Bible Study

Salt: Measured Judgment Designed to Activate Our Faith

Salt as a Sign of Judgment:

Deuteronomy 29:23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.

Joshua 9:45 All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

Psalm 107:33-34 He turned rivers into a desert, / flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste, / because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

Jeremiah 17:6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

Jeremiah 48:9 Put salt on Moab, for she will be laid waste; her towns will become desolate, with no one to live in them.

Salty Lands as a Place of Desert and Abandon:

See many of the above and many in addition … sort of the aftermath of judgment. To many to list all.

Salt as a Part of Worship, Essential to the Covenant with God

Exodus 30:34-36 34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, 35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.

Leviticus 2:13 Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.

Ezra 6:9 Whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and olive oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem—must be given them daily without fail …

Ezra 7:21-23 21 Now I, King Artaxerxes, decree that all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates are to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you— 22 up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of olive oil, and salt without limit. 23 Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should his wrath fall on the realm of the king and of his sons?

Ezekiel 43:23-24 23 When you have finished purifying it, you are to offer a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. 24 You are to offer them before the Lord, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord.

Salt as the Seal of a Covenant

Numbers 18:19 Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.

2 Chronicles 13:5 Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?

The Healing Virtue of Salt

2 Kings 2:19-21 19 The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”

20 “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.

21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’”

Ezekiel 16:4 On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.

Salt as Seasoning:

Job 6:6 Is an egg eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?

Salt in the New Covenant

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth@@. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Mark 9:49-50 After speaking of hell, Jesus said, 49Everyone will be salted with fire.** 50 Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Luke 14:33-35 33 “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.++ 34Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Salt in Speech: Good when used sparingly, not good in abundance.

Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt%%, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

James 3:10-12 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? %% 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.


@@ Historical note on salt and earth: salt was both healing and judging, the seal of a covenant between God and man. Those who receive the words of Jesus are the seal of the covenant between God and man in the land. If we are faithful, we bring miraculous healing to the earth from God. If we are not faithful to our purpose, we bring judgment to the land from God.

** Historical note on how salt was harvested: salty soil was boiled down and salt extracted by marching armies so the army took the crust of salt from the boiling pot and nourished the sweaty army.                        ++ Historical note on salt and worship: salt was used to spice up the worship. It was used to emphasize the covenantal nature of worship towards the Creator. Sacrifice and giving things up was to be joined to salt for it to be worthy worship. We like a little salt, so does God. He desires to only judge a little bit.

%% Contextual note on Salt and Speech: salty speech (referring to judgment) is essential for communicating truth and bringing grace. If we never refer to hell, heaven will not be so sweet. If we speak of hell too often and too loosely, it loses significance. We lose our freshness.

The Parable of Salt in Sausage: The difference between a sausage patty and a hamburger is that salt is mixed in well with the sausage. The salt in ground meat serves the same function as sulfur (another chemical associated with judgment biblically) in rubber compounds. Sulfur and salt in these instances are activators. They activate the forming of chemical bonds or links within the compound so that the mixture doesn’t just fall apart after fire/heat is applied. A little touch of judgment reminds us to activate our faith and not to hold our faith passively. This ability of sausage to bounce back is equivalent to our resilience in life. When we realize that God judges our works, we are more likely to actively express our faith in works of service and witness

© Italics written and verses organized by Mert Hershberger, 2023, Ypsilanti MI.

Verses from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Am I kosher in Christ?

Is it okay for a person who believes in and seeks to obey the Jewish Messiah Jesus to eat pork and shrimp?

