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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, January 06, 2006
Shadows and whatnot.

Here is an interesting quote from the Talmud (tractate Yoma, chapter IV (Gemara):
The rabbis taught: Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the lot never came into the right hand, the red wool did not become white, the western light did not burn, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves, till the time that R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: "Temple, Temple, why alarmest thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed. For of thee hath prophesied Zechariah ben Iddo [Zech. xi. 1]: 'Open thy doors, O Lebanon, and the fire shall eat thy cedars.'"

A bit of background for context sake:

The Talmud is a collection of Jewish traditions (considered authoritive to the Jews) comprising the Mishnah (instruction/oral law - mostly halakic Jewish traditions compiled about A.D. 200 and made the basic part of the Talmud) and Gemara (authoritive "commentary" on the Mishnah forming the second part of the Talmud).

Tractate "Yoma" is speaking about "Yom Kippur" - that is, the "day of atonement" (c.f. Leviticus 23:27), that is, this particular "tractate" (treatise) is considered by the Jews an authoritive source for information about the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16 describes the "Day of Atonement". After Aaron's son's offered profane fire to God (recall: God destroyed them by fire), the command was given that Aaron and his children (that is the high priestly line) were not allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies at just any time "let they die" - they were permitted to come before the "propitiatory seat" in the Holy of Holies but once per year, and only the high priest was so entitled. The high priest had to be arrayed in the holy linen tunic, trousers, sash and turban according to the command - only after he had washed his body in water.

Two kids of the goats were taken for a sin offering for the congregation, and a ram as a burnt offering for the congregation - and the high priest would also offer a bull for himself and his family.

The high priest would then take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the temple - here he would cast lots for the two goats, one for the Lord (this was slain as the sin offering) and the other the "scapegoat" (this one was set loose in the wilderness.)

The goat for the Lord was slain, and the high priest took the blood of the bull into the Holy of Holies to atone for himself and the blood of the "sin" goat to atone for Israel. When he came out of the Holy of Holies, he would take the live goat, and confess the sins of Israel over it, then (by the hand of a suitable man) release the live goat into the wilderness to take the iniquities of Israel somewhere else (specifically, to an "uninhabited land").

Okay, so that is our Levitical "reminder" - the Day of Atonement was a day where two goats would be taken for the sin offering, one to be slain, the other to led outside the camp bearing the sins of Israel.

Now we must add an historical reminder:

In 70 AD The Roman General Titus sacked Jerusalem, and burned the temple putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices. According to the Jewish Historian Josephus, the temple was burned to the ground after an unruly soldier, “moved by some supernatural impulse,” (War 6.252) threw a firebrand into the
sanctuary - though Sulpicius Severus’ "Chronica" attributes the decision to burn the Temple to Titus himself. Whatever the case, the temple was indeed burned to the ground in 70 A.D.

Recall, that the temple was not only the temple, but also the Jewish treasury, and that the inside of it was coated with gold. When the temple burned, the gold melted and descended into the cracks and crevices of the stone foundations. Josephus also records for us that in order to get to this gold, the Roman tenth legion ordered the Jewish captives uproot every stone, not only of the temple but of the whole city. Such that all of the temple, and most of Jerusalem was literally leveled, "having not one stone upon another"

Okay, so why do I mention this?

Recall that I am not looking at Christian stuff here, but historic sources that cannot be described as "harmonious" or even sympathetic to the Christian cause. Certainly those Jews who reject Christ as the Messiah, are not going to go out of their way to make a case for Christ.

This brings us back to the Talmud, the last place one would expect to find support for Christ.

You see, the Talmud tells us that It became a tradition in the days of the Temple to divide a crimson thread, tying a part of the thread to the horns of the scapegoat, and another part to the door of the sanctuary. Every year, when the goat reached the wilderness the congregation would look to the thread at the sanctuary door. If it turned from crimson to white it was taken to mean that the sins of the people had been forgiven. This was interpreted as a fulfillment of the verse in Isaiah 1:18 "though your sins be a scarlet they shall be white as snow."

This isn't Christian stuff here, but pure Talmud.

Now, 40 years might sound arbitrary - and perhaps it is, but to me it seems a significant number. First, it mirrors God's judgment against Israel in the wilderness - when they rejected God's rest the first time. But secondly, and perhaps more significantly, it coincides with the approximate date of Christ's crucifixion.

It makes perfect sense to the Christian that with the coming of the Messiah, those things which were only shadows (such as daily sacrifice in the temple) would no longer have any value. The lot could no longer fall to the right hand because Christ had already been sacrificed and was already seated at the right hand of God - the goat that was represented by the right hand lot could surely not be used as the sacrifice because the "right hand" had already been sacrificed once and for all. Likewise we would expect the crimson thread to remain crimson since the true sacrifice was not in effect - that is, the shadow (the goat sacrifice) was no accepted as the placeholder once the true substance (Christ on the cross) had become a reality.

Jewish scholars are divided on how they right that off. Some choose to discredit Josephus, but most are satisfied to say that there were plenty of other reasons why this might have been - not the least of which is the idea that God was punishing the remaining Jews for those who had turned to Christ.

I am fascinated when unsympathetic, and even hostile traditions and histories give clear testimony to the reality of Christ.

