Return to Eden
As we should know by now, repentance is more than a confession. Repentance is a change in lifestyle, a change in direction, a turning about 180%. It is to see things the way God sees them, to see sin as He sees sin, as exceedingly sinful. As the classic example goes, repentance means to “turn” from one way of life to go the other direction. Contrary to what you might think, this concept is not unique to the Church. In fact, this concept of “turning” is completely Jewish. It comes from the word shuv which means “to turn”. From this root is derived the term teshuvah which means “repentance.” But as with most Hebrew words and as you will soon learn, the meaning of teshuvah is multi-dimensional. Instead of simply turning from one way of life to another, the implied meaning is to “return” to God. Isaiah 55:7 says it very well. The prophet writes, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Notice that the theme of this verse is repentance.
Now note that the word used for “return” is the word shuv, which connects us to the word teshuvah – “repentance.” So, we could say that aligned with the concept of repentance is the idea of returning to a state or place we’ve already know and experienced. To underscore this concept, let us hear what Jeremiah has to say. The prophet wrote in Jeremiah 30:3, “For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” So, there it is – the same word used to indicate repentance also signifies returning to where you came from and, in this case, it specifically refers to returning to Israel and Jerusalem. This is a very important point, so take note.
Though the concept of repentance is easy enough to understand, what of returning? Is our return to God accomplished when we come to know Messiah or is there more? As believers, what origins should we be returning to? The answer is like an artichoke. There are many layers to peel back before we get to the heart of the matter. Yet, if you like artichoke, the experience can be delicious. Likewise, I hope you find our journey back to Eden to be just as satisfying.
Understand that in Judaism, emphasis is placed on teshuvah in the days preceding Rosh Hashana, the feat of trumpets. This is the feast where the shofar, the ram’s horn is blown. Actually, the shofar is blown many times each of the thirty days of Elul, the month that precedes Rosh Hashana. This season is known as the days of teshuvah (repentance). It is believed that on Rosh Hashana, the shofar is blown to awaken us from spiritual death so that we will turn (shuv) from our sin and return to God in repentance. On this day, it is believed that God judges each person’s life and determines whether or not a person is inscribed in the Book of Life. Therefore, for the thirty days prior to that day, the shofar is blown to warn us of the approaching Day of Judgment.
But why was it decided that Rosh Hashana would be of such monumental importance? You see, Rosh Hashana is recognized as the day that God created Adam, the first man. It was Adam who walked with God in the cool of the day, communing with the Almighty in spiritual bliss. He enjoyed God’s Paradise and God’s Presence without any barrier to segregate. Yet, as we know, this did not continue. From the faithful moment that mankind was expelled from Eden, we have been trying to return there. This is the broader meaning of teshuvah (repentance).
I believe that the church finds itself in desperate need of repentance – returning to God not in word but in deed. As the physical sounds of the shofar permeate the month of Elul, let us hear the spiritual sound of the shofar as it challenges us to return to Eden.
The Shofar and the Call to Return
When Adam, God's priest fell from grace, it became necessary for God to step in and become the priest Himself. What? God acting as priest? Note that the man and the woman stood before a holy God in their sin, completely naked, both physically and spiritually. God had said, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof (the forbidden fruit) thou shalt surely die." Though the law demanded death, God instead extended grace and made "coats of skins, and clothed them." Yet, grace demanded a sacrifice. What is not spoken gut inferred in Genesis 3, is that God slaughtered an animal, the first blood sacrifice. Thus, at the very beginning, God set the precedent for the atonement of sin - the shedding of blood. From the death of an innocent, God covered the nakedness (sin) of man. No one but a priest could perform the sacrifice. No one but God could cover the sin.
Though in later generations mortals would officiate as priests to the Most High, here in the beginning, God Himself was the Priest-King. It was in this capacity that God ordained the seed of woman would one day crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Are you paying attention? There in Eden, God, acting as priest, pronounced that a future priest-king would rectify the wrongs wrought by the serpent and pave the way for mankind to return to Eden. For this to be accomplished - for man to exist in perfect harmony with the Creator - would require the abolition of sin. Though a priest could perform a sacrifice, it would take God to cover the sin. More on this later.
Incidentally, one tradition says that the animal God slew to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve was a ram. Now notice something. If God did in fact slaughter a ram and used its skins to clothe the man and woman, we can assume that the carcass was used as a burnt offering (maybe this is where Abel got the idea?). Yet, what became of its horns? Is it possible that at that moment, the importance of the shofar was conceived? Remember, the shofar is sounded to call mankind to repentance (teshuvah) - to return to Eden. It stands to reason that it would be in Eden where the shofar is forever associated with the call to teshuvah. The Bible teaches that blood, and particularly, innocent blood, has a voice (Genesis 4:10). We also understand that the shofar has a voice (Exodus 19:16). With each blast of a shofar, we should be reminded that an innocent had to give its life for that sound to be made. In effect, the blood of the innocent is crying out, calling us to turn from our sin and to return to God.
Hosea 6:1-2 "Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."
Here we have a prophecy that plainly states, there is coming a day when men will return to God and live in His sight, just as Adam once had. Moreover, it is implied that God is the one who desires this return to the way things were in Eden. No doubt, Adam would have loved to return to the garden, yet as we know, the way into the garden was guarded by cherubim. I can imagine, however, that Adam would strive to get as close as he possibly could. I can see him coming out of the wilderness he has been cursed to live in. I see him slowly ascending a large hill, knowing that just over the crest lies the gateway to Eden. As he reaches the crest and looks over into the Paradise he once enjoyed - as he stares at the boundary that separates him, yet longing to cross over - his heart melts within him. He takes the horn of a ram, perhaps the one which came from God Himself, and, much like someone knocking on the door of an old friend, he produces several melancholy blasts upon it. Maybe God will hear and allow him to return. Maybe God will revive him and his family and allow them to live in His sight once again.