Yes. The short answer is that the church has believed it is okay with Jesus no matter what we types of created food we eat. Here was the conclusion of the first church council in their letter to believers among the gentiles:

“We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” – Acts‬ ‭15‬:‭24‬, ‭28‬-‭29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Going back to the beginning of humanity, originally, people ate a plant based diet only:

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” – Genesis‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬-‭29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

However, even then, one certain bit of stubborn vegetation was forbidden:

“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”” Genesis‬ ‭2‬:‭9‬, ‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

However, people ate from the wrong tree and so life got out of control, even deadly:

“And [the Lord] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” … [The Lord said to Adam], “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”” – Genesis‬ ‭3‬:‭11‬-‭12‬, ‭17‬-‭19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Ten generations later, a global flood wiped out the earth’s creatures. As the Lord was renewing the earth, He allowed people to eat meat … again, with certain restrictions:

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.” – Genesis‬ ‭9‬:‭1‬-‭5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Later, the Lord reinforced and clarified the reason for the restriction against consumption of blood: life is in the blood and sin would be atoned for and forgiven through the offering of blood:

“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.” Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.” … Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean.” – Leviticus‬ ‭17‬:‭11‬-‭15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

After this, the Lord clarified for Israel what foods were acceptable and which ones weren’t. These rules became the basis for Kosher laws:

“You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. But any winged creature that is clean you may eat. Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬, ‭9‬, ‭20‬-‭21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Some of these rules don’t make sense now, but the likely were intended to keep Israel out of pagan rituals and unhealthy practices. Even today, militaries teach similar principles for survival: for example: don’t eat carnivorous animals or animals found dead.

However, there was a promise that God would provide for the daily needs of those who trusted in the Lord:

“This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. … Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. … The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” – Psalms‬ ‭34‬:‭6‬, ‭8‬, ‭10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Indeed, it seems that the enjoyment of these daily gifts of food were designed by God to lend happiness to our lives, when enjoyed rightly:

“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. … Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:12-13; 12‬:‭12‬-‭14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

However, by the time of Jesus, man-made rules for food and sharing meals had become complicated and burdensome … so much so that people were neglecting the more important matters of keeping a clean heart and truly holy life:

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” – Mark‬ ‭7‬:‭1‬-‭7‬, ‭14‬-‭15‬, ‭17‬-‭23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Apparently, it took a while for Peter and the other missionaries to grasp the implications of this, but the Lord did get the message through in a dramatic way:

“About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” – Acts‬ ‭10‬:‭9‬-‭20‬, ‭25‬-‭28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God wanted people from every culture to have access to the forgiveness that is in Christ, and the church realized that extra food laws for the gentile believers, were unnecessary. They returned to the basic guidelines God had given in Noah’s time:

“When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” – Acts‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬, ‭19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Today, people who believe in Jesus as Lord follow a wide variety of dietary patterns, some choices are based on religious principles, some on health or allergy concerns, and sometimes we adapt our diet based on not wanting to offend others:

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. … Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” – Romans‬ ‭14‬:‭1‬-‭3‬, ‭13‬-‭18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Since life is about more than food, we should walk in the Holy Spirit and relate to one another in a rightly considerate, peaceful, and joyful way, all for God’s glory:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭26‬, ‭31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

One day, the Lord will have a feast for all who are trusting Him faithfully and we will be totally and perfectly satisfied in the presence of God forever:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. … Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. … The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. … The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭1‬-‭3‬a, 14‬-‭15‬, ‭17‬, ‭21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God’s eternal favor, that’s the bottom line!!

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The Coming of The Prophet, Foreshadow & Fulfillment

If you will be home this Christmas, but would like to have an edifying time with your family or whomever you will be with for the day when Christ’s birth is celebrated, check out the following devotional meditation. Consider taking time to reflect on what the Lord has brought and perhaps share what you learn with someone else. Pray in the Spirit and pray with others who are seeking the Lord at this time.

Exodus 1-3

Moses – Son of Levi,                     Son of Adam, Lawgiver

Birth preceded by a time of oppression of Hebrew people.

Birth marked by signs in the sky, noted by astronomers. (Josephus)

Pharaoh furious at the coming of a deliverer for his slaves.

Pharaoh wanted the midwives to expose the newborn boys.

The midwives refused to betray the boys.

Pharaoh wanted to wipe out a generation of Hebrews.

Moses escaped to the desert.

Moses later returned to the land of his birth when told the vengeful Pharaoh had died.

