Goodnews Christian Ministry
"Yes, certainly with stammering lips and in a foreign language, he will talk to this nation. ---Isaiah 28:11
"Do you know why you cannot take in what I say? It is because you are unable to understand my language."
About five decades after Jesus was crucified the Jews became convinced that God spoke only Hebrew. The rest of the world's languages they decided were pagan -- especially Greek.
They had good reason to be concerned. Christianity was exploding all around them at the time -- preaching even inside their own synagogues -- and it was all happening in Greek.
In order to become a world religion, Christianity had to be broadcast in a world tongue. The ten lost tribes of Israel that God had scattered among the nations of the north were spread throughout the Greek language. (Jer.3:6-18).
As a consequence, knowledge of this language was the one thing that all of God's hidden people in the first century had in common. It was not the Jews, but these paganized exiles that were destined to accept the new covenant. (Ez.11:14-21).
For this reason, the New Testament when it was first recorded, was written down not in Aramaic or Hebrew, but in Greek. A speech that even to this day is identified with a kind of 'gobbledigook' that few people can understand. A familiar modern phrase, for instance states of the unintelligible that "it is all Greek to me".
This fulfilled both parts of the prophecy that Jesus would be seen by the Jews as a foreign language.
"Who does he think his message is for?...With his 'sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav, zeer sham, zeer sham!' Yes, certainly with stammering lips and in a foreign language, he will talk to this nation, he who once told them: Here is rest... But they would not listen."
"That is why the Lord now says: 'sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav, zeer sham, zeer sham', so that when they walk they may fall over backwards and be broken, snared and made captive." (Is.28:10-13).
Since Jesus spoke to the Jews in their own Aramaic tongue, Isaiah's prediction had to apply to his words in another way.
We have already shown that the ultimate language of God was sealed in the Old Testament in the form of metaphor -- in a divine symbolism which lay hidden to the world until Jesus came and brought it to light.
Yet as with everything else in scripture, God's prophecy about a foreign language also had a literal basis as well.
The Jews did not understand either the parables Jesus preached, nor the language in which His message was first published and given to the world -- a language they subsequently banished from scripture.
By allowing Jesus to be taken to Rome, God tore down the barrier that had separated the Gentiles from the people of Israel.
The fact that God intended in Christ to break down this wall was evident from the beginning. "You have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew..." (Col.3:10).
With the conversion of the Roman empire to Christ, the wall separating Greek and Jew collapsed forever.
Focusing on language as the key to this barrier, the Jewish leaders have, over the centuries, tried desperately to reconstruct it.
Although Rome ruled the world at the time of Christ, it borrowed much of its culture from the Greek empire -- an empire it had earlier subdued. Therefore, underlying the framework of the civilization of Rome was the powerful influence of Greece.
It is because of this dual relationship that historians now refer to the two as the Greco-Roman world, much in the same way that people today unite the Judeo-Christian world that has evolved from Moses and Christ.
Because of its close ties to the Hellenistic culture, virtually everyone in the Roman empire spoke Greek as well as Latin. In fact, Greek at the time of Christ was the common language of the entire civilized world.
Thus, no matter where in the North they lived, all the lost tribes of God were versed in Greek.
God demonstrated the importance of this relationship when Andrew and Philip came to Jesus and told him that "some Greeks" wanted to see him. That must have been the signal, because the response Jesus gave to them was this: "Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (Jn.12:20-23).
God had obviously instructed Jesus that through the mouths of the Greeks His message would go out to all the world.
The event that would set all this in motion was earlier prophesied in the Book of Ezekiel, "And Son of Man, on the very day I deprive them of their sons and daughters...on that very day a fugitive will come and bring you news of this. On that day your mouth will be opened to speak to the fugitive." (Ez.24:25-27).
The fugitives (Greeks) who brought that news to Jesus were announced to him by Andrew and Philip -- an event that occurred just before the last supper, apparently on the same day that Jesus drove the money lenders out of the temple with a whip, voiding the first covenant. (Jn.12).
Having been rejected by his own people, the voice of God (which up to that time had only been heard in Aramaic and revealed to Palestine) was about to go out to the whole world in the Greek language, and so it was these Greeks coming to Philip and Andrew who fulfilled Ezekiel's prophecy.
God's mouth was about to be opened to speak to the pagan world in its own language.
The word of God was about to be written down in Greek, the language of the world.
In the dictionary, the word 'fugitive' means 'one who tries to escape or flee -- running away or intending flight'. The word is suggestive of the House of Israel trying to escape the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt.
