The Apple Of God's Eye

June 9, 2011

The Correct Crucifixion And Resurrection Of Christ

bible-archaeology.info

Many believe they know the details surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but if they follow the teachings of mainstream Christianity, they are wrong! This is a crucial fact to get correct, because it is the only SIGN of His messiahship that He would give to this “evil and adulterous generation.”

“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly;so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”(Matthew 12:38-40).

Three Days and Three Nights

Matthew 12:38-40 clearly states that Christ would be buried for three days and three nights. Modern churchianity teaches the fable about a Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning resurrection. Yet reconcile yourself to a simple finger count  of nights and days, and you’ll quickly find that from Friday until Sunday morning, as commonly taught, is only two nights and one day, not three of each. This false teaching is NOT proof that Christ is the Son of God because His own words disprove it.

How has the Friday to Sunday myth come to be perpetuated so universally? Well, religious leaders point to the fact that Jesus was crucified the day before a sabbath day, concluding that this means He was killed on a Friday. But they couldn’t be more wrong!

Your Bible proves that the murder of Jesus occurred on Wednesday, April 25, in the year a.d. 31—not Friday. It also proves that the resurrection of Jesus occurred at sunset on Saturday evening, April 28, not at sunrise on Sunday. (more…)

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April 23, 2011

Catholics Have It Wrong On Jesus’ Time In The Grave

Editors Comment: This is a great article about the fallacy of the Catholic Church’s timing of how long Christ was really in the grave, to suit their doctrinal errors. It is from the Trumpet.com, and written by columnist Stephen Flurry. Check it out .

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newcreationperson.wordpress.com

It is commonly assumed that Jesus was crucified on a Friday afternoon and then rose from the dead a day and a half later around sunrise on Sunday morning. But if Jesus died on Friday and vacated His tomb at dawn on Sunday, how does that amount to three days and three nights, the time frame Christ established as proof of His Messiahship?

That’s the intriguing question posed by USA Today last week. Sadly, the article attempted to explain away the sure prophecy of Christ by holding up weak arguments presented by biblical scholars. One “expert” actually reasoned that Jesus didn’t intend for His words in Matthew 12:40 to be a “precise” measure of time!

Even Pope Benedict xvi, the article informs, wrestles with the three-day time frame in his book about Christ’s last days. According to the pope, “There is no direct scriptural testimony pointing to the ‘third day.’”

No scriptural testimony? When the Pharisees asked Christ for a sign as proof of His Messiahship, being in the grave three full days and three full nights was the one and only sign Jesus gave. He meant what He said. In another passage, He even referred to the daylight portion of a day as including 12 hours (John 11:9).

So when Jesus said three days and three nights, He meant 72 hours—no more, no less. That is the plain testimony of Scripture.

When it comes to the Easter sunrise service, however, there is no scriptural testimony to observe that man-made holiday. The word “Easter” appears once in the Bible—in Acts 12:4—and only in the King James Version. Hastings Bible Dictionary and other translations of the Bible correctly render this word, pascha—as it is translated in every other instance it appears in the Bible—as Passover. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was crucified on Passover (Matthew 26:2). (more…)

September 29, 2009

Is Your Religion Offering You A Bailout?

Rev. 12:9 says this world started with Satan deceiving the first humans and he continues to do so to the entire world today. How many people (including organized religion) believe this verse? Does it really encompass the whole world, including the thousands of bickering religions systems in existence today? Of course it does, that’s why it is in the Bible.

II Cor. 4:3 – Scripture says the God of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe (II Cor. 4:3). Now I know that many Christians will say they believe, but do they? Are their actions in tune with what God says in the Bible? Let’s have a deeper look.

This is NOT God’s world or civilization

Despite the facts and evils that fly in our face, there is no good in this present world. America likes to hold itself up as the world’s standard, but despite the blessings of Abraham, this country leads the world in pornographic filth, drug consumption and a host of other evils that make other countries shake their heads.

This is Satan’s world entirely. God, at the present time, has a hands off policy towards mankind. That is why we see unparalleled human suffering.  Jesus came to start a new civilization which will be God’s world (future). God has NOT tried to repair the world and neither is there a power struggle between God and Satan.

When Christ first came to earth, He was a light to the world, but men did not recognize Him because they love darkness (John 3:19). This is not just talking about the Jews, as some commentaries state, but about all men – the entire world. How do I know that all men would have reacted the same way? Because Jer. 17:9 says man’s mind is deceitful above all things. Notice how powerful is Satan’s deception. He has deceived mankind to be incapable of seeing things in a straightforward manner. All are full of shrewd guile, and moved only by motives of self-interest..

After 6000 years, most still think this is a good world. Satan also sees his way as better than God’s, as workable. He is an espouser of change, just not positive change. How can we even know the heart if it is so dangerously sick?

Destruction of this world’s systems?

We usually think of Christ as the “Prince of Peace.” But did you know that your Bible says He is actually coming to make war with man? Has your particular religion ever explained this to you?

Rev 19:15 – “And out of His mouth goes forth a sharp sword, that with it He might smite the nations. And He will shepherd them with an iron rod. And He treads the winepress of the wine of the anger and of the wrath of God Almighty.”

Jesus Christ will actually fight against unrepentant sinning nations. He is coming to destroy the world’s systems of government. Some will say that God cannot do this, as He is love. But notice that Rev. 11:18 says He destroys those who destroy the earth. Man is destructive, not God. He has to put a stop to it or man would wipe himself out. God has to intervene by sending His Son to this earth.

The Pharisees in Christ’s time, much like our leaders today, could not understand that Christ would sit with sinners and not the “supposed righteous.” But He told them that THEY were wrong, and that they needed healing from their spiritual sickness, or their Jer. 17:9 mind (Matt. 9:10-13, Hos. 6:6).

Modern religion offers spiritual bailouts

We hear about bailouts, prop-ups, and rescues for companies today due to financial mismanagement However, all of these fail to address the cause, which is changing what is wrong. That is what Atonement is all about. If we keep destroying the earth, Jesus Christ has to intervene to stop us.

In Heb. 9, Paul spoke to people who knew the symbols, but not the meaning. This is much like the world today. It does not understand the Bible, and neither do religious denominations or groups who think everything will be provided for them – no change necessary, no looking at the cause. Quite simply, their religion offers to bail them out spiritually, to remove their guilt without effort, without repentance, without law keeping, without becoming one with God. This is impossible. Christ will not bear our sins and atone for them if we make no changes. The death of Jesus Christ is not enough to give us salvation, yet religion today worships only a dead Christ on the cross, not a living intercessor. This can only be done by keeping the law of God, because once we come out of sin, an unrepentant life will be of no value to God.

Verses 13-14 of Heb. 9 show a new project, a new way and new world to serve the living God. We have to have a clean slate and washing to move on from the dead works of this world to follow God. In God we live, move and have our being. Our guilt ceases to exist if we repent (Acts 17:28).

The Day of Atonement offers us the opportunity to fast (Lev. 23:29), which is a vivid reminder of being saved from destruction – the ultimate bailout. It is about salvation. Our dollar says in God we trust, yet God is the only one we won’t turn to in humility and prayer so that our guilt might be atoned for.

Our greatest need is for God to reveal our sickness, and then to change it. This is addressing the problem and starting over with what is right. If our sins are not atoned for first, then there can be a special relationship between God and His children (Lev. 23:28).

Humans are wracked with sin and deeply flawed. Sin divides man from God (Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 66:18). It is a chasm between us — a tear in the fabric of the family unity God yearns to share with us. As passionate as God’s love is, it is equaled by the passion of His hatred of sin. He simply will not abide sin.

God’s master plan involves spiritually converting human minds to the point where we come to despise sin and embrace righteousness as He does — in every thought, word and deed. This is the fundamental change required in God’s plan for mankind.

In other words, if we are ever to fulfill God’s purpose for us sinful human beings — if ever the violence set in motion by Lucifer’s rebellion is to be set right — God must institute a process of atonement. Sin must be dealt with; the presence of sin in our lives demands radical action to remove it, expunge it, wipe it out, so that true at-one-ment between man and God can occur.

Is this what your religion teaches, or does it offer a flaccid come-as-you-are doctrine? Only one can be right!

August 31, 2009

Is Keeping The Sabbath A Ritualistic Law?

riovidafoundation.wordpress.com

riovidafoundation.wordpress.com

Is the Sabbath a ritualistic law?

The short answer: no! It is one of the basic Ten Commandments (Ex. 20; Deut. 5). When a young man asked Jesus how he could enter into eternal life, Jesus replied: “Keep the commandments.” Jesus then proceeded to quote several of the commandments of the decalogue to show which law He meant (see Matt. 19:16-19).

Second: Since the Sabbath is one of those decalogue commandments, the breaking of which is sin (I John 3:4), a person who has knowledge of the true Sabbath must observe it to avoid sinning.

Third: Jesus Himself talked about the liberty of the gospel. He said: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Not understanding what Jesus meant, the Pharisees retorted that they “were never in bondage to any man” (verse 33). So “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin [transgression of the law] is the servant of sin” (verse 34).

Some of the Pharisees were indeed in bondage to sin. And anyone who knowingly breaks God’s Sabbath is committing a sin and is, therefore, in spiritual bondage. James said: “… To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Fourth: It is fulfilling God’s law of love to keep the Sabbath. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments [including the Sabbath] are not grievous” (I John 5:3). Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Further: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me …” (verse 21).

In summary, keeping the Sabbath is one of the four basic ways in which we love God. It is an unchanging moral law — not a ritualistic law.

August 22, 2009

What Is God's Name?