The Lord appeared to Moses in a bright bush commissioning him for his life purpose though he was just a shepherd.

Moses was promised in Deuteronomy 18:15 that another prophet like him would come from the Hebrew people.

Matthew 2; Luke 2:1-21

Messiah – Son of Judah,               Son of God, Savior

Birth preceded by a time of oppression of Jewish nation.

Birth marked by a star in the east, noted by wise Arab magi. (Dec 25, 1BC=Jupiter&Regulus?)

Herod hated the coming of Messiah the deliverer.

Herod wanted the magi to reveal the location of Messiah.

The magi refused to betray the birthplace of Messiah.

Herod wiped out a generation of children in Bethlehem.

Messiah escaped to Egypt.

Jesus later returned to the land of his birth when Joseph was told that Herod had died.

The Lord sent angels to shepherds keeping their flock commissioning them with good news of the Messiah.

Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of promises and prophesied the coming of the Holy Spirit in John 14:6.

The Gift of Gifts – A Christmas Prayer

O Source of All Good,

What shall I render to You for the gift of gifts: Your own dear Son, begotten, not created, my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute, His self-emptying incomprehensible, His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders: He came below to raise me above, was born like me that I might become like Him.

Herein is love when I cannot rise to Him, He draws near on wings of grace to raise me to Himself.

Herein is power: when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart, He united them in indissoluble unity, the Uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom: when I was undone, with no will to return to Him, and no intellect to devise recovery, He came, God incarnate, to save me to the uttermost, as a man to die my death, to shed satisfying blood on my behalf, to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds and enlarge my mind. Let me hear good tidings of great joy, and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore, my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose, my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father; place me with ox, donkey, camel, goat, to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face, and in Him account myself delivered from sin. Let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart, embrace Him with undying faith, exulting that He is mine and I am His.

In Him, You have given me so much that Heaven can give no more.

Based on a prayer in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust © 1975.

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The Life Cycle of Israel, The Messiah, and You!

Check out this pattern and see if you see a pattern that points to Jesus.

Feasts of Israel, The Human Life Cycle, Time of year observed, Deliverance, and Prophetic Lesson

How Israel observes the feasts, how they began, how every human is intended to observe the feast through the start of their life, and how these point the way to the Messiah. The outline is based on one by Zola Levitt.

Purim / Lots

Origin: Hadassah / Esther the Jewess married king Ahaseurus / Xerxes of Persia. She was instrumental in the deliverance of Israel, by chance. This random turn of events took place sometime between 486-465 BC. (Esther, especially 9:18-22)

Key Life Cycle Event: Marriage of a Jewish maiden became central to the deliverance of the Jewish people.

Time observed: 14th day of Adar – Winter.

Delivered from destruction at the hands of Haman and his cronies.

Agricultural feature: Dried fruit from the previous year’s produce becomes today’s feast.

Prophetic Lesson: Israel shall be preserved by the Lord, regardless of the lands they live in, though it seems to be by time and chance. In the Messiah, Gentile and Jew shall be joined and Israel delivered. Sorrow shall be turned to joy!

Pesach / Passover

Origin: Israel slaughtered a lamb and put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes. First observed in the land of Goshen, Egypt around 1450 BC (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:5).

Key Life Cycle Event: Ovulation, an egg is released by the mother on the 14th day of the first month of her ovulation cycle. The DNA of life is transferred to a new life.

Observed: 14th day of Nisan, the first month of the year. A full moon. With an egg in the Passover seder.

Delivered from the death of the first born during the plagues of Egypt.

Agricultural feature: Preceded by the flowering of the almond blossoms.

Prophetic lesson: Messiah Yeshua died on Passover as the firstborn of Israel during a full moon, there was a shadow cast over the heart of the constellation of the Lamb in the heavenly array. Death is the penalty for sin. Innocent Messiah suffered on our behalf as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The DNA or information for life is essentially rooted in the rejection and suffering and death of the Messiah. Without this, there is no Good News for New Life (Matthew 26:27). In some traditions, a noble man would die on the day he was born. If Jesus died on the day he was conceived, this calendar would fit perfectly with the “Key Life Cycle of Events.”

