Did the Resurrection have any impact on the Sabbath?

Did the Resurrection have any impact on the Sabbath?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.


Some claim that the resurrection of Christ changed the Sabbath. There are some problems with this claim.

First of all, there is not a single verse in the New Testament that states “The Sabbath as changed by the resurrection”. The authors of the New Testament never mention the two subjects in the same context. The Sabbath was established in Genesis and continues into the New Heavens and New Earth (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Also, if we look at the book of Acts they preached about the resurrection and still honored the Sabbath. Did the resurrection of Jesus change their view of the Sabbath?  We have some examples below.

Acts 13:13-15

“13 Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

Pisidian Antioch is in the region known as Galatia. Paul wrote an entire letter to the churches in this region (the letter to the Galatians). We can clearly see that Paul practiced the Sabbath. Let’s look at the content of Paul’s preaching.

Acts 13:28-31

“28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30 But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.”

Paul preached about the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. After preaching on Christ’s death and resurrection, not once did he mention it changing the day of worship away from the Sabbath. On the contrary, they continued to honor the Sabbath even after hearing this message.

Acts 13:42-45, 48

“42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.… 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed..”

After hearing the message of Jesus’ resurrection, the people wanted to hear more about Jesus on the next Sabbath. Clearly there is no connection between the resurrection message and the Sabbath being changed. But, there are more details to learn from these verses.

In Acts 13:43, Paul taught them to continue in the grace of God. In verse 44, they met on the Sabbath with Jews AND Gentiles. He taught them about grace as they obeyed the Sabbath. This proves that grace and Law are not contradictory concepts. Gentiles were there and believed in Jesus.

Acts 17:1-4

“1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.”

In Acts 17, Paul preached in the city of Thessalonica. The writer of Acts is clear to point out that Paul’s manner or custom was to attend the synagogue on Sabbath. Greeks also attended to hear the message – and many them believed. In fact, a larger number of Greeks believed in Jesus than the Jewish people (only some of them believed). The resurrection of Jesus was the main content of Paul’s message; the Sabbath remained unchanged.

If the resurrection had such an obvious and unmistakable impact on the Sabbath – then why wouldn’t the first disciples receive and spread that message? If the resurrection had such an obvious impact on the Sabbath, then you would think that Jewish people would especially need to hear this, right? Well, they did not need to hear it. Keep in mind – there is not a single verse in the New Testament applies resurrection to changing the Sabbath.

When we hear people give reasons why they think the Sabbath has been changed or is no longer relevant, none of their reasons are found in the New Testament.

When Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, He honored the Sabbath. It was his custom. He chose this day, above all others he could choose, to fulfill the verses in Isaiah concerning the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 14:17-21). Jesus also said the following:

“27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).

In these two verses, Christ declared that the Sabbath was made for man – not for Jews or Israelites. It was established in Genesis 2:1-3 before God made any distinction of nations. He also proclaimed that He was Lord of the Sabbath. It is the only day of the week over which He proclaimed Himself Lord.

The resurrection had no impact on the Sabbath.

God bless!


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The Timeline of Christ’s Passion

The Timeline of Christ’s Passion

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for the sins of humanity with His own life. He laid down His life to show His love for us. Did you know that the end of Christ’s earthly life occurred during the Passover season? This was the season in which God chose to show His love for the world. The timeline of events from His last Passover through His resurrection is sometimes called the Passion of Christ.

Before we can understand this timeline of events, we must first understand the Passover Season. To delve deeper in this subject, we must first review some details from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the foundation of knowledge for the New Testament. It is the backdrop for all events in the New Testament. The Old Testament is quoted hundreds of time in the New Testament. Thus, to FULLY understand events in the New Testament, we need a grasp on the Old Testament. This will make the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ come to life.

The second detail we must grasp is how time is reckoned in the Bible. When Jesus was on earth, He only gave us one sign. “39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40). In Jonah 1:17, the Bible records that Jonah “…was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

If this was the ONLY sign, it seems that it would be important to know it. What does three days and three nights really mean? The Roman Catholic timeline of Christ’s Passion is as follows: He had Passover and was arrested on a Thursday evening. He then suffered and died on Friday afternoon; lastly, He resurrected on Sunday morning. Many non-Catholic Christians also accept this view. Do we simply accept the traditional view? Only the Bible can direct us in the proper understanding of days and nights and the timeline of Christ’s Passion.

Old Testament Background

Our examination of this subject will start with an understanding of the first Passover. In Exodus chapter 12, the children of Israel honored their first national Passover. On the fourteenth day of the first month on the Hebrew Calendar they killed a one-year old lamb and placed its blood on the top and sides of the door post outside their homes. That same night they ate a meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. That same night the death angel came through the land of Egypt to slay the first born of those who did not follow these instructions. The people were commanded to stay in their homes until daylight (Exodus 12:22).

After the Passover is a seven-day period called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The First and Last Days of this seven-day period are annual Sabbaths. Annual Sabbaths are special days in a year in which no work or labor is to be performed (this is in the same manner as the weekly Sabbath, which is from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset).

Altogether, Passover and Unleavened Bread are eight days. Sometimes they are listed separately and at other times the entire eight-day period is called Unleavened Bread. We have some Biblical examples below:

“5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is the LORD’s Passover. 6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days. In the seventh day is a holy convocation: you shall do no regular work” (Lev. 23:5-8).

