“THE TEMPLE MOUNT IS IN OUR HANDS”

These were the famous words spoken by Motta Gur, the commander of the paratroop brigade on June 7, 1967, the day the Israelis liberated Jerusalem. Fifty years later we celebrate this victory that saw Israel defeat the combined militaries of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in just six short days.

Many students of the Bible believe this stunning victory was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. While predicting the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Jesus then said, “… Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). Was this amazing event that caught the attention of the world the beginning of the end of the times of the Gentiles?

Let’s review this incredible victory. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser was an egomaniac who wanted to unify the Arab world under his leadership. But he had a big problem – the Arab world did not want to unify under his leadership. So how does he get them to do this – why start a war with Israel – of course.

Having resupplied Egypt with a massive amount of weapons, Russia convinced Nasser, as if he needed convincing, that he could defeat Israel. With encouragement from Russia, Nasser made an alliance with Syria and Jordan to destroy Israel. The stated Arab goal was not only to defeat the Israeli military and reclaim the land, but to kill every Jew in Israel – man, woman and child. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS!

In May, 1967, Nasser began to move his troops into the Sinai. He ordered the United Nations (UN stands for Usually Nothing) peace-keeping forces out of the area. Then as a final attempt to provoke Israel, he blocked the Israeli port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aquaba. (Against the better wisdom of the State Department, I was parasailing in the Gulf of Aquaba during the first Gulf War.)

Israel was left with no choice but to retaliate. On June 5, 1967, Israel made a lighting attack against her enemies. Israeli jets, flying dangerously low over the Mediterranean to avoid radar, approached the Egyptian airfields with the Egyptian planes all lined up waiting for the order to attack Israel. The Israeli pilots destroyed the entire Egyptian air force including approximately 500 Egyptian planes before they ever got off the ground.

Not able to face reality, Nasser proclaimed a great victory while boasting that Egyptian planes were bombing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Believing the lie, King Hussein of Jordan entered the war thinking that Egypt was defeating Israel. This was a tragic mistake as the Israeli government had warned King Hussein that if he stayed out the war they would not attack Jordan.

The Egyptian ground forces in the Sinai were also routed. The Israelis captured 600-700 Russian supplied tanks including more than one hundred tanks that were undamaged. In addition they took huge quantities of weapons and other military equipment. Weapons were not all they took. They also captured, or shall we say, liberated land. By the time the short six-day war was over, Israel liberated the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, from which Egypt had made many raids into Israel.

They also liberated the Golan Heights from Syria. For years, Syria had fired on Israeli civilians from the strategic area of the Golan. Looking down from their fortified bunkers, Syrian snipers easily “picked off” Israeli citizens who were trying to farm the land below. It made no difference if it was men, women or children. On one of our many trips to Israel, we went in one of those abandoned bunkers to see for ourselves how easy it was for Syrian sharpshooters to murder at will.

The battle for the Golan was especially costly and dangerous as the land had been mined. Israeli soldiers had to climb the Golan in an “up-hill” battle against snipers and Syrian tanks while crawling through a land area full of mines. Even today, many of these mines are still there in areas fenced off with warning signs. One effort to liberate the Golan was featured in the amazing video series; “Against all Odds” which everyone should buy and watch over and over.

In the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria including the Old City of Jerusalem. This area is the heartland of Israel which the world calls the “West Bank” because it is west of the Jordan River. For nineteen years, the Jordanians demolished and desecrated everything Jewish in the Old City and forbid Jews from entering their ancient capital. During this period when Jordan had the rule, they never had the thought of declaring a Palestinian state. Isn’t that interesting!

The most important outcome of the six-day war was the Israeli liberation of the old city of Jerusalem (this is Biblical Jerusalem) and Judea and Samaria. The Jews had not been masters of Jerusalem in well over two thousand years. They had been banned from living there since A.D. 135 by the Roman emperor Hadrian after the second Jewish war with the Romans. Now after all these centuries, they are back in their land and in possession of Jerusalem their ancient capital promised to them as an everlasting possession by God. Truly this is cause to celebrate.