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homepage.mac.com

God’s name is important! We must not use it lightly or irreverently — but with a genuine sense of reverence and awe (Exodus 20:7). But what is the name of the heavenly Father? What is the name of His Son, our Savior, the Messiah? It is important that we know. For there is only one “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Must we, as some claim, use only Hebrew names when speaking of the Father and the Son? Is salvation based on the pronunciation of God’s name in a certain language, or on a certain set of sounds? Are we unwittingly transgressing the Third Commandment when we say “Jesus Christ,” “God” and “Lord” — because these are not Hebrew names? There is no need for confusion. Read on and understand!

Sacred names?

The notion that we must use only God’s Hebrew names is of no ancient origin. Actually, the Hebrew-names teaching had its beginnings less than 50 years ago, in the late 1930s. At that time, proponents of the idea began to claim that it is gross sin to say the name Jesus Christ, which is an anglicized spelling of the Greek words lesous and Christos. Likewise, they declared it a sin to utter the phrase God the Father, for the English word God was said to be linked etymologically with pagan worship.

The Deity’s name, they alleged, must be spoken only in Hebrew. This is an important prerequisite for entering God’s Kingdom, they claimed. These same few teach that the sacred personal name of our heavenly Father is Yahweh (or, in its contracted form, Yah) and that the name of His Son is Yahshua the Messiah. The word Elohim, too, must be used instead of our equivalent English word God. They declare that when we pray or speak about the Father and the Son, we must use only these Hebrew names. It is wrong, they say, to translate the names of the Deity into English or any other language. In other words, we may freely read and discuss the Bible as translated into the English language in all terms except the names of God or Jesus Christ. Then we must speak Hebrew. Using substitutes for the names Yahweh and Yahshua, we are told, could deny us salvation.

Are Hebrew names the only ones acceptable to God? Is He insulted by anything else?

The tetragrammaton

First, let’s examine the name Yahweh, said to be the personal name of the Heavenly Father. In Exodus 3:15, the Creator introduced His name — YHWH — to Moses. (In many English versions of the Bible, YHWH is translated as LORD, usually printed in capital letters.)

Unrealized by many, the text of the Old Testament consists of consonants, no vowels. The original Hebrew of the Creator’s name as written in the consonantal text of this verse is spelled simply YHWH, not Yahweh. YHWH is often referred to as the “tetragrammaton,” meaning the “four letters.”

The name YHWH is derived from a form of the Hebrew verb to be. It has the same meaning as the name I AM, mentioned in the previous verse (Exodus 3:14). Hebrew scholars say YHWH could mean “he exists” or “he causes to be.” The English equivalents of this word would be “the Ever-living” or “the Eternal.”

Though we cannot be absolutely certain what the missing vowels in YHWH should be, many scholars believe that YHWH was probably vocalized originally as Yahweh.

The Jews, thinking the name YHWH too sacred to be uttered, ceased to even pronounce it after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, it was considered unlawful and blasphemous to utter it. When a Jew reciting orally came to YHWH in a scripture, he substituted the word Adonai (a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or “Master”) instead. The name of God, in other words, was written YHWH, but pronounced Adonai.

But one thing is certain. The pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH was not “Jehovah.” This familiar but erroneous name is a comparatively recent invention, devised by Peter Galatin (the confessor of Pope Leo X) in 1520. Galatin interjected the vowels of the word Adonai (a-o-a) between the four sacred consonants YHWH, producing the hybrid monstrosity YaHoWaH, which later became “Jehovah” in some English Bibles. It is a totally artificial name, formed by adding alien vowels to the Tetragrammaton. It has no claim to legitimacy.

Yahshua is Yahweh!

The first point that must be made in answer to those well-intentioned but misguided advocates of “sacred names” concerns their labeling the Father Yahweh as distinct from His Son Yahshua (which means “Yahweh is salvation”). They claim YHWH is the Father, and that the Son later had to be revealed.

The truth is that the YHWH of the Old Testament is the very One who became Jesus or, in Hebrew, Yahshua! Yahshua, or Jesus, IS Yahweh!

Jesus was the Word (Greek, Logos, “spokesman”) who was with God the Father from the beginning (John 1:1). The Logos was the Creator — “All things were made through Him” (verse 3). That Logos — the Creator — later became flesh and dwelt among us (verse 14). He then declared the Father (verse 18), whom no man had heard or seen before (John 5:37).

Notice further: In Deuteronomy 32:3-4, we read that YHWH (translated “Lord” in many Bibles in verse 3) is “the Rock.” In I Corinthians 10:1-4, we discover that the Rock was none other than Christ. In John 8:58, Jesus reveals that He is the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. In Hosea 13:4, YHWH says there is no savior but Him. YHWH, then, clearly is Jesus (Acts 4:12)!

Jesus (or Yahshua) was the God of the Old Testament. He was YHWH. With this understanding, one of the major tenets of the sacred names doctrine falls flat! Now look, at another major error in this false teaching.

Evidence from Old Testament

Though the vast majority of the Old Testament was inspired in the Hebrew language, Daniel and Ezra wrote portions of their books in Aramaic or Syriac, the prevalent language spoken throughout the Persian Empire and elsewhere during their time. It had replaced Hebrew as the language of common speech of the Jews.

When these men of God referred to the Creator in those passages, did they use the old Hebrew names, or did they translate them into Aramaic?

Nowhere in the Aramaic passages do we find the names YHWH or Elohim. An examination of the manuscripts reveals that in dozens of places the writers rendered the Hebrew names for God into the Aramaic word Elah. And it is just as proper that the Hebrew El and Elohim should be translated into the English word God.

Moreover, it should be noted that the name El was in use among the pagan Canaanites long before Moses penned the Pentateuch. In the cuneiform religious tablets excavated at Ras Shamra (the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit in northern Syria), for example, El (El the Bull) is described as the head of the Canaanite pantheon, husband of Asherah and father of all the other gods. If it is a sin for us to use the English word God because pagan Druids used it to refer to their idols, then, by the same reasoning, it is also a sin to use the Hebrew words Elohim and El.

Also notice that the Hebrew word Elohim is used 240 times throughout the inspired Old Testament to refer to pagan, heathen idols (see Exodus 12:12, Deuteronomy 6:14 and Judges 11:24, for example). This usage shows that it is just as permissible to use the English word God today for both the Creator and for pagan idols.

Apostolic example

But what about the New Testament books? The original inspired language of the New Testament was Greek. Greek was virtually a universal language in the first century, widely understood by both Jews and gentiles.

Much of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul, the apostle sent to the Greek-speaking gentiles who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. When Paul wrote in Greek to Greek converts, did he pause in mid-sentence and switch from Greek to Hebrew to write Yahweh or Yahshua when faced with a sacred name? Never!

Paul invariably used the Greek words for “God” (theos) and “Lord” (kurios). And he used the Greek name Iesous (Jesus). And so did the other writers of New Testament books, as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. In 665 places in the New Testament, the apostles translated the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word kurios.

There is not one New Testament Greek manuscript with the names of the Deity written in Hebrew!

In the face of these clear facts, “sacred names” proponents have no choice but to deny the New Testament was originally written in Greek. They assert — wrongly — that the whole of the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic (some even say Hebrew), and only later translated into Greek. At the time of this alleged translation, they claim, the sacred Hebrew names were wrongly removed and pagan Greek names substituted. The burden of proof is on them. The evidence? There is none — for it is a totally false notion, devised out of necessity to justify a false premise!

The Aramaic version of the New Testament available today is clearly a later translation from the original inspired Greek. The only copies of the original New Testament writings that have been preserved are in Greek — none in Aramaic or Hebrew.

More proof

Jesus said He came to reveal and declare the name of the Father to men (John 17:6, 26). Yet where do we find any discussion of its pronunciation? Where did Jesus say that Hebrew is the only name we must use? If pronunciation is so all-important, why did Jesus never say so?

Another point: Jesus prophesied that “many [deceivers] will come in My name” (Matthew 24:5). If the only proper form of his name is Yahshua, then Jesus’ prophecy has utterly failed — and He is a false prophet! Have many come in the Hebrew name of Yahshua? No — hardly any. But many deceivers have come in the name of Jesus Christ, which Jesus in this verse clearly calls His name.

In other words, Jesus was saying that false churches would use the true name. Jesus obviously is not concerned with the language in which His name is spoken; it remains His name. There is power and authority in Jesus’ name — the only name by which we may be saved.

Consider further: In John 17:11, Jesus asked the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” As we trace the history of the true Church through the ages; what name do we find it using? “The Church of God,” or the equivalent name in the native language spoken by members of the Church at any particular time! We do not find through history the name “Church of Yahweh” or some other Hebrew form. Either it is acceptable to use the non-Hebrew word God — or the Father failed to answer Jesus’ request!

What’s in a name?

What does the word name really mean, anyway? In Bible usage, a “name” signifies much more than merely a set of vocal sounds. Names convey meaning. They are given for a purpose. “Abraham,” for example, means “father of many nations.” “Israel” means “prevailer with God.” And Yahweh means “the Eternal.”

One’s name summarizes one’s authority, power, reputation and character. It is not merely a certain set of sounds or vocal vibrations that is important, but the meaning and power behind the name.

God’s name has profound significance. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains many divine names (some in Hebrew), each descriptive of some aspect of God’s character. Among them is El Shaddai, “almighty God,” as in Genesis 17:1, and Eloheseba’ot, “God of hosts,” as in Amos 5:27. The meaning of each of them is infinitely more important than its mere sound in Hebrew. God’s character remains the same — whatever the language may be.