“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God; for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night…3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it. You shall eat unleavened bread with it seven days, even the bread of affliction; for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste; that you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Deut. 16:1, 3).

“Three times in a year all of your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which he chooses: in the feast of unleavened bread, in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tents. They shall not appear before the LORD empty” (Deut. 16:16).

“14 You shall observe a feast to me three times a year. 15 You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out of Egypt), and no one shall appear before me empty…” (Exodus 23:14-15).

These details provide the necessary background information to understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Sometimes Passover is listed separately from Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:5-8; Deu. 16:1-3). In Deuteronomy 16:16 and Exodus 23:14-15, God gives a summary of the three Holy Day seasons. While it is not specifically mentioned, Passover was still observed the day before the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread.

As we read the gospels, we learn that Christ was not just keeping “the last supper” with His disciples. They were keeping Passover.

The Meaning of Three Days and Three Nights

The next step is to understand how time is calculated in the Bible. Christ said He would be in the tomb three days and three nights. There has been a debate about the meaning of these words. Was Jesus in the Tomb parts of three days (such as part of Friday, Part of Saturday, and Part of Sunday) or was He in the Tomb three whole days and three whole nights (72 hours). A series of verses will provide clarity.

“Jesus answered, ‘Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him’” (John 11:9-10). These verses describe events that happened just before Passover. Jesus plainly said that there were twelve hours of day. Night is juxtaposed as a separate time from the twelve hours of day.

Some would use Jesus’ words to proclaim that only the hours of day are counted. However, the hours of night and day are both counted in the Bible. “For these aren’t drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is only the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15).  “Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night” (Acts 23:23).

These two examples from Acts teach us that both the night hours and the day hours are counted. In fact, the night was divided into four watches of so many hours each. “In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:25).

In Mark 5:5, we learn about the man of Gedara, who was possessed by demons. “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones.” Obviously, night and day are mentioned in the verse to describe a 24-hour period. The man was crying out at all times.

In Matthew 4:2, we learn that Christ fasted forty days and forty nights: “When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward.” I have never heard anyone make the assertion that Christ fasted less than forty days with 24 hours each.

From these Biblical examples, the answer is plain. Jesus was in the tomb three days and three nights or 72 hours.

Now that we have the Biblical understanding of Passover and time, we will begin to map out the events that happened from the Passover through the Resurrection. One detail to keep in mind is that the Jewish people celebrated Passover on the wrong night in Jesus’ day (they celebrated it on the 15th of Nissan). This allowed Jesus to celebrate it with His disciples on the 14th of Nissan, after the Biblical reckoning, and still be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb according to common Jewish practice. As we go through the timeline, we will quote as many Scriptures as space allows. We will have references for summarized verses.

Tuesday Night – The Passover

Matthew 26:17-20 – “Now on the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, ‘Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain person, and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, ‘My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ The disciples did as Jesus commanded them, and they prepared the Passover. Now when evening had come, he was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples.”

The first day of Unleavened Bread mentioned in these verses is later clarified as the Passover. Matthew is clearly referring to the entire eight days as Unleavened Bread. Passover comes first. Notice that Passover began in the evening. A full day in the Bible begin and end at sunset (Genesis chapter 1 informs us that evening and morning are one day). While Jesus kept the Passover, the following events happened:

John 13:2-17 – As the meal was being served, Christ washed the feet of His disciples. He set an example for us to do the same.

Luke 22:17Jesus opened the Passover meal with the blessing of the first cup (historically this was called the Kiddush).

Matthew 26:23-25; John 13:18-30 – Judas eats the bread dipped in the dish. He left the meal to betray Jesus. “Therefore having received that morsel, he went out immediately. It was night” (John 13:30).

Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20 – Jesus took the unleavened bread and the last cup; He revealed and instituted that these elements represented His body and blood. Luke noted that this cup was taken at the end of the meal.

Matthew 26:31-35 – Jesus told the disciples that they would stumble this same night. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight’…” (Matthew 26:31). Peter contended that he would never fall away. Jesus then prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times.

John Chapters 14-17 – Christ taught the disciples about the meaning of discipleship and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He prayed for all those who would believe in Him.

Matthew 26:36-46; John 18:1; Luke 22:39-44 – Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with the disciples. He took on the sins of the world and suffered in great agony. In this angst, He sweat great drops of blood.

Matthew 26:47-56; John 18:2-12 – In the Garden, Judas arrived with troops and soldiers to betray Jesus. Our Savior was arrested and the disciples were scattered.

Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus was led before the high priest, elders, and Sanhedrin; He was hastily put on trial and falsely accused.

Matthew 26:69-75 – Peter denied Christ three times. The rooster crowed; he realized his sin and wept.

Wednesday Morning

Matthew 27:1-2 – “Now when morning had come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and they bound him, and led him away, and delivered him up to Pontius Pilate, the governor.”

Matthew 27:11-26a; John 18:28-40 – Jesus was put on trial by Pilate; while many accusations came forward, Pilate declared Him innocent. The people refused this ruling and wanted a criminal released instead.

John 19:1-3; Matthew 27:26b-30 – Jesus was mocked and subsequently scourged by the Romans. He had a crown of thorns driven into his head. The people wanted His crucifixion; Pilate washed his hands of Christ’s blood and turned Him over to their demands.