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, says the LORD. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:10-12).

Christians and Passover

By Dr. Richard Booker

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For Christ [Messiah], our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Paul wrote these words to the primarily non-Jewish believers at Corinth about 25 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The early Gentile believers realized that Christianity was a Jewish movement with a Jewish Lord that had spread to the non-Jewish world. As a result, they celebrated the biblical Feasts, including Passover. They didn’t see this practice as somehow “being under the Law.” No, they saw themselves celebrating the redemptive work of Jesus as the “Lamb of God” who had taken away their sins. To them, Passover was not just a Jewish Feast; it was a Jesus Feast. Of course there was no such thing as “Easter” as that was a pagan festival where the participants worshiped Ishtar with unholy activities I won’t even mention is this writing.

Christians understand that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Yet, few have seen how Jesus perfectly fulfilled every detail of the Passover lamb of Exodus. When God revealed this to me personally in 1974, it changed my life forever. The complete record of the Exodus event is in Exodus 12. Let’s summarize what God said.

The Passover Exodus

In the Hebrew month of Nisan (March-April), on the tenth day of the month, every household was to select a lamb as their Passover sacrifice. They were to observe this lamb for five days to make sure it was without spot or blemish. Then on the 14th day, at three o’clock (between the evenings), they killed the lamb and sprinkled the blood on the doorpost of their dwelling. God told them to consume the entire lamb. Nothing was to be left over for the next day. Furthermore, not one bone of the lamb was to be broken. This required that they roast the lamb on a spit shaped like a crossbar.

The Hebrews dug a rut or hole in the threshold where they poured the blood. They then stepped over the blood-stained threshold and asked God to stand in the doorway protecting them from the angel of death. This is why Passover was originally called the “Threshold Covenant” or the “Crossing Over Covenant.” When the angel of death passed through the land, the presence of God standing in the blood covered doorpost saved the people from death and destruction. The angel of death could not cross that blood-stained threshold.

The Passover and Jesus

Now let’s fast forward to the time of Jesus. The Hebrew Bible is a picture book. It is a picture of a person. That person is Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth who acted out the reality of the pictures. Let’s see how He did this at Passover.

Jesus was introduced as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36). He entered Jerusalem on the tenth day of the month of Nisan (John 12:1, 12-13). He was set aside to be tested for five days. They found no fault in Him (John 19:4), but He was born to die as the Passover Lamb. At nine o’clock in the morning of the 14th, as the lambs were being prepared for sacrifice, Jesus was crucified. At three o’clock when the lambs were being slaughtered, Jesus died on a crossbar (Mark 15:25, 33-37). The Roman soldier went to break Jesus’ legs to hasten His death but found He was already dead to fulfill the details that not one of His bones would be broken (John 19:36). Furthermore, the religious leaders hurriedly had Jesus’ body taken down so He would not be left on the cross the next day which was a high Sabbath (John 19:31).

Jesus was crucified at Passover on Wednesday, April 3, 30 AD. He took the leaven of our sins into His spirit, the leaven of our sorrows into His soul and the leaven of our sicknesses into His flesh. He was buried (placed in the tomb) at sunset which began the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He took our human liabilities with Him in the tomb. After fulfilling the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:40), He was resurrected from the tomb at sunset at the close of the Sabbath at the Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus is our Passover, our Unleavened Bread and our Firstfruits.

The Passover and Christians

As Jesus came forth in newness of life, so can all of those who look to Him for redemption. When we apply His blood to the doorpost of our heart, He saves us from death and gives us the promise of forgiveness, redemption and eternal life. Satan and the angel of death cannot cross the blood-stained threshold of your life. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4) So this year, let us “Keep the Feasts.” Instead of searching for “Easter eggs” let us follow the instruction of the Apostle Paul and search for the hidden leaven of sin in our heart and purge it out so that we can keep the feast with a pure and sanctified heart.

Hag Pesach Sameach

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY

Then God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said to them,
‘Be fruitful and multiply…’” (Genesis 1:28).