Moreover, you need to understand that Elohim (God) is a family name (Ephesians 3:14-15)! It has a plural ending — allowing for more than one member in the one divine Family. We may also bear that name — the very name of God! We may enter the God Family by a resurrection.

Performance, not pronunciation

Salvation is not based on pronunciation! Those who would worship the sound of a name — treating it with superstitious and mystical reverence — make an idol out of that sound. Thinking they have some gift of greater knowledge, they actually miss the whole point and intent of the Scriptures, and engender needless strife and division.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Performance, not pronunciation, is of paramount importance to God. We honor His name by obeying Him, not by mouthing a certain sound. Do not be misled by the naive and misguided “scholarship” of those who would make a “show of wisdom.” Their teachings are not substantiated by the Word of God, but are based on a multitude of woefully misapplied scriptures. Speaking the names of God in Hebrew is not a prerequisite for salvation.

Take reassurance from the statement of the apostle Peter, who declared, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ [Christos in the original Greek], blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:14).

Source: The Good News, January 1986

Christian Conduct: Good – But Good Enough?

Nobody’s perfect — but compared to the world around you, you must rate pretty high.

You don’t curse, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink too much. You are faithful to your mate and you are honest. You go to church regularly, you pray, you study the Bible and you try to put it into action. That has got to make you better than the average person. After all, many people today aren’t even trying to be good.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The apostle Paul warned that the end-time society would be a place of falling standards and collapsing values. “Know this,” he wrote, “that in the last days perilous times will come” (II Timothy 3:1-5). Paul warned that people would become more greedy and selfish. He predicted the brutality and mindless violence of our age, when people would love pleasure more than God, and when even those who were “religious” would not understand God’s truth. “From such people turn away!” he thundered.

If you are serious about serving God today, you must indeed turn away from this world before it collapses. But that is hard, and it is all too easy to relax and slip back into your old ways. And so the Bible tells those who are real Christians to examine themselves from time to time (and particularly during the Passover season) to see if they are indeed “in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

When you measure something, you compare it with an accepted standard — a weight, a ruler or perhaps a thermometer. Then you can know how heavy, how long or how hot it is. But how do you measure how good you are?

How good are you?

If you compare yourself with the standards of the world around you, you would probably pass with flying colors. But is that good enough? There is a serious flaw in such reasoning. Obviously this world’s standard of what is “good enough” is not reliable, but do you know why? It is not just because it is wrong. It is also variable — or, to be more specific, it is declining.

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Paul warned in II Timothy 3:13. He realized that the end-time world was not just going to be bad — it was going to get steadily worse.

Today crime is increasing, and violence and perversion are becoming commonplace. Young people are becoming ever more disillusioned and older people more frustrated. The world has its ways of hiding the truth from itself. Everyone wants to believe that things are getting better, and so more and more evil is tolerated. The unacceptable is made acceptable and the illegal becomes legal. What was once wrong is now accepted as “OK.”

But legislating away sin and squelching the penalty never solves problems. All it does is ensure that more people are going to be harmed.

Declining movie standards

The entertainment industry gives us a good example of how this society gradually tolerates more and more evil. Back in 1939, when Clark Gable used a rather mild (by today’s standards) expletive in the movie Gone With the Wind, audiences gasped. But that was only the beginning.

In 1968 the Motion Picture Association of America decided to regulate itself, adopting a set of standards by which new films could be rated. “G” meant the film was suitable for general audiences. “M” indicated that some of the material might not be suitable for children and that mature guidance was required. Then there was the “R” rating, signifying that children were restricted from seeing the movie unless accompanied by parents, while an “X” determined that no minors would be allowed to see the movie under any circumstances.

But did that action lead to more good films and less obscene rubbish? No — today half the films produced in the United States get an “R” rating, and many that now get a “PG” (which replaced “M”) would have been rated “R” back in 1968. A “PG-13” rating has now been added to indicate that a film is more violent or sexual in content than a “PG” movie, but not enough to earn an “R.”

Standards have dropped. What was unacceptable is now considered acceptable. Today you are probably allowing yourself to be entertained by movies with themes and language that would have appalled “good Christian folk” as little as 15 years ago. Explicit four-letter words and blasphemies glibly roll off the tongues of actors, even in “PG” movies. We barely notice them, and it takes a lot to make us gasp now.

So if you measure yourself by the rating standards of the world around you, you are kidding yourself. Even if your standard of righteousness is always better than the average, it doesn’t take a genius to see that soon “good people” are actually worse than the average had been only a little time before. Those who consider themselves “righteous” by society’s standards are kidding themselves.

A lesson from the Pharisees

That was exactly the situation into which Jesus Christ came nearly 2,000 years ago. The standards of “good behavior” in that society were set by the Pharisees, a sect of self-righteous religious leaders. By their standards, the Pharisees looked good. They prayed. They studied the Scriptures. They gave tithes and alms, and they fasted often. The average man in the street, seeing a Pharisee in action (and the Pharisees made sure they were seen) would have thought that they were indeed righteous people.

But Jesus saw right through them. He gave a parable that showed what He thought about these hypocrites:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Jesus showed that the goodness of the Pharisees, although seemingly better than average, was just not good enough. “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” He explained (Matthew 5:20).

Measuring accurately

Is there, then, a standard by which Christians can measure themselves? There is indeed. God’s law is a standard you can trust, a standard that never varies. With God there is right and there is wrong, and He commands us to do what is right.

Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4), and God doesn’t grade sin. There are no “X,” “R” or “PG” transgressions. The penalty of sin always has been and always will be the same — death (Romans 6:23).

Now that is too strong for some, and there have been many attempts to liberalize or even do away with God’s law across the centuries. But God does not move His standards up and down to conform with changing times, or to agree with what some liberal theologian chooses to define as sin. He doesn’t alter His values to accommodate “progress” in a “more enlightened” world. He never condones sin. (He does, of course, forgive it, if we repent.)

Jesus summed up God’s standard in Matthew 5:48: “You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

In that case, perhaps we should just give up. Who can become perfect like the great God? But God is reasonable and understanding and does not hold out an impossible standard to thwart and frustrate us. He sets this standard to prevent His people, who are trying to stop sinning, from falling into the insidious trap of self-righteousness.

We must always remember that just reaching a better than average standard isn’t good enough.

By all means be encouraged if in your Christian life you are showing some progress. That progress should spur you on to keep going. But remember, you have not passed the test yet. God has a high standard.” He has promised to help you grow toward it — but not if you bog down into smug self-satisfaction. Don’t be fooled by the collapsing standards of a world that has lost sight of reality. You aren’t “good enough” yet.

The Good News, April 1986

August 19, 2009

Twelve Reasons Why Jesus' Trial Was Illegal

The trial of Jesus was without legal precedent. He was fraudulently convicted by the courts of His day. He was executed by crucifixion even though His judge found Him innocent!  Why?

It is time we understood what was behind Jesus’ crucifixion and learned the 12 outstanding reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

Atheists and agnostics today try to prove that Jesus was legally crucified. Here are surprising statements from a book entitled The Prosecution of Jesus, by Richard Wellington Husband.

Concerning the trial of Jesus, he charges on page 281: “The arrest was legal … The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal … The course of trial in the Roman court was legal … The conviction was legal, and was justified.”

The author, a lawyer, was undoubtedly sincere in his convictions. He was a professor of classical languages at Dartmouth College. Here is how Mr. Husband justifies his beliefs:

“The arrest” of Jesus “was legal, for it was conducted by the proper officers, acting under instructions from the Sanhedrin. There was no illegality in the circumstances under which the arrest was affected. The hearing by the Sanhedrin was legal, for it was merely a preliminary hearing, and was not a formal trial. The course of trial in the Roman court was legal, for it harmonized with the procedure shown in the sources to be pursued by governors of provinces in hearing criminal cases.”

Pilate conducted himself as other judges did, contends Mr. Husband. That made it legal! It is a strange way of reasoning. Now here is Mr. Husband’s final conclusion:

“The conviction was legal, and was justified provided the evidence was sufficient to substantiate the charges, and the records,” he writes, “do not prove the contrary.”

Here a former professor in one of America’s leading colleges contends that there is insufficient evidence in the Bible to show that any reversal of Jesus’ conviction was justified. Here is a man who, if he had sat on the Sanhedrin, might have sincerely said, “He is guilty.”

The Jewish point of view

I have another book before me. It contains the traditional Jewish point of view. The book is entitled The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth. It is by Max Radin. He was a professor of law in the University of California. From page 229, I quote the following: “If he [Jesus] had said only a tithe (tenth) of the things credited to him it was enough to make an indictment.”

From page 109 of this same book, I quote the following about the trial of Jesus. Mr. Radin says there is “no clear statement of how the knowledge of the trial came to those who reported it.” Mr. Radin has been taught to believe that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John had any personal evidence because the trial was private, a secret affair.

What he does not discuss, of course, is the possibility that Jesus, who was condemned — the One who heard everything, who was there on trial — rose from the dead and told the disciples what occurred so that they could report it to us that we might know today.

But let us continue with Max Radin’s point of view. On page 231 you will discover the following statement as to what a trial in Judea was like in Jesus’ day:

“We are, most of us, familiar with the procedure of criminal investigations. The accused person is arrested, arraigned before a committing magistrate, specifically accused and formally tried. He may, and he generally does, appeal to a higher court, if he is convicted. All these things take time, and there is almost necessarily an interval of weeks and months between the later stages of the procedure. But above all, the procedure is strictly regulated by law, and any serious deviation is not merely an irregularity but will probably prevent punishment from being inflicted.”

