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GOOD MORNING, SIBLINGS!
Today we begin the Gospels! Our reading is Matthew 1-4
Today, the long awaited Messiah, who was foretold from the beginning of time, appears on the pages before us!
Introducing the Gospels and Letters (AKA, this Testament ain’t “new”, folks)
We began the Foundational Scriptures (Torah) with YHWH breathing life into world. We begin the gospels with Messiah coming into that world. It is fitting that the weightiest words are spoken in the first books of each.
I’d like you to take hold of your Bible. Open it to Matthew. Now grasp Matthew to Revelation and hold it in your hand while closing your Bible. See how small that section is? Know that there is a centuries old battle to encourage Believers to dismiss and consider irrelevant to us all of what we have read up until this point.
We cannot insist on a partial application of His wisdom and expect the wholeness of his blessing or presence in our lives.
As we move forward and read the Gospels and the letters in their proper context, standing on the foundation of all we have read so far, we will see a different story emerge than what is told by the world today. These books we are going to read are not a new story and they certainly don’t tell of a new faith.
Rather, this is the continuation of all our precious Father set into motion at the very dawn of Creation. We have built our foundation and now, as we stand on it, the Father, along with our Messiah and the Apostles, are going to show us how to live out our faith in love and truth.
Today, we flip the momentous page that appears in most of our bibles, the one upon which man added the declaration of “new”, corresponding to the label man gave the previous Words of our Father: “old”. As we flip that page, let us remember the words spoken by YHWH just a page or two before, in the small book directly proceeding this one, certainly not there by accident:
I am God, I do not change.
This is a declaration directly from the mouth of our Creator.
If you’ve been led to believe otherwise, that YHWH suddenly decided to change between the first 3/4 of the book and the last 1/4, get ready to meet Him in a whole new way. Get ready to grow closer as you see His love in action. Get ready to be astonished at the wonder of Messiah walking among the people. Get ready to shake the dust off your sandals, embrace the lepers, and boldly speak the truth of YHWH in a world that only wants their ears tickled.
Get ready for a revolution, because what Messiah did in His time was nothing short of that.
He was the Word made flesh and just as that implies, He leapt off the Torah Scrolls and dwelt among us, a living, breathing, actionable, Torah made flesh.
Introducing the book of Matthew:
Matthew is a powerhouse and I think you’ll be amazed at what all happens today alone in our reading. There is so much meat on these bones that we surely can’t cover it all in our first reading so I’ll endeavor to highlight some key verses, knowing that if you’ve come this far you’ll surely dig deeper and take time to ruminate on your own.
- Matthew, like most of the other apostles was a Jew (current evidence points to Luke being a Gentile). Matthew was born a Jew, raised a Jew, lived a Jew, and died a Jew. For anyone who has read this far with us, this should come as no surprise.
- But here is a shocking statement for you: Were they to come back to life today, I cannot fathom any of the apostles identifying as Christian- and that is okay. Let me explain. They followed Messiah in word and deed to an extent that we can only dream about. They worshipped the one true God. They kept the commandments. They do not need to ascribe to the label of “Christian” in order to do this. In fact, I strongly believe they would take great exception to anyone trying to place this label upon them. Matthew was not a Christian. Matthew was a Jew. To call Him a Christian is to not-so-subtly suggest that he had to abandon His faith in order to follow Messiah. Messiah completed Matthew’s faith, He did not replace it. This is not a judgement against the Christian faith, of which I consider myself a member. If you have that impression after reading this, I lovingly ask that you read it once more and think on what I am saying.
- Does that matter? Yes. This provides integral background on who the apostles identified as, their understanding of YHWH and His Word, how they lived their lives, in addition to refuting the perpetuated myth that the Jews unilaterally rejected our Messiah. So yes, these are important things to know because they help us separate what is true from what is merely tradition – passed down beliefs that don’t always line up with truth (as in this case.)
- Matthew’s name has been Anglicized but his actual transliterated name transliterates to Mattiyahu and it means “Gift of YHWH.”
Was YHWH silent for 400 years?
While many teach and believe that there was a 400 year period of silence between Malachi and Matthew, this is simply not the case. This belief comes about by there being a 400 year leap in our modern Bibles from the foundational Scriptures to the Gospels. However, there were once books that filled in this gap and these books were included in Bibles as late as the 1611 King James. These books were removed over time by denominations, powerful historical figures, councils, etc. While some of the books removed are disputed (and thus their removal), others have scrolls that can be found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, with texts originally included in the manuscripts our modern Bibles were transcribed from (septuagint and vulgate among them).
My goal in saying this is not to get you to go off looking for lost manuscripts. In fact, I encourage you not to do that. If you, like me, have spent the bulk of your life neglecting YHWH’s word you must be very careful not to let a seemingly noble endeavor serve as an excuse to distract you away from the Words before you now. This Bible in your hands is enough. YHWH has seen to it to provide all we need in order to follow Him and to live according to His commandments in this book we possess today. Read it daily. Apply it wholly to your life. Read it again and again from beginning to end. Apply it some more. Pass through that refiner’s fire as many times as it takes. Know His word. Write it on your doorposts and tell it to your children. Meditate on it when you rise and as you go about your day and when you lay down to sleep at night.