The Lord gave us a wonderful blessing when He designed love and marriage as the means for humans to perpetuate themselves. I have often said that “be fruitful and multiply” is the only commandment we humans have kept. However, in recent times some people groups have not even kept this commandment. They have kept the love part but not the multiplying part. We don’t need to be really, really smart to realize that if we don’t make babies, we won’t be around very long. Abortions not only kill babies, they kill civilizations.

People who study population rates and their impact on civilizations tell us that married couples must make 2.1 babies just to keep even. Now I don’t know how we can make a .1 baby but this is an average of the total number of babies we must have to maintain our civilization. Two must make at least two more just to replace themselves. Makes sense! So how are we doing? What people groups are “pulling down the shades” and which ones are not? The answer tells us some very important facts about the future of the nations.

The statistics below are a few years old but have remained about the same with some differences which I will point out. The bottom line of fertility happiness is that Western nations with a Judeo-Christian heritage are not reproducing at a rate to maintain themselves while Middle Eastern countries with an Islamic heritage are “taking care of business.”

European nations have the lowest birthrates while Islamic nations have the highest. In fact, if the current birthrate in Europe continues, Europe as we know it today, will “birth control” itself out of existence in one generation. Europeans will be a tiny minority among an Islamic majority. Take a moment and think what that might mean for the world, for America, for Israel and for the Jews in Europe. Can you hear God calling the Jews home?

The birthrate in Russia is so low that a few years ago the Russian government declared a “Day of Conception” and told workers to stay home and make babies. Those who were successful in this marriage encounter would be rewarded with all kinds of prizes. How is that for an excuse to miss work.

The only Western Judeo-Christian nation that is staying even is America. However the Americans who are having babies are Hispanic Americans not those with a Protestant European background who founded America. Protestant European America is diminishing in the percent of the total population of America while the traditionally Catholic Hispanic population is increasing in their percent of the American population. Today the Pilgrims might be eating tortillas rather than having “high tea.”

The marriage encounter in Israel is also changing but in favor of the Jewish state. When he was still alive, Yasser Arafat said the “Palestinians” would defeat the Israelis with the weapon of the womb. He meant that the Arab birthrate was much higher than the Jewish birthrate, and over a generation, the Arab population would overwhelm the Jewish population. At that time the Arab birthrate was about 5.0 while the Jewish birthrate was 2.6.

But for the first time in the history of Israel, the Jewish women are doing their duty to increase the Jewish population. The Israeli Bureau of Statistics recently published the current birthrates of Jewish and Arab women. It seems like the Israelis are missing a few days of work while the Arabs are working overtime. The Israeli women are having more children while the Arab women are having less. Both the Jewish birthrate and the Arab birthrates have evened out at an average of 3.13 children per woman. Way to go ladies!

This “population explosion” among the Israeli woman reminds us of Exodus 1:7 which reads, “But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” This rediscovery of the joy of marriage, along with the coming Aliyah from Europe, will ensure that the Jewish people will indeed be a majority in their own state. They may be the only ones with a majority in their own country. Think about that.

Isaiah wrote of these times and said, “For our waste and desolate places, and the land of your destruction, will even now be too small for your inhabitants; and those who swallowed you up will be far away. The children you will have, after you have lost the others [in the Holocaust], will say again in your ears, the place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell” (Isaiah 49:19-20).

Take a moment and read the birthrate figures below and contemplate what this might mean for the future. Where appropriate, the Lord might say to some, “Don’t be shy, multiply.” Smile! Remember, a civilization must have a minimum of 2.1 to survive.

Spain – 1.1                  Germany – 1.4

Korea – 1.1                 Canada – 1.48             Middle Eastern

Russia – 1.14               U.K. – 1.8                      Countries – 5.1

Italy – 1.2                      Australia – 1.8

Japan – 1.32                France – 1.9

Europe – 1.38              America – 2.1

Purim

For Such a Time as This

by Dr. Richard Booker

Bible readers know the importance of Purim as told in the book of Esther. Set in ancient Persia, modern Iran, the One True God of Israel providentially allowed Hadassah (Esther) to be strategically placed in the king’s palace and find favor with him. Esther was Jewish.

