The Mind of Yeshua
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom (man’s philosophies), but on God’s power. God’s Wisdom revealed by the Spirit. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:4-7).
In our endeavour of “getting to know Yeshua,” we need to focus on what it means to have a mind like Yeshua – this would mean we need to adopt a Hebrew mind set, and reject our Western thought patterns. We have seen in earlier studies that the Hebrew culture is God designed, therefore the Hebrew way of thinking, of understanding and interpreting scripture is also God designed. Western thought is governed by Greek philosophy, whereas God’s wisdom is established in the Hebraic mind.
True Christianity owes nothing to human wisdom, the Word of God is sufficient for all things. In fact, man’s wisdom taints and corrupts God’s wisdom. Alan Horvath (1), a well-respected messianic Jewish teacher, gives the example that God’s wisdom is like a river that starts its journey in the mountains crystal clear and pure. As the river makes its way past human settlements, man takes from the river and he puts into the river. Eventually the river becomes contaminated and polluted and not fit for consumption.
Which stream would you want to drink from?
- (1) Alan Horvath, YouTube video, The Mind of Christ https://www.goodreads.com/videos/154520-having-the-mind-of-christ
Developing a mind like Christ’s involves:
1. Knowing God’s Word
The Hebrew word for knowledge “da’at”, connotes an intimate relationship, not merely head knowledge or information. The more one gets to know a person, through his word and communication, the deeper one’s relationship becomes. Yeshua is the Living Word. The Torah Incarnate: therefore, the more we study His teachings and hide them in our hearts, the more we will come to know Him (and to be known by Him), and be empowered to do as He does.
An example of the importance of God’s Word is seen in that the first song in God’s worship hymnal is a wisdom psalm, more suited one would think for the book of Proverbs. The book of hymns of worship does not start with words of worship like Psalm 145: “I will exalt you, my God and King,” but with a blessing on those who are obedient to God’s Word. The study of God’s Word is worship!
2. Obedience to God’s word:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).”
In this scripture Yeshua simplifies the ten commandments down to two; by following these two commandments you obey all ten commandments. The two commandments are in fact one, the second fulfils the first. Your neighbour is in the image of God! So, loving your neighbour is loving your God. This is what Yeshua meant when He said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Man’s wisdom operating through the self-righteous legalism of the Pharisees, had laid a heavy burden on the backs of the people. Yeshua was showing the people the way back to God, and freedom from the leaven of the Pharisees – pride and hypocrisy.
Obedience to God’s Word then requires that each one of us must take up the yoke of Yeshua.
3. Humility and servitude
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians encourages all believer to have the mind of Christ, for it is through humility and servitude that will see each person attain the fullness that God has for them.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul calls on the Church to be like Christ, to follow His example. So, then surely to fully comply with this instruction, we also need to have the mind of Christ, and to think like Him as well. This understanding is confirmed in the third verse of chapter two, Paul is exhorting the Philippians to be of the same mind as Christ, and to be of one purpose. After establishing this foundation to his argument, Paul goes on to emphasize the humility of Christ, the mind of Yeshua is based on a foundation of service and humility – obeying God’s commandment of Love. The end result of obedience to selfless service, is that God will, as He did with Jesus, exalt those humble servants when they stand before His throne at the Bema judgement seat (rewards for service).
The world places a focus on self, becoming the best you can be, finding your inner self, attaining success etc. There is nothing wrong with becoming a better person, but the world focuses on the self at the expense of others. This is why the doctrine of Prosperity Theology has become so popular – it plays to the base nature of man. The “faith” the peddlers of the Prosperity Gospel preach, is a mystical personal force from within, that has the power to transform reality to the desires of the individual. It is a faith manufactured to meet the selfishness of mankind. There is none of the selfless behaviour that Yeshua requires, such as agape love, self-sacrifice, humility, purity, brokenness and repentance. Those that follow Prosperity Theology do not want the “gold tried in the fire” of God’s trial and testing, they just want the worldly gold.
4. Wilderness experience
Mankind knows that to develop character a person needs to be put through hard times. Any military combat unit will have a period of training where the recruits’ mental, emotional and physical endurance are tested. They are both preparing the trainees for the rigors of confronting an enemy, and determining those who are not suited for combat duty. The apostle Paul use the analogy of believers being in God’s army within his epistles. He knew that all who lived in the Roman Empire would be very familiar with the Roman army’s arduous training, and strict discipline, that made it the dominant force in the known world at that time:
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-4: “ For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”.