Sadly, however, he is turned away and he begins his descent back to his dwelling in the wilderness. The time is not right for man to return to Eden – not yet.
For Zion's Sake
Isaiah 62:1 "For Zion's sake will l not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
We now have reason to believe that Eden was located, not in Iraq or Kuwait, but in the present day environs of Jerusalem. The reason for this belief are too numerous to elaborate on here, but we will highlight just a few. For centuries certain sages have held to the belief that Jerusalem is the center of the world. Because of this, they reason that Jerusalem is the sight of ancient Eden. They point out that it was from the Temple Mount that God created the heavens and the earth; that from Mount Moriah, God took earth and formed Adam and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.
It was at Jerusalem that God established His name and there He was worshiped. The chamber that housed His Presence, the Holy of Holies, was "guarded" by a veil. Upon this veil were embroidered two cherubim. These cherubim faced east, just as they did when guarding the entrance to Eden. To the east of the Old City, just on the other side of the valley Kidron is the Mount of Olives. In the days of the second temple, the outskirts of or the eastern gateway to Jerusalem was on the crest of the Mount of Olives, near a place called Bethphage (Beit Phagi). Beit Phagi means "house of unripe figs." It is interesting to note here that, Adam and Eve attempted to conceal their nakedness by making aprons of fig leaves. Though the western slope of Matthew Olivet is reasonably green, the eastern slope is barren and desolate. In fact, this is where the Judean wilderness actually begins.
Oddly enough, the arid eastern slope of the mountain is called Ma'ale adumim, which means the "ascent of Adams." Could it be that it got its name from the first Adam ascending its rocky terrain just to catch a glimpse of God's paradise? (In the future, we will explain why it is plural - "Adams" - instead of the singular "Adam.")
If all this evidence proves that Zion was once the sight of Eden, then Adam must have walked with God in what we now call Jerusalem. Furthermore, it is likely that the center of Eden, where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life were, was none other than Mount Moriah. Could all this be the underlying reason for why almost every believer who goes to Jerusalem experiences the feeling of being home? When we step foot on the Mount of Olives and look over onto Moriah, are we experiencing a part of what Adam must have felt when he stood on that same crest? Have we returned to Eden?
So, what does all this have to do with teshuvah and repentance? As we stated in the first installment of this series, the meaning of teshuvah is multi-dimensional. Yes, it means repentance - changing one's life and returning to God. But it also means returning to where you came from, not just in a poetic sense but in a literal one. I believe that the shofar has sounded, not only to call mankind to repentance, but to awaken believers to return to Zion - spiritually and literally. Here is what I mean.
Psalm 102:13-14 "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof."
This tells me that God has determined that, in the last day at a set time, God will favor the place that was once called Eden. Furthermore, He will place in the hearts of His servants a love for Zion. We can see that happening before our eyes. The Lord is bestowing His favor upon the tiny nation of Israel and simultaneously placing a love for Israel in the hearts of, not all, but many Christians. Some believers are going so far as to blow shofars, wear tallits etc. Why? Because God is calling the church to return to its roots. The tree that we have been grafted into is rooted in Jerusalem, the original Eden. This is where it all started and this is where it will all climax. So then, should we recoil when we hear those believers who stand up for the sake of Zion? Should we be surprised that as the prophetic clock ticks down, God is calling His people to return to Eden?
Crossing Over JordanSeveral years ago, I read an article in the magazine Bible Review ("The Jordan: Symbol of Spiritual Transition," Harold Brodsky, June 1992). The article states that if the Jordan River had turned more toward the interior of Canaan, "as it apparently once did during its geological history, rather than the Dead Sea, it would have been like many other rivers in the ancient world; a waterway supporting lively commerce and densely cultivated agriculture .... Rather it was a river that served as a natural boundary to separate and differentiate lands." There are two fascinating statements made here. First, the article acknowledges that some time in the past, the Jordan River flowed more southwesterly. If it had continued this course, it would have flowed to the area that is now Jerusalem and the surrounding area would have been a more cultivated region - a garden perhaps? However, as the article points out, the river's present position and course serves no other purpose than that of a boundary separating one region from another. Now consider what the name Jordan, or Yarden in Hebrew, possibly means.
One theory proposes that Yarden comes from two words, yarod and din. Yarod means "He came down." Din means "to judge." So, yarden could mean, "He came down to judge." This interpretation, coupled with the knowledge that the Jordan once served to irrigate the land known as Canaan, but now serves only as a boundary, hints at some extraordinary possibilities.
Genesis 2:10 "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads."
Concentrate, not on the four different rivers, but on the one unnamed river. Is it possible that this main river is what we now know as the Jordan? Consider the possible meaning of Jordan: "He came down to judge." The "He" would obviously refer to God. God came down to judge. After Adam and Eve realized the initial consequence of their sin, they took fig leaves and made aprons for themselves. Then, "...they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden" (Genesis 3:8).
We read how God judged (din) the actions of the serpent, Eve and the man. We read how He made coats of skin and banished them from the garden. We also know by the Biblical record that God posted sentinels, cherubim the Bible calls them, to guard the way to the Tree of Life. Nowhere does it mention that God changed the course of a river. However, the Bible does record that God told Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake" (Genesis 3:17).
Obviously, something bordering on apocalyptic transpired when God cursed the once fertile earth and turned it into a cursed planet. Perhaps that event was so catastrophic that the earth itself began to quake and convulse beneath the weight of God's judgment. Could it be that, during this tumult, the river Jordan changed course and became the boundary between the garden of God and the region Adam was sentenced to dwell in. For the sake of an argument, let us assume that this is what happened and jump ahead two thousand years.