People of the Book know the story. When the king dismissed his queen who refused his summon, the king chose Esther as his new queen. But there was trouble. The king had a prime minister who was an evil man. His name was Haman (boo). Haman (boo) hated Jews and plotted to kill them all.

As the story unfolds, Esther had a cousin named Mordecai (yay). Mordecai (yay) learned of the plot and told Esther that she had to go before the king and intercede for her people. Esther must have been struck with fear. You see, it was politically incorrect for Esther to appear before the king unless the king called for her. It was against Persian government protocol to speak without getting permission. But Esther wouldn’t just lose votes; she would lose her head. She sent word to Mordecai (yay) that whoever enters the king’s inner court without being called was subject to death. And the king had not called for Esther in 30 days.

Mordecai’s (yay) response to Esther was a powerful statement that has stirred the hearts and minds of people ever since they were written in the Book of Books.  He said, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than any other Jew. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows if you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

WOW! What a challenge and what insight. Mordecai (yay) knew that when Haman (boo) discovered that Esther was a Jew he would have her murdered along with all the other Jews in Iran, oops, I mean Persia. Mordecai (yay) also knew that the God of Israel was sovereign and that, just perhaps, Esther was born and chosen for this one assignment to save the Jewish people. Mordecai (yay) also knew that if Esther failed in her assignment, God would use some other means to rescue the Jews. What a word that is for Christians today. If we don’t help the Jews in the coming perilous times, God will use others but we will suffer at the hands of the Haman’s (boo) of our world.

Now there was more to Esther than just good looks and a year’s free admission to the palace spa and Mary Kay cosmetics. She had an inner strength and the courage to answer Mordecai (yay), “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shusan, and fast for me; neither eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-17).

As students of the Bible know, the king did receive Esther who revealed Haman’s (boo) plot to the king. The king honored Mordecai (yay) and Esther and commanded that Haman (boo) be hung on the tree that he had prepared for Mordecai (yay). Haman’s (boo) wife and friends saw this coming and said to Haman (boo), “If Mordecai (yay), before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him” (Esther 6:13). God is a faithful covenant-keeping God. He will defend Israel and judge those nations and people who seek to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. We all have a choice – blessings or curses.

As things turned out, the king gave the Jews the right to defend themselves (hello Israel) who defeated those who plotted to murder them. Then all the Jews of Persia celebrated for two days with feasting and joy, exchanging gifts and helping the poor (Esther 9:20-23). Furthermore, Mordecai (yay) invited all who would join them (non-Jews who love the Jews) to celebrate with them (Esther 9:26-28). Christians – go get your groggers – it’s time to party.

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 6 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

PART 6 OF 6

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Jerusalem – God’s Blood-Stained Threshold

The word “thresh” when applied to people means to violently beat, to hit, to punch or to strike. The word brings to mind a boxer hitting his opponent as hard and as fast as he can or someone interrogating a prisoner. We would say that he bloodied his opponent. Or we might say that he gave his opponent a “good thrashing.” This brings me to the second Hebrew word translated as threshold. The word is miphtan (pronounced as miftawn).

People in Bible times understood that the threshold was more than just the bottom of the doorway entrance into their house. It was also the altar to their god. As I mentioned previously, the threshold was made with a hole or groove where the blood was poured when the sacrifice was made dedicating their house and themselves to their god. This is what was happening in Egypt at Passover.

An important resource for understanding words in the Bible is the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon. This reference says that miphtan in Hebrew means “crossbar.” In Arabic miphtan means “carpenter.”  A carpenter is one who threshes and carries wood such as a crossbar.

Did you get that? To followers of Jesus, the blood-stained threshold at Passover was a picture of a carpenter who had been beaten, punched, struck, bloodied, and made to carry a crossbar. He did this in Jerusalem, God’s threshold city. So not only did God give Jerusalem to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession, Jerusalem is where Jesus was threshed by the shedding of his own blood. Jerusalem is God’s threshold city and the Temple Mount is where Jesus was crucified.

