Zechariah 3 – Joshua Cleansed and Reclothed & Judaism

I believe there are going to be millions and millions of people that will be surprised when Jesus comes back.  You have made things so simple for us to spend eternity with You, rather than burning in hell with the devil.

All we have to do is accept Jesus for who He truly is and walk His way.  It’s that simple.

All those that believe in Judaism and anything other than Christianity are going to hell.  But many of the Christians are too, like those that live by the Catholic faith or the Conservative Christians.  Jesus was very clear on that:

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  And in thy name have cast out devils?  And in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:21-23).

I know the type of people Jesus is talking about right there are those that profit by Your name (Ex 20:7) for their own gain, such as many, many pastors, the Catholic Church, the Mormons and so forth.

I know Your Son doesn’t like those that are lukewarm (Rev 3:16), but He doesn’t accept the wishy-washy either:

“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Cor 10:21).

Tomorrow, if it’s okay with You, I would like to look at another one of those Lost Cities in Europe, let’s look at…

Zechariah 3
Joshua Cleansed and Re-clothed

About 4000 Nuzi tablets in the Hurrian language were discovered by archaeologists in the early part of the twentieth century.

Ancient Nuzi was not an important urban center, but these tablets reveal much about economic and domestic life from a period beginning about 2400 B.C. and continuing several centuries.

It has been pointed out that several events associated with the biblical patriarchs, mentioned in the Book of Genesis, can better be illustrated through an understanding of these documents.

1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

“Joshua” – a variant of Jeshua, here and elsewhere in Zechariah and in Haggai.  In Ezra 2:2 and Neh 7:7 he is referred to as Jeshua.  Here he represents the sinful nation of Israel.  The name “Joshua” and “Jeshua” were common in ancient times.

The Greek equivalent is spelled “Jesus” in English, and all three forms of the name mean “The Lord Saves.”

2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

“Brand pluckt out of the fire” – the Jews were retrieved from the fire of Babylonian exile to carry out God’s future purpose for them.

3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

The Mari Tablets belong to a large group of tablets that were discovered by French archaeologists in the 1930s.

More than 25,000 tablets in Akkadian were found in the Mari archives, which give information about the kingdom of Mari, its customs, and the names of people who lived during that time.

More than 8,000 are letters; the remainder includes administrative, economic, and judicial texts.

The tablets, according to André Parrot, “brought about a complete revision of the historical dating of the ancient Near East and provided more than 500 new place names, enough to redraw or even draw up the geographical map of the ancient world.” Almost all of the tablets found were dated to the last 50 years of Mari’s independence (c. 1800 – 1750 B.C.).

“Take away the filthy garments” – thus depriving him of his priestly office.  The act is here symbolic also of the removal of sin.

5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

“Set a fair mitre upon his head” – or “put a clean turban on his head,” thus reinstating him into his high-priestly function so that Israel once again has a divinely authorized priestly mediator.  On the front of the turban were the words: “HOLINES TO THE LORD” (Ex 28:36, 39:30).

6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,

7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.

If Joshua and his priestly associates are faithful they will be co-workers with the angels in the carrying out of God’s purpose for Zion and Israel.

8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.

“Under the vine and under the fig tree” – a proverbial picture of peace, security and contentment.

Judaism

The parent religion of Christianity, Judaism stands in its own right as the world’s oldest Monotheism. Its history stretches from the time when God brought Abraham into a covenant relationship.  Judaism proffers claims of particularity and universality.

Judaism is not the religion the Judaism that Abraham and Moses preached.
The Jews no longer go by the Holy Bible, but by their bible the Tulmud, which defies Jesus Christ.

In a world of paganism, heathenism, and polytheism, God revealed himself as the one true God over against the plethora of competing deities; in this Revelation, he called a particular man, Abram, to father a I particular nation (Israel), which in turn would be given a particular geographical arena (Palestine), which itself would constitute the “Promised Land.”

From this particularity, God revealed a message in history that was destined to become universally applicable to all nations and all peoples. God’s covenant with Abram (Gen 12:1-3) was established and renewed.

Israel selected to be the standard-bearer of this great revelation, both by example to the heathen nations and by obedience to the precepts of God’s divine covenant made known in the sacred Torah (the law).

History

The story of Judaism is a story derived chiefly from the Old Testament portion of the Bible. The text as we have it today comes from three main sources: the Masoretic text (assembled in the 10th century A.D.), the Septuagint (Greek translation), and the Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered in 1947 at Qumran).