Genesis 12:1 "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of they country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will shew thee."
Abraham is considered to be the first Hebrew. The word Hebrew in the Hebrew language is'-u' ivri. It comes from the root avar which means "to pass or cross over. So, a Hebrew is one who crosses over. The logical question would be "Crosses over what?" When God called Abraham to leave the country of his fathers, He promised to show Abraham another land. In this land, Abraham would become prominent and wealthy. In this land, Abraham would father many nations. Most important, however, he would father one particular nation, through which would come the promised Messiah, the seed of Abraham. That land is what we know today as Israel - Zion. But before Abraham could enter this land, he had to cross over something.
Genesis 12:6 "And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the plain of Moreh. "
Though the Bible does not state so plainly, it is understood that for Abraham to enter the land of Canaan at the place known as Shechem, he would have had to cross over the Jordan River, the old boundary established by God. In fact, in the scripture above, the word used for "passed" is avar, the word for "cross over." The implication is clear. Abraham crossed over the Jordan into the land that God had called him to. Thus, due to his great faith and his obedience to God, he crossed over the boundary that once separated Adam from God and became the first Hebrew. But greater still is the fact that, instead of leaving a home in Ur, Abraham was returning to his ancestral home, Eden. As he passed over Jordan, he was returning to the land where his forefather Adam has once communed intimately with God. Abraham was perhaps the first step in God's plan to repair the breach that had developed between God and man back in the garden of Eden. Through Abraham, God was bringing mankind back into the relationship they had once shared. The first Hebrew, Abraham, crossed over that which had served as a emblem of separation from God. In so doing, he set the precedent for those who would later call themselves the children of Abraham. The return to Eden was under way.
Walk Before Me
Abraham was a man of firsts. As we learned, he was a man that would not let fear prevent him from obeying the Word of the LORD. He was the first Hebrew in that he was the first to "cross over" the Jordan . He was the first to truly display great faith in the LORD God, to the degree that all those "which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7). In fact, Abraham was such a great man of faith that the Bible declares, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).
Why would such a grand statement be made about Abraham when you consider one such as Noah, his ancestor, or Job? Because, the rabbis teach, of both Noah and Job, the Scripture says, that they "walked with God." On the surface, this sounds very complimentary and when compared to those who do not walk with God, it is a great tribute. But when you consider what the Scripture has to say about Abraham, to "walk with God" takes on a whole new meaning.
OK. What does the Scripture say about Abraham? As we know, before he was Abraham, he was known as Abram. When God had determined that the man from Ur had proven himself and was worthy of receiving a name change, the LORD said, "Walk before me and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1). Now, why would God want Abraham to walk before him instead of with him? The answer is found in a parable.
There was a father who had two sons - one older, one younger. The older son, through the years, had proven himself to be trustworthy, that is, he had made right decisions in difficult situations. The younger, being more immature, had failed to make proper decisions, therefore the father did not feel he could trust the younger one completely in certain situations.
One day the father had to conduct some business in town. Walking across the crowded and busy streets, the father became concerned for the safety of his two sons. He kept them both close to him. The younger son was boisterous and hyperactive. He could not be trusted to make the right and responsible decision in this situation. This son would be more likely to run into the busy street without looking for oncoming traffic or disappear amongst the throngs of people. Out of love, the father concluded that it was in his son's best interest to stay right by his side. He told him, "Walk with me" as he took a strong grip on the little one's hand.
In contrast, the older more mature son was behaving in such a fashion that made the father think, he too realized the dangers around them. In the past, this son had proven to be responsible, therefore, the father told him to, "Walk before me." Though he didn't hold his hand, he kept his eye upon him the whole time, proud to see that his son was behaving more responsibly than his years and was growing into a fine young man.
Now, which son did the father love more? The answer is, he didn't love one more than the other. He loved both very much. Yet, the father realized who had grown in maturity and who had not. Thus, the rabbis teach, of Noah and job it is written they "walked with God," because their maturity level was not that of Abraham, to whom God said, "Walk before me." When the flood had subsided and the pressure was off, Noah was found naked in a drunken stupor. When Job was in the throes of despair, he cursed the day he was born. Yet, not long after God had given Abram his new name, he faced his greatest test and passed with flying colors. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham to take his only son, "Isaac, whom thou lovest" and to offer him as a burnt offering atop Matthew Moriah. Without hesitation, Abraham rose the next morning in order to obey the Word of the LORD. He steadfastly made his way toward Moriah to fulfill the LORD's command. No doubt, there were fears as he raised the knife to take the boy's life, yet he knew that he must be willing to follow God's directive to the letter. The Bible tells us that Abraham had confidence in God's promise, that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Hebrews 11:18). The man believed that "God was able to raise him up, even from the dead" (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham was not to be disappointed. At just the right time, the Father, who had been watching everything, stepped in and provided a substitute to die in Isaac's place. Abraham proved to the Father that he could be trusted to make the right decisions. He had proven that the would be obedient to the heavenly Father regardless of the cost.
As a reward, God established many nations through Abraham, the most prominent of which is the nation through which the Messiah of the world was born. In the exact location where sin had entered the world, God found a man worthy of being the progenitor of the Messiah, the one who would take away the sins of the world. Abraham's obedience, prompted by his faith, had opened the door through which God's plan of redemption would unfold. God had brought mankind back to the very spot on Matthew Moriah where Adam and his wife had first disobeyed the word of the LORD. This is why someone had to be tested here. This is why it was necessary to find someone who would obey no matter what the cost. In the same place where Adam failed to be obedient, his descendant Abraham excelled in faithfulness. God had requested of a man to sacrifice his greatest treasure - his future, his promise, his destiny, his only son. Finally, he had found someone who could make the right decision under the worst of circumstances. He had found the first person who would walk before Him. He had found a friend. The return to Eden was in full swing.