So when the Muslims say that the Jews never had a Temple on the Temple Mount, they are denying both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Shouldn’t this be just as important to Christians as it should be to Jews?

What this means is that the battle for Jerusalem (and the Temple Mount) is a spiritual battle. It is a battle between the One True God and the demonic spirits of this world. It is a battle between the God of the Bible and the god of the Koran. It is a battle between the God of Israel and the god of Arabia. It is a battle between the God of love and life and the god of hate and death. It is a battle between the living resurrected Jesus of Nazareth and the dead and buried Mohammed of Mecca. And the outcome is certain.

Zechariah explains, “In that day [our times?] the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 2:8-9).

The prophet Joel speaks about the same spiritual battle and puts it in our times, “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2).

What Does this Mean?

It is clear that if you want God’s blessings you must bless Israel and the Jewish people. Genesis 12:3 is still in place today where God says He will bless those who bless the Jewish people but He will curse those who curse them. We bless Israel and the Jewish people by praying for (actively seeking the good, well-being of) Jerusalem, making a pilgrimage to Israel and the Feast of Tabernacles, supporting legitimate organizations that support Israel, learning the issues and speaking out against anti-Semitism and Israel-thrashing.

We must also leave any organization such as political parties, churches and synagogues and any other organization that does not support the rights of the Jewish people to live safely and securely in Judea and Samaria, their ancient God-given homeland, with Jerusalem as their eternal, undivided capital. Either stand with the God of Israel and His people or fall under the weight of God’s judgment.

While the nation’s rage and world leader’s scheme and make their speeches, God is in the heavens laughing. The prophet Joel explains God’s response to foolish UN resolutions, “The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain. Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again” (Joel 3:16-17).

Jerusalem – the Throne City of God

When all is said and done, Zechariah tells us “the rest of the story” you will not hear on the evening news, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Peoples shall yet come, the inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city will go to another saying, ‘Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, and seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also.’ Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD of hosts.’

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve [tzitzit] of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have hear that God is with you’” (Zechariah 8:20-23).

Jeremiah gives the last word, “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 3:17).

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 5 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

PART 5 OF 6

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness
to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against
Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I
will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples;
all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces,
though all nations of the earth are gathered against it”
(Zechariah 12:2-3)

Jerusalem – A Very Heavy Stone

When Zechariah calls Jerusalem a very heavy stone, he is saying that Jerusalem is God’s boundary marker. It is His landmark. It is His property line. To “heave it away” means to move the sacred border or boundary of Jerusalem as the city of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Anyone who tries to heave it away (conquer and divide it) will learn that it is a stone too heavy for them to lift. In other-words, they will fail in their attempts because the battle is a spiritual one. The attackers are not just fighting Israel; they are fighting the God of Israel who will defend His territory. He is promising to protect Jerusalem from all intruders even though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. Let me say it again, the One True God will destroy any government or nation that “tramples underfoot” Jerusalem by trying to take it from the Jewish people or dividing it. Of course this has happened in the past but Zechariah is prophesying about the end of days.

Zechariah says that God will “cut them in pieces.” He is using a phrase that everyone understood. As I explained earlier, this was the curse on anyone who tried to dishonor or break a sacred blood covenant. As they split the animal down the middle, God will cut into pieces (destroy the armies) any nation or group of people that cross His sacred threshold of Jerusalem.

Zechariah further explains, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; with great fervor I am zealous for her.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’

“Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east
and from the land of the west; I will bring them back,
and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall
be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness”
(Zechariah 8:2-3, 7-8).

I will explain Jerusalem – God’s Blood-Stained Threshold in Part 6. Be looking for it.

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 4 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

PART 4 OF 6

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all
the  surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah
and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make
Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave
it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth
are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Jerusalem – A Cup of Drunkenness

Zechariah writes that God will make Jerusalem a “Cup of Drunkenness.” What did he mean by this? Without the cultural understanding, we miss the profound meaning and true nature of his statement. Let me explain with a brief word study.