Unleavened Bread

Origin: Israel ate unleavened bread as they left Egypt in haste (Leviticus 23:6; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Key Life Cycle Event: Fertilization, a fresh start for the generations, ideally takes place on the day after the 14th day of the month. The woman’s egg become a zygote.

Observed: 15th day of Nisan. Agricultural offerings were made.

Delivered from the life of Egypt and the sin of the old life.

Agricultural feature: Leaven, mold which feeds on old, processed grain, is removed and fresh unleavened bread is presented. When leaven raises the dough, the bread is said to be working.

Prophetic lesson: Messiah Yeshua presented himself sinless and was buried outside the city gates. Sin was dealt with once and for all. Jesus rested on the seventh day in the tomb and did no work. Jesus bore stripes for our healing and was pierced for our iniquities. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12)

First Fruits

Origin: Moses commanded Israel to present the first fruits of the land to the Lord (Leviticus 23:10-11).

Key Life Cycle Event: Implantation, when the human zygote travels down the fallopian tubes as a morula and is implanted in the womb as a blastocyte. Takes place not less than 2 days & not more than 6 days after ovulation.

Observed: Not less than 2 days and not more than 6 days after Passover, on the first day of the week.

Delivered from famine in the land and wandering in the wilderness.

Agricultural feature: First sheaves of barley from throughout the land are presented in the temple.

Prophetic lesson: Messiah Yeshua was the first fruits of Israel as He rose from the grave and presented Himself to His beloved church. This was still a somewhat “hidden” appearance, in private, to prepare the church. The Messiah and His church are the first fruits in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23). The dead were also raised in Matthew 27:53.

Shavuot / Pentecost

Origin: When the law was given on Mount Sinai, at the base of the mountain the children of Israel formed a golden calf. On this day when the written form of the Law was received, 3,000 children of Israel were killed. God insisted He be worshiped and not the handiwork of man. The Word of God written is death to all who rebel.

Key Life Cycle Event: 50 days after implantation, the human fetus takes on human appearance in form.

Observed: 50 days after first fruits, the first sheaves of the wheat harvest are presented. (Leviticus 23:15-17)

Delivered from a year of famine and from death and judgement under the law.

Agricultural feature: The right pattern of wind from the north and south timed just so with the blooming of the wheat and the growth of the olives is necessary for the success of Israel’s agriculture to produce oil and bread.

Prophetic lesson: The church of the Messiah was formed on Pentecost when 3,000 received new life. A new pattern developed for holy human life, and we learned that it is by the Spirit (Hebrew&Greek=Wind/Breath) we live, not by the letter. The two loaves waved represent Jews & Gentiles worshipping together in Messiah. Acts 2 details this happening.

Rosh Hashanah / Trumpets

Origin: The trumpet would sound in Israel to announce the call to the temple on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24). Trumpets were also used in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-10). These trumpets were formed out of a ram’s horn, like the horn of the ram which was caught in the brush which Abraham used to substitute for Isaac (Genesis 22). Joshua also used trumpets at Jericho.

Key Life Cycle Event: The fetus can now hear and respond to sound at the start of the 7th month of gestation. There is the promise of a full-term birth.

Observed: On the first day of the 7th month.

Agricultural feature: The Jewish farmer would leave his vineyards and olive groves and go to the Temple.

Prophetic lesson: A day will come when Messiah will gather the faithful at the last trumpet and the resistant powers of the nations will collapse. All remaining Israel will return to the land (Isaiah 27:12-13).

Yom Kippur / Atonement

Origin: A day to humble oneself and seek God for forgiveness (Leviticus 23:27-30). One day of confession & rest. Blood of a male goat was placed on the mercy seat to cover the sins of the people (Leviticus 16).

Key Life Cycle Event: A fetus replaces fetal blood (HbF) with adult blood (Hemoglobin A) into the seventh month.