Yahweh Yireh: He Will See To It
Genesis 22:13-14 "And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord IT shall be seen."
What is the IT referred to in this scripture? Abraham named the place where God provided a substitute for his son, Isaac, Jehovah jireh. The correct pronunciation would be Yahweh yireh, meaning "Yahweh, He will see (to IT)." But what is the IT? Y'shua said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw IT, and was glad." Could it be that Abraham was able to look into the future and see God made flesh and dying in the place of mankind?
Why does the scripture say that Abraham was told to take his only son Isaac when, in fact, he had another son, Ishmael? It is because Isaac was the promised seed through which the covenant God had made with Abraham would be fulfilled. Also, God wanted to paint a vivid picture for all to see what would occur in the future. For instance, God tells Abraham to "lift him up there upon the altar." Isaac is the one who carries the wood (literally "the trees") upon his back. Abraham prophesies that God would provide Himself a Iamb. This is interesting because it was a ram, not a lamb that was caught in the thicket. In dramatic fashion, the Genesis account of the binding of Isaac and the substitute sacrifice points the discerning reader to an event that occurred two thousand years later - the crucifixion of Y'shua.
Now consider the place where Isaac's binding occurred. The place was called the "land of Moriah." We know this to be the area now referred to as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (this is also the area where Adam and Eve first disobeyed God). The Bible says that Y'shua was led out to be crucified in "the place of a skull." The word used for "place" is TOPOS. John 19:20 relates that the place where Y'shua was crucified was "near the city." This, however, is not a literal translation. The Greek text literally says, "for near was THE PLACE of the city." The Place (ho topos) of the city refers to the Temple on Mount Moriah. So the place where Y'shua was crucified was near the Temple or "the Place." The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates "the place" of Genesis 22:4 as TOPOS, using the same form of the word used to describe "the place of a skull." This suggests that Y'shua was crucified near where Abraham placed Isaac upon the altar.
Genesis 22:4 "Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw THE PLACE AFAR OFF."
The Hebrew word for "the place" is otpnr HAMAKOM. The use of this word is interesting, because HAMAKOM is also considered a name for God, describing His Omnipresence - He is in every place all the time. So, not only did Abraham "see" the place where Y'shua would be crucified, but if we interpret HAMAKOM as "the LORD," then on the THIRD DAY, he "saw the LORD from a distance."
The word "distance," or "from afar off" is p nn MERCHOK. It stems from the word prn RACHAK which means, "remote, far away." This word can also be interpreted as "remote in space or time, great while to come." This meaning alludes to the idea that Abraham saw into the future, specifically the time when God would "provide Himself a lamb." Apparently, this interpretation of MERCHOK is not as outlandish as it may seem. The Zohar, when referring to this verse, says Abraham saw "some distant time, and not soon . . . 'afar off,' that is, he saw ... through a dim glass."The point being made here is that, Jewish tradition believes that Abraham had a vision of a future event. Evidently, something happened to convince Abraham that on Mount Moriah, the LORD would be seen. He apparently saw into the future and observed that God would "see (to) Himself the lamb." This literal interpretation hints at the fact that God, more than providing a lamb, would Himself become the lamb. This is why there was a ram in the thicket and not a lamb. ,P.Apparently, Abraham saw the Lamb of God being executed near THE PLACE where he was taking Isaac. Only he saw it two thousand years before it actually happened! This is why he called the place Yahweh Yireh - "in the mount, Yahweh shall be seen." This is why he had such confidence in God. he knew that, in the end, God would provide the sacrifice. He saw IT and rejoiced. He knew that God would see to it! Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that Abraham saw that God was going to redeem mankind the very place where mankind had first fallen. In the very place where sin entered the world, Abraham experienced a vision of the event that would forever reconcile man and God. Abraham knew that man's return to Eden was secure.
Genesis 22:13 "Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son."
If you've been following along from issue to issue, you know that we have been retracing man's journey back to Eden. If you will recall in the first installment of this series of articles I alluded to the idea that, perhaps, when God made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, He took the horns of that animal - the first substitute sacrifice - and gave one or both of the horns to Abraham as a picture of teshuvah - repentance.
In the previous installment, we spoke of Abraham and the biding of Isaac - the promised seed - and how this event is a vivid picture of the ultimate substitute sacrifice, the crucifixion of the Messiah. The events recorded in Genesis 22 took place somewhere near where Adam first sinned and where man was redeemed by the "last Adam," Jesus of Nazareth. In effect, the binding of Isaac at YaHVeh Yireh (Mount Moriah) seems to be the nexus of man's fall and the redemption of mankind. So, in the midst of this rich imagery, we shouldn't be surprised to find yet another picturesque circumstance; one that teaches us of God's desire to be reunited with His beloved creation.
When it seemed certain that Abraham would strike down his favored son Isaac, God stopped him and called his attention to a young ram, its horns entangled in the brush. Abraham takes the animal and offers it as a sacrifice in the stead of his son. Now stop and think. The horns of that ram had prevented Isaac from dying. As Abraham slaughtered the animal, this fact must have occurred to him. Could it be that this is in part why, according to tradition, Abraham kept the horns of that ram? Did he hold onto them and pass them down to his descendants as reminders of God's intervention? Tradition seems to think so.