- Ephesians 6:10-11: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”.
- 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”.
All those who are called by God to serve Him, will be required to go through a wilderness experience first, to be trained as a soldier of God. We see that before Yeshua commenced His ministry in Galilee, He was required to go through His wilderness experience, where he was tested by Satan three times. Many believe that this was the only testing Yeshua experience in His ministry, they are very wrong. A careful analysis of the Gospels will show that He was continually being tested, even up to His very last day. When Yeshua was in the Garden of Gethsemane, the evening before His crucifixion, He was less than two kilometres away from the safety of the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany. Yet His prayer was, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then, when Yeshua was arrested, He calmed the combative Peter, saying that He could call on His Father to send twelve legions of angels (6 000 X 12 = 72 000 angels) to aid Him. Even on the cross, it was His love for us that kept Him there. No power of man could hold the Son of God on the cross; in all things Yeshua deferred to His Father’s will. The trials and testing experiences in a person’s life, forces them to draw closer to God, seeking His hand of guidance and deliverance.
The Prosperity Doctrine has become so prevalent that it has seeped into the conscience of many Christians. An example I am able to relate, is when I was in conversation with an Elder of a Church I was attending in 2019. I was speaking about Christian wilderness experiences, and repeated Leo Tolstoy famous quote “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply”. The man became immediately offended by the quote, saying “that is not my Jesus!”. I then reminded him of the suffering and many hardships that Paul endured, to which he replied that Paul was an exception! Had this Elder forgotten about the suffering of Job, what about Joseph being sold into slavery, David’s years in the wilderness and Daniel being taken captive by the Babylonians? Then there is the warning of Yeshua to the wealthy Church of Laodicea, where He admonishes them for their pride and then says “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire?” (Rev. 3:18). Scripture if full of examples of God grooming future leaders by guiding them through wilderness experiences. It is how God burns off the dross of man’s wisdom, and refines the gold of God’s wisdom. This Elder, is required to be a shepherd over the flock, yet he was unable to recognise the false doctrine of Prosperity Theology in his own theology (Matthew 7:15), in fact, quotes from prosperity charlatans were repeated from the Pulpit. Another important factor to consider is, how does an elder who has been contaminated by Prosperity Theology council someone in his church who is going through trial and testing? He would be hopeless – it is very likely that he would follow the prosperity logic and tell the person they need more “faith” to prosper. Churches need to ensure that their elders are well grounded in the Word and have developed the mind of Christ, especially when, as this man was, they are in charge of the Church’s Biblical studies!
The narrative of “the potter and clay” in Jeremiah 18, helps the believer come to a clear understanding of God’s use of trial and testing. Jeremiah observed a potter working at his wheel, but the pot he was working on was marred, so the potter squashed the pot down and started again. This time the potter was able to shape a pot that he was pleased with. God then spoke to Jeremiah saying, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done” (Jeremiah 18:6). In His revelation to Jeremiah, God demonstrates that He is sovereign over all His creation (Psalm 135:6; 155:3; Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 46:9–11). God has a plan and purpose for each of us, and knows how we are to fit into His grand design – the restoration of mankind in relationship with Him.
All of mankind is created with free will, but for many reasons which relate to our pride, our will is often antagonistic to God’s plan for us. God therefore has to commence the work of the potter reshaping the clay, to make us into vessels of honour that can best be used by Him. The mature believer is able to understand that our life’s circumstances are being controlled by the hand of God, and there is purpose behind all that happens to us. They are able to “rejoice in (their) sufferings, because (they) know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint (them), because God has poured out His love into (their) hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given (them).… (Romans 5:3-5).
There are two narratives in scripture that when compared will give us clarity, and understanding of the need to develop the ability to praise God in their times of suffering:
- The first example is recorded in Acts 12:1-19, when the apostle Peter is arrested by King Herod Agrippa and thrown in prison with four squads of soldiers guarding him. Peter knew that Herod had recently killed James the brother of John, and now, because the Jews were pleased with the slaying of James, Peter was well aware that he was next on Herod’s hit list. Peter therefore resigned himself to his fate, and Luke records that he had no trouble falling asleep between two of his guards. Luke goes on to write that “an angel of the Lord stood by (Peter)… and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands”. A few translations say that the angel “tapped” Peter on the side – the more accurate translation is that the angel “smote,” or “struck” Peter. Now, most likely the angel did not bend down to punch Peter in the side, but rather, as he is standing over Peter, he gave him a good kick in the side. This may seem an ungracious way to waken a man that the angel had been sent to rescue, but it shows the disgust that the angel has for Peter’s attitude. God still had plans for Peter, there was much work for him to do, but Peter did not pray into his situation, accepting the authority of Herod, not looking to the authority of God. The Holy Spirit moved to have the Church pray fervently for Peter, and it was because of these prayers that the angel was sent to rescue Peter.