Mirroring that earlier flight from captivity, these two Greeks were 'fugitives' from Babylon -- harbingers of the lost tribes of Israel seeking to escape sin and follow God to the safety of His new world.
Officially designated messengers of God, they represented the language that He would use in the broadcast of Christ's message across the earth -- the universal language of the pagan world.
In the days that followed, when the books of the New Testament began to appear, they were all initially penned in the Greek tongue.
There was precedence for this. Three hundred years before Jesus was born, the Old Testament had been transcribed into the Greek language by a group of Hebrew scholars specifically for Jewish exiles.
Translated by 70 Jewish rabbi's in Alexandria, Egypt, it is this Greek version of the Old Testament that the world today refers to as the 'Greek Bible', and which served all the Jewish synagogues in foreign countries around the civilized world when Jesus preached in Galilee.
Formed under the auspices of the Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, this Greek bible carried, as we shall see, the tacit approval that august body. This is why it had become, in the First Century, the preferred scripture of the Jewish diaspora.
This was the Old Testament used by Peter and Paul and all the Apostles.
It is still in use today in all the Eastern Orthodox churches and to a major extent by the Roman church.
It has, however, been discarded by most Protestant churches. Following the lead of second century Jewish Rabbi's, Martin Luther chose, in the sixteenth century, to ostracise the Greek books from his growing movement.
Nevertheless, since these Greek scriptures were being used by all Christians and Jewish exiles alike, the union between it and the Greek manuscripts that form our New Testament made it extremely important in Christian history.
Together, the two represented the 'foreign tongue' Isaiah predicted would confuse the Jews and make them blind to the Lord. (Is.28:10-13).
The extraordinary response Jesus gave when informed of the arrival of those two Greek visitors (who came to see Him just before He was crucified) proved not only that He was fully aware that this would occur, but that it was all structured in the original plan of God.
In order to fully understand the division of Israel into its two competing Houses (Christianity and Judaism), we need to examine the Old Testament template that explains the roots of this partition.
After the death of Solomon in about 900 B.C., the nation of Israel broke apart, polarized by two competing leaders and two houses of worship -- one at Bethel, the other at Jerusalem.
This disunity allowed the country to be invaded on numerous occasions by foreign governments and its citizens to be taken prisoner in wave after wave to all parts of the world.
As a result of these deportations, by the time Christ appeared not only were all the northern tribes of Israel and their temple at Bethel gone, a great many Jews were gone as well. In fact, more Jews at the time of Jesus lived abroad than inside Judea itself.
Accomodating these exiles, Jewish settlements and synagogues were scattered throughout the civilized world. And because Greek was the universal language of the world, it was the one language spoken in all of these remote Jewish communities.
Most of these exiles, though Jewish, understood neither Aramaic nor Hebrew.
Three hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Jewish Sanhedrin permitted the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language specifically to address this deficiency -- i.e., to give these Jewish exiles a Bible in their own tongue.
Once finished, the book proved immediately and immensely popular. By the time Jesus appeared, it was this Greek translation of the scriptures that the Jewish exiles were using in all the synagogues outside of Judea.
And not just outside of Judea.
According to the Talmud, both versions of the old Testament were displayed side by side in Herod's temple in Jerusalem when Jesus taught there.
This was understandable since Jewish law required that all foreign dwelling Jews make regular pilgrimages to the temple -- a rule which swelled Jerusalem's population to many times its normal size (especially during the festival of Passover) bringing into the city millions of Jews who spoke only Greek.
Actually, very few Jews could read or understand Hebrew -- even among the resident Jews in Jerusalem.
The native language of Judea at the time of Christ was not Hebrew, it was Aramaic -- the language in which Jesus preached. But there was no Aramaic 'Bible' -- only 'targums' (basically, catechism's).
The Greek Old Testament filled this void.
When Christ was preaching, Hebrew was a dead language used only by priests -- the same way Latin is a dead language today and used by priests.
This explains why none of the words of Jesus or any part of the New Testament was ever penned in Hebrew. Almost no Christian or Jew could read it -- or even understand it.
Hebrew was quite complicated (the language had no vowels or word spacing) and it was too secret (its knowledge restricted only to upper class scholars) to be of value.
Aramaic was of no use to the apostles either -- it was only spoken in Palestine.
The rest of the world spoke Greek, so it was in the Greek language that the message of Jesus first spread across the planet.
This fact was a key mechanism used by the Jewish leaders at Jamnia to finally separate themselves from the preaching of Jesus in their synagogues and thus seal completely Isaiah's prophecy that Jesus would be to them a foreign language.
