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What the Kingdom of Heaven is and is not.

Kingdom of Heaven Series #1 What the Kingdom of Heaven is and is not.
A primary difference between the Yeshua Movement and other Jewish sects was Yeshua’s Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the first of a series of blogs about what the Kingdom of Heaven meant to Yeshua and his followers. Understanding the principles and values embedded in Yeshua’s Kingdom of Heavenmessage has the power to transform lives today – without need of the tangled web of institutional theologies and Christology’s that have been attached to it over the past 2,000 years.
Let’s begin by addressing two very important points:
(1) The Kingdom of Heaven is not a reference to a “kingdom in a place called Heaven.”
(2) The Kingdom of Heaven is not a reference about “going to Heaven when you die.”
When Yeshua usually used the word translated “Heaven” he use it as a euphemism for “God.”
A euphemism is a word or phrase used instead of another word or phrase that members of the intended audience might find offensive.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

But what did he really look like, as a man living in Judaea in the 1st century? This subject has long been of interest.  It is worth emphasizing that images of Jesus over time give us clues on how Jesus was imagined in different environments, but say absolutely nothing about what he really looked like. Our images of Jesus were largely created in the Byzantine era (4th-6th centuries). Byzantine images of Jesus were based on the image of a Graeco-Roman deity, for example the famous statue of Olympian Zeus by Phidias in the 4th century BCE.
As time went on the sun god’s halo was also added to Jesus’s head to show his heavenly nature. The winged victory in the hands of Olympian Zeus was replaced with gesture of blessing, with the Bible held in Jesus’s hand instead of a spear. This iconography of Jesus with long hair, a beard and a halo comes from the 4th century onwards, with Jesus sitting on a heavenly throne, like Olympian Zeus, as cosmic judge of the world: the Alpha and Omega, beginni…

What does “kick against the pricks” mean?

What image comes to mind when you hear the biblical phrase “kick against the pricks”? There is no doubt in my mind that the images that pop into 21st century American minds aren’t the same as that of readers of the Greek text of Acts 1800 years ago. It is a very important phrase that gives us a glimpse into the minds of the scribes that copied the Greek text and the Gentiles that read it.
The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. None of those manuscripts are the original manuscript of Acts. It has not been found. The earliest complete manuscripts of New Testament books were copied over 300 years after the original manuscript was written. In order to keep things in perspective, consider the fact that in July America will celebrate its 242…

Is the Sea of Galilee a sea or a lake or is the name wrong?

The New International Version of Matthew 4:18 reads as follows:
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.”
Walking by the Sea of Galilee” and “casting a net into the lake”? Was there a lake next to the sea?Not according to the map below.

And then when we compare the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea, they are clearly very different types of bodies of water.
I think most of us have two very different meanings for the words "sea" and "lake." We can see on the map that there is no lake next to the Sea of Galilee. So, the obvious question is why did the translators of the New International Version use “sea” in one place and “lake” in another?"
In order to answer that question we must first check the Greek manuscripts and see what Greek words the translators translated. In both places we find the same word, θάλασσαv (THALASSAN), n…

Ancient Artifacts Smuggled by Hobby Lobby Traced to Mysterious Sumerian City

Some of the 5,500 stolen artifacts purchased by Hobby Lobby are believed to have originated in the long-lost city of Irisagrig. “The tablets, primarily from the Ur III and Old Babylonian period (2100-1600 BCE), are mostly legal and administrative documents. Keep in mind that Abraham lived about 2000 BCE. See pictures and read article at --

Fragment from ‘Unknown’ Dead Sea Scroll Revealed with Space-Age Imaging

On Tuesday, the Antiquities Authority revealed a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Cave 11. The fragment contains letters written in the ancient Hebrew script known as Paleo-Hebrew.... This fragment cannot be attributed to any one of the known manuscripts.This raises the possibility that it belonged to a still unknown manuscript. Twenty-eight types of light exposures are used to show the different elements in the scrolls, allowing for a “new reading” of the text. See pictures and read complete article at --

The Hebrew Bible Canonical Process Reconsidered

The canon of the Hebrew Bible was defined, if not yet finally closed, by the end of the first century CE. The Pharisaic canon became the canon of Rabbinic Judaism, because the majority of those who re-founded the Jewish religion after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans were Pharisees. The process that led to this canonization needs to be explored. How should we think about the books that were eventually included in the canon? Unlike the early church, ancient Jewish communities did not have a central authority that defined the books of the canon. The formation of the Jewish canon was not prescribed by the priests of the Temple of Jerusalem, it emerged from the bottom-up with each community holding to its own collection of authoritative texts. See pictures and read article at --

Does the Name of a Day Make a Difference?