Tradition designates the two horns of that particular ram as the first and the last trump. In Pirke Fliezer, a rabbinic work, the left horn (first trump) was said to have been blown at Matthew Sinai. This would be the one that we see described in Exodus 19:16 which blew "exceeding loud." It is believed that the right horn of the Matthew Moriah ram (the last trump) will be blown to herald the coming of Messiah. Granted, no where in the Bible is this tradition validated, but what is important is that, historically, the Jews identify the substitute sacrifice and the binding of the promised seed with the sounding of the shofar. During Rosh Hashana - the Feast of Trumpets - the haftarah reading is Genesis 22, known as the Akedah or "the binding.",P.In the Bible, a horn denotes power. Likewise, the shofar - the ram's horn - and its associated sound denotes power. Anyone who has heard the sound of the shofar understands that this instrument has a powerful voice. When we hear this sound we must recognize that, in order for us to hear the sound of the shofar, an innocent animal had to die and give up its life's blood. We need to also remember that innocent blood has a voice (Genesis 4:10). Therefore, every time we hear the shofar, it is the voice of innocent blood crying out to be heard. When you consider that the shofar is a picture of the substitute sacrifice and ultimately the true substitute sacrifice - the Promised Seed, Y'shua - the power of the shofar becomes the voice of God Himself, calling out for you and I to REMEMBER the sacrifice of the only begotten of God. And when we reflect on Love's perfect sacrifice, we are reminded of the fall of man and our own shortcomings. Therefore, the shofar calls upon us to be of a repentant heart and, through the power of the substitute sacrifice, to return to God and return to Eden.
The Last Trump
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 "Behold, 1 spew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
In our last installment, we learned that what the shofar symbolizes is far greater than the horn itself. We also learned that the message the shofar portrays figures prominently in the concept of man's return to Eden. It is our belief that, before that return is literally fulfilled, several benchmark events must take place. Perhaps the most spectacular of these is the resurrection of the dead at the "last trump." With that thought in mind, we want to take a look at how the shofar was and is used and how that may apply to Christian eschatological beliefs.
Psalm 150:3 "Praise him with the sound of the trumpet."
In this very familiar Scripture, notice that the first musical instrument mentioned is the trumpet. Yet, this is not just any trumpet. The Hebrew word used here is shofar - the ram's horn. Another interesting tidbit we should point out is, that the word "sound" is, in Hebrew, teka. This word is the root for tekiah, which means "blast." Tekiah is the first of four calls made with the shofar. Tekia is a bright, piercing sound that stirs the soul. Most churches who blow the shofar in their worship services will usually sound tekiah, and I am sure that most would testify that there is just something about blowing the shofar during the worship that stirs the spirit. We should not be surprised to find this is true, for we are exhorted in Psalm 150 to "praise him with the tekiah of the shofar."
The second sound made with the shofar is called sh'varim which means "broken." Broken is a good way to describe this sound. It is intended to portray a person who is crying. Thus, rabbinic tradition states the purpose for sh'varim is to remind people of the need for repentance or teshuvah. True repentance is only possible once someone is broken before God.
The third sound is called nytin t'ruah which means "alarm." Truah is made by sounding at least nine short staccato blasts on the shofar. This sound is intended to alert the hearer to impending danger or some other type of ominous event. All three of these sounds are blown on Rosh Hashana - a day when God is worshiped as the Creator, the Father who forgives repentant children, and the judge who is coming to judge the entire earth. Yet, what most people associate with Rosh Hashana is the resurrection of the dead. This is where the fourth sound of the shofar - tekiah hagadolah (the great shofar) - comes in.
"And in the poetic conception of our later teachers, it was the sound of THE GREAT SHOFAR that will on the last day rend open the graves, and cause the dead to rise. Thus, the Messianic Hope, Resurrection, and Immortality of the soul are intertwined with the message of the shofar." - Hertz Authorized Daily Prayer Book, p. 865
Rabbinic literature teaches the fourth blast on the shofar will be the sound which initiates the Messianic era with the resurrection of the dead. Furthermore, the sages teach that it is God - not Gabriel - who will resurrect the dead and redeem man with the sound of the shofar. "They will be redeemed by the ram's horn, as it says, 'And the Lord GOD will blow the horn (shofar)' (Zechariah 9:14)." I believe this event may be an allusion to what many believers refer to as the Rapture. It is on that great day that we will, according to the Apostle Paul, hear the "last trump."
For years, many have debated what the "last trump" is. Some believe it is the last of the seven trumpet judgments that take place in Revelation. However, I am convinced that Paul, a Benjamite, was referring to the fourth sound made on the shofar. The fourth blast sounds exactly as tekiah except that is sounded for as long as one can blow. This particular blast on the shofar appears to have been sounded on Mount Sinai when God came down on top of the mountain. Scripture says that when Israel awoke to find Sinai covered in a thick smoke that "... the voice of the trumpet (shofar) sounded long, and waxed louder and louder" (Exodus 19:19). This is a great description of the sound referred to as tekiah hagadolah or "the great blast." Some would even refer to this sound as the "last trump." It is my strong conviction that, in keeping with long-held traditions, this is exactly what Paul was referring to when he said we would be changed at the "last trump."
Over the past few years, the church has gone through seasons where a certain message was prevalent.. For some time there was a call to heart-felt worship (tekiah). Next, came the message to repent (sh'varim). Now for some time we have been hearing the word Prepare for what may lie ahead (t'ruah). That means three of the four shofar sounds have been blown. Therefore, it seems logical that the next word to the Church will correspond with the last shofar sound - the last trump. The next thing we hear may be the voice of the archangel and the trump of God! When that does happen our return to Eden will be in its final stages.
Let Everything That Has Breath
Psalm 150 (Complete Jewish Bible) "Praise God in his holy place. Praise him in the heavenly dome of his power. Praise him for his mighty deeds. Praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with a blast on the shofar. Praise him with lute and lyre. Praise him with tambourines and dancing. Praise him with flutes and strings. Praise him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that has breath Praise Adonai."