The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating back to about 1772 BC.

It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay tablets.

The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man.

Nearly one-half of the Code deals with matters of contract, establishing, for example, the wages to be paid to an ox driver or a surgeon. Other provisions set the terms of a transaction, establishing the liability of a builder for a house that collapses, for example, or property that is damaged while left in the care of another.

A third of the code addresses issues concerning household and family relationships such as inheritance, divorce, paternity and sexual behavior. Only one provision appears to impose obligations on an official; this provision establishes that a judge who reaches an incorrect decision is to be fined and removed from the bench permanently. A handful of provisions address issues related to military service.

 Before the formation of the actual text, however, the oral tradition (songs, stories, poems) rehearsed and preserved the needs of God (Yahweh) and his covenant people, Israel. 

Many of these facets of the oral tradition were eventually incorporated into the collections of books that now comprise the threefold division of the Hebrew canon: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi ’im), and the Writings (Kethuvim).

Archaeological discoveries have shed much light on the world in which the Jewish nation was born and developed.

1.  The Code of Hammurabi in Babylon, dated about 1700 B.C., outlines laws similar to those of the Torah.

2.  Enuma Elish, dating to 2000 B.C., records a creation account in which a cosmic battle between Marduk and Tiamet takes place. It erupts in chaos. The Genesis account is orderly and clearly testifies to the fact that God is in control.

3.  The Epic of Gilgamesh (7th century B.C.) is a flood story, telling of an ark that was built to preserve life. A dove was sent out and returned. The Genesis account of the Noahic flood no doubt exerted great influence on other cultures that borrowed from much of the oral tradition.

4.  The Ebla Tablets, discovered in 1974, date back to the kingdom of Ebla (2300 B.C.). The tablets are bilingual and are written in the known language of Sumerian and that of Ebla. These tablets mention Sodom, Gomorrah, Abraham, Saul, and numerous other biblical names.

5.  Canaanite literature, particularly that written in Ugaritic, date to the 14th century B.C. and refer to pagan mythology and Baal worship, clearly alluded to in the Old Testament.

6.  The Nuzi Tablets are Assyrian tablets dating to 1500 B.C.; they elucidate many of the customs of the Old Testament. For example, in Genesis 16 Sarai asks Abram to produce a child through her servant Hagar.  The Nuzi tablets explain that it was an obligation for a wife to bring forth a child.

If she failed, she had to provide another woman for her husband. The difference between this custom and the covenant of Yahweh and Israel was that Yahweh transcended that custom by bringing forth a child of promise (Isaac) in spite of Abram and Sarai’s old age and the impossibility of pregnancy ensuing.

7. The Mari Letters make it clear that travel was common between Palestine and the Near East.

The Babylonian creation myth is recounted in the “Epic of Creation” also known as the Enuma Elish. The Mesopotamian “Epic of Creation” dates to the late second millennium B.C..

In the poem, the god Marduk (or Assur in the Assyrian versions of the poem) is created to defend the divine beings from an attack plotted by the ocean goddess Tiamat. The hero Marduk offers to save the gods only if he is appointed their supreme unquestioned leader and is allowed to remain so even after the threat passes.

The gods agree to Marduk’s terms. Marduk challenges Tiamat to combat and destroys her. He then rips her corpse into two halves with which he fashions the Earth and the heavens. Marduk then creates the calendar, organizes the planets, stars and regulates the moon, sun, and weather.

The gods pledge their allegiance to Marduk and he creates Babylon as the terrestrial counterpart to the realm of the gods. Marduk then destroys Tiamat’s husband, Kingu using his blood to create mankind so that they can do the work of the gods.

The Enuma Elish is written on seven tablets, each are between 115 and 170 lines long.

8.  The Tell el-Amarna Letters date back to the 18th century B.C. These letters were correspondence between an Egyptian king and his son ruling in Palestine. Mention is made of a people called the Habiru, who were causing trouble in the land. This is possibly an allusion to the Hebrews at the time when Joshua invaded the land.

Worship

Jewish worship originally focused around the Torah and the temple. Temple rituals remained possible only as long as the Jews remained the “people of the land.” After the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem, such rituals ceased altogether.

In its place the Torah and the interpretive traditions of the Mishnah, the Talmuds(Jewish Bible), and the Midrash became increasingly more important.