Some time between 80 and 100 A.D., these Rabbi's declared Greek to be a 'pagan' tongue, and with this decree, ripped everything Greek out of their scriptures.
This decimated a large part of Jewish literature, but to the Rabbi's of Judea it was worth the cost because it also got rid of Jesus Christ.
Forty years after the crucifixion, the Jews in Judea were facing two critical threats to their national existence.
Christian converts were preaching (or whispering) the message of Jesus to their neighbors and kin in all the scattered synagogues of the world, and the Romans had just wiped out Judea militarily, killing in the process a great many of its most influential leaders.
Those not killed were led away in the chains of slavery to Rome. In just four decades, the Judea of Jesus' time -- the Judea we read about in the Bible -- had disappeared and was gone forever.
The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essene's, the Sanhedrin, and even the Jewish priesthood were only memories -- their existence had been erased from the face of the earth by the Roman military less than 40 years after Jesus died.
With the Jewish state in disarray and faced with political extinction, Christians were popping up everywhere -- they were in every synagogue of the world preaching Jesus to the Jews that still had not converted.
To the Jews who remained in Jerusalem this two-pronged attack on their homeland and religion was, by far, the gravest calamity they had ever faced. Especially the Christian proselytizing which had the capacity to end Mosaic heritage for all time.
So when the Roman general Titus gave the Judean survivors permission in 73 A.D. to establish a rabbinical school (the 'Academy of Jamnia') as a replacement to the defunct Sanhedrin -- he gave the Jews a tool to launch a counteroffensive.
Seeing a solution to the Christian problem in the fact that Jesus was being written and preached only in the Greek language, the Jewish rabbi's declared all writing not originally penned in Hebrew scripturally invalid.
Had they still retained divine authority to rule the people of Israel in the name of God, this decree would have permanently separated Jesus from the Old Testament, and neutralized His word as theologically unclean.
But it did not because Jesus had changed the management.
The Jewish decree actually held no legal weight because God had placed new tenants at the head of the religion many years before it was issued.
Out of office, the Jewish party no longer had authority to make any kind of decree that would be binding on the people of God.
When Jesus drove the money-lenders out of the temple with his whip, he activated a change of leadership which immediately terminated the tenure of the pharisees and sadducees of Judaism.
As their successors, God appointed Peter and Paul and the other Apostles of Christianity to take their offices. For this reason, any action the Jewish contingent took decades later, like this 'Hebrew-only' decree, was not legally valid, because it did not carry the co-signature of God.
The ruling was promulgated by people no longer in office.
This change of management is such an important religious concept that God has placed it before us in the form of a major allegory in scripture.
When Solomon's son, Rehoboam, took over the leadership of the Hebrew nation, the dissidents who did not want him as their king followed an opposition leader named Jeroboam instead, and under his guidance they set up an opposing temple outside the Law at Bethel.
This is exactly what happened at Jamnia where the Jews in their rejection of the idea that God had sent Him, tried to set up an alternative Hebrew religious system outside of Christ.
The events defined at Jamnia are precisely what the allegory of the great Israelite schism was placed in scripture to show us.
The Bethel decision divided the House of Israel into two parts -- into two spiritual houses -- and that is exactly what Jamnia did all over again.
On both occasions a large group of Hebrew dissidents bolted from God's will and implemented a system for worship that was not authorized by Him.
Solomon's son had legal authority over the twelve tribes of Israel because he was born into the House of David (David was Solomon's father).
This formed the template.
Jesus had absolute authority over that same house because He Himself was the true son of David which all these prophecies pointed to.
"I have made a covenant with my Chosen, I have given my servant David my sworn word: I have founded your dynasty to last forever, I have built you a throne to outlast all time. I shall make him my first-born, the Most High for kings on earth." (Ps.89:3-4, 27).
The allegory of the schism, remember, (1 Kings 12:20-33) hinges entirely on loyalty to the House of David.
As king of the Jews, Jesus, the divine David, was taken prisoner to Babylon and the whole House of Israel had to go there with Him.
The dissidents who tried to set up a rebel religion in opposition to this trek to the North had no legal authority as far as the House of Israel was concerned and so all their religious declarations were shown in scripture to be outside the law of God. (1 Kings 13:1-10).
Three hundred years before Christ was born, the Jewish Sanhedrin at Jerusalem (a tribunal which still had legal authority under God) had authorized the formation of the Greek Bible.