Notice that most trials involving criminal procedure take weeks, if not months. Jesus’ trial was completed in less than nine hours after His arrest. And it was all done in private so that there would not be any witnesses who could testify on His behalf. How does Mr. Radin reconcile these conflicting sources of evidence?

On page 241, he reasons: “Mark’s version, even by his own testimony, cannot be more than a guess. Instead of a hurried night meeting, a harsh and brief interrogatory, a disregard of established rules of evidence and procedure, the trial may have been formally correct, and the judgment even from the point of view of an upright judge just though severe.”

Mr. Radin assumes that Mark was guessing. Then he assumes it could have been conducted in an entirely different manner. Yet the only extant sources of evidence for the trial come from the Bible. There is no other record to justify another point of view.

Limits on Jews’ authority

What legal authority did the Jews have to try Jesus?

“According to the common view,” reports Mr. Husband in his book, page 210, “the right to try capital cases,” that is, cases involving death penalties, “and even the right to pronounce sentences, still rested with the Sanhedrin, but the actual penalty could not be inflicted until the governor” — that is, the Roman governor, in this case Pilate — “had given his sanction.”

But this view is hardly true. The Jews not only had the power to try certain crimes, but they had the power to convict and the power to execute in all but cases of treason or sedition against Rome and Roman authority.

The assumption that Jesus’ opponents had no power to execute is incorrectly based on John 18:31-32. Here the Jews had said that, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Lifting it out of its context, critics have assumed that the Jewish nation had no lawful right whatsoever to put anyone to death. But this does not happen to be the case.

Have we forgotten how Stephen died? His enemies said, “He blasphemes,” and they stoned him to death. The Romans didn’t disapprove. When Jesus first preached His sermon the day of Pentecost in Nazareth, the Jews sought to stone Him to death. If it were illegal, they wouldn’t have tried it. The Romans would have pounced on them.

The elders of the nation on one occasion brought to Jesus a woman who was committing adultery. They said: “Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

If they had no right to stone any to death, Jesus could have said simply, “Don’t you know under what law you are living?” And what would they have felt like before the Romans if that would have reached Pilate’s ears? But Jesus didn’t say any such thing. Jesus accepted the fact that the right to execute adulteresses and other criminals existed. He told the guiltless to cast the first stone.

Paul was stoned in Asia. Not only in Judea, but in other areas of the Roman world, wherever the Jews were settled, it is plain the Jews had the legal right to execute the penalty of their law. The Romans allowed it. But why did the Jews make the statement that we find recorded in John 18:31-32?

Here is the answer: “From the earliest period the Roman governor took cognizance of all matters that had any relation to the public security or the majesty of the Empire. Consequently there was no time at which the Roman magistrate would not step in when a charge of treason was made, or a seditious movement begun. The case against Jesus is one especially in point, for the charge against him [treason] could under no circumstances be tried by any tribunal except that of the governor.”

Only when it came to treason, civil disobedience, incitement to revolution or attacks against the majesty, that is, Caesar, did the Roman government decide that it was proper that its governors or representatives should intervene. Otherwise, all local administration was carried on by the people and the regular, constituted courts of the conquered nations, of the provinces or of the allies of Rome.

The opponents of Jesus accused Him of blasphemy. But they did not want to execute Him. So they charged Him with treason before the Romans.  What the religious leaders had to do was create charges of treason against Jesus in order to bring it up to Pilate so that they would not be responsible for His death.

Summary of events

After the last supper on Passover, Jesus went out and prayed. Then Judas came with a mob. Accompanying that mob were the high priest, the judges and jury, inciting the mob as they went out to arrest Him.

After Jesus was arrested, Annas examined Him alone. He was ex-high priest.

They next took Him to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, before sunrise while it was yet night, where He was informally condemned. After sunrise, the Sanhedrin quickly condemned Him formally to make legal their previous conduct.

Then they took Him to Pilate on different charges. Pilate wanted to wash his hands of the whole affair. When Pilate found Jesus was of Galilee, he sent Him to Herod. After Herod saw Jesus and could not get anything but silence from Him, Herod decided to let Him go back to Pilate. Then, at the second time before Pilate, the Roman governor, under pressure, gave sentence — even against his own will.

These are the six steps through which Jesus went from after midnight to nearly 9 o’clock. And at 9 o’clock He was crucified. At 3 o’clock that afternoon, He was speared in the side and killed (Matt. 27:49, Moffatt). Shortly before sunset, He was carried to the tomb. That’s how quickly the world got rid of the Savior!

Judas’ betrayal

“Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. Then he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:3-6).

Judas’ treachery developed as a result of Jesus’ rebuke for having condemned the woman who anointed Him with oil. Judas had said to Jesus, “Why didn’t you give that to the poor?” Judas wanted that money himself. He would have taken the oil, gone out and sold it, then claimed he gave it to the poor and pocketed the money. That is what he wanted to do, for he was a thief (John 12:1-8).

So he went to the chief priests and the captains, who bribed him to deliver Jesus in the absence of the crowds who listened to Jesus. The idea was to have Jesus seized privately, so the public, especially the Galileans, would not know until it was over. The plan was to get Jesus at night, try Him at night, sentence Him just after sunrise, to make it look legal, take Him to Pilate, incite a mob to get Pilate to condemn Him, have Him crucified, if possible, in the morning, before those favoring Him would be about.

Who made up the mob that arrested Jesus? The answer to this question brings us to the first error in Jesus’ conviction. We should now examine, point by point, the 12 primary reasons why the arrest, trial and conviction of Jesus were illegal.

First reason

The principle on which any trial may be considered illegal is that it is prejudicial against the man who is tried — that it does not allow him to have full recourse to law so that he might present his part of the case.

Now notice the steps in Jesus’ arrest, trial and conviction. The first point is that Jesus was arrested illegally.

Consider John 18:2-8: “And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place” — where Jesus was that night — “for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore … went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him [by a kiss], also stood with them. Then — when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ — they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ ”

Now continue with Luke 22:52: “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?’ ”

Those who went to have Christ arrested included the priests and elders — His judges! Among them were the very ones who bribed Judas!

Jesus was arrested secretly, by night. He was not arrested on the formal charge of any crime. There was no charge presented here. There was no warrant for His arrest, no statement of what He had done. They just simply took Him.

Contrary to what Mr. Husband said in his book, The Prosecution of Jesus, there was no legal basis on which Jesus was arrested. Nobody had presented testimony or evidence of guilt to the Sanhedrin whereby they could have requested His arrest.

Here is what Jewish law declares. Mendelsohn says in his Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 274: “The testimony of an accomplice,” that is, Judas, “is not permissible by Rabbinic law … and no man’s life, nor his liberty, nor his reputation can be endangered by the malice of one who has confessed himself a criminal.”

The very fact that Judas took a bribe from the judges was certainly proof that Judas was guilty of a criminal offense.

Second reason

The first step in Jesus’ trial was a preliminary examination in a private night proceeding before Annas (John 18:12-14, 19-23).

Notice the Jewish law on this point from Dupin’s book, Jesus Devant Caiaphe et Pilate (a French work): “Now the Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.”

Salvador in his Institutions de Moise, pages 365-366, declares, “An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination.” Yet Jesus was.

According to the law, as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Sanhedrin sat from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice. And Lemann says in his book, Jesus Before the Sanhedrin, page 109, “No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice.” No night meetings were permitted.

The law permitted such an investigation only upon daylight.

Third reason

The indictment against Jesus was itself false and therefore illegal.

According to the law of the Jews, declares Edersheim in Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume I, page 309: “The Sanhedrin did not, and could not, originate charges.” But in Jesus’ case, it did.

Here was the proper procedure, as stated by Innes in his book, The Trial of Jesus Christ, page 41: “The evidence of the leading witnesses constituted the charge. There was no other charge; no more formal indictment.” In Jesus’ case there at first had been no witnesses presented. Opponents simply arrested and started to accuse Him.

Continuing: “Until they [the witnesses] spoke, and spoke in the public assembly, the prisoner was scarcely an accused man. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed a legal charge, libel or indictment, as well as the evidence for its truth.”

Next consider that Mendelsohn writes, page 110: “The only prosecutors known to Talmudic criminal jurisprudence are the witnesses to the crime. Their duty is to bring the matter to the cognizance of the court, and to bear witness against the criminal” — after he is arrested. “In capital cases, they are the legal executioners also. Of an official accuser or prosecutor there is nowhere any trace in the laws of the ancient Hebrews.”

In the case of Jesus there were no witnesses who presented their evidence to the court. The court took it upon itself to secretly arrest Jesus; then they had to find false witnesses.

Fourth reason

The Sanhedrin court illegally proceeded to hold its trial of Jesus before sunrise.

Notice that the preliminary investigation before Annas brought forth no evidence whatsoever. Instead of dismissing the case they proceeded to hold an illegal court.

Why was it illegal? Mendelsohn states: “Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during day time only, and by the Lesser Sanhedrins from the close of the morning service till noon, and by the Great Sanhedrin till evening” (page 112).

The trial of Jesus was begun at night in the hours of early morning, without any witnesses to defend Jesus.

Here is what Maimonides writes in Sanhedrin III: “The reason why the trial of a capital offence could not be held at night is because … the examination of such a charge is like the diagnosing of a wound — in either case a more thorough and searching examination can be made by daylight.”

The Mishna says, Sanhedrin IV, 1: “Let a capital offense be tried during the day, but suspend it at night.” Once more the opponents of Jesus violated their law in order to rid themselves of Jesus and His teachings.

Fifth reason

In the case of Jesus, the Sanhedrin was illegally convened to try a capital offense on a day before an annual Sabbath.