Observed: On the 10th day of the 7th month.

Agricultural feature: Complete rest for the land was the command.

Prophetic lesson: To quit from our own works is to confess and nations will repent of sin and structurally submit to Messiah altogether. Israel will ultimately look to Messiah Yeshua whom they have wounded and mature in their understanding of atonement & forgiveness found in the firstborn (Zechariah 12:10, 13:1, 6).

Sukkoth / Booths

Origin: Israel lived in flimsy shelters in the wilderness. Moses commanded them to do this in the Land to remember where the Lord had brought them from into the Land (Leviticus 23:34, 42-43).

Key Life Cycle Event: The developing fetus has whole, functioning lungs to breathe.

Observed: From the 15th day of the seventh month for 7 days.

Agricultural feature: In the desert regions, this is the time that nomads dwell in booths from date palm fronds.

Prophetic lesson: Messiah Yeshua observed the feast of tabernacles (John 7). Other nations will one day observe this festival as well (Zechariah 14:16-19; Ezekiel 37:26-27). Ultimately all the earth will worship the Lord in spirit & truth. In eternity, the Lord Himself will dwell with us and be our sanctuary for worship (Revelation 21:3, 22).

Chanukah / Dedication

Origin: 165 BC, the Temple was rededicated & a one-day supply of oil lasted eight days. Daniel prophesied this (8:9-14).

Key Life Event Cycle: The baby is born and dedicated to carry the light of life into the world. On the 8th day after birth, a Jewish boy is circumcised.

Observed: In an ideal calendar where the 14th of Nisan/Aviv falls on the Spring equinox, Chanukah would fall 280 days later would fall on the first day of Kislev, the tenth month, which would be December 25th.

Agricultural feature: The Lord can cause our produce to outlast our expectations when we are dedicated to Him.

Prophetic Lesson: Jesus observed Chanukah & claimed to be God, fulfilling the Temple’s purpose (John 10:22-39).

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Can I Believe in the Bible and Reincarnation?


Hebrews 9:27 reads, “And just as it is appointed for people to die once-and after this judgement…” Psalm 78:39 reads, “He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” Hebrews 9:27 uses the word “people” which doesn’t specify the whole person  (body, mind, & soul). “People” could be referring to just the physical body. What about the spiritual or mental part of us? I wonder if we have souls that have existed long before we were born into our current physical bodies. Souls that have been reincarnated over eons. I also wonder if our karma from other lives carry over to our present life, which is the only thing that makes sense to me in regards to why some people are born in such terrible circumstances and others not.

I still believe in Jesus and salvation. But it seems to me that a just and loving God would give us more than one short lifetime to get it right. What about all those people who suffered from terrible trauma and mental illness and then completed suicide? What happens to them? What about all the Biblical characters in the Old Testament times that died? Do they all go to hell (Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, Job, David…)? I have so many questions. It just doesn’t make sense. Could you please help me unravel this mystery? This belief that I have in reincarnation is something I just can’t seem to let go of. 


Before I dig into this topic, it should be said, that I cannot convince you in my own power of the finality of Judgement at death. Jesus himself said in John 16, “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me, 10 and concerning righteousness, because I am going away to the Father and you will see me no more, 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” (LEB) So the only way you will be persuaded of the truth, no matter how much Bible teaching you get is if the Holy Spirit, our Advocate or Counselor or Comforter, teaches you. The promise of the finality of judgement is indeed a comfort and encouragement to all who are looking to Jesus, but a terror to all who reject the Lord.

Reincarnation is at the heart of Hindu and some Buddhist belief & practice as is karma. According to this doctrine, it is best to leave people to their karma and to allow people to suffer for their past sins, lest you delay their rescue from the endless cycle of rebirths or postpone their merging with nirvana (literally: nothingness). Indeed, many worldly religions believe a kind of reincarnation or second chance theology. For example, Catholicism absorbed this mindset in terms of purgatory and being purified after death … which thus allows sinners to hold onto their sins in this life. The Bible teaching is rather that this world is as close to hell as the righteous will get and as close to heaven as the wicked will get.