There are two Hebrew words translated into English as threshold. One Hebrew word is caph or saph (pronounced as saf). The word means a boundary, a boundary line, or land mark which is designated by a container holding blood. For example, when a person dedicated his house to his god, he cut a hole or groove in the threshold entrance to his house where he poured the blood from the sacrifice. Long before man built temples to his god, the threshold entrance to his house was his primitive altar to the god he worshiped. They did the same at the city gates and at the national borders of their territory.

In the Bible, saph is normally translated as “threshold” but because saph includes a container for holding blood, the word is translated into English as basin in Exodus 12:22 and as cup in Zechariah 12:2. When we read the word basin or cup we think of a bowl or a literal cup. Zechariah’s readers understood it differently. They knew he was talking about a threshold blood covenant marker defining the territory or land that belonged to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the land and city God promised to their descendants as an everlasting covenant possession. That threshold is Jerusalem.

So the phrase “Cup of Drunkenness” literally means that Jerusalem is God’s Threshold of Judgment. It is His domain which He gave to the Jewish people and anyone who crosses the threshold of Jerusalem (tries to conquer or divide it) is invading His territory.

The God of Israel will defend Jerusalem and He will see that the Temple is rebuilt no matter the opposition. It will happen so be looking for it. Here are His words,

“I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry, and they helped—but with evil intent. Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house [the Temple] shall be built in it,’ says, the LORD of hosts, ‘and a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.’ Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem’” (Zechariah 1:14-17).

Something to ponder in light of these words by Zechariah regarding the Temple. You may know that Yehuda Glick is an ardent proponent of rebuilding the Temple. He also is very embracing of Christian lovers of Israel and is a member of the Knesset Christian Allies Congress. He also made history be attending the Trump inauguration. How is it possible that Yehuda Glick miraculously survived an assassination attempt with five bullets in him to recover and be elected to the Knesset? Is this a coincidence or a God-incident? I think I know the answer, how about you?

I will explain Jerusalem a Very Heavy Stone in Part 5.

Be looking for it.

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 3 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

PART 3 OF 6

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

The Threshold Blood Covenant

In order to show devotion to their god, people would dedicate their dwellings to the deity they worshiped. They did this by making a blood covenant sacrifice at the threshold entrance to their house, at the threshold entrance to their cities (the city gates around the city) and at the threshold borders of their country. They would then call upon their god to protect their property and provide for their needs. The blood-stained threshold was a reminder they were in a sacred covenant with their god.

Since the borders and boundaries served as the threshold to the national borders, people would set up landmarks in the form of boundary stones or plant trees and dedicate the boundary markers to their gods. When the people went in and out of their territory, they would make a sacrifice to their god at the borders asking for protection when crossing into the territory of a different deity. They would do the same when crossing back into their territory. Because boundaries and borders were a place of worship, they were considered sacred. To move a landmark was not only stealing property from your neighbor, more importantly it was diminishing the territorial domain of their god.

When making a blood covenant sacrifice, the parties would split the animal down the middle and divide the two bloody halves of the animal. Each half of the animal represented the people making the blood covenant. Since this was a sacred covenant, the parties making it would look down at the bloody half of the animal and say, “May our god cut us in pieces like this animal if we try to break the covenant.” The same curse was put on any enemy who attempted to cross the threshold (take your property, heave away the boundary markers, etc.) of the personal dwelling, the city gates or the national borders.

Since the blood-stained threshold was an altar, the people were careful not to step on it. They would leap over it as they entered their dwelling. This is the story of Passover in Exodus. Since the word Passover means “to leap,” Passover was originally referred to as the Threshold Covenant or the Crossing-Over Covenant. The prophet Zephaniah speaks about God judging those who would “leap over the threshold” with evil intentions of violence against the rightful owners of the property (Zephaniah 1:9).

Regardless of their evil intentions, the Word of the Lord is sure, “For surely I will shake My hand against them [the nations], and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst says the LORD of hosts. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD shall take possession of Judah and his inheritance in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 2:9-12).

I will explain Jerusalem a Cup of Drunkenness in Part 4. Be looking for it.