Notice why: “They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on any festival,” says the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, I.

In Wise’s Martyrdom of Jesus, page 67, we read the following conclusive — and shocking — evidence: “No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or on any of the seven biblical Holy Days. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any Holy Day, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than overnight, or to continue them on the Sabbath or Holy Day.”

The opponents of Jesus even violated their law by arresting Jesus on the day before an annual Sabbath. They arrested Him at the beginning of Wednesday in A.D. 31; the first annual Sabbath that year was Thursday.

Sixth reason

The trial of Jesus was illegal because it was concluded in one day.

We read from Jewish law: “A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which the trial began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be concluded before the following day” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 1).

This was to allow sufficient opportunity for any witnesses in support of the accused to present themselves.

The court did not want to allow Jesus this opportunity.

Seventh reason

The indictment against Jesus was false and its use illegal because it was founded upon Jesus’ uncorroborated statement. The court pronounced sentence on Jesus with no supporting evidence whatever.

Consider: The only evidence presented by witnesses to the court was given by two false witnesses. But their testimony was not even used by the court in sentencing Jesus to death. Here is what happened:

Two false witnesses testified that Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

The Jews used this belated statement as an indictment against Jesus. But this piece of evidence was not what Jesus said. He never said the words that is made with hands. Jesus was not referring to the physical Temple of Herod erected by human hands, but to His body (John 2:19, 21), which would be raised in three days.

Then “the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it that these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God’ ” (Matt. 26:62-63).

The question the high priest asked Jesus had nothing to do with the indictment! Jesus was indicted on the false charge that He would destroy the physical Temple and rebuild it in three days’ time. But the court condemned Him on another matter altogether.

Notice the facts. They asked: ” ‘Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’

Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?’

They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death’ ” (verses 63-66).

Jesus was indicted on one charge, tried on another and condemned on His own testimony.

Jesus was not condemned because He said, “Within three days I will build this temple.” He was immediately condemned on the charge of blasphemy.

Here is what the Jewish scholar Maimonides wrote in his book: “We have it as a fundamental principle of our jurisprudence, that no one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be used against him unless properly attested by two other witnesses” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 2).

Jesus was condemned on His own testimony, even though His testimony was not proved blasphemous. The court didn’t even examine Him according to the law to see whether His statement was blasphemy. They only demanded, “Are you the Son of God?” And He responded: “You’re going to see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Was this blasphemy? Of course not! Jesus did not even refer directly to Himself. He merely said: “the son of man.” The court did not seek to prove who the “son of man” was.

They knew, of course, that Jesus meant Himself. For all through His ministry, they came and purred in front of Him, and asked: ” ‘How long do you keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe.’ ”

But as soon as Jesus even gave an indirect statement at the trial, they did not doubt whom He meant by “son of man.” On this testimony Jesus was condemned despite the scripture in Psalm 110. Even Mr. Radin admits that Jesus’ testimony was not blasphemy. On pages 248 and 249 he says:

“The ‘blasphemy’ which the Pentateuch mentions is a literal cursing of God or a direct defiance of him. The only pentateuchal reference makes this clear. It is in Leviticus, chapter 24, and the incident which gave rise to the statute indicates the character of the offense of blasphemy in Jewish law. The half-Egyptian had cursed God — the Israelitish God — as under the circumstances of the quarrel there described, he would have been likely enough to do. No such thing could have been charged against Jesus by his most inveterate enemies.”

Yet the religious leaders did this very thing! Now consider another violation of law in extracting this testimony from Jesus:

“No attempt is ever made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his [the defendant’s] part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation” (Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, page 133).

Eighth reason

The condemnation of Jesus was illegal because the merits of the defense were not considered. When they heard Jesus’ statement, the high priest shouted, “He has spoken blasphemy!” But the law in Deuteronomy 13:14 says, “Then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.”

The law in the Mishna says, “The judges shall weigh the matter in the sincerity of their conscience” (“Sanhedrin” IV, 5).

Ninth reason

The condemnation of Jesus by part of the Sanhedrin was illegal because those who would have voted against the condemnation of Jesus were not there.

Notice what took place at Jesus’ trial before dawn, according to Mark 14:64: ” ‘You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be worthy of death.”

It was unanimous. There was no investigation, no examination to see if He did or did not blaspheme. They just used His testimony against Him without further investigation. They all did it immediately, instantaneously, simultaneously. It was mob spirit that condemned Jesus!

Here is what Mendelsohn states of such a procedure: “A simultaneous and unanimous verdict of guilt rendered on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal.”

The verdict against Jesus was simultaneous and unanimous, although the law required at least one of the council to serve as a defense counsel.

The proper method of voting was to have “the judges each in his turn absolve or condemn” (Mishna, “Sanhedrin” XV, 5). “The members of the Sanhedrin were seated in the form of a semicircle at the extremity of which a secretary was placed, whose business it was to record the votes. One of these secretaries recorded the votes in favor of the accused, the other against him,” states the Mishna, “Sanhedrin” IV, 3.

“In ordinary cases the judges voted according to seniority, the oldest commencing; in a capital case, the reverse order was followed. That the younger members of the Sanhedrin should not be influenced by the views or the arguments of their more mature, more experienced colleagues, the junior judge was in these cases always the first to pronounce for or against conviction,” says Benny, in Criminal Code of the Jews, pp. 73-74.

Furthermore, the high priest rent or tore his clothes at the trial (Mark 14:63, Matt. 26:65). In Leviticus 21:10 the high priest is forbidden to do so: “And he who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes.” See also Leviticus 10:6. He tore his outer garment to stir up emotion, to prejudice others.

The high priest should have remained calm so that no mistake in judgment would be made. In Jesus’ trial none of these requirements were followed.

Let Wise’s book, Martyrdom of Jesus, page 74, explain the law on this point:

“If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e., all pronounce him guilty, having not defender in the court, the verdict guilty was invalid and sentence of death could not be executed.”

Jesus was condemned contrary to the law! Now notice which members of the Sanhedrin were missing during the trial.

Take the case of Joseph of Arimathaea. After Jesus was crucified, we read from Luke 23:50-51, Authorized Version, “And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just.” The word counsellor is admitted by all hands to represent a member of the Sanhedrin. “The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them” — and neither had Nicodemus.

In Mark’s account we learn that all those present condemned Jesus instantaneously and unanimously.

But since the night meeting was illegal, Joseph of Arimathaea was not present. The opponents of Jesus wanted to make sure he could not defend Jesus. Think of the utter lack of any fairness in this trial!

Tenth reason

The sentence against Jesus was pronounced in a place forbidden by law.

After the mob seized Christ, they led Him away, after having been at Annas’, and brought Him into the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. The trial of Jesus wasn’t held in court! Read Luke 22:54: “Then, having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house.”

The court building wasn’t legally to be opened until after sunrise.

According to the law, “A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds its sessions in the appointed place,” says Maimonides, in his book, Section XIV.

The Talmud says, “After leaving the hall Gazith [the court] no sentence of death can be passed upon anyone soever” (From Bab. Talmud, “Abodah Tarath” or “Of Idolatry,” ch. 1, fol. 8).

A sentence of death may be passed only in a legal court, not in some private home, as occurred in Jesus’ case.

Eleventh reason

Most Sanhedrin members themselves were legally disqualified to try Jesus.

According to Mendelsohn, Hebrew Maxims and Rules, page 182, “The robe of the unfairly elected judge is to be respected not more than the blanket of the ass.”

Some of the judges were elected unfairly. We have the names from the Bible and from Josephus of most of the men who were on the Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus.

Such men as Caiaphas, Eleazar, Jonathon, Theophilus, Mathias, Ishmael, Simon, John, Alexander, Ananias and many others were, according to Josephus, recipients of bribes and appointed by members of the family who themselves had no right to sit on it, bought their offices and were disrespected by their people.

There were 12 ex-high priests living at this one time, all part of the Sanhedrin. The Bible expressly requires a man to be high priest throughout his lifetime, at the end of which another took his place. But under the Romans, high priests could be voted into office year by year.

The whole official arrangement — the whole choice of offices — was wrong.

But there was another reason that disqualified almost all Jesus’ judges. It is this: “Nor must there be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser,” writes Mendelsohn, page 108.

Many of the judges were Jesus’ enemies. They even paid bribe money to betray Him.

In Benny’s work, Criminal Code of the Jews, page 37, this surprising statement is found: “Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused person permitted to occupy a position among his judges.”

Everybody knew that the Sadducees and Pharisees were at outs with Jesus. Yet they were permitted to try Him.

Twelfth reason

The court illegally switched the charges against Jesus from blasphemy to sedition and treason before Pilate. Observe how it was done!

The next step in Jesus’ trial was to take Him to the legal court for a mock, private trial at sunrise.

“As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council” — now that they had already condemned Him of blasphemy, they were going to take Him to court for a mock trial! — “saying, ‘If You are the Christ, tell us.’ ”

Notice that they repeated the same questions over again.

“But He [Jesus] said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.’ ”

They had to make this trial look legal.

So “they all said ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ And He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’ And they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.’ Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate” (Luke 22:66-71, 23:1).

This meeting probably didn’t last any more than a few minutes! Now their trial, which was illegally conducted in the private home of Caiaphas, was outwardly legalized.

But instead of taking Jesus out to be stoned for blasphemy, they switched the charges after the court was dismissed!

They took Him to Pilate, and here is what we read in John 18:28-31:

“Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium [hall of judgment], and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’ Then Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and judge Him according to your law.’ ”

Pilate was difficult to convince. He didn’t want to be bothered at this hour in the morning. But the enemies of Jesus replied, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Why wasn’t it lawful? Let Luke give the surprising answer:

“And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2).