So the dissidants at Jamnia who tried to destroy that instrument were not only outside the governing body, they were attacking an instrument which the tenants in power had earlier authorized.
This is supported by two important sources.
First, as we have already shown, the Jewish Talmud has officially informed us that both Hebrew and Greek Old Testament scrolls hung side by side in Herod's temple in Jerusalem at the time of Christ.
And second, the manuscripts at Qumran (all of which parallel or pre-date the birth of Jesus) consist of both Hebrew and Greek books together). After Jamnia, all Greek books disappeared completely from the Jewish scene.
Not only did the ban of Jamnia do away with the Greek Old Testament in the Jewish synagogues, much more important, it defined (as far as scripture is concerned) all Christian writings invalid as well because of their original Greek penning.
The entire New Testament, remember, had been first-written in Greek, not Hebrew.
'First written' was the key mechanism the dissident Hebrew leaders at Jamnia decided would separate scripture from non-scripture.
According to their ordination, nothing first-written in Greek could ever be considered true scripture -- not even books with a Hebrew author.
This decree removed from scripture the influence of the Holy Spirit and left a book defined only by language.
Using this formula, the Rabbi's at Jamnia swept away everything Christian from the Hebrew scene.
It turned out to be a brilliant maneuver for the people who opposed Jesus.
By ordaining a religious separation on the basis of language, they fulfilled the prophecies about God speaking to them in a foreign tongue and effectively sealed the divorce between the two houses of Israel.
Condemning all New Testament writings to a perpetual ban, the decree drove these two houses far apart.
In keeping with the new edict, the venerable Greek Bible (the 'Bible of the Seventy' as it was called) which foreign country Jewish synagogues had been using for over 300 years was replaced with a single Hebrew scripture approved by the Academy.
In defining this particular Hebrew manuscript, the Rabbi's of Jamnia met in session after session trying to determine not only which books of the Bible they would keep and which they would discard, but even the particular Hebrew recension (translation) they would accept.
In the debates which followed, all Old Testament documents written originally in Greek were discarded outright.
This eliminated from their scriptures all the books Protestants now call 'apocryphal', including the Jewish 'freedom fighter' books -- the accounts of the Maccabees -- which detailed the exploits of the Jewish warriors known as 'Hassideans'.
The Maccabee books also contain the only biblical information regarding 'Hannukah'.
This material is of particular interest to us as far as Bible prophecy is concerned because it recounts in great detail the actions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in his desecration of the Jerusalem temple and therefore provides a wealth of data relating to a period in Jewish history that Daniel has defined as the template for the end of the world.
Much of what Antiochus Epiphanes did, Daniel has informed us, will be repeated again (but this time on a Christian stage) in the era of the Apocalypse.
Not just Greek books, but even some books originally written in Hebrew came under intense rabbinical fire during the Jamnian sessions -- especially those which referenced the 'son of man' (the metaphoric title scripture often uses when it alludes to Jesus).
The Book of Daniel, for instance, barely escaped the axe. But the closest of all was the Book of Ezekiel.
According to the Jewish Talmud, after many heated debates, the Rabbi's were leaning toward discarding it -- and it was saved only at the last minute by a bribe of 300 jars of precious oil.
As it turned out, the edict of Jamnia erected a great and almost irreconcilable wall between the Greek (Christian) world and the Hebrew (Jewish) world. Thus it followed perfectly the template of Bethel.
It has duplicated the ancient Hebrew schism on a world stage, dividing the two houses of Israel into Jewish and Christian parts, each with their own competing 'temple' of worship.
The spiritual food offered by these two competing 'temples' is based on the book (language) in which each of these foods is housed.
In decreeing a separation by language, the Jews got rid of the 'food' of Jesus. Doing this, they separated themselves from God. "This people's leaders have taken the wrong turning, and those who are led are lost." (Is.9:15-16).
The paradox to all this is that Jesus went with the Greeks, proving the prophets true who said that God would favor the exiles. (Jer.29, Ez.11).
Scripture stipulated that the rescue of God could only come from Babylon. (Micah 4:10).
By separating themselves from Christ's word, the Jewish leaders put out the light of Christ from their own synagogues. "And so the night will come to you: an end of vision; darkness for you: an end of divination. The sun will set for the prophets, the day will go black for them." (Micah 3:6-7).
By erecting a language separation between themselves and the lost tribes in exile, the Jewish scholars locked all of these prophecies into place.