 

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 2 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

PART 2 OF 6

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

The Sacred Nature of Property

The most important thing we need to know is that ancient people considered the geographic region (property lines) in which they lived as the domain of the gods they worshiped. This included their personal dwelling, their cities and their nation. In their minds, their property not only belonged to them but it also belonged to their gods. This means there was a sacred nature to their property. It was the obligation of the deities to protect their domain from foreign invaders. If the borders were moved or the land divided, the gods would be humiliated because their glory and reputation was challenged by the “greater god” of the conquering invaders.

Before God brought the Hebrews into the land, He gave them the following instructions and reminder of who owned the land, “the land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me” (Leviticus 25:23).

God told of His anger against the nations for trying to take His land. Read this carefully as this could very well happen in 2017. This certainly sounds like the UN declarations against Israel led by the US. “Therefore says the LORD God, ‘Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom [Arabia], who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds in order to plunder its open country” (Ezekiel 36:5).

God said He would judge the nations because, “They have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:2). Could it be that America is now so divided because our government continues to divide up God’s land?

To remove boundary lines and landmarks was not only an attack against neighbors, cities and countries; it was also an attack against their gods. This means if your property was diminished, your god was diminished. If an invader took your personal property, conquered your city or changed your national boundaries, your god was defeated by the god of your enemies who would be considered the greater god.

To possess the gates of the city of your enemy not only meant that you defeated the enemy but also their god. This means that wars in biblical times (Zechariah’s time) were basically spiritual in nature. The question was not whose army was the most powerful but “Whose god was the greatest?” This is why Islamists shout “A-l-l-a-h Akbar” when they kill people in the name of their god. They are saying their god is greater than the God of the Bible. Are you getting the idea?

No matter what they say, here is what the Word of God says, “This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and make arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be awesome [a terror] to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from His place, indeed all the shores of the nations” (Zephaniah 2:10-11).

I will explain The Threshold Blood Covenant in Part 3. Be looking for it.

 

The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 1 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

Americans were shocked when our President and State Department abstained in the declaration by the United Nations stating that Judea and Samaria, and even Jerusalem, should be taken from the Jews and given to the Arabs. We were further outraged when Secretary of State John Kerry delivered his hostile and distorted speech blaming the Jews for lack of peace with their neighbors. Now with the “Peace” conference scheduled in Paris for January 15, concerned Israelis and Americans are bracing for even more anti-Israel declarations and demands.

This has caused both Jews and Christians to open their Bibles to see if the Word of God says anything about this. And it says plenty. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One True God, says over and over, and over and over, that He will preserve a remnant of the Jewish people in the nations and bring them back to their ancient land. While secular people may not understand this, you cannot be a faithful Jew or Christian without realizing that the modern ingathering of the Jewish people to a restored Israel is a work of God in fulfilling His Word. This is one of the major themes in the Bible which brings us to the prophecy of Zechariah.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Zechariah’s name means, “Yahweh Remembers” and the theme of his prophecies was to encourage the people that “the Lord remembers Zion.” That should tell us something, don’t you think? He prophesied in the years of 520-475 B.C. to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon/Persia in 536 B.C. with the approval of King Cyrus. How ironic considering the issue of today’s Temple Mount that Zechariah’s primary message was to encourage the Jews who had returned to their land to rebuild the Temple. Think about that!

But Zechariah’s prophecies were not limited to his time and circumstances. He looked into the future and spoke about the time when Jews would return from all the nations. He spoke about our times but he did so using the cultural expressions of his time that we do not understand in our modern world. We must study the culture of the Bible to understand Zechariah’s words as his listeners would have understood them and their meaning for us today. Understood in their cultural context, his words are much more profound and have much more power than we realize. Their fulfillment will shake the nations and change the world. It may happen sooner than we think.

I would need to write a book to fully explain the depth of the cultural background and meaning of his words. In this presentation I can only share a brief, simplified overview. I am available to give the full lecture if anyone is interested.

I will explain the sacred nature of property in Part 2. Be looking for it.