Notice that the Jews did not charge Jesus with blasphemy. Had they done so, Pilate would have told the Jews not to bother him, but to deal with Jesus according to their own law by stoning. The religious leaders were afraid of their own people! So they trumped up other and new charges against Jesus before Pilate.

Pilate now had reason to be surprised. The only cases for which the Jews could not try a man involved sedition or treason.

“Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself on this, or did others tell you this about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew?’ ” He didn’t like the Jews, did he? ” ‘Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ ”

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants [the disciples] would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’ — not of this time, not of this world order.

“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ ” Jesus chose not to answer that.

Pilate finds Jesus innocent

“And when he had said this, he [Pilate] went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all’ ” (John 18:33-38).

When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he told the Jews to take Him to Herod: “And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time” for the Passover (Luke 23:7).

After an interview with Jesus, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. To frighten the Roman governor, the opponents of Jesus stirred up the mob outside.

Pilate began to see that there was trouble brewing. He had a mob on his hands. This was trial by mob rule! So Pilate took Jesus, terribly scourged Him, let the soldiers plait on Him a crown of thorns and array Him in purple.

Pilate brought Jesus out again and shouted to the mob: ” ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him… when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.’ ”

The opponents answered and said, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die” — and now for the first time they reveal to Pilate why they condemned Him — “because He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:4-7). They were getting very angry.

Pilate became frightened. He didn’t want to have anything happen for which he would be held responsible by the Roman gods. Upon this, Pilate definitely sought to release Him (John 19:12), for there were no witnesses whatever in this trial before Pilate. The mob had commenced accusing Jesus without proof, without witnesses, without testimony.

Then the ignorant mob cried out: “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” They were threatening Pilate with loss of his office.

Matthew 27:24-26 picks the story up:

“When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’ ”

The ignorant mob responded: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

What they were really saying is: “You execute Him. We don’t want to stone Him; we want you to execute Him.”

Then Pilate “scourged Jesus, [and] he delivered Him to be crucified.” The purpose of scourging was to prepare a criminal for death.

But notice — Pilate did not even give a formal decision against Jesus Christ. He just turned Him over to the soldiers to do what the mob wanted.

Jesus was crucified, though found innocent by Pilate

That is where the trial of Jesus abruptly broke off. No justice here! An innocent man condemned by mob violence! The dastardly act of crucifixion followed. Yet some today would still falsely claim, in the face of all this evidence, that Jesus’ trial was legal, and His crucifixion justified.

Most of us have not really examined the trial of Jesus before. Just look at this trial. What a mockery of justice it was! Can you imagine what it would be like if you had been on trial, to be spitefully treated as these thrill-seeking soldiers treated Jesus? What consideration, what fairness would have been given you?

All this suffering Jesus endured to pay the penalty of sin for you! Yet not you only, but to pay the penalty of the sin of the whole world. It is time you personally were made to look at the last hours of Jesus in mortal flesh to see what a miscarriage of justice led up to the crucifixion — what a mockery was made of trial — and to understand the reasons why the conviction of Jesus was an utter fraud — all voluntarily endured by Christ to pay the penalty of your sin in your stead!

Source: The Good News, February 1983

April 12, 2009

Bet You Don't Know Who Is The Real Jesus?

 

Editors Comment: This great little article is from the Trumpet.com which really highlights the deficient view of a false Saviour by mainstream Christianity. I can’t say it enough times that most denominations are seriously deficient in Bible knowledge; in any real depth of scriptural understanding or interpretation. What a testament to how many people are deceived by man made religions with unbiblical doctrines and an abundance of pagan traditions.

It doesn’t matter if one argues against my statements; they are easily provable from the Bible. If critics are happy being deceived, that’s fine. But here you’ll only find biblical truth. Have a go at the article below and prove it from your Bible. I’ll guarantee your particular denomination’s beliefs will start to look silly – mighty fast.

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The Real Jesus

By Stephen Flurry

The Trumpet.com, April 10, 2009

This is the time of year newsmagazines often grace their covers with a pale, tender-skinned, soft-spoken, long-haired, womanish figure wearing a beard. It’s supposed to be Jesus. But these erroneous depictions of Christ look nothing like the Jesus described in your Bible.

The real Jesus was a powerfully built, masculine man—a rugged outdoorsman. He was a man who was master of every situation. He was a people-person and a dynamically persuasive teacher. He was a man of upstanding character—an upholder and promoter of God’s perfect law of liberty.

Isn’t it time you became acquainted with the Jesus of the Bible?

Christ’s Family

Prior to his 3½-year ministry, Jesus Christ was brought up in a large family as the oldest of five brothers and at least three sisters (Matthew 13:54-56). Traditional Christianity depicts Jesus’s stepfather as some kind of uneducated, deadbeat dad who was baffled by his stepson’s remarkable genius. Joseph was supposedly married to a superior woman.

The real Joseph, however, was the loving head, provider, protector and primary educator of this extraordinary family. He was a “just” man, Matthew wrote, with sterling character. Upon learning that Mary was pregnant, Joseph initially intended to secretly dissolve the engagement for the sake of his own reputation—and Mary’s.

But while Joseph “thought on these things,” an angel appeared unto him and said that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit. In response to the angel’s instructions, Joseph obeyed God, risked his upstanding reputation in the community, took a pregnant woman to be his wife and accepted her firstborn son as one of his very own.

In northern Galilee, Jesus became known as the son of Joseph (John 6:42). As a teenager and young adult, Jesus worked outdoors, developing into a master craftsman on his stepfather’s carpentry crew.

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). This was due, in large part, to the indomitable influence of His mentor and stepfather, Joseph.

When Jesus was 12, for example, Joseph took his wife and children to Jerusalem to observe the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. Only males were required to go to Jerusalem for the three annual festival seasons (Exodus 23:14-17). But Joseph was a successful businessman and family man—so he took the entire family.

It was during this trip to Jerusalem that Jesus wound up in the temple reasoning with the doctors of the law. Having learned to be an exceptional student under His father’s direction, Luke’s account says that Jesus was “hearing” and “asking questions” (Luke 2:46). He was listening and learning from some of the most distinguished educators of His day—this was no ordinary 12-year-old.

His parents, having lost track of Jesus on the way home, returned to Jerusalem to find Him in the temple. They were “amazed.” The teachers of the law were “astonished at his understanding.”

From that point forward, Scripture says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (verse 52).

The real Jesus grew up in a well-balanced, God-fearing household where His physical father served as head and His mother as a submissive and loving helpmeet and homemaker.

Jesus as Master

In his Trumpet column last week, Robert Morley wrote about the dearth of male teachers in elementary and primary schools today. “Why is society robbing young boys of the masculine role models they need?” he asked. When Morley was a boy, his favorite teachers were the stronger, more authoritative male role models he could look up too.

Isn’t it the same for you? Think back on the male teachers who impacted your life most when you were younger.

Now think about Jesus Christ—the greatest orator and teacher who has ever lived. Why should we imagine Him to be an effeminate weakling who somehow moved the masses while speaking in hushed tones?

“Follow me,” He supposedly whispered to the fishermen, tax collectors and businessmen of His day and, of course, they promptly dropped everything to learn a new profession.

That is not the Jesus of your Bible. The real Jesus “waxed strong” physically and spoke with such powerful conviction and clarity that He astonished the masses! “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29).

Jesus Christ did not teach or even look like the self-righteous religious figures of His day. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the Jewish commoners wanted to make Jesus a king (John 6:15). His wildly popular impact early on in His ministry enraged the jealous chief priests and Pharisees. “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation,” they reasoned in John 11:48. They demanded their officers to apprehend this persuasive scholar. But none of the officers would lay hands on Him.

“No man ever spoke like this man!” they said in John 7:46 (Revised Standard Version).

Jesus Christ simply did not fit into the mold of what people thought a religious leader should look and sound like. He was a hard-working, rugged-looking, masculine family man. He loved construction and numerous other outdoor activities like sailing, hiking and camping. He was an avid reader and studier—conversant in every imaginable topic.

And He loved people. He socialized so much His critics accused Him of being a glutton and winebibber! In actual fact, Jesus was the friendliest man who ever lived. He loved being among crowds. He interacted with Samaritans, the blind and lame, the elderly, and women and children. He broke bread with Pharisees, tax collectors and sinners.

Then there were His students—the disciples. Most of those who dropped everything in order to follow the Messiah later sacrificed their very lives for this impressive, God-fearing man. “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” His disciples lamented after Jesus was gone (Luke 24:32).

Jesus lived the abundant life (John 10:10). He practiced what He preached. And in living in accordance with all of God’s holy laws, He left for us a perfect example to follow (1 Peter 2:21).

Strive to follow those steps set before us by Jesus Christ—the real Jesus, as depicted in the pages of your Bible.

March 9, 2009

Are The Jews God's Chosen People?

The Bible makes it clear that God chose Israel — not just Judah — to be His nation (Deut. 7:6). He made a covenant with them when He brought them out of bondage in Egypt. See chapters 9 through 24 of Exodus. Israel was to be an example to all nations of the blessings brought by obedience to the laws of God. They were His chosen people — not His favorite. God has no favorites (Acts 10:34).

Yet, Israel failed. They rebelled constantly and sinned. They split into two nations — the house of Israel and the house of Judah. God sent Israel into Assyrian captivity about 720 B.C. They became lost in history. He later sent Judah into Babylonian captivity, starting about 604 B.C. Their territory was occupied and the people transplanted en masse to Babylon in 587 B.C.