- Now, we are able to compare Peter’s attitude and actions, with a very similar incident that happened to Paul and Silas recorded in Acts 16:16–34. While in Philippi, Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and put in prison for their preaching. Luke records their attitude to being thrown in prison as being very different to that of Peter. With their feet in stocks, Paul and Silas start singing hymns of praise to God. Then at midnight, an earthquake broke open the prison doors, setting all the prisoners free. The jailer, believing that he would be held accountable for the jail break decided to commit suicide, rather than face the consequences. Paul stopped the man, convincing him that there was no need for rash action as no one had escaped. Paul and Silas then used the opportunity to witness to the jailer, and he and his whole household were saved.
When having read the narrative of Paul and Silas, one cannot help but wonder what God could have achieved in Peter’s circumstances had he displayed the correct attitude to his suffering. The reaction of the angel to being sent to rescue Peter, implies that Peter missed out on a mighty move of God. May all who read this section on wilderness experience learn the valuable lesson, that we have a God who, when we show faith in Him in times of hardship, is able to move in power (Daniel 3:17).
5. Develop the Mind of our Teacher
In part 3 of this study we covered Yeshua as a rabbi. Yeshua was, and still is a teacher, and those that learn from Him are His students. In Hebrew a student is referred to as talmidim, which means “student of sages,” in Greek the student is called a mathētēs, which means “learner” or “pupil”. The talmidim was expected to become like their rabbi, they would follow where he went, listening to him, obey his teaching, assist him with his work and imitating him, even to the extent of copying his style of clothing. We see this pattern reflected in the Gospels, for example, Yeshua said, “A disciple is not above his teacher…. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher….” (Matthew 10:24-25)
So, as disciples of Yeshua we also need to learn to become like Yeshua, to have the “mind of Christ.” We need to be in constant conversation with Him, we need to spend time in fellowship with Him and with other disciples. We also need to spend time studying His teachings, we need to fulfil the commission to disciple others, and yes, as Yeshua was “dressed” in the power of the Holy Spirit, we also need to dress like Him.
As we mature in Christ we graduate to become teachers as well, fulfilling the Great Commission to make “disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). It is extremely important to remember that to disciple someone does not only mean to bring them to a saving knowledge of Yeshua. When discipling a person, we take on the role of teacher, and we are required to teach the full Gospel message, which includes eschatology (end times), a much-neglected study in today’s churches.
6. Developing a Hebrew mind
Understanding the teachings of Yeshua as being in the manner of a Jewish rabbi, enables us to read the Gospels in their true context and with a new freshness, (with Hebrew and not Greek spectacles). We are required to draw on the sap of the Olive tree (Romans 11:17), which is the Word of God, we must resist the error of forcing the sap of our own culture into the Olive tree, contaminating it with man’s wisdom. If we draw the sap of the good seed then we bear the fruit that is nourished by Yeshua.
Developing a mind like Christ’s involves developing Hebraic thought:
The Western mind has been shaped by centuries of influence from Greek philosophy, and has a science-based Greco-Roman logic, which often fails to correctly interpret scripture. An apt quote to emphasize this is: “Science needs Greek logic to put a man on the moon, but this kind of logic won’t explain the one who made the moon” (1). That’s where Hebraic logic is required; our Bible was written by men raised in a God designed culture, all scripture is inspired by God, but given to us through Hebrew minds (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21). Therefore, to correctly interpret scripture it must be approached with a Hebrew mindset.
The Greek mind for example struggles with the concept of the Trinity, the scientific approach of fitting three in one does not work. However, Hebraic logic understands that God is the creator and therefore is not limited by the dimensions of creation, He is above and beyond what the mortal mind can perceive. If He were not, He would be a limited God.
Other examples of Western thought as opposed to the Hebraic mind are:
A Distinction between sacred and secular:
Part 8 of this series, covered that the philosophy of the Greeks is strongly influenced by Platonic dualism, which holds the belief that there was a separation between the physical – life on earth – and the spiritual – the realm of the gods. This dualism pervades the Western mindset and results in a separation, where humanity is on earth and God is in heaven. However, for the Hebrew mind everything is supernatural, they make no distinction between the sacred and the secular areas of life. God is with His sons and daughters at all times and is involved in all that they do.