Wednesday Afternoon

Matthew 27:31-38; John 19:16-24 – Jesus was led out to be crucified; He began carrying his own cross. At some point along the way, Simon of Cyrene helped him carry the cross. He was crucified along with two convicted criminals, who were placed on either side of Him.

Matthew 27:39-51 – Christ was mocked while He suffered. Darkness covered the land from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour of day (12 pm to 3 pm in our reckoning of time). About 3 pm, Christ breathed his last breath and died. This detail is very important. Our countdown to His resurrection begins at this moment.

Wednesday Late Afternoon

John 19:31-33 – “Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn’t remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs.”

In Roman times, they broke the legs of those nailed to a cross because it hastened the process of death by suffocation. John’s gospel informs us why they wanted the bodies off the crosses.

John 19:31 reads: “…for that Sabbath day was a special one” The Greek word translated as ‘special one’ is megas. When megas is used with the word Sabbath, it refers to an Annual Sabbath (not the weekly Sabbath). Therefore, John 19:31 references the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which is the day after Passover. They did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses during this Holy Day. Jesus had already passed away before they could break His legs.

Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47 – In the late afternoon, Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus’ body. He wrapped the body in linen cloth and laid it in his own tomb, which was carved out of rock. Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin. This means he had to bury Jesus’ body, wash with water, and still attend the public celebration of Passover after sunset.

Mark 15:47 – “Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.”

Thursday Morning

Matthew 27:62-66 – On the First Day of Unleavened Bread, the priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to place a guard over the cover of the entrance to the Tomb for the next three days. They recalled Jesus’ words that He would rise from the dead after 3 days. Pilate agreed and sent troops. The tomb was also sealed to prevent anyone from rolling it away.

Thursday Evening or Friday Morning

Mark 16:1 – “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.”

The Sabbath which passed was the First Day of Unleavened Bread. No shops would have been open, so they had to wait until the Annual Sabbath was over before they could buy and prepare them.

Luke 23:56a – “They returned, and prepared spices and ointments…”

Friday at Sunset

Luke 23:56b – “…On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” The weekly Sabbath is a commandment.

Saturday Afternoon – Jesus resurrected from the dead. This was 72 hours after He died and was buried. Most Jewish people would have been at synagogue or resting at home.

Saturday Evening – “Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. 2 Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!’ Mary came to the Tomb and found it empty. She ran to tell Peter and John. They ran to the tomb to see that it was empty” (John 20:1-2).

Recall that Biblical days begin and end at sunset. Therefore, early on the first day of the week while it was still dark would have been just after sunset on Saturday. As soon as the Sabbath ended they went to the Tomb. It was empty.

Thus, we can see that the only arrangement of time that allows for 72 hours to elapse from Christ’s death to His resurrection is a Tuesday night Passover and arrest, a Wednesday crucifixion/death, and a Saturday afternoon resurrection. This arrangement also allows for an Annual Sabbath and weekly Sabbath to be included.

Now we can better understand the gospel accounts describing the timeline of Christ’s Passion.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.



Holy Bible. Kingdom Life Version.

Jewish Encyclopedia 1905: Kiddush; Seder

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Historicity of the Hanukkah Miracle

Historicity of the Hanukkah Miracle

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

When we think about the Hanukah celebration, we tend to think about God’s miraculous work for the Jewish people. It is a historical account filled with amazing plot lines that we can learn many lessons from today. However, there is one event in the Hanukkah account that may or may not have happened. It involves the relighting of the menorah.

We will begin with a brief overview of the historical details leading up to the Hanukkah story. In 175 BC, there was a Greek king named Antiochus IV who ruled over the Greek Seleucid Kingdom. This kingdom spanned from modern-day Syria to near India. It went as far south as the border of Egypt. Antiochus was not content with this massive territory; he sought to conquer Egypt as well.

He tried twice and failed both times. The second failure occurred in 168. On this expedition, the Romans opposed his expansion. Antiochus had made extensive preparations for this expedition and was determined to conquer something. Since he was deterred from Egypt, he turned his fury towards the Jewish people and especially the city of Jerusalem.

Initially, Antiochus and his forces approached Jerusalem under a banner of peace. When the army entered the city, they began to slaughter innocent people. As part of his desecration, he invaded the Temple precincts. He erected a pagan altar on top of God’s altar of sacrifice. They made sacrifices to these gods with unclean animals on the 25th day of every month. He declared himself to be god. 

The Jewish people did not remain silent. Antiochus sent his generals into the country side to compel Jewish people to sacrifice to the Greek gods and eat unclean animal meat. Among the first men to resist this apostasy was Mattathias. He refused to compromise his beliefs and fought back. He led a group that would later become called the Maccabees.

The Jewish people fought valiantly despite serious disadvantages. They were outnumbered, had inferior equipment and had a lack of military training compared to their Greek counterparts. Despite these apparent deficits, the Jewish people won victory after victory. It was truly miraculous how God came through for His people.

After three years of intense fighting, the Jewish people regained control of the Temple area. Once this happened, they immediately sought to purify it from Antiochus’ defilement. They cleansed it of impurities and prepared it to be used for God’s purposes once again. This included the destruction of the old altar of sacrifice; a new one was erected using stones (according to Ex. 20:24-25). They rededicated the Temple over eight days (according to the Biblical custom – 2 Chron. 29:17).