And to further prove that the true target of this decree was Jesus, not language, sixteen hundred years later when the Protestant church rejected the Greek Old Testament and adopted the Hebrew scripture of Jamnia in its place, the Rabbi's threw that one out, too.
As a result, Jews today are not permitted to accept as scripture even the Old Testament of the King James Bible.
Among the books housed in the Greek Old Testament are several books that are referred to today by certain Protestants as being 'apocryphal'.
It is important here to understand that this 'Apocrypha' is not a collection of satanic verses as some now incredibly contend.
If not actually scripture as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman churches contend, they are as close to scripture as writings on earth can ever get.
These were not books waiting to get into the Bible, these were books removed from the Bible just after the death of Jesus by people who wanted to distance themselves from the growing Church of Christ.
These are the works of 'foreign tongue' that Isaiah said God would speak to us in through Christ. As such, they are a gift to the lost tribes of the House of Israel from God.
At first, all Christians used the Greek Bible exclusively; none used the Hebrew Bible. That is because from the very beginning, Christian preaching was aimed at the exiles of Israel (almost all of whom used Greek editions of the Old Testament).
As we have shown, these Greek Bibles were acceptable at the time because they were authorized for foreign use by the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. It was not until the Sanhedrin was destroyed and the Academy at Jamnia replaced it that this Greek book became an inflammatory Jewish issue.
This is why Paul and the other Apostles (who all preached and died before Jamnia was ever founded) were able to use the Greek scriptures so universally in the earliest days of the Church.
Christianity today reflects this beginning.
About 80% of all Christians currently use either a Greek or modified Greek Old Testament while only 20% use Hebrew. Moreover, all Christian churches use the 'Greek' New Testament.
The Greek Church (the Eastern Orthodox Church) uses the Greek Bible exclusively.
The Roman Church accepts a great part of the Greek material. The Protestants, however, (except for Anglicans) reject the Greek works entirely and have gone with the Rabbi's of Jamnia taking their Hebrew version of the Bible instead.
Here, again, the allegory of Jeroboam follows through.
In that allegory, the Lord sent a 'man of God' to Bethel to condemn the illegal altar there. Once he had denounced its altar, the man of God left Bethel as he had been instructed to do, and after traveling a short distance, stopped to rest under a terebinth.
A false prophet from Bethel came upon this man of God as he sat there and asked him "Are you the man of God?' 'I am', he replied. 'Come home with me' the false prophet said 'and take some food.' '
I cannot go back with you, or eat or drink anything here,' the man of God answered 'for I have received God's order: "You are to eat or drink nothing there, nor even to return by the way you came".'
Contradicting these holy instructions, the false prophet began to lie to the man of God, 'I too am a prophet like you", he said, "and an angel told me this by God's order: "Bring him back with you to your house to eat and drink". But this instruction was a lie. He was not a real prophet at all and he had seen no angel.
Deceived in this way by the false prophet of Bethel, the man of God went back with him and ate and drank the food of Bethel against the direct order of the Lord. (1 Kings 13:14-32).
And here is the meaning of these words: The food of Bethel and the food of Jamnia are identical. The Old Testament is a book passing away. It is a food without salvation. (Heb.8:7-13).
The Hebrew language cannot change that fact or resurrect it from its passing.
Both versions, Greek and Hebrew, have been replaced by the New Testament of Jesus Christ. That is why the Apostles separated us from the Torah.
Hebrew is not a divine tongue. The food of heaven comes neither from Jamnia nor Alexandria. It comes from the Gospel Jesus preached. That is the only food we must eat. Those who think otherwise have been deceived by a lie, just like the man at Bethel.
With the current reconstruction of Jerusalem, this whole issue can be seen in an even more dramatic way.
Blaming Christianity for everything bad that has happened to them over the past 2000 years, Jewish animosity to Jesus remains so strong today that even the definition of what constitutes a 'Jew' has been changed in the land of Israel from the genetic designation of the past to one now defined in Jesus Christ.
For instance, any Jew in the world who steps on the soil of Israel is automatically awarded Israeli citizenship on the spot -- every Jew, that is, except those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
'Christianized' Jews are denied citizenship out of hand.
Astonishing as it may seem, then, Jewishness in Israel today applies only to those who reject Jesus as Messiah.
This means that all twelve of Israel's tribes are now defined by the very same measure -- Jesus Christ.
In that measure, one door remains tightly closed -- and it is this fact in Jerusalem's current restoration that has Christian eyes fixed on the sealed 'Golden Gate' in the city's eastern wall.
The opening of that gate and the opening of Jewish eyes will be simultaneous.
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