A Christian therefore needs to understand that there is no such thing as a secular career, everything is spiritual. We are to commit our careers into God’s hands, and to look for His plans and purposes in our work environment. The psalmist states clearly this aspect of Hebrew thought: “I have set YHWH always before me” (Ps. 16:8). It is also taught in the proverb, ‘In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make our paths straight’ (Prov. 3:6). Thus, to the Hebrew mind, God’s hand is on every aspect of our lives, there are no “accidents,” no chance happenings, all things are under the sovereign will and control of Almighty God. So logically, just as we recognise that blessings, like promotions and raises are from God, we must also recognise that when bad things happen to us, that it is not just misfortune, there is a reason behind the troubles. The requirement then for all believers is continual prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Doing vs. Knowing:
The Hebrew mind is concerned with practice, while the Greek mind focuses on knowledge. Right conduct in relationship with God is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, while right thinking is the goal of the Greek mind. Meaning for the Greek comes from philosophical debate and intellectual growth, while meaning for the Hebrew is striving to attain the virtues that draw them into a closer walk with God. The focus of the Greek mind is on self and self-actualisation, striving to attain the ultimate godlike self. The Hebrew mind strives to develop their relationship with God, and mould themselves into the image of Yeshua. In Biblical Judaism the Jews are concerned mainly with behaviour. As Dennis Prager, the conservative Jewish, American talk show host once said, “…belief in God and acting ethically must be inextricably linked… God demands right behaviour more than anything else, including right ritual and right belief”. The Christian who follows this logic will study the scriptures, which will bring them into a closer walk with The Word – Yeshua – and transforms them to become more like Him.
Churches that are influenced by the Greek mindset are focused on the issues of doctrinal orthodoxy (however they may define it), at the expense of Godly living. It was the Roman Church, influenced by Greek philosophy, that both intellectualized and systematized Christian doctrine. The change has been so radical that it has totally divorced itself from its Hebraic origins. Also, in Western theology many have abandoned the literal interpretation of Scripture in favour of allegorical and spiritualised interpretations, especially in the realm of eschatology (end times). This too is very Greek – it opens the door to a myriad of “creative” expositions that leave the student of scripture confused and disoriented – again this error has its roots in the Roman Church.
Thinking either/or, not both/and:
Hebrew-thinking is very different than Greek (Hellenistic) thinking, which is the foundation of our Western mind-set. The Greek mind rationalises and must find a conclusion. To limit God to a boxed answer where He can be categorised for convenience is a grave mistake. Many errors in interpreting our relationship with God in scripture are made when seeking an either/or answer. Examples:
- Did God choose us or did we choose Him. This argument has been heatedly debated over the centuries and caused much harm. Calvinism states that we are determined, God chose us. This doctrine was used by the American Southern States to justify slavery, and by the South African Government to justify apartheid. Predestination Theology meant that God had determined that the blacks were to be inferior! A people destined for slavery and servitude. The Hebraic mind does not get caught up in this error, as it sees that both sides of the argument are true, God in His foreknowledge chose us, because He knew we would choose Him – both/and.
- Is God our Lord, or Father? The answer to this is key to determining a believer’s relationship with God. Some believers become legalistic, as God is held as Lord and master of their lives; while other have a lack of reverence for God, seeing Him as a Daddy who spoils His children. The ability to accept both aspects allows an understanding that we are to submit our lives to serve a loving, good God, who will ensure that we make the most of our lives.
- Theologians argue and debate over the question of who is the focus of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Some theologians will be adamant that the scriptures are describing Satan, while others will state that the two scriptures concern the fate of historical kings, and there is nothing to suggest that the passages teach anything about Satan. However, using the principle of a double reference – both/and logic, the pages of scripture become clear. Isaiah and Ezekiel are writing about both historical kings and Satan’s influence over the kingdoms of the world, which includes the lives of these kings.
Already but not yet:
Once again, the error of interpretation stems from attempting to limit God to a boxed answer, where He can be categorised for convenience. The problem to solve here is, does the situation explained in the scripture exists now, or is the fulfilment still in the future? Examples:
- Does the Kingdom exist, or is it still in the future? The answer is that Jesus introduced the Kingdom, and the Kingdom broke through into the world at Pentecost with the start of the Church. So, the Kingdom already exists within the Church, but the millennial reign of Yeshua is still in the future, when He returns to earth. The Kingdom is therefore already, but also not yet.