From that time to now, the Jewish people have celebrated Chanukkah (which is a Hebrew word meaning rededication) for eight days every year. 

As part of rededicating the Temple, they had to relight the menorah. According to Jewish legend (found in the Talmud), they only found one container of pure oil that had not been defiled. The account goes on to say that they lit the menorah on faith and this one container of oil lasted eight days (the entire time of the rededication). This event is called the Hanukkah miracle.

When we read about Hanukkah and the revolt against the Greeks, the legend of the menorah being rekindled is usually given a prominent place. Some say that the miracle of the oil did not happen.  Modern people do not place as much emphasis on the military victories – which were miracles in and of themselves. In this article, we will review the historicity of the Hanukkah miracle.

The term historicity refers to the historical legitimacy of an event. In other words, did it really happen? Another question we hope to answer: why are the military victories not as emphasized by people today when we discuss Hanukkah?

Let’s start by examining the primary sources nearest these events. A primary source is a person, artifact, or some historical record that is contemporary to the time period being examined.

The first book of Maccabees was written nearest the time of the Hanukah story. This book describes the invasion of the Greeks, the courageous resistance of the Jewish people, and their victory. In it, the re-lighting of the menorah is told.

“They burned incense on the altar and lighted lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the Temple” (1 Maccabees 4:50). The re-lighting of the Menorah is recounted as a significant event in the rededication of the Temple. This account also mentions how the menorah and altar of incense brought light to the Temple. Thus, the light emanating from the menorah (and the altar of incense) is a central theme of the rededication. However, there is no mention that there was a lack of oil for the menorah or that it burned eight days on a one-day supply.

Another historical work completed after the Hanukkah story is called the second book of Maccabees. The name for this work can be a little deceiving. It was a summary of a five volume series written by Jason of Cyrene (2 Maccabees 2:19-25). The author of second Maccabees describes the “mass of material” available in Jason’s work. These volumes recounted the story of Judas Maccabeus and the rededication of the Temple. Second Maccabees mentions the relighting of the menorah (2 Macc. 10:3). It does not mention a Hanukkah miracle. The five volumes by Jason might have contained more details about this event. Unfortunately, these volumes have been lost.

The next credible source describing these events comes from Josephus, a first century AD source. His account follows first Maccabees pretty closely. He mentions no miracles, but he does mention the menorah being rekindled. The other furniture pieces are also mentioned.

“…they lighted the lamps that were on the candlestick, and offered incense upon the altar of incense, and laid the loaves upon the table of showbread, and offered burnt offerings upon the new altar of burnt-offering…Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival on account of the restoration of their temple worship for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival and call it “Lights”. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond all Hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival” (Antiquities, Book 12, Chapter 7).

This is a fascinating statement. Did Josephus know more than what he disclosed? He called Hanukkah ‘lights’ but gives no reason as to why it should be called that. The Greek word translated as lights in this passage literally means illumination – as emanating from a light source. His statement indicates that he may not have been completely convinced how the name “Festival of Lights” was conceived. Although, I Maccabees makes it clear the Temple was illuminated from the lights lit within. 

Josephus, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees are the primary sources closest to the Hanukkah story. The menorah being relit was obviously an important part of reclaiming the Temple. It is recalled by all of them. If some kind of miracle occurred regarding the menorah (or any other Temple furniture piece), maybe these authors did not know about it or chose to leave it out. The fact that they had religious freedom from the Greeks seems to be of the upmost importance. The Jewish people gained control of the Temple and could worship God.

Another very important point to consider in this discussion is the following: how many people would have actually been around to view any such miracle inside the temple? (if it happened) Only priests could enter the Temple and re-light the menorah. The writer of 1 Maccabees may not have had access to testimonies about those who witnessed it (if it actually happened). As aforementioned, we do not have the five volumes written by Jason.

The main sources that discuss any miracle of oil come later. The Babylonian Talmud was written between 200 and 500 AD. In it, we read about the miracle. This was hundreds of years after the event happened.

“…When the Greeks entered the sanctuary they defiled all the oils that were in the Sanctuary by touching them. And when the Hasmonean monarchy overcame them and emerged victorious over them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil that was placed with the seal of the High Priest, undisturbed by the Greeks. And there was sufficient oil there to light the candelabrum for only one day. A miracle occurred and they lit the candelabrum from it eight days. The next year the sages instituted those days and made them holidays with recitation of hallel and special thanksgiving in prayer and blessing” (Shabbat 21b).

How reliable is a document that recorded an event hundreds of years after it happened? First of all, we do not know all the documents that the writers of the Talmud used to compile their books. Wars, natural disasters, and time caused documents to be lost (such as Jason’s five volumes).

Secondly, consider another example. The Torah was given to Moses around 1500 BC, but the earliest manuscripts we have date to hundreds of years later. This is true for other books of the Old Testament, such as Kings and Chronicles. Both of these books have historically accurate/reliable details in them. 