Jewish worship was grounded in beliefs about God and creation. God as wholly other is accessible only through mediation of the priesthood and the prophets.

Yet God’s whole revelation is grounded in a spacio-temporal frame of reference. That is to say, God chose a people, a time, and a place to manifest his presence and will. And because people are subject to space and time, God conformed to these human limitations.

Jewish worship was prescribed in such a way that careful instructions were given to Israel to celebrate and remember God’s creation and salvation events through the observance of annual feasts, fasts, holy days, and the Sabbath.

The Elect of God

The phrases “chosen people,” “children of Abraham,” “elect of God,” and so on are commonly linked to Israel. Through the promise God made to Abraham, Israel was selected by God to be a standard-bearer of the one true God and the example for the nations.

After the Diaspora, the nation of God’s elect moved from a spiritual concept to a strongly nationalistic one. Being the “children of Abraham” bred a spirit of sectarianism and pride. Jesus challenged this with strong language (Jn 8:39-44).

The Epic of Gilgamish, written in cuneiform on Assyrian and Babylonian clay tablets, is one of the most interesting poems in the world.

In the 7th century edition, which forms the main base of our knowledge of the poem, it was divided into twelve tablets, each containing about three hundred lines in metre. Its subject was the Legend of Gilgamish, a composite story made up probably of different myths which had grown up at various times round the hero’s name.

He was one of the earliest Kings of Erech in the South of Babylonia, and his name is found written on a tablet giving the rulers of Erech, following in order after that of Tammuz (the god of vegetation and one of the husbands of Ishtar) who in his turn follows Lugal-banda, the tutelary god of the House of Gilgamish.

The early church adopted the language of election from Judaism (Acts 2:47; Rom. 8:28-31; Eph. 1:5; 1 Pet. 2:9) – but with one important difference. Rather than an elect people called from a specific nation, Israel, the people of God are now the elect from every nation (Acts 3:25).

The covenant God made with Abraham comes to fruition in the birth of the Christian church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The church, the new Israel of God, is now comprised of all people in Christ (Gal. 3:28; 6:16).

Modern Judaism

The following is a brief summary of the different forms of Judaism existing today. Just as Christianity is a vast pluralism of denominations in the modern world, Judaism has undergone a similar phenomenon.

1.  Conservative Judaism. This movement began in the mid-19th century as a reaction against the Reform rabbis. Conservative Judaism in America is called the United Synagogue of America.

2.  Orthodox Judaism. This is the oldest form of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism came to America in 1625, and all the synagogues organized from 1730-1801 followed the Sephardic rite.

3.  Reform Judaism. Reform Judaism introduced changes and updating in the rituals and the use of English in worship services.

4.  Reconstructionist Judaism. Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983), a professor at Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, “reconstructed” Judaism by altering some fundamental tenets of orthodox Judaism. Reconstructionists deny original sin and, in keeping with modem tenor, uphold the basic goodness of humankind.

The Ebla tablets are a collection of as many as 1800 complete clay tablets, 4700 fragments and many thousand minor chips found in the palace archives of the ancient city of Ebla, Syria.

The tablets were discovered by Italian archaeologist Paolo Matthiae and his team in 1974–75 during their excavations at the ancient city of Tell Mardikh. The tablets, which were found in situ on collapsed shelves, retained many of their contemporary clay tags to help reference them.

They all date to the period between ca. 2500 B.C. and the destruction of the city ca. 2250 B.C.

5.  Humanistic Judaism. Comprised mainly of agnostics and atheists, humanistic Judaism rejects the notion of a God who is “out there.” Theism is replaced with a thoroughly humanistic approach.

That is, morality lies within each person. Right and wrong acts are not done in response to God but to self.

Conclusion

Modem Judaism has undergone significant changes in the latter half of the twentieth century. Radical secular ideologies have resulted in a religionless or secular nationalism, countered by conservative and moderately religious factions.

Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, especially in the United States, has risen rapidly. Attendance at synagogues is marginal at best. The secularism currently being experienced is countered by a growing interest in orthodoxy as more Jews in the 1980s and 1990s have turned to their historical roots than in previous decades.

Anti-Semitism has undergone a resurgence in the identity movements in America. Most recent is a growing anti-Semitism in the new German nation. The problem is not limited to Germany however. It is a worldwide phenomenon.

…Knossos.