Before looking at the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection, it would be good to see what the Hebrew Scriptures taught about existence of humans after one passes from this life. In Genesis, we read a number of times the phrase, “gathered to his people” “Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 25:8 NIV; see also 25:17; 35:29; 49:33; Numbers 20:24, 26; Deuteronomy 35:50).  Perhaps from some perspectives, this could potentially mean that those who died were simply gathered physically and buried with their ancestors. But looking at the death of Aaron in Numbers and Moses in Deuteronomy, it becomes clear that this was not at all what was intended, because both Aaron and Moses died outside of the land of promise and could not have been buried in the ancestral tomb at Hebron. Indeed, nobody knows the exact burial spot of Moses.

Rather, to have been “gathered to his people” means that the saints of the pre-resurrection times were gathered to wait until Jesus and His resurrection, indeed to wait for the resurrection of all the saints. In Matthew 27:51-53 we read, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” These saints that were raised were a foreshadowing of the future resurrection. Apparently these saints were those who were faithful to the Lord unto death and were counted worthy to represent the greater number who will ultimately be raised on the last day. Wouldn’t it have been memorable to see all these saints raised and walking around town testifying of the glories of God’s presence and the call to holiness!!

Another reference to what happens to Old Covenant saints, indeed to all who have left this earth is in Hebrews 11:39-40, “And all these [referring to a long litany of godly people from the Hebrew Scriptures], having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (NIV) What is the promise spoken of in Hebrews? Precisely the resurrection. The goal is that after we die, we will be raised to meet Jesus and be perfected as we behold Jesus face to face for all eternity, whole and complete, lacking nothing, body-soul-spirit … a renewed body! Hallelujah!! The perfection will not fully come -until- it happens for all who believe.

This future perfection of our lives is referred to in Revelation 20:4-6 as “The first resurrection” or the resurrection of the righteous, the reward of trusting Jesus for life. “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (NIV) Notice, the Bible no where in any legitimate translation ever uses the term reincarnation, but resurrection.

Resurrection means Raised Up to Stand Again. Reincarnation means Put Back in the Flesh Again. Why would anyone want to be put back in the “flesh”? The Word of God teaches that “in the flesh dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18). The flesh is the meeting ground of sin and satan and selfishness in this world. As long as we are alive in the world, before the final resurrection, something of the flesh is still with us. Only after we have suffered faithfully and died at long last are we promised hope. Some people are Resuscitated, that is they medically/physically die but are revived. This will give them an opportunity to repent and to trust Christ. Medical doctors have documented that often those who are resuscitated tell of encountering scary, hellish things if asked shortly after they are resuscitated. Studies have found that a rosey, heavenly picture deceptively takes this place years later … if they continue to live. Perhaps the terrors of hell are just too scary to live with … unless one repents and turns to Jesus.

Indeed, Jesus told an account, (not described as a parable, but perhaps told as a historical fact of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 in the NIV.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

As an aside, there are reasons to suspect that this may have been referring to Isaac and Eliezer: Abraham calls the rich man “Child,” and he calls Abraham “Father.” Looking at Isaac’s life in Genesis 26:13, we find that he was very wealthy. God is referred to as the “Fear of Isaac.” Lazarus is Aramaic for the Hebrew Eliezer. Not the God of Isaac. Just some thoughts. It isn’t conclusive since Genesis 35:29 says Isaac was gathered to his people. At the least, this rich man was a wealthy heir of Isaac, but clearly he valued riches over God’s grace and generosity.

Pertinent to what you had asked about, notice that:

  1. There is a gulf fixed between the rich man and Abraham & the righteous poor after death. Nothing will repair the gap between the rich and the poor after death, and it looks like this world’s blessings will be reversed in the resurrection, but there are no second chances.
  2. The whole chapter is a contrast between serving God and serving wealth. This is a caution to all of us to not seek to merely be rich in material wealth, but to be generous to others … in this life.
  3. People are exhorted to pay attention to the Bible (i.e. Moses & the Prophets. From Romans 1:18-23 we know that we are also called to learn from the wisdom revealed in creation and not to make images to worship.)
  4. The rich man wanted living people (his brothers, fellow Jews) warned lest they go to the place of destruction. It sounds like they had one chance to turn to the Lord before they perished in a very hot place. It really sounds like the message is “Turn or Burn.”