Third, by the time the Talmud was written, the practice of lighting a menorah to honor Hanukkah was deeply entrenched in its celebration. It was so widely practiced that it was recorded as a necessary tradition. For instance, if you only had enough money for Shabbat wine or oil during Hanukkah, you would buy the oil (Shabbat 23b, Raba). Having a Hanukkah lamp ignited was of utmost importance. It became a requirement among Jewish people. A practice of this nature does not develop overnight. It takes time for a custom to become so entrenched that it is viewed as a requirement.

The Talmud also contains a lot of commentary on the schools of Hillel and Shammai, which we know existed in the last century BC/first century AD. Between the two schools, there was a difference of practice as it relates to Hanukkah. The school of Shammai lit eight candles on the first day of Hanukkah and then decreased the amount of candles by one each day. The school of Hillel started with one candle and increased the amount of candles each day by one (Shabbat, 21b).

Archeology bears witness to these details. In 2019, The Times of Israel reported that the depiction of a nine-branch lampstand was found an ancient oil lamp in Israel. It dates to the first century AD, which is contemporary to the two schools discussed in the Talmud (to read the article about this finding, click HERE). 

In other words, there are details in the Talmud that give it a degree of historical accuracy.

One last source we will consider is a document called The Scroll of Antiochus. It is a possible primary source, but it has problems. It records military victory, but also the miracle of the oil. It has some historical inaccuracies, but other correct details.

The main problem with this scroll is that scholars debate the time period in which it was written. The dates range from the first century through the eleventh century AD. This is a pretty large discrepancy. The majority of scholars settle for a fifth century to seventh century dating because it is mentioned in other writings (the Gedolos in 600 AD; Saadia Gaon in the 800s AD). Nissim b Jacob (around 1000 AD) attributed the scroll on the same level as Scriptural canon. We know that in the 1200s, the scroll was read every Hanukkah in Italy.

We have given a fair overview of sources that recount the Hanukkah story and the possibility of a menorah miracle or a lack thereof. Perhaps it is important to return to our original question: Why was the miracle of the oil found in the Talmud and emphasized by later writers, but not by those nearest it?

The earliest sources mention the great military victories with a minor focus on the Temple furniture. Perhaps the long-term fruit of the Maccabee revolt will guide us towards resolving some of the issues between sources closer to the event and those that are farther away.

The Temple was rededicated around 165 BC. In 142 BC, the Jewish people finally won their political independence from the Greeks. Simon was proclaimed the leader and high priest of the Jewish people forever until a faithful prophet should arise. Just three years later, the Roman Senate recognized their dynasty. So many good things seemed to be happening.

Regrettably, these good times did not last.

Simon was murdered in 135. John Hyrcanus then became the ruler until 104. He wanted to make his wife queen after his death and his oldest son, Aristobulus, the high priest. Aristobulus did not like this plan. Once his father died, he cast his mother and other brothers in prison. His mother starved to death, and he put one of his brothers, Antigonus, to death. He died about one year after becoming king.

From 103 to 76, Alexander Jannaeus, a different son of John Hyrcanus, ruled. After his death, his wife Alexandra became queen for a short time. Not long afterwards, a civil war raged across Judea. The Roman general Pompey intervened in the conflict and put the country of Judea under Roman supervision. The Jewish lost some political freedoms and were forced to pay tribute.

From 63-40 BC, Hyrcanus II supervised the government on behalf of the Romans; he was the high priest. The Parthians briefly conquered Judea around 40. They proclaimed Antigonus as king and high priest over Judea. For the next three years, there was contention as Herod, the pro-Roman antagonist, fought for control of the throne against Antigonus. Herod eventually gained control of the country in 37 BC. He became the founder of the Herodian dynasty. The Romans allowed Antigonus to be put to death; he was the first king the Romans put to death (they usually kept kings captive). The Hasmonean dynasty ended.

In 66 AD, the Jewish people revolted against the Romans. About Four years later, they were defeated. The city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people either died or were sold as slaves. About 60 years later, the Bar Kokhba revolt began. Jerusalem was devastated again; the Jewish people were banned from the city and surrounding country side. Over 585,000 Jewish people died from fighting. They would not be allowed to return to the city for almost 300 years.

This is a brief overview of the events that occurred immediately after the Maccabean revolt. Thus, the initial revolt was successful and involved great military exploits. However, the long-term actions of the Hasmonean dynasty were marred with failure. There was betrayal, murder and civil war. The country lost its sovereignty and became subject to another empire – Rome. The city was destroyed twice and the Jewish people banned from even approaching it. These events sound like a combination of accounts from the Biblical books of Judges with 1 and 2 Kings.

Now that we have reviewed these details, we can have a better perspective of Hanukkah.

Here are some final things to remember when you consider the historicity of the Hanukkah miracle. The people who lived immediately after the Jewish victory focused on battles. Those who lived a few hundred years later saw the long-term fruit of that Maccabeean revolt, which was contrary to the very purpose of it (freedom to worship God). They did not value the military victories as much.

If you were writing, what events might you emphasize?

The fact that the menorah was rekindled (along with the altar of incense and the altar of sacrifice) is recounted by primary sources. It is a significant part of the Temple regaining its light. Josephus even calls it the Feast of Lights. The Bible calls it the Dedication in John 10:22 (literally, “in newness” or “in refreshing”). This is a reference to the rededication of the Temple.

A few hundred years after these events, the lighting of a menorah is the central focus of the Hanukkah celebration. Considering all the details gives the miracle story a little bit more merit – but its still not clear what happened.