Seventy years later Judah began to return, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple was begun. However, the Jews again misapplied God’s commandments. They added many of their own laws under the influence of the Pharisees (Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13).

Jesus said the Kingdom would be taken from them and given to others — to spiritual Israel, that is, to the Church (Matt. 21:43). The Church now comprises God’s chosen people (I Pet. 2:9). All who are converted are reckoned to be children of Abraham (Gal. 3:29). The Church is to marry Christ as His chosen bride at His return from heaven in this generation (Rev. 19:7-9).

Nonetheless, God has not given up on national Israel! Prophecies in Hosea 2, Ezekiel 36, and Zechariah 12-14 show that the people of Judah and Israel will repent and reunite and again become God’s people. They will be the leading nation in the world tomorrow (Zech. 8). Of course, the Church will then be immortal and under Christ will rule the physical nations (Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4-6).

In summary, Israel, that is, the house of Israel and the house of Judah united, will again be God’s chosen nation. In the world tomorrow they will fulfill the job God called them to do 3500 years ago.

February 23, 2009

Between The Testaments, Part 3

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

In the last installment, we saw how a majority of people were weaned away from their observance of God’s laws by the pressures of the Hellenistic culture. Under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies, they became interested in the education and culture of the surrounding nations. Later, under the domination of a cruel Seleucid Syrian king, the Jews revolted against Syria. The revolt was successful, and Hellenism, as a culture of which the Syrians were great exponents, was now discredited.

The priests (those descended from Aaron), many of whom had been leading Hellenists, were looked upon with distrust by many. Now laymen were beginning to make their voices heard in religious disputes. This was the rise of the Pharisees. It was a layman’s party, though some priests also belonged to it.

The Sadducees

No one questioned the right of the priests to officiate in the Temple. But the priests pointed to Deuteronomy 17:8-13 as giving them, and not the lay teachers, the authority to teach and to decide questions pertaining to religion. They and their supporters organized themselves into the party of the Sadducees (name taken from Zadok, the High Priest in Solomon’s day).

The priests as a whole were wealthy. This and their previous support of Hellenism caused the people to mistrust them by and large. Josephus tells us, “The Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, and have not the populace obsequious to them, but the Pharisees have the multitude on their side” (“Antiquities of the Jews”, XIII, x, 6).

Lay Teachers Justify the People’s Errors

And yet the main reason for the popularity of the Pharisees and the rejection of the Sadducees was neither the tainted past nor the wealth of the priests. It was in the teachings of the Pharisees themselves. During the period of religious anarchy under Hellenistic rule, the continuity of official teachers of the law had been broken. Hellenism had made its inroads.

Consequently, when the Maccabean War came to an end, and some teachers did think of returning to God’s Law, it was found that “many new customs and practices for which there were no precedents in the traditions of the fathers, and not the slightest indication in the Book of the Law, were observed by the people and considered by them as a part of their religious laws and practices” (Lauterbach, “Rabbinic Essays”, Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, p. 195).

In short, the people had adopted many customs and ideas which were in truth clearly pagan. The best example of these is the belief in the immortality of the soul already mentioned. “The difficulty was to find a sanction in the Torah (the Law) for the new customs and practices which had established themselves in the community …” (Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, Soncino Press, London, 1933, p. 66). The teachers should have shown the people they were sinning (Isa. 58:1). Instead they chose to justify them. This should not seem strange. It was done in Jeremiah’s day (Jer. 23:21-22) and in Isaiah’s (Isa. 30:10).

Pagan Customs Called Jewish!

And yet the Scripture plainly states: “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2). Consequently, the teachers taught that the new customs the people had adopted were not really pagan — they were actually Jewish!

They reasoned this: “It is hardly possible that foreign customs and non-Jewish laws should have met with such universal acceptance. The total absence of objection on the part of the people to such customs vouched for their Jewish origin, in the opinion of the teachers” (Lauterbach, p. 211). These teachers told the people that it simply was not possible for them, being Jews, to have inherited any heathen custom or practice. They furthermore taught that since the customs were “Jewish,” then they must have been taught by Moses himself. (This is no different from today, when churchgoers by the millions assume that the original apostles observed Sunday, Easter, Christmas and the like.)

“Accordingly, the teachers themselves came to believe that such generally recognized laws and practices must have been old traditional laws and practices adopted by the fathers and transmitted to the following generations in addition to the Written Law. Such a belief would naturally free the teachers from the necessity of finding scriptural proof for all the new practices” (ibid.).

In other words they claimed that these customs, since they were not WRITTEN in the Old Testament, must have been handed down ORALLY from Moses — by word of mouth. Actually, these traditional laws — these oral laws — were not from Moses nor any of the prophets. There is not a single reference in the Scripture that Moses gave the Israelites any oral or traditional laws that were to be transmitted to posterity along with the written Word. The Bible states just the opposite. It plainly says that Moses wrote the whole Law in a book. Notice. “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were FINISHED …” (Deut. 31:24). There is no such thing as an “oral law of Moses.”

Oral Law Gains Acceptance

The theory of the “oral law” was accepted only gradually — a matter of a few years, rather than months. “The theory of an authoritative traditional law (which might be taught independently of the Scriptures) was altogether too new to be unhesitatingly accepted … the theory was too startling and novel to be unconditionally accepted” (Lauterbach, p. 211 ).

The greater opposition to the so-called “oral law” came from the priests who, as a whole, declared that the Scripture was the only necessary code of laws to obey. “This apparently simple solution offered by the priestly group in the Sanhedrin did not find favour with the lay members of that body” (ibid., p. 209). And, with the passage of time, the lay teachers ultimately came to constitute the majority of representatives in the Sanhedrin. These Pharisaic lay teachers succeeded in convincing the people that they were right and that the priests were wrong.

Some of the people’s fears concerning the priestly Sadducees were apparently valid, however. Many of the priests did become worldly minded and they found worldly politics far more interesting than religion. The Sadducees eventually adopted the belief that there was no resurrection and that angels did not exist (Act 23:8). This was probably a result of the influence of the Greek Epicurean philosophy. It taught that there was no future life of any kind and that man should therefore seek as many physical pleasures in this life as possible, since that was all there was.

New Laws of the Pharisees

Many of the Pharisees came to believe what they were doing was God’s will. “It is certain that they (the Pharisees) regarded themselves as the successors of the prophets, and not merely in fact but by right” (Herford, p. 71). Based on this claimed authority, they adopted a method of teaching what they believed to be laws of God, without any initial reference to Scripture for authority. “Finding no convincing proof for such laws in the Bible, they taught them independently of scriptural proof, i.e., in the MISHNAH-form” (Lauterbach, p. 229).

MISHNAH-form was the name given for laying down laws to be observed, apart from Scripture. This is not to say MISHNAH-form avoided Scripture altogether. But it was only AFTER a law had already been accepted that the Scriptures might be checked for corroboration. Sometimes “affirmation” of a new law was forced from Scriptures totally unrelated to the particular subject. The word MISHNAH is related to the Hebrew root meaning “second” and “study.” MISHNAH-form was the SECOND form that the Pharisees adopted for “STUDY” as opposed to the original form of properly expounding the Scriptures, which was called MIDRASH-form. This older, original form was known as “teaching after the manner of Moses” (“Talmud”, Temurah 156, “Yebamoth” 72b).

MIDRASH-form is based on deducing laws, teachings, legends, etc., from the Scripture. As time went on it too became perverted. “Whenever there was the remotest possibility of doing so, they would seek by means of new hermeneutical rules (rules pertaining to Biblical interpretation) to find in the words of the Torah support for these traditional laws” (Lauterbach, p. 212).

Thus the Pharisees were able to “find” the traditions they were now approving of by twisted interpretations of Scripture. In doing this they still claimed to be using the MIDRASH-form. Ezra is said to have taught in MIDRASH-form when he, and his helpers “read in the book in the law of God distinctly and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8).

There was, however, one major point which Ezra was aware of, but which the Pharisees missed. It is this: God, in the Bible, never contradicts Himself. Malachi, a contemporary of Ezra was inspired to write: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3: 6). But many of the traditional laws the Pharisees approved of did contradict Scripture. What’s more, many of them even contradicted one another. With the introduction of the new MISHNAH-form, Scripture came to be less relied on than before. New laws, which were not even necessarily traditional, could be enacted.

The Pharisees found the MISHNAH-form to be an important weapon in their conflict with the Sadducees. Laws that were accepted after being handed down in the MISHNAH-form tended to enhance the authority of the Pharisees, since it was SOLELY on their authority that the law was accepted. The very first individual of whom we have any record who began to teach new commandments in the MISHNAH-form, apart from the scriptural basis, was Jose ben Joezer of Zareda.

Jose laid down three new commandments. The first concerned the eating of a certain locust; the second, the blood of slaughtered animals; and the third, the touching of a dead body. In doing this he became known as “Jose the Permitter” (“Talmud”, Abodah Zarah 37b). “Furthermore, Jose is called ‘the Permitter,’ evidently because in all three decisions he permits things that were formerly considered forbidden” (Lauterbach, p. 219).

These new laws of Jose were not customs the people had inherited from Hellenism. “It is therefore evident that these Halakot (rules) … were not older traditional laws transmitted by Jose as a mere witness, but Jose’s own teachings. He was the one who ‘permitted’ and he deserved the name (the Permitter)” (ibid., p. 218). These commandments of themselves were not earth-shaking violations, but they did set a precedent! Eventually others began to set down all sorts of new laws. These are what Jesus called “the commandments of men” (Mark 77).