It would be good to read Hebrews 9:27 in context:

24 For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf, 25 and not in order that he can offer himself many times, as the high priest enters into the sanctuary year by year with blood not his own, 26 since it would have been necessary for him to suffer many times from the foundation of the world, but now he has appeared once at the end of the ages for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this, judgment, 28 thus also Christ, having been offered once in order to bear the sins of many, will appear for the second time without reference to sin to those who eagerly await him for salvation. (LEX)

They whole tenor of this passage is: You only live once … and then you are judged. Jesus only died and rose once to justify all who turn to Him and will save all who are waiting for -Him- until the end. Notice, He does not save those who are waiting for a second chance. Rather, “Today is the day of salvation.” Believe and repent today.

In Daniel 12, the Lord revealed, “But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” (NIV) Currently world travel and knowledge are increasing exponentially. The time of the end is drawing nigh. There are two alternatives: an honorable eternity or a shameful eternity. Wise light in the Lord or dark ignorance in sin. Either option is everlasting & eternal, for ever and ever. We have only this life to choose which direction we will go.

I will address the topic of suicide and suffering at greater length in other essays. For now, I will simply note that about Judas, the one person who completed suicide who had known Jesus and spent much time with him and who was a close companion of Jesus , Jesus Himself said, “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.” How can that be possible, unless he went to a place far worse than anything this life has to offer? Unless Judas (and all self-murderers, life-rejecters?) are judged for their final sin, it would seem that the call to forgive others and choose life is meaningless. God does not force people to be saved against our will, but only saves us through our will and desire for salvation, by grace we are saved through faithful cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

As to those who suffer from childhood, it is unwise to pity others … except to tangibly do what you can to relieve that suffering and offer hope. It seems like a futile effort to offer people hope of a reincarnation when there is no clue what they would be reincarnated as? After all, if reincarnation is where souls come from, why has there been for the past 500 years an exponentially increasing number of people on the earth so that now there are over 8 billion souls on the planet? I don’t think reincarnation can account for these souls as well as the creative work of a Loving God.

You mentioned Psalm 78:38-39, “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” It should be noted simply that the word translated wind can mean, “breath, breeze, wind, … or spirit.” The Hebrew Scriptures are clearly here teaching that the human spirit dies once and that atonement must be made before one dies. You will notice though that before the Psalm says that humans will perish like the wind/spirit that does not return, it is pretty clear that God is incredibly patient and doesn’t destroy us immediately after our sin. He seeks to atone for our sin and reconcile us often and early.

So then, what does this mean? What should we do in light of this truth?

  1. Trust Messiah Jesus and turn from your sin & unbelief and be saved.
  2. Continue in holiness, live and abide in Christ. Don’t go back to the old way.
  3. Tell others about the call to repent and about the devastating nature of sin, the righteousness of Christ, and the judgement that is coming on this world, the flesh, & the devil while there is still time. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing: trying to persuade others of the gospel—and so we should too.
  4. We should do all we can to show mercy as we engage in mission: helping people in practical ways and not just preaching to them. If we share the eternal, spiritual gospel, is it too much to offer them a simple meal or a listening ear or a kind touch or help with their physical needs as well? The rich man perished without ever helping Lazarus. Let us not leave needs unmet when we have it within our ability to do something to remediate the evils of this world.

© Mert Hershberger, P.O. Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198

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Dawn of Eternal Life: Eclipsed by Sin, Glimpsed by Faith

The Dawn of Eternal Life: Eclipsed by Sin, Glimpsed by Faith

A. The Scene is Set with Two Trees:

              Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 – A garden with two trees in the center.