I want to call your attention to two things here. First, of all the instruments, or let's put it this way - worship tools listed, the first mentioned is the shofar. Before the stringed instruments, before the wind instruments and before the tambourines and dance, the shofar is distinguished as being one of the most important worship tools available to us. Thus, sacred Scripture authorizes its use in our worship services.
The second thing I would like to point out is verse six: "Let everything that has breath Praise Adonai." This verse hints at something very interesting as it relates to the shofar. But to understand what that is, the reader must understand what the shofar is in a literal sense and what has to be done to the horn before you and I can ever blow into it.
To begin with, unlike stringed or brass instruments, the shofar is not man-made. It is a natural or God-made instrument, composed of flesh, blood and bone; the bone being the horn itself. No man can claim to have created it, only God has that distinction. When the horn is removed from a ram, one of the first things that has to be done is to extract the flesh and blood from the inside of the horn. Therefore, before the horn can become an instrument of praise, the flesh has to be removed. (This process does not always remove all of the flesh. The residue of dead flesh accounts for the unpleasant odor often associated with the shofar.)
After the horn is thoroughly cleaned on the inside, the next step of the process is to remove the rough edges from the outside. The horn is sanded and polished to bring out the natural beauty of the horn. The callous and rugged exterior is worn away by the friction this process provides. Following this phase, many times the horn needs to be formed and reshaped in order to produce the mesmerizing sound that we are accustomed to hearing. To do this, the shofar must be softened by intense heat and pressure. When the heat has brought the horn to the desired pliability, the craftsman can then reshape the instrument as he sees fit.
The last and perhaps most important phase of the process is to pierce the smaller end of the horn, creating an orifice through which air passes, thus creating the sound or voice of the shofar. Therefore, every procedure in the creation of the shofar culminates with this: breath being blown through an object, which before was crude and inanimate, transforming it into an instrument of Praise to the Almighty. Even with all the preparation and work that goes into the crafting of a shofar, it breath does not pass through the horn, it fails to serve its purpose.
You and I are the shofar. We have been created for a purpose - to praise Adonai. In order to become an instrument of raise, however, we must remove the flesh from our life. Furthermore, we must allow the Master Craftsman to remove the rough edges and polish us into a beautiful instrument. God allows trials and tribulations to come our way in order to produce the heat and pressure needed to mold us into the instrument He desires us to be. And lastly, we must be willing to allow God to pierce our hearts so that we will be open and prepared for His breath! When He breathes into us, then we become the instrument of praise that He has purposed us to be. Let everything that has breath praise Adonai!
If These Stones Could Talk
Matthew 3:1-2 "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
Because of his fiery message and the impact it was having, John the Baptist encountered several of the religious elite of his day who, as John points out, had come to investigate him with less than sincere motives. He confronts their cynicism and self-righteousness with a strong reprimand: "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance" (Matthew 3:7-8). Still stinging from his tongue-lashing, they hardly had time to recover before the next battery of rebukes came hurdling toward them. He tells those Pharisees and Sadducees who had assembled in contempt of his ministry, "Do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from THESE STONES" (Matthew 3:9). Here in this statement, John alludes to something that merits our investigation.
What stones was he referring to? If you've ever been to Israel, you know that there are stones laying around everywhere. So, was John suggesting that God could raise up Abraham's seed from the stones scattered across the landscape? Or perhaps, John was speaking of specific stones that, in referring to them, made a statement whose meaning is not completely understood by you and I, but was certainly perceived by those who were there. The Gospel of John tells us that the Baptist was ministering in a place called "Bethabara beyond Jordan" on. 1:28). In Hebrew, Bethabara is "House of Abara," or "House of (the) crossing over." Apparently, this name recognized that this was a common point of crossing the Jordan OR the name commemorated an event in which someone or some group in particular had crossed over the Jordan. I tend to accept the latter interpretation for reasons that will soon become apparent. Besides, John must have considered this place significant because he based his ministry there, perhaps using its significance as a backdrop to his important message. But what could that significant event have been and how did it relate to the stones John referred to?
Since the days when Abram (later Abraham) took his family and crossed over the Jordan River, God's people have been striving to return to Eden. The Jordan, you will recall from an earlier newsletter, was the boundary that. separated the gentile nations from the ancient location of Eden. It was Abram who was the first to "cross over" that boundary thus becoming the first Hebrew (Hebrew comes from the verb abar - "to cross over.") It was to Abram and his seed that the covenant was made and along with it, the responsibility to lead mankind down the path that led to God and to Eden. That path took some detours, including four centuries of bondage to Egyptian Pharaohs. The journey took them through the wilderness of Sinai and the surrounding area for some four decades. Finally, after all the doubters, the naysayers and those who would choose other paths had passed away, Abraham's seed, under the leadership of Moses' successor Joshua (Yehoshua), was poised to CROSS OVER the Jordan and wrest control of the Promised Land from the hands of the pagans. As they did, something very significant. happened.Joshua 3:14-17 "So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan."
Notice that as the priests stepped into the water, the river rolled all the way back to a city called Adam. This is very important because it was the man Adam who was first evicted from Eden and who probably was the first person to try and get back there. But as we know, he couldn't because God had placed an obstacle in his way in the form of cherubim with flaming swords. Also, as we relate in our article, "Crossing Over Jordan," (Dec. 2000) it seems that God caused the Jordan to become a border that separated the land from the rest of the world. Yet centuries later, Joshua and Israel were crossing that border and God's people were on their way back to the land where Adam had once communed with God in intimacy. But the significance doesn't end with Adam.
Joshua 4:5-7 "And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever."