The concept that there was an insufficient supply of Levitically clean oil is not absurd. If there was a shortage of oil,then it would have taken a miracle to keep the menorah burning for the dedication process. The holy oil for the Temple required a special process and time to refine it.

We know the menorah was relit; we know the Temple was cleansed and rededicated. Our minds are still left to wonder the specific details and conditions surrounding the menorah when it was rekindled.

At the very least, let us consider their struggle to rededicate the Temple as we rededicate our own. What miracles have happened in your life as you sought to dedicate yourself to God?


Babylonian Talmud. Accessed through https://www.sefaria.org.

Flavius Josephus. The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. 1737. Antiquities of the Jews. Book 12, Chapter 7. p 302.

First and Second Book of Maccabees (Revised Standard Version). 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Jewish Encyclopedia 1905: Antigonus Mattathias, Aristobulus I, Aristobulus II, Scroll of Antiochus, Hasmoneans, Hyrcanus, John.

Moore, George Foot. Judaism in the First Centuries of the Chris-tian Era the Age of the Tannaim. Vol. 2 Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932. pp 49-51.

Times of Israel. “2,000-year-old image of 9-stem menorah found in rare Jewish site in Beersheba”. April 4, 2019. Accessed online: https://www.timesofisrael.com/2000-year-old-image-of-9-stem-menorah-found-in-rare-jewish-site-in-beersheba/

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A Brief Exegesis of Hebrews 10:1-4

A Brief Exegesis of Hebrews 10:1-4

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (KJV)

Among the more misunderstood passages in the Bible is Hebrews 10:1-4. Some say that these verses declare the entire law of God, including the Ten Commandments, to be a shadow that is no longer relevant. However, a deeper understanding of the Bible will give us a more accurate point of view.

First of all, it is important that we have the correct understanding of the word LAW. The Greek word translated as LAW is NOMOS. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word TORAH. The term LAW in the Bible can be specific OR generic; the context matters!

The term Law (as well as Nomos or Torah) is a generic word meaning teaching and instruction. Thus, it can refer to anything in the Bible that is instruction. Moreover, it can refer to specific sections of the Bible that contain teaching and instruction. I have some examples below.

Jesus quoted the Psalms in John 15:25 and called it LAW. “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law [NOMOS], ‘They hated me without a cause’” (John 15:25). This quote is found in Psalms 35:19, 69:4. Paul used the term law when he quoted from the book of Isaiah. “In the law [NOMOS] it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:21). This is a quote from Isaiah 28:11, 33:19.

To review: The term LAW in the Bible can be generic referring to teaching and instruction. However, it can also be specific. In this usage, it refers to instructions given to specific people for a specific application. Many specific laws refer to the Aaronic priesthood and sacrifices. I have listed a few examples below:

Leviticus 6:9

“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law [TORAH] of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.”

Leviticus 6:14

“And this is the law [TORAH] of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.”

Leviticus 6:25 

“Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is law [TORAH]of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.”

Leviticus 7:37

This is the law [TORAH] of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings;

These are just a few of many examples we could use. At the end of Leviticus chapter 7, God closes out the preceding chapters by saying “THIS is the LAW of…”, which signifies specific laws for the priesthood applied to specific sacrifices. With this understanding, let us examine the verses in question a second time.

Hebrews 10:1-4

“1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” (KJV)

These verses are referring to the specific laws relating to sacrifices. Bulls and goats are specifically mentioned. Notice that the author mentions “…the very image of the things”. The Greek word translated as image is eikon, and it is where we derive the English word icon. In other words, bulls and goats are not even in the image of the perfect sacrifice they represented; they are shadows. Just a few verses later, the writer states: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Christ is the image of God; He came bearing the likeness of mankind (Col. 1:15, Phil. 2:7). He is not a shadow – He is the real thing!

Thus, Hebrews 10:1-4 are plainly referring to the specific law of sacrifice. The Ten Commandments are not shadows; to say so is denying eternal truths. Those who say the Ten Commandments are shadows have not thought out the implications of their reasoning. For instance, consider the first commandment. Is worshipping only the True God a shadow? Absolutely NOT! God’s commandments are eternal truths that will never fade away.

As you read the New Testament, be aware that some references to LAW are generic and others are specific. It takes a careful study of the Word of God and discernment from God’s Spirit to know the difference. 2 Tim. 2:15


Your Evangelist,

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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An Authentic Faith


In the Bible and history, we find many heroes of faith. Hebrew chapter 11 has a list of them from the Old Testament, including Gideon and David. In the New Testament, Paul, Peter, and others inspire us to pursue God. When we study history, there are a number of men and women who have set a tremendous example of faith such as Polycarp and Wycliffe.

Over the years, I have heard people compare themselves to people from the Bible or history. David is a common comparison. He fought many battles for the Lord and displayed courageousness in the face of peril. He is even called a man after God’s own heart. Keep in mind David also made serious mistakes. One reason why we connect with heroes of the past is because they fell short as we do.

We can also not forget the heroes of today – people from our own lives that have made an impact on our walk with God. This can include, but are not limited to, a pastor, fellow church member, parent or grandparent, and even a sibling. These individuals are dear to our hearts because we knew them. They ministered to us, prayed for us, cried with us, and fought the battles of life with us. We look up to them.

