomplished our earth and interstellar neighborhood in six days (though He could be celebrating the finishing of the whole Universe – who knows?). By the time He “rested”, God had fixed and forgotten everything that was bad from the beginning of the week (when “the earth was tohu v’bohu”), and remembered everything “good” (‘God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good’).

God passed from acts of creation to preservation (ref. 2 Peter 3:7). His next “work”, as Yeshua has shown, was to preside and guide over men. Some He would judge for honor, and others He would judge for shame. But He utterly completed the first work (creation), before passing to the second (judgment).

Therefore, God rested not of necessity, but for example. He exemplified a day to be appreciated by all mankind. He “blessed” it (again using the mysterious ‘Alef-Tav’) and set it apart for men, as Yeshua said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27).” By setting the Seventh Day apart, He promised men a day He would visit mankind. By sanctifying it after a finished work, God demonstrates the former things (the heavens) are complete; He is focused on new things (judging men for honor or shame).

The Coming Great Shabbat

When we look at Yom Shabbat prophetically, we see a continuation of the prophetic patterns of the Sixth Day, which underscores a man’s future Resurrection in the Kingdom of God. I judge this period will endure one thousand years (see Revelation 20:4-6). But following this period – what then? Is there a “Shabbat” marking the end of one thing and the beginning a new thing?

“I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works… They were judged, each one according to his works.” (Revelation 20:12-14)

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

One day, God will resign judging the works of men. Just as in the Beginning – when God rested from His works of creation, God will finish presiding over the works of men, because works of men will come to an end. A man’s works lead to pain, mourning, and death, but in the “Seventh Day” there will be an end to all judgment, and a new beginning of life, joy, and peace. In that day, men and women will forget how to cry, because everything before a Sabbath worthy of remembrance is remembered, but everything useless will be forgotten.

In Closing

With this pattern in mind, we have an example of how to live this life week-to-week. If our week begins with something useless, let’s fix it by the Sabbath that we may rest when all things are good. Let us then forget the unprofitable things, and begin anew. This has been the order of things since the beginning of mankind, and shall be that way until time ceases to be. May our lives reflect this wonderful truth!