Anyway, food for thought.
posted by Daniel @ 1:27 PM  
  • At 7:19 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Wow! The first commenter! Can I get a chocolate nickel or something?
    If you're fascinated by traditions that don't support the reality of Christ (but testify to Him regardless), howzabout this:
    The names from Adam to Noah (Genesis 5) translate from the Hebrew to English: Man (Adam) appointed (Seth, means to place/put) mortal (Enosh) sorrow (Kenan). The blessed God (Mehalal-el) will come down (Jared, or yared) teaching (Enoch). His death (Met-oo-shelackh) will bring despair (Lamech) and comfort/rest (Noach).
    I was told about this in a beginners' Bible class years ago and had to confirm it for myself. Having studied Hebrew for several years and later lived in Israel, I referred back to my dictionaries and voila! It checks out.

  • At 7:42 AM, January 07, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Actually, that should read:
    Met-oo (death His) shelackh (will bring, literally "send").
    Just in case anyone's paying attention. :-)

  • At 6:29 PM, January 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    I am fascinated when unsympathetic, and even hostile traditions and histories give clear testimony to the reality of Christ.

    Yes, it's quite humourous the way God uses even cultural things to subtlely testify of His grace.


  • At 7:38 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    It dawned on me this morning that my example uses Scripture (not culture), which of course will testify to the reality of Christ. I'm slow, but eventually I get there...
    Btw, on my blog, Daniel (thanx for dropping by), you mentioned "blogspotting." Vas is das? Sounds like either a game of tag or a kid's worst nightmare at a sleepover.

  • At 10:55 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Neil said…

    Hi Daniel, I thought this was very interesting.

  • At 1:19 AM, January 09, 2006, Blogger Antonio said…

    Hey Daniel, we have had our differences before, but I was wondering what you would think about my newest blog entry about how the post-reformation scholastics significantly diverged from Calvin and Luther on the critical doctrine of assurance of salvation. Your comments would be appreciated!

    Calvin vs. the Calvinists

    It is appreciated!


  • At 7:53 AM, January 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Antonio - that is a big post, and I have to leave for work. It may be that I get time to read it and answer appropriately, but I confess, my heart is not for debating Christian experience.

    I know I am saved because God has promised salvation in scripture, and God's promise stands. But even were I ignorant of God's promise, or lacking faith to believe them, yet I would know that I am saved because God's Spirit dwells in me.

    You see, Jesus hasn't only saved me from God's wrath, He has also saved me from sin's power. That is, I have been miraculously set free from various sins in my life. I used to hate my father for all the abuse I grew up with. I hated him so much that I didn't even understand that I was hating him - I thought I just didn't care, but one day in prayer I was convicted about it, and confessed to God that my Father was a sinner just like I was, and that I had no grounds for my hatred, and I forgave him. I woke up the next day and it was as if the world were brand new. A bitterness that I had always had all my life was entirely gone. I would not have known that there was such a life without that bitterness because in all my life I had never known a moment wherein the bitterness hadn't saturated my every fibre. It's absence was profound, and life changing. It wasn't that I suddenly "tried to not be bitter" - it was that I was suddenly free from being bitter - no effort on my part, just a genuine freedom - a gift of grace from my God and Savior.

    There are probably intellectual calvinists out there who imagine that they have to persevere to be saved - that is, they mess up what perseverence means, and imagine that the way to salvation is to persevere.

    I tell you with all confidence, that I could go on a sin binge for the rest of my life, and I would be confident of two things. First, that God would correct me if I were genuinely his - that is, that if I gave myself over to sin, God would lovingly but certainly correct that behavior (as many as He loves He chastens and rebukes), but if I refused to be corrected, God would handle me as he handled those in Corinth who abused the Lord's table (some God made sick, some God took to the grave) - that is, I would likely grow sick and eventually die. But I know that I would be in heaven.

    God doesn't punish his children, he corrects them. Punishment is for those who are not his children.

    My "perseverence" is therefore not motivated by a desire to get to heaven, or to demonstrate that I am genuine. Such might be the fancy of a purly intellectual faith - that is, not the faith of one who has met their Savior, but rather the faith of one who has decided that these facts are true and has put their faith in their own ability to believe the truth rather than in Christ. Such errors of faith are not uncommon.

    I persevere because God's Spirit is within me - I have a new heart - I desire to live a life that is pleasing to God, and in the same way that I did not generate this desire, I can neither remove it.

    I persevere, not because I am trying to demonstrate the reality of my faith to myself, but because I have no choice in the matter - I want to be pleasing to God, it is an ever present, undeniable desire - and it is this desire that is common to all those who are genuinely saved.

    Do not mistake this desire for the desire for self-preservation. I have that too, we all do. That desire can cause a man to pursue God, but as the means to an ends.

    Ask yourself this question - why do I want to go to heaven?

    If the answer is, "Because I don't want to go to hell!" - you might be in big trouble. But if the answer is "Because I love the company of God!" - you are not far from the kingdom.

    Either way I will try and keep myself from getting drawn into that discussion if it is all the same.

    It is good to challenge and shake that which can be challenged and shaken - it loosens up those who are adhering to Calvinism because someone taught it to them rather than because God opened their eyes. If one isn't convinced of the doctrines of grace by God himself, one is certainly able to be persuaded away from them - and it is probably profitable if he or she is. It shows them that their trust is not in God but in theological positions.

    I am not calvinist because I ever heard of Calvin, nor am I a calvinist because I studied the theology somewhere - I came to these conclusions because I read the bible, and prayed a lot.

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