This passage shows us, not only who passed over the Jordan at Bethabara but, also, what happened when they did. We read here that STONES were removed from the river bed to be used as a memorial. I suggest to the reader that these stones set up by Joshua are the same stones John pointed to and said, "God is able to raise up children unto Abraham from these stones." By making this one statement, John was basically calling his countrymen, including the religious elite, to remember God's true purpose for them. The stones reminded them of what God had done for their ancestors and for them, not to mention what happens to those who disobey. In essence John, by referring to the stones was saying, "If these stones could talk, they would tell you the same thing I'm telling you. If these stones could talk, they too would be calling this generation to repent and return to the path you started out on. If these stones could talk, they would tell you that they represent the path that leads to God and to Eden "
I believe it to be very important that John the Baptist chose this place to baptize those of his countrymen who came to repentance. When he lifted them from the waters of the Jordan - the boundary - he would have, no doubt, turned them to face the Promised Land, the ancient site of Eden and then send them back into the land renewed and spiritually refreshed. He was indeed making a statement when he referred to those stones. It is as if God was telling that generation AND THIS ONE that those memorial stones were a road sign that pointed the way to Eden.
If my conclusions are true, this story also carries an important lesson for you and I as well for, in essence, John - the forerunner of the Messiah- was calling his countrymen to return to their roots. He was preparing them for the advent of the Messiah and, in fact, as John's ministry began to come to a close, Y'shua the Messiah did in fact come on the scene. Likewise, I believe it is time for the body of Messiah to return to her roots. It is time for to remember where we came from, what God has done for us and our ancestors and to re-evaluate our relationship with him, for soon, He is to appear. I want Him to find me a servant who is clean, renewed and walking in communion with Him. Only those who are prepared to meet Him will be able to abide with Him in Eden.
A Builder And A BreakerJohn 1:29-34 "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
Even as John, cousin to Y'shua, was baptizing his countrymen in the Jordan (z-n' Yarden), God was preparing His people to take one of the final steps on the road back to Eden. It had started when Abram "crossed over" the Yarden (which means "He came down to judge") and became the first Hebrew. It had continued when his descendants left Egypt and began their journey to Canaan. When they had come to the shores of the Yarden and prepared to cross over the river, He rolled the waters all the way back to the city of Adam, perhaps alluding to the one whose disobedience had resulted in man's eviction from Eden in the beginning. And now, centuries later, He had positioned a man whose purpose was to prepare the way for the final phase of man's return to Eden. Soon it would be just like it was in the beginning - man interacting and communing with God. Just one last detail remained. That detail was why the Baptist had been sent. He was preparing the way for the One who would, once and for all, bridge the gulf between man and God.
Scripture reveals that Y'shua emerged on the scene at the peak of John's ministry. When John saw Y'shua, he immediately recognized Him as the one He had been looking for. He exclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Y'shua had a lot to say about John too. While John prepared for death in Herod's prison, Y'shua said of the Baptist, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.... And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:11-12).
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3 "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: ... a time to break down, and a time to build up."
Many attempts have been made to explain what the reference to the kingdom of God means. Most conclude it implies that believers are to be brazen and bold in their mission to be fishers of men. However, this does not take into consideration the obvious connection between the reference to the kingdom of God and John the Baptist. So, if Y'shua WASN'T advocating an almost violent approach to the church's mandate - to make disciples - what was He referring to? If we continue to read we can see further evidence that, whatever Y'shua was implying about the kingdom of God, He was certainly connecting it John's mission here on earth. Beginning in verse 13, He says, "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come" (Matthew 11:13-14).
What Y'shua is implying here is that, John was someone whose ministry had been prophesied of and whose appearance on the world scene was a sign that times were changing. He was announcing to them that the Kingdom of God was advancing. What the prophets could only prophesy of was, starting at John, beginning to come to pass. They would have understood this because it had been a long time since they had heard anything suggesting that God was on the move. History records that four centuries of silence had elapsed prior to John's wilderness call to "Repent!" Now imagine if you will. The people of Israel had heard NOTHING from God for over 400 years and then suddenly this eccentric man begins to baptize people out in the Judean desert and advise them that "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." For over four centuries, the kingdom of God had been, seemingly, at a standstill. So, what was the intent of Y'shua's words, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."?
If we take the Greek text here and convert it back into Hebrew, the answer to the question becomes quite clear. The word we read as "violence" is, in Hebrew, poretzet, and would be translated as "breaking forth." The phrase, "the violent," is translated as ha poretzim, and would be translated as "the breakers." The root of these words is the stem paratz which means "to break."
Understanding that Y'shua was a rabbi and taught as one, His choice of words were not coincidental. Throughout His ministry, His choice of words were precise and often alluded to something written in Scripture that would speak of Him and what He was on earth to do. This reference in Matthew 11 is no different. When Y'shua referred to "breaking forth" (poretzet) and "the breakers" (ha poretzim), He was alluding to an obscure prophecy in Micah 2 which says:
Micah 2:12-13 "I will surely assemble, 0 Jacob, all of thee; 1 will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The BREAKER "haporetz" is come up before them (the flock): they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and THEIR KING shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them."
This passage teaches that, there would come a day when Israel would be like a group of sheep huddled up into a sheepfold. Now imagine what that might be like. A large group of sheep pinned tip overnight in a sheepfold would by morning, be ready to "break out." They would "make a great noise by reason of the multitude." The shepherd, or as he is identified here - the breaker - would "come up before them," take his staff and break down the wall that has hemmed them in all night. As the opening in the wall begins to appear, the sheep press toward the gate and help break it down. As soon as they can, they "pass through the gate and are gone out by it." One can imagine that the sheep would be sprinting out into the fields to graze and pasture. In other words, they "break forth" and advance. This is how Y'shua described the Kingdom of God. It has been penned up for a while waiting for the breaker to come along and perform his task. So, who is the breaker?