  1. To Know Good and Evil was a metaphor for: autonomy, the ability to choose for oneself. Neither the very old nor the very young “know good and evil.”

       Deuteronomy 1:39 – Warnings for rebels. 

       2 Samuel 19:35 – An elderly man declines favors.

       Isaiah 7:14-16 – A prophecy of a child.

       Isaiah 41:22-23  – Humans cannot do what God can do.

       Jeremiah 4:22 – Fools know evil but are ignorant of good.

       Romans 16:19 – Obedience is cultivated by ignoring evil and knowing good.

  • Tree of Life became a metaphor for: Wisdom, fruit of righteous, soul winning, hope fulfilled, good words, victory, central, continual life, healing, reward for faithful obedience.

     Proverbs 3:13, 18 – Wisdom

     Proverbs 11:30 – Fruit of the righteous, winning souls.

     Proverbs 13:12 – Desire fulfilled

     Proverbs 15:4 – Wholesome tongue                     

     Revelation 2:7 – Given to the victor in the Paradise of God.

     Revelation 22:2 – Central, continual, healing life.

     Revelation 22:14 – Reward for obedience.

Will we try to choose our own way or let God choose the Way for us?

B. Consequences of disobedience: Genesis 3 – After Adam & Eve ate from the wrong tree, they experienced:

  1. Sin resulted in suffering.

a. Guilt: open eyes v. 7

b. Shame: nakedness known v. 7

c. Fear: hiding from God v. 8

2. Sin resulted in broken relationships.

a. With God. Hiding from God. v. 8

b. With one another. Blaming one another. Vv. 12-13, 16

c. With creation. Thorns & thistles. V. 18

3. Sin resulted in death.

                            a. Work to death. V. 19

                             b. Separated from the way to life. vv. 22-23

How much have you suffered already for your sin and the sins of others? Do you want that to continue?

C. Promises of Life: Evil would be defeated by good through faith.

  1. Life beyond death came through a promise: Genesis 3:15 – The curse of the serpent meant blessing for us. Jesus’ death ensured eternal life. Christ was hung on a tree so that he might take the curses from the cursed tree and bring us life and liberty and happiness. He rose to defeat death in full.

2. Evil can be rejected: Psalm 1:1 – Meditation on God’s Word results in faithful life. Ungodliness results in death. Choose well.

3. Goodness can be enjoyed: Psalm 38:4 – Taste & see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (NKJV)

What will you pursue: all that is good and godly OR all that is evil & perverse?

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This is from a collection on prayer. The theme is confession: How to confess as you begin to pray, so that your prayers will be heard. C-confession – click here.
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Top 10 “One Another”s in the Law of Moses

Look up the verses, with their context and answer the questions. In the NIV, the phrase, “one another” is in each of these passages.

1. Compassion from God. Exodus 25:20; 37:9 – The cherubim on the on the ark of the covenant were facing one another looking at the mercy seat. Why? What needs to be at the heart & center of our worship? Peter 1:12

2. Covenant. Genesis 26:31 – These two men covenant together and kept their word. What does it take for us to be faithful to one another?

3. Covering. Exodus 26:3; 26:5 – How can we be better fitted together as a people who worship the Lord?

4. Contracts. Leviticus 25:14 16-17, 46 – Does God care if we treat one another like slaves and our own personal servants? How should we deal with one another?

5. Confession. Genesis 42:21 – Have we failed any of our members? For example, letting them go to the wolves?

6. Communication. Leviticus 19:11 – How do we communicate with one another to preserve the community?

7. Complaining. Numbers 14:3-4 – What is your first reaction when you face challenges & promises from God that seem impossibly great?

8. Conspiracy. Genesis 11:3 – What did God want the people to do following the flood? What did they do instead? Are you working against God’s plan?

9. Confusion. Exodus 16:15 – What are things that we discuss among ourselves when we need to ask God?

10. Collapse. Leviticus 26:36-38 – What happens to the Lord’s people who face judgment because of rebellion?

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