- Is Satan defeated by Yeshua’s sacrificial death or not. Again, the dilemma is explained in the already, but not yet. Yeshua defeated Satan on the cross, but He will only completely lose his authority when Yeshua returns to claim His throne. Then Satan will be bound for a thousand years.
Linear versus circular:
The western mindset works on linear time, which is divided into neat segments, each event is new. The Hebraic mind is cyclical, where events constantly reoccur. Alan Horvath in his YouTube presentation “Having the Mind of Christ” (2), gives the analogy of walking on a path through a park: The linear mind marches on a straight line with the goal to reach the other end of the park, each obstacle along the path is new and unfamiliar. The Hebraic path however is circular, continually covering the same ground, where the individual becomes very familiar with the terrain.
God is a truth to be experienced, hence God established a timetable of events with His covenant people, that was cyclical:
- Every week there was the Sabbath.
- Every year there were the seven feasts.
- Every seven years there was the Shemitah.
- Every fifty years there was the Jubilee.
Ezekiel described this circular covenant relationship the Israelites had with God, in his vision of the cherubim with wheels within wheels (Ezekiel 10:9-11), or more correctly cycles within cycles. King David confirms this in Psalm 23, where he uses the Hebrew word agol for path, to describe his walk with God. Agol is Hebrew, meaning a circular path, and describes the weekly Sabbaths, the yearly feasts, the seven-year Shemitah and the fifty-year Jubilee the Jews celebrated. God continually led David on a cyclical path that reminded him of His relationship with the Lord – thus it was a path of righteousness.
The circular mindset is very important in interpreting scripture, as God requires us to revisit and become more and more familiar with His Word, thus attaining a deeper understanding. While a linear mindset, attains an initial impression, then moves on. An example would be the etymology of the word Pesach which means “pass over,” however, there is a deeper meaning in the word pesach (covered in detail in Feasts of the Bible 1). The Hebrew word Pesach is connected to the verb pasach (פסח), to which there are three main uses in scripture – “to have compassion”, “to protect” or “to skip over.” While the linear mind is happy with “to skip over,” and interprets it as Passover, the full understanding of the word must be seen in the connection of all three. There is a strong connection between to protect and to have compassion. So, God has compassion upon His people, protects them and has the Judgement pass over them.
Evidence that the Bible must be read as a Jewish book with a circular mindset is found in the Gospel of Matthew, a Gospel written to reveal the true Messiah to the Jews – a distinctly Jewish Gospel. After King Herod dies, Matthew records Joseph, Mary and the infant Yeshua moving from Egypt to Nazareth, writing “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:15). Matthew is quoting Hosea 11:1, and would be seen by modern theologians to be taking the scripture out of all reasonable context. Hosea is writing about the exodus, and the Jews being led out of Egypt by Moses. Matthew is using Jewish midrash (textual interpretation by ancient Judaic authorities), where there is a direct interpretation called the peshet, which would be the exodus. Then there is an underlying deeper meaning, called the pesher, which is the pointer to the future move of the young Messiah from Egypt, to His new home in Nazareth. Egypt is used as a symbol of “the world”, so, the direct translation is the imperfect translation, as Israel sinned again, and again, falling back into “the world”. The underlying message is the purer one, as the Messiah is truly the Son of God, who separates from the world.
When applying Jewish midrash to Old Testament prophetic scripture, this method of interpreting scripture brings a greater clarity to the Prophecies. An example would be found in the book of Joel:
“a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations” (Joel 2:2).
Joel prophecies that a locust swarm will be sent to sweep over the nation, because of Judah’s rebellion against God. The locust swarm is a shadow of the realities that is yet to come, and there is a triple reality, because Joel is pointing to the impending Babylonian judgement, which is a type of the invasion of the land of Israel in the last days by an enormous military power, which gathers in the valley of Megiddo (Armageddon). So, Joel is doing what is common with Old Testament prophets, he is combining the shadow with the reality. The cloud and thick darkness, points to the swarm of locusts that is so immense that it will block out the sun. This description of the swarm creating darkness is an ominous warning, pointing to the Day of the Lord as a time of darkness, a theme that is repeated by several Old Testament prophets. This is confirmed in Joel’s writings as he moves on to the invading armies that will cover the mountains of Israel – “a great and powerful people,” whose devastation of the land will bring a metaphorical darkness upon Israel. The last days’ invasion of Israel will be by a military force that is unparalleled in human history, “their like has never been seen before” (Dan. 12:1; Rev. 16:13-16; 19:19). The Babylonian conquest of Judah was by an army greater than any before it, and the army that gathers in the valley of Megiddo, in the last days, will be greater than all those that have preceded it. The peshet of the forthcoming locust swarm, is a precursor to the pesher, armies of Nebuchadnezzar – a biblical type of Antichrist, who in turn is a pointer to the final reality of the Antichrist’s army gathered on the plain of Megiddo.