While we have heroes of the faith – whether from the Bible, history, or the present – we also must have our own personal faith in God. This means that we spend time seeking God for His will in our own lives. When someone asks you a question about your faith or the Bible, does your answer sound like the following: “Because my brother says so”; “My mom or dad told me”; “Because my favorite preacher said it was true”; or “Because someone from history believed the same way”.

When we have answers like this, it makes us sound insincere. Jesus said that whatever comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts (Matthew 10:34). Do you know why you believe a certain way? Are you just imitating someone else or following an organization’s command?

It is still important to honor and respect others who encourage you in the faith. At the same time, we want to have an authentic faith. Paul said, “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12b, NKJV). Paul was persuaded because He knew God for himself.

When someone asks you why you believe a certain way – be sure to know where in the Bible you can defend that belief. Then you can say “Because God instructs me in the Bible to do such”, and you can demonstrate where that belief is found in the Bible. When you can defend your faith, you display authenticity.

Heroes of the present and past can certainly encourage, inspire, and teach us. But their example is to encourage us in our own genuine faith. Their faith cannot take the place of our own. Take the time to study the Bible and pray; be convinced and persuaded like Paul. Serve in your local church.

In the process of developing an authentic faith, let us remember that the end result is the example of Jesus Christ. No one else can exceed His perfect life.

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A Brief Exegesis of Romans 14:5-6


A Brief Exegesis of Romans 14:5-6

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Romans 14:5-6 is among the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. These verses have been misunderstood as negating the Sabbath and other commandments. We will examine the example of Paul, the verses themselves very carefully, and some history. This will make the passage clear.

One of the ways we interpret history is through what we call primary sources. These are people who were eye witnesses to events as well as archeological findings from the time period. The Apostle Peter was a contemporary of Paul. Here is what Peter said about Paul:

“15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17, ASV).

We learn some important details from Peter’s words. Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, but they do not negate the other Scriptures. The other Scriptures are a reference to the Old Testament. They did not have a New Testament in their day. He was a very educated man, which is why some people struggled with his words.

With this background understanding from Paul’s life, let’s look at the two verses in question: “5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6, KLV).

First of all, in Romans 14:1 Paul identified this issue that was considered disputable. This means it is not clearly defined by Scripture. “Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions.” Secondly, the Greek word Paul uses for day, hemera, refers to any common day. It refers to the other six days of the week.

Third, the Greek word for holy, hagios, is not even found in this chapter (Romans 14). Thus, he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath. If he were referring to the Sabbath, Paul would have used the specific Greek word for Sabbath, sabbaton. Fourth, Paul was not addressing which days God considers to be holy, but what days men esteem higher than others. God is the one who set aside the Sabbath, not man.

Lastly, one must also consider his audience. He wrote this to the Romans. He is applying these verses specifically to days that the Romans considered to be important. Let’s take a look at some primary sources from the time before, during, and after Paul that will illuminate these verses.

The Romans were very superstitious. They considered some days of the week to be unlucky, such as Saturday (Tibullus, 1:3,17-18; Propertius 4:1,81-86). They also considered certain days of the month bad for specific activities such as business or travel (Marcus Varro, On the Latin Language: VI:29-31; Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25). There were even days of certain months on which activities were discouraged, such as marriage (Ovid, Fasti, 5:470-492). Some days of certain months activities were encouraged, such as eating certain foods (Ovid, Fasti, 6:169 –beans and spelt were eaten on June 1st to honor Juno).

They formed their behavior this way for one or more reasons. Sometimes these prohibitions were to honor a specific god or goddess (such as June 1st). Sometimes a certain date coincided with a fortunate or bad event that happened in the past in Roman history (for instance, June 23rd was considered ‘lucky’ because a Carthaginian general, who was an enemy of Rome, killed himself on that day – Ovid, Fasti, 6:769).  At other times, the Romans were just superstitious (as another example, the Romans considered odd numbers as unlucky. Certain odd days of a month were considered bad for business – Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25).  For the superstitions of Augustus, who even thought his shoes were an omen, see Seutonius, Life of Augustus, XCII.

Another issue raised in the verses we are questioning is the issue of abstaining from meat. There was a strain of thought in the Roman world which believed very strongly in vegetarianism (Ovid, Metamorphosis,bk15:76-112, 140-142, 458-462; Seneca, Epistulae, 108:17-22; Plutarch: On the Eating of Flesh, 1:41 and On Isis and Osiris, sections 2,4,7; Lucius Apuleis, Metamorphosis, 11:26-29).  From these sources we can see that their vegetarian beliefs were rooted either in the worship of other gods (such as Isis and Osiris) or in a form of reincarnation which viewed the spirits of dead people as dwelling in animals.

With this historical understanding, we can better ascertain the meaning of these verses. Paul himself was an educated man and even a Roman citizen. While he grew up Jewish, he also grew up in a culture that practiced these Roman superstitions. He was well versed with them.

If we are going to consider a common day as important to perform a specific activity, then we should do so unto the Lord and not to a pagan deity, superstition or any other reason (especially not because of a past event in the Roman Empire, which is the anti-thesis of God’s Kingdom). He is addressing this specific Roman cultural activity for common days and activities, not the Sabbath or any day declared holy by God.