The calendar was very important in Yeshua’s Jewish world. A week in his life consisted of seven day, just like our weeks today. There were some important differences, however. Each week reminded Yeshua and his fellow Jews of the seven-day period of creation recorded at the beginning of the TORAH scroll. The creation of the first day is recorded in Genesis 1:5 (the words in bold type are transliterations of Hebrew words; ELOHIYM is usually translated “God”):
ELOHIYM called the light “Day” (יום - YOM) and the darkness He called “Night” (לילה - LAYLAH). And there was evening, and there was morning — YOM RISHON (First Day).
A Jewish day begins and ends at sundown -- “and there was evening, and there was morning.” Every afternoon, as the sun disappeared beyond the western horizon and the first three stars appeared, Yeshua viewed it as the beginning of a new day – a day that begins and ends with the fading of light in the western sky. The beginning and end of a day was, and still is, determi…

You Saw “Me”!

It’s a Shabbat morning in 27 CE and you are at the synagogue in Nazareth in the Galilee. You are attending the regular morning service when the leader of the synagogue picks up the Isaiah scroll and calls a young man from the audience to come up and read from it. You are familiar with the words because it is one of the scheduled readings. The man unrolls the scroll to find the section and says:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor; He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, sight to the blind, deliverance to the downtrodden and those overwhelmed with troubles; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”1
He then rolls up the scroll, gives it back to the leader, turns to the audience and says – “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” This was definitely something you were not expecting!
This reader had lived in Nazareth all of his life and his father was a carpenter. Everyone knew him. Stories had been circu…

The Unrighteous Manager

No parable raises more ethical and moral questions than the parable that is traditionally known as – The Parable of the Unjust Steward. It is recorded in Luke 16. As you read the translation below (New King James Version), put yourself in the shoes of each of characters and view the events through their eyes. Was Jesus suggesting that his followers act like the steward in real life situations? Read the entire article at --

Rabbinic Insights about the Word “Yeshua”

Passover is approaching and in Jewish homes it is will be a time of retelling the story of the Exodus. It will also be a time of remembering lessons taught by generations of rabbis, as well as family traditions that are linked to story. The following account provides a very interesting insight into the word “yeshua” which appears in the Hebrew text of Exodus. I have added underlines to highlight some important points.
One of the great nineteenth-century Hasidic masters taught the idea of partnership another way. “Where is God?” asked Menahem Mendel of Kotzk. “Everywhere,” replied his students. “No, my children,” he responded. “God is not everywhere. He is where you let Him in.”
The Torah’s discussion of the Exodus from Egypt, the para-dogmatic event that shapes the core of our understanding of redemption, illustrates our point. Having just left Egypt, the Jewish people find themselves surrounded. In front of them is the sea; behind them, the Egyptians. Turning to Moses, they complain, …

Yeshua the Fence Builder

The Mishnah, which is called the Oral Law, records the sayings and teachings of generations of Jewish teachers. Its earliest teachers preceded or were contemporaries of Yeshua (the real name of “Jesus”). Their teachings provide many valuable clues about the techniques they used to teach their disciples the words of the Torah. The tractate in the Mishnah that is called Avot, Sayings of the Fathers, is a tremendous source of information related to the teachings of Yeshua. It opens with these words:
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgment. Establish many pupils. And build a fence around the Torah. (Avot 1:1)
This history of the Oral Law begins in the Jewish sect called the Pharisees. The quote above played a very important role in the formati…

Is God the exclusive property of any one religion?

Anthony J.Sciolino is a retired New York State Family Court judge and a graduate of Columbia University and Cornell Law School. He holds a master’s degree in theology from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry and is an ordained Roman Catholic permanent deacon. We highly recommend his book, The Holocaust, The Church, and the Law of Unintended Consequences. The quotes below are from his book.
The Holocaust, a.k.a. Shoah (“catastrophe”), was the systematic, state-organized persecution and murder of six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, by Nazi Germany and its European collaborators. Also targeted were five million members of other groupshomosexuals, Sinti and Roma (Gypsies), Poles and other Slavic people, Soviet POWs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, people with mental and physical disabilities, communists, socialists, and other political and religious dissidents.
With poison gas, bullets, noose, knives, combustion engine exhaust, clubs, fists, disease, starvation,…