Jewish midrash, allows us to dig deeper into the meaning of scripture, gaining a richness from God’s Word that is missing in diluted classical hermeneutics. An example of studying the deeper meaning, that will be ridiculed by those that follow the Greek influenced classical hermeneutics, is the description of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. The scripture tells us Goliath was 6 cubits tall, that he had 6 pieces of armour, and that his spear head weighed 600 shekels (in Hebrew the number 6 is written separately from the two zeros, as we do when writing 6 000). Is there a message here that God wants us to understand? To interpret the significance of this we need to study scripture using Jewish hermeneutics. The straight-forward description of Goliath, his impressive size and armour is the Peshet in midrash, it is the information we need to follow the story. But the distinctive use of numbers is implying there is an underlying secondary meaning, the Pesher in Jewish hermeneutics. The three numbers used to describe Goliath all start with 6, giving us 666, the mark of the Antichrist; Goliath is a type of the Antichrist. Goliath may therefore be studied to determine the nature of the coming Antichrist. The Antichrist will challenge God’s people, he will be filled with pride and arrogance, he will blaspheme the God of Israel etc. God uses more than direct prophecy to inform us of future events, He also uses the lives of people and Bible numerics (numbers having meaning). This depth, reveals the wonder of God’s control over human events, and the fullness and power of His prophetic word. To study scripture ignoring Jewish midrash, is the equivalent of a two-dimensional understanding – there is no depth. When using Jewish midrash the interpretation acquires further dimensions, there is more depth to the understanding of God’s Word.
Form and Function
Alan Horvath covers another distinction between the Western and Hebraic minds when he explains that the Eastern mindset focuses on form, while the Western mindset focus on function. Horvath uses the following example: When shown a pencil and asked to describe it, the Western mind covers form, describing the appearance. The explanation would cover its colour, length and the material it is made of. On the other hand, the Eastern mind, when asked the same question, will focus on function, and explain that it is a tool used for writing (3).
This distinction can clearly be seen in the Gospel writers’ record of Yeshua. Their focus is on what Yeshua does, not what He looked like. The Western mind on the other hand has been continually trying to depict the form of Yeshua in art and iconography, ironically always with a Western interpretation.
- (1) Brian Knowles, The Parables of Jesus. https://www.scribd.com/document/444528898/The-Parables-of-Jesus-Brian-Knowles-pdf (2019)
- (2) Alan Horvath, YouTube presentation, Having the Mind of Christ: https://www.goodreads.com/videos/154520-having-the-mind-of-christ (2019)
- (3) Alan Horvath, YouTube presentation, Having the Mind of Christ: https://www.goodreads.com/videos/154520-having-the-mind-of-christ (2019)
7. Become Eternally Minded
The focus of the Eternally minded believer is on the Kingdom, they understand that this life determines our rewards in the next life, so they are willing to give of themselves in service to the Lord. The Stanford marshmallow experiment, may be used as an analogy. It was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one marshmallow provided immediately, or two marshmallows (i.e., a larger later reward), if the child waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes. The tester left the room and then later returned with the reward of the second marshmallow, only for those children who were prepared to wait. Wikipedia explains that “in follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures” (1).
How does a study of delayed gratification in children apply to Christians attaining the mind of Christ? The analogy becomes significant when considering delayed gratification in terms of waiting for rewards in eternity. Yeshua wants eternally minded Christians, who daily seek to earn eternal rewards. One marshmallow Christians are those that live each day for themselves, but are miraculously transformed to selfless servants of the Lord on Sundays. They are sometimes called “Sunday Christians” or “chameleons,” as they blend into the Church community on a Sunday, and then change appearance to fit into the world for the rest of the week.
One marshmallow Christians are Indoctrinated by the world, and humanistic philosophy influences their decisions and choices. The scale of priorities is tipped to that which the world can provide for them – they have not grasped the concept of delayed gratification, because they are spiritually short sighted. Unfortunately, Christians are continually confronted with the Western hedonistic mind, with priorities of health, wealth and happiness – the “American dream” – a philosophy focused on self.