The Prosbul of Hillel

Many others ultimately followed in the steps of Jose. If the majority of Pharisees agreed on a new decision, it was accepted as the Word of God — even if Scripture taught just the opposite. Of the myriad of new laws laid down, perhaps the best example and the best known is the Prosbul of Hillel. Hillel the Old headed a Pharisaic school in the days of Herod. He was noted for his gentleness and was greatly beloved among the people, but his decisions, nonetheless, were not always in keeping with the Word of God.

For example, “All private loans are automatically remitted at the end of the Sabbatical Year (Deut. 15:2) and hence it became difficult to obtain loans immediately before the onset of that year. In order to avoid hardship and encourage lending, Hillel instituted the “Prosbul” (Greek: “for the court”), which is a declaration made before a court of law by the creditor, and signed by witnesses, stating that all debts due him are given over to the court for collection. Since the remission of loans during the seventh year applies only to individuals but not to public loans, the effect of the Prosbul is to render the individual’s loan public, and it is therefore not remitted” (Werblowsky and Wigoder, “The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion”, art. “Prosbul,” p. 312).

Hillel’s motive was apparently quite practical. And yet the Bible clearly states: “Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD (Eternal) against thee, and it be sin unto thee” (Deut. 15:9).

Rather, God says: “Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when you givest unto him: because that for this thing the Eternal thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto” (verse 10). It was because of rules like the Prosbul that Christ told the Pharisees, “Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matt. 15:6).

Hillel saw that the poor were unable to obtain needed loans and was trying to remedy the situation, but he was not doing it God’s way! God says: “Trust in the Eternal with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). There were many such instances where the Pharisees enacted many new laws, based solely on their own human reasoning in an attempt to make what they thought would be a better way of life. Yet God tells us: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).

Cause and Effect

The Pharisees’ error was a classic one. Seeing wrong situations, but relying solely on themselves, they attempted to treat the EFFECT rather than the CAUSE. Notice the case of Hillel’s Prosbul. God plainly tells us that the CAUSE of the problem was in the HEARTS of the people (Deut. 15:9). Today too many see the problems besetting mankind. Governments have their solutions and the revolutionary activists have theirs. But all attempt to treat ONLY THE EFFECTS of the problems. None gets at THE REAL CAUSE — which is to be found for the most part in carnal human nature with its greed and pride.

Today, God is treating the cause of man’s ills in some individuals. He is presently changing the hearts of a few. “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11.19). God’s Law as revealed throughout all of Scripture is indicative of God’s CHARACTER. It is a giving, serving, sharing, concern for the other person as well as the self, and can be summed up by the word LOVE — love first of all toward God and then towards fellowman.

God’s Law shows us exactly how He would live if He were a human being. And this is precisely what Jesus did when He emptied Himself of His divinity and took on human flesh — He never once broke a single law of God. The rise of Pharisaism in the period between the Testaments represented an attempt on the part of these people to keep the Law. But they lacked a clear understanding of their own human nature as revealed in the Scriptures. Notice God’s deeply felt near-lament in Deuteronomy 5:29: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever”!

But “such an heart” was not in them at that time. They had only the human nature that we all naturally possess — the heart that is “… deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9.) Joshua told his generation, “… Ye cannot serve the Lord nor is it in ours.

But man was not left without hope. There was a promise of better things to come. “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:6).

The Pharisees as well as the other sects of the period wanted to serve God and keep His commandments. They had, as the Apostle Paul (who well knew) put it, “… a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). Not aware of the necessity for a change in their own human nature, they found it necessary to change God’s Law. Not that this was done outwardly, but rather by forced interpretations, rationalizations, attempted codifications of laws that are all-encompassing, and new laws that were not admitted always to be new.

By changing the Law, they made it of “none effect.” That is, it did not have the effect that God’s laws should have on those who keep them. Inasmuch as the Pharisees did keep SOME of the laws correctly SOME of the time, it did have SOME good effects. But the overall results that come by living in total harmony with the laws the Creator set in motion simply were lacking. Pharisaic society did not abound with the love of God. You could never convince the Sadducees (with whom they often disputed) that it was otherwise. Nor could you convince the Romans. Nor could you convince the unlearned Jews of that day, whom many of the Pharisees thumbed their noses at with the epithet “am-ha-aretz” (“people of the land” — the term is used in a derogatory sense throughout the Pharisaic writings).

Pharisaic society was filled with strife. When Alexander Jannaeus, one of the Maccabean kings, ruled, the Pharisees were virtually at WAR with him and there was much bloodshed. The Talmud itself is a record of the Pharisees striving among themselves, one with another in religious DEBATES, each one trying to convince the others of the correctness of HIS particular idea, rather than all working harmoniously to seek GOD’S will.

Today, professing Christianity is treading down the same well-worn path the Pharisees mistakingly took. Where is the sect that has not attempted to read its own ideas into the Bible which it professes to obey? And where is the denomination that is truly bearing the fruits of God’s Spirit — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance? Indeed which one even knows what true love is?

Don’t YOU follow the crowd. DON’T be led down the garden path into religious deception by any who would warp, distort and twist the scripture to their own destruction. As you peruse the pages of your Bible, we encourage you to search the scriptures daily WHETHER THESE THINGS BE SO (Acts 17:11). But by the same token we also ask that you apply the same criterion to all who claim to represent God! Remember, “… if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).

Between The Testaments, Part 1

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

Just who were the Pharisees and where did their religious doctrines originate? In the Old Testament? If so, why did Christ so strenuously oppose their ideas? Is the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — a house divided? An examination of the period “between the Testaments” shows that while men may be divided — the Bible is not!

Much of the professing Christian world today suffers from the mistaken notion that Christ came to do away with His Father’s religion — the religion of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus Himself said, “Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (fill to the brim)” (Matt. 5:17).

Christ plainly said that He did not come to do away with His Father’s religion but to COMPLETE God’s revelation. Then why are so many confused on this point? Why do some mistakenly preach that the Law was “done away”?

One of the major assumptions in this connection is that most theologians ASSUME that the Pharisees and the other religionists of Jesus’ day were the representatives and the exponents of the revelation given to Moses — God’s Old Testament religion. But the Bible shows that the One who later became Jesus Christ was the Lord of the Old Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1, 3, see also Eph. 3:9 and Heb. 1:2). Just where and when did the Pharisees get their practices which Jesus condemned?

The Return From Babylon

Chronologically speaking, the last three authors of the Old Testament are Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi. These three men all worked among the Jewish community that had returned to Judaea after the Babylonian captivity. They were largely successful in bringing the people an awareness of God’s true religion. A body of priests (Aaron’s descendants whom God had ordained to be the religious leaders) was set up to guide the people in matters of religion. This company of men was known in history as the “Great Assembly” or “Synagogue” (“Knesset Hagedolah”). Due to the work of this body throughout the period of Persian dominance the Jews were living for the most part in accordance with God’s Law (Heinrich Graetz, “History of the Jews”, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1894, Vol. I, pp. 406-407).

Because of this, God granted them special protection and privileges by a series of miracles, at the coming of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. This is described in Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XI, Chapter X, Parts 5-6.

A New Way of Life

At his death, Alexander’s empire was divided into four parts (Dan. 8:22). Judaea first passed under rule of Ptolemies of Egypt and, later, the Seleucidae of Syria. Both of these were Macedonian (Greek) dynasties and were great exponents of the pagan, Gentile way of life known as “Hellenism.”

The basic philosophy behind Hellenism was this: Every man had the right to think for himself on any matter as long as there was not a real departure from the customs that were essentially Greek. This philosophy — freedom of thought or individualism, which is SEEMINGLY altruistic in-principle — resulted in myriads of confusing and contradictory beliefs among the Greeks in every phase of life. Every man was allowed his own ideas about the sciences, the arts, law and about RELIGION.

So varied were the opinions among the Greek scholars in the various fields of study that individuals took pride in contending with one another over who could present the greatest “wisdom” and “knowledge” on any particular subject. With the encouragement of the rulers, Hellenism spread rapidly in the Ptolemaic Empire. Judaea was by no means exempt.

Great Assembly No Longer in Authority

Within a score of years after the coming of the Greeks, the Great Assembly disappears from history as an organized body having religious control over the Jewish people. It is not known how the Greeks dismissed this authoritative religious body from its official capacity as teachers of the Law. But it is obvious that the authority of the Great Assembly was eroded and the Greek leaders forbade them to teach. Without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many Jews began to imbibe the Greek customs and ideas which were inundating the land.

“With the change from Persian to Greek rule (the Ptolemies were Greeks, remember), Hellenism made its influence felt, and came pouring like a flood into a country which had known nothing of it. There was no escape from its influence. It was present everywhere, in the street and the market, in the everyday life and all the phases of social intercourse” (R. Travers Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, Soncino Press, London, 1933, page 77).

Much of this Hellenistic influence came from the numerous Greek cities which were established under the Ptolemies. Most of these were on the Mediterranean seacoast or on the east side of Jordan. With the Great Assembly removed from the scene and this new culture substituted for the Law of God, the Jews began to absorb many elements of Hellenism. The Jews had no one to guide them in understanding the Law except a few isolated teachers here and there who lacked the official authority of the Great Assembly.

After a few years of this influence, the people literally came to a state of religious confusion. Some endeavoured to keep a form of the Scriptural teachings, but with Hellenism everywhere, it became almost impossible to adhere to the true form of the law of Moses. Almost everything the Greeks brought to the Jews was antagonistic to the laws of God, and, without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many of them began to tolerate these innovations and even, as time progressed, to take up many of the Greek ideas and customs themselves.

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