God is the one who declared the Sabbath Holy (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 31:12-18, and Leviticus 23:1-6 to name a few). Man did not declare the Sabbath holy. Paul would not condemn anyone for keeping the Sabbath as he obeyed it himself. The seventh-day Sabbath persists even into the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Paul’s example in the Bible shows us that he did not condemn any observance of the law, but that he continued to keep and reverence the Sabbath and Feast Days even after his conversion to Christianity (for a few examples: Acts 13, Acts 17, 18, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:9, and I Cor.16:8).

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says to let no one judge them for keeping the Sabbath, Feast Days, and New Moon Celebrations (Col. 2:16). All of the early churches kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

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Why We Wash Feet at Passover

Foot Washing

Passover was the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples before His death. In fact, it is the only thing He said that He eagerly desired to do (Luke 22:15). When Christ was at the table with His disciples, he instituted a powerful act for us to imitate.

Jesus is the only perfect individual to ever walk this earth. He never sinned. Before he ate the meal with them, he washed the feet of His disciples. John 13:3-17 (ASV) records these events:

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, 4 riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. 5 Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord; neither one that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.

Consider the context of this passage a little more. At that time, most people wore sandals. Their feet were covered in dirt, mud, and even animal dung. Instead of exalting himself at the table, Christ humbled himself to the place of a servant. He washed their feet.

In the process of doing this, He instituted a statute for us: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” He even said that we would be blessed by doing this (John 13:17).

With this act, Jesus taught us that true leadership is humbling ourselves in service. Each of us must be willing to do this for each other. We must be willing to reach down to our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to help wash them off when they are dirty and in time of need. Jesus was willing to humble himself and clean us up, so we should be willing to do the same.

This Passover, as you wash another person’s feet, think about washing the feet of Jesus. As your feet are being washed, think about Jesus washing your feet.

Christ said that we would be blessed if we do this! Is there a blessing from God that you do not want? We should want everything that Christ has for us. He has a special revelation He desires to impart to you as you wash feet this Passover Season.

“1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2, KJV).

Let’s honor Passover this year with humility as we consider what Christ has done for us.

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Free Booklet: The Feasts of the Lord

Are you interested in learning about the Festivals of Leviticus 23?

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Can God use the Heavens to Speak to Us?


Credit: The Exploratorium

Downloaded from NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/eclipse/eclipseimages.html

Can God use the Heavens to Speak to Us?

By: Kelly McDonald, Jr.

We do not think much about the heavenly bodies (the sun, moon, and stars) and their special place in God’s creation. I think we tend to overlook it for two main reasons. One, we are so far removed from the Heavenly realm, even though it affects us greatly. Two, there are people who have perverted God’s creation and worship these entities. Astrology is the religious perversion of the Heavenly Realm. This is where people worship the sun, moon, and stars. They have calendars called the zodiac, and people live by the zodiac predictions. People are trying to spiritually connect with a created thing instead of connecting to the Creator. Because these people have twisted God’s creation, many believers have run away from studying the creation at all. Astronomy is the scientific study of the heavens. Astronomy is Biblical.

The Magi knew that Jesus was born because of a star they saw in the east (Matthew 2:1-10). The Bible actually tells us that they knew the EXACT time the star appeared. This means that they could calculate when the star appeared and where the star was. The Messiah was found because the Magi knew astronomy.

Psalm 19:1-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (emphasis mine throughout)

The Hebrew word translated as “pour forth” is naba, and it is the same Hebrew word used for prophesying! The Hebrew word for Speech can mean promise. To summarize these revelations, the Heavens inscribe the prophecies or promises of God! They can even reveal intimate knowledge to us. The Magi could have only known that a specific star was a sign of the Messiah unless that star was assigned to a specific promise from God!

The Hebrew word for “voice” in verse 4 is “measuring line”. It can mean a line stretched forth for measuring or a line stretched for judgment. It is a unit of measurement. For God, the Heavens are a form of measuring where things are versus where they should be. Sometimes, things measure up perfectly. Sometimes they do not. The Heavens are how God sends this message to humans.

Genesis 1:14-19 reads, “14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”

The sun, moon, and stars serve as signs for season, days, and years. The Hebrew word for signs is oth, and it means a banner or beacon. Have you ever seen a light house? It is a beacon of light on a tower to guide you. In other words, the behavior of these heavenly bodies was meant to get our attention. A banner is a rallying point or a flag of representation. A beacon is meant to guide us. How do these bodies do this?

The sun is how days begin and end in the Bible. At sunset, one day ends and another day begins. This is why the Bible tells us that “…And the evening and the morning (or day) was the fourth day” (Gen. 1:19). This is why the Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on your wrath or anger (Ephesians 4:26). The Hebrew word for seasons is moed, and it literally means a fixed appointment. Throughout the Bible, this word refers to the Lord’s Feasts in Leviticus 23. The moon is so important in the Bible because the Hebrew Calendar is based off of the moon. Because months are determined by the moon, it helps us determine the festivals.

As we see the solar eclipse occur across the United States, let us not forget that God DOES speak through the creation He made. Let’s have ears to hear what He is saying to us in this hour. As we see our nation being torn apart, let us humbly seek His face. Pray for God to use this sign in the Heavens to get the attention of our nation that we would turn back to Him.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:9)

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