The mind of Christ is at the opposite end of the continuum, to Western hedonism. Life is seen as a pilgrimage, with God’s Word as the map, following in the footsteps of men such as Enoch and Noah who ‘walked with God’ (Gen. 5:24; 6:9). If a person knows God, he is daily at God’s disposal and walks in close relationship with Him, along the road of life. Self-sacrifice in service to God becomes the priority. An individual who daily puts on the cloak of humility and seeks to serve and glorify God with their lives, will please God. There are many scriptures that underline this fact for us:
- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).
- “A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward” (Prov. 11:18).
- “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
The parable of “the rich man,” has a powerful message for those whose focus is on the accumulation of temporal wealth. Jesus used the parable of the foolish rich man to emphasize being eternally minded:
“He (Jesus) spoke a parable to them, saying, ‘The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do, because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16–21).
The rich man’s foolishness lies in the fact that earthly gains remain behind when we die, and that worldly wealth cannot guarantee the future. One marshmallow Christians fall into the same trap as the rich man, their focus is on worldly tasks, seeking to provide for their future through their owns plans. They then become dedicated to a philosophy of humanistic self-gratification.
The sin of the flesh is rooted in pride, all sins have their genesis in placing ourselves before others. Pride is self-love, which is at the opposite end of the continuum from the love of Yeshua. Peter tells us that we need to put on the garment of humility (1 Peter 5:5); our pride is ever present, so each morning before we start our day, we need to mentally cover ourselves with the garment of humility during our morning prayers.
- (1) Wikipedia, Delayed gratification, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_gratification (2019)
Paul explains the importance of service to the Lord by making it abundantly clear, to the worldly Corinthians, that their works for the Lord were going to be tested. One day they would find themselves standing before the “Bema” judgement seat of Christ.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Both Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 speak of the “judgment seat.” This is a translation of one Greek word, Bema. In the Gospels and Acts, Bema is used to refer to a raised platform where a Roman magistrate or ruler sat to make decisions and pass sentence. Paul on the other hand, uses Bema in his epistle more in keeping with its original use among the Greeks, because of his many allusions to the Greek athletic contests.
The word “Bema” was taken from Isthmian games where the contestants would compete for the prize, under the careful scrutiny of judges who would make sure that every rule of the contest was obeyed. The victor of a given event who participated according to the rules was led by the judge to the platform called the Bema. There the laurel wreath was placed on his head as a symbol of victory.
“Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
At the Bema judgement seat all believers will be required to give an account of themselves, to determine if their lives were dedicated to service of God or self? Also, the judgement seat of Christ is to be seen as God rewarding our service to Him. It seems evident that the rewards labelled as “gold, silver, precious stones,” by Paul, relate to an individual’s status in the Kingdom. Just as there is a hierarchy of angels, so too, will there be a hierarchy in service to Yeshua in the Kingdom. The repeated reference to crowns in scripture for faithful service reinforces this belief (2 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10), also the promise that God will exalt those who provided humble service to Him (Philippians 2:9)
The “wood, hay, or straw,” defines the one marshmallow believers whose lives are contaminate by humanism, and focused on self-gratification. When their works are tested by fire, they are left with ash! They do not lose salvation, they are saved by faith not by works (Ephesians 2:8), but they will enter the Kingdom at the lower echelons of the hierarchy. Ultimately the rewards are eternal rewards, so the position attained in the Kingdom will be continued into the New Earth. James warns that our lives are very short, comparing it to the vapour of our breath on a cold morning, here one moment gone the next (James 4:14). Our time on this earth is brief, therefore we need to maximise our efforts to earn our eternal rewards. This requires that we develop an eternal mindset – the mind of Christ.
The Culture of Yeshua is Hebrew
At the Tower of Babel mankind rebelled against God and established a religious system based on their own merits and standards – placing man at the centre of all things (humanism). This unity among men was based on a common faith in self-reliance. God intervened and broke up the unity of the people by giving them different languages. This is a major reason why the nations of the world do not get along, and why there never seems to be a strong sense of community among them.