According to Rashi, the breaker of Micah 2:13 is the one who "breaks the fences of thorns and the hedges of briers to STRAIGHTEN THE ROAD before them." In other words, the breaker is the one who goes before the KING who is also the LORD. In other words, Micah speaks of a forerunner - the breaker - who initiates a "breaking forth" of the sheep and who also prepares the way for the KING, the LORD. This is what Y'shua was referring to. He was telling His listeners that John was the breaker whose ministry was announcing that the Kingdom of God was beginning to break forth. Perhaps more importantly is that, not only was he anointing John "the breaker," but He was letting everyone know that He was "their KING" and "the LORD" who was walking at the head of them. It was His very rabbinic way of saying, "If you are willing to receive it, John is Elijah who precedes the King Messiah. And that means that I am King Messiah." It: is only appropriate that He followed this statement with, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew11:15).
A Promise Kept
1 Corinthians 15:45-47 "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. the first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
When the first Adam left the garden in disgrace, his heart must have burned with regret and longing. His sin - eating from the tree of knowledge - had compelled him to hide from God among the fig trees. It was there that God found him and announced that he and his wife could no longer stay and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. How he must have longed to be reunited with God in the relationship he had once enjoyed. Yet, the way to the center of the garden and the tree of life was blocked by cherubim. The only hope he and his offspring possessed was the promise of a deliverer who would some day crush the serpent and lead mankind back to Eden and to God.
As Y'shua made His way to Jerusalem to face His destiny (Luke 9:51), He made the decision to go to Jerusalem by way of Jericho (Matthew 20:29). This is interesting for several reasons. First, it was the first city the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua (Yehoshua), had conquered as they entered the Promised Land. Furthermore, it was very close to the place where Y'shua had been baptized by John the Baptist at Bethabara On which is also where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan. Perhaps, more importantly, it left Y'shua with only one approach to Jerusalem - through the Judean wilderness and up the Ma'ale adummim, which is the eastern slope of the Matthew of Olives.
Ma'ale Adummim means "ascent of Adummim"; "ascent" of course referring to the fact that people traveling to Jerusalem from the east would have to ascend the slope to get to the city. The word Adummim is a bit more mysterious, however. I have asked several people who live in Israel exactly what Adummim refers to. Thus far I have received no definitive answer, so I'll tell you what I believe it means and just how that fits into our narrative. According to Strong's Concordance, Adummim is the masculine plural form of the name Adam, the first man. If this is so, then Y'shua's choice of routes is fascinating and here is why.
As we related in one of the earlier installments in this series, we believe that the city of Jerusalem stands where the Garden of Eden once stood; the temple mount marking the spot where the Tree of Life once grew. Furthermore, we believe that the crest of the Mount of Olives may have marked the eastern boundary of the garden. Remember, when Adam left the garden, the ground was cursed and very little grew (Gen 3:17). Even unto this day, the eastern slope of the Matthew of Olives and the vast Judean wilderness to the east is a desert wasteland - nothing grows there. Is it possible that this is an enduring result of man's fall thousands of years ago? Furthermore, this wasteland extends down to the Jordan or Yarden River, which serves as the boundary between Israel and the lands to the east. Yarden means "He came down to judge," perhaps referring to when the Lord came down to judge Adam's sin.If the crest of the Mount of Olives does mark the boundary of the Garden, then the summit would have been as close as Adam could have gotten to the midst of the garden - where the tree of life was. To get to that point would mean that Adam would have to ascend the eastern slope, which is now called Ma'ale Adummim - "ascent of Adams." In other words, in his attempt to get back to where he had once communed with God, the first Adam would climb the steep slope that led to the summit of the holy mountain. Unfortunately, that was as far as he could go. But when it was time for the Redeemer to reconcile man back to God, no obstacles would stand in the way. To prove that, the second Adam -Y'shua the Messiah -chose the same route as the first Adam, and climbed the Ma'aleAdummim. Y'shua didn't stop there, however. He continued on to Jerusalem to complete His mission.
One day while on his way from Bethany to Jerusalem - just days before his execution - Y'shua saw a fig tree that had put forth leaves but no fruit. The Bible says that, after inspecting it and finding no fruit, He cursed it and declared that no fruit should ever grow upon it (Mk 11:12-14). What is so compelling about this is that tradition claims this event took place near a small community known as Bethphage - "house of unripe figs." Assuming this to be true, why did He curse the fig tree in this particular place? Is it possible that it was due to the fact that the first man had tried to conceal the consequence of his sin by hiding among the fig leaves? Could it be that, in dramatic fashion, Y'shua was marking the path that led back to the Garden?
Matthew 27:50-51 "And Y'shua cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split."
At the moment this climatic event took place, God's plan of redemption was rapidly coming to fruition. When finally, the veil was torn in two from top to bottom, man's access to God was no longer impeded. Through the Messiah everyone could now approach God regardless of his station in life. Where before the way that led to God and the tree of life was barred by cherubim (Gen 3:24), those sentinels were now removed - LITERALLY! The temple veil referred to in Matthew 27 is the one that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the house. It was the same veil that, according to Exodus 26:31, was made of blue, purple and scarlet with embroidered cherubim upon the face of it. In other words, access to the Holy of Holies - where God's Presence resided - had always been barred by cherubim. But when Y'shua committed His spirit to the Father, the veil AND THE CHERUBIM came down.
There is so much symbolism we could relate to the reader, but in reality, it would take up much more space than we have available to us at this time. Suffice it to say, Y'shua was fulfilling God's promise to the first man, Adam. He was rebuilding the road that led back to God and to Eden. That is why He had to go up to Jerusalem. That is why he had to die upon a tree, which for all of mankind became a tree of life. He died that we might have eternal life and the hope that nothing will ever again separate us from God.
Revelation 22:1-57 "of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”