Cultural barriers exist in the way people think and process the world around them. Cultural differences are seen in the way families operate, the way children are raised, how weddings and other ceremonies are performed, how music is played, and so forth. Even though every human has the same fundamental pursuits in life, there is a difference in the way those pursuits are expressed. It is important to remember that those cultural barriers were put in place by God to slow down the rate of rebellion and keep human pride in check. The modern “globalist” agenda is seeking to reverse God’s plan of separation, and indoctrinate people with a “Global Village” mentality. The one world government will once more bring mankind into conflict with God.
When we become Christians, a common error is to then make Yeshua a part of our culture. When this is done Yeshua is moved out of the context of His Jewish culture into a foreign environment. The Jewish wedding ceremony is an excellent example of how we use our cultures to interpret scripture. We use our understanding of a wedding ceremony to interpret the narratives, parables and teachings in scripture – this is wrong and leads to incorrect interpretations. We are adding our cultural understanding onto a Jewish mindset. The Church is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 11:2), our Bridegroom is Jewish, the bride marries into the customs and culture of her bridegroom.
The only way that these cultural barriers can be overcome is by gaining a new life in Yeshua. Then with the mind of Christ we are able to see that we are all part of the family of God, that we will be able to have a common identity in Yeshua our Hebrew Bridegroom.
We are to acquire the mind of Christ, which involves:
- Knowing God’s Word
- Obedience to God’s Word
- Humility and servitude
- Experiencing times of trial and testing
- Following Yeshua and becoming His Talmidim (student), so as to become like our Teacher
- Developing a Hebrew mind
- Becoming eternally minded
We are to remember the culture of Yeshua is Hebrew, and He is to be understood in that context.
Conclusion to Getting to Know Yeshua series
Genesis 3:15 details the curse God gave to the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring”. The seed of the women is a direct pointer to Yeshua, while the seed of the serpent is the Antichrist. This series on Getting to Know Yeshua has shown that the seed of the Antichrist has continually contaminate the Word of God. The warning for the Church is that we are in the last days, and before Yeshua will return for His Bride, the Bride needs to cleanse herself of the contamination of man’s wisdom. God is going to draw a line in the sand, there will be no sitting on the fence, there is going to be a definite distinction between the Bride of Yeshua and the apostate church of the Antichrist.
Since the Dark Ages, God has progressively brought His Church stage by stage out of the quagmire of man’s wisdom that the Roman Church had sunk into. The Holy Spirit revivals that occurred during Church history followed the foundation principles of Hebrews 6:1-2:
- The Reformation – Repentance from dead works.
- The Awakening revivals – Faith in God.
- The Pentecostal revival – Baptisms.
- The Charismatic revival – Laying on of hands.
The fifth foundation principle is “the resurrection of the dead,” so the next revival is going to coincide with the rapture of the Church. As a Watchman, I believe that Yeshua is not going to return for a contaminated bride; to refine His Church, He is going to allow what has been the cause of refining, both for individuals and churches in the past – persecution. The “Apostate Church,” will consist of all the churches that have contaminated God’s Word, designing their own version of worship. Not only will they be identified by their rejection of God’s commandments, but they will also be identified by their rejection of God’s chosen race – the Jews. Replacement theology, and the end times theories that deny a Kingdom rule by Yeshua will be prominent doctrines of the apostate church. When the true Church of God rejects the doctrines of the apostate church, the worldly older brother will persecute the righteous younger brother, which has been revealed repeatedly in scripture: Caine and Able, Isaac, and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, David and Eliab. There will be no grey area, churches will have to chose sides!
The revival that will occur in the end time Church, will be God’s way of identifying His true Church. Churches that have rejected man’s wisdom and removed the contamination from their church will experience the revival. Then, as what has happened with past revivals, other churches will take note and make the necessary changes and adaptions, which will cause the revival to spread. The wonderful thing about this revival is that it will not end when the rapture occurs! Those individuals that have been given the knowledge of the rapture and the Tribulation by colleagues, friends or loved ones, will soon make the change to accept Yeshua as prophecy is fulfilled before their eyes at the rapture.
It is the duty of the Church to “watch and pray” (Luke 21:36), to understand prophecy and to pray into “the signs of the times,” as the time of Yeshua’s return draws near. It is also the duty of the Church to provide others with the knowledge that can bring them salvation – which includes the warning of end times events. A means of evangelism that has been forgotten by the Church.
If you continue to follow my blog, the above conclusion will be explained in greater detail in future series that are to follow. The next series in sequence, looks at five very important sections of prophecy in scripture, that when understood, give a comprehensive understanding of end times prophecy. The sections that will be studied are: Joel, Daniel, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation.
(The Lord is coming)