After you’ve done this, after it is so written on your heart that there are scribble marks showing through on your back (figuratively speaking), only then, if you would like, while you continue to read and re-read and mediate on THIS word, should you then make time, if you feel the Father gives you permission to do so, to read some of the others.
Matthew begins with the genealogy of Messiah and this is a very important genealogy because it shows that He meets the requirements of lineage in order to be the Messiah.
According to Scripture, Messiah must be a descendant of:
- Abraham, Genesis 22:18
- Jacob, Numbers 24:17
- Judah, Genesis 49:10
- Jesse, Isaiah 11:1
- David, 2 Samuel 7:13
The first chapter of Matthew shows this line to be the one that leads to the birth of our Messiah. We’ll discuss this further in Luke.
Joy To The World, Our Messiah is born! (but was it December 25th?)
If you ask anyone to tell you the story of the birth of Messiah, most will immediately envision Mary riding on a donkey in the snow, being turned away from the inns, eventually settling into a barn and placing Baby Jesus in a trough of hay just before three wise men arrived. In our lifetime we’ve seen this story was further embellished to add in a little drummer boy and in the last decade we’ve even seen the addition of an elf. There is no telling what this story will look like when it is told a generation from now.
It’s a great story and one I grew up with as well, but how much of it is actually true? Not much at all. Today we will see a little of that and we’ll dispel some other myths once we recount the story again in Luke.
Matthew 1:18 in the ESV says “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.” (Emphasis mine). I read that as a not so subtle reminder that it took place the way YHWH’s Word said it did not the way the world says it did. Let me show you why I say this.
The Wise Men –How many were there?
Tradition tells us that there were three wise men. We’ve seen it in stories, books, tv shows, movies, and even songs of our time.
But what does the Bible say?
When we read of them for the first and last time in Matthew 2, we will see that we are not told how many there were. We are told that there were three different types of gifts brought with them but that is the only time a number is mentioned.
When did these wise men arrive?
Tradition tells us that they arrived shortly after Messiah’s birth, that very same night.
But what does the Bible say?
YHWH’s word says that when they saw the star, they traveled to Jerusalem to tell King Herod. This could not have happened instantaneously. They traveled, had to set up a meeting with the king, met with him, and then he told them to go seek out this child and so they did. He gave another order around the same time to have every child under the age of two killed (Matthew 2:16) so that is a clue as to how much time could have passed in between Messiah’s birth and the eventual visit to Him from the wise men.
Further, when they finally do arrive, the Bible tells us that they arrive at the home of Joseph and Mary, not a stable, and Messiah is no longer referred to as a baby or infant, but as a child (Matthew 2:11). So we don’t know how much time passed, but we know they could not have possibly visited Him the night He was born.
When was Messiah born?
Tradition says that He was born on December 25th, even though that is nowhere in the Bible.
But what does the Bible say?
- Later in Luke we will see that shepherds were out in the field with their sheep. December in Bethlehem is cold and rainy, a time in which the shepherds would have sought shelter for both their sheep and themselves rather than being out in the fields.
- Further, Luke 2:1-4 tells us that Joseph and Mary were taking part in a census, which did not take place in the winter months due to travel conditions.
- It would make sense to call a census in the areas surrounding Jerusalem near one of the pilgrimage feasts as they were very near to the location and citizens would already be there. It is about a two hour walk from Bethlehem to Jerusalem.
- Passover, Shavuot, and Suokkot are pilgrimage feasts and the Jews traveled to the temple in Jerusalem for these as commanded.
So when was He born?
There is a good bit of evidence to support Messiah possibly being born at Sukkot and that is a fascinating rabbit trail which I have thoroughly enjoyed and gained a lot of wisdom from taking. There is also evidence to support that He may have been born at Passover, which is another fascinating rabbit trail that I have also enjoyed taking. If time and interest permit, you might want to seek out both of these and I’m sure some who ascribe to one or the other will leave their evidence in the comments (I welcome this!).
I tend to lean towards Sukkot myself (the fall) and had typed up all of the evidence that I feel supports this but decided against sharing that because:
- This is not a salvation issue
- My goal is not to convince you to follow me but to dig deeper on your own into the Word.
As someone who is steering this group, I want to try keep my opinions and theories to a minimum but you are welcome to share yours and I may, from time to time share more of my opinions in the comments.
My main point is that, while we do have evidence to support a possible Passover or Sukkot birthday for Messiah in Scripture, we do not have any evidence to support a December birth. How His birth came to be celebrated on December 25th is a whole other rabbit trail, which does not begin here in the Word.
At the end of the day, though, YHWH, in His wisdom and for His purpose, does not give us the day Messiah is born and so we have no way of knowing this beyond pure speculation.
Does it matter?
If we needed to know this information, the Father would have shared this with us.
The Name of Messiah
The name of our Messiah is translated in our modern bibles as Jesus Christ, as if His first name were Jesus and his last name Christ, but neither is the case. Let’s talk about that.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
This is a line most of us know by heart but when we look at it with a discerning eye, it may not make as much sense. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.”
Let’s add in a more modern word in place of “for”:
You shall call Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.
Clearly, the name is supposed to bring immediate recognition to the latter part of the sentence. The problem lies in the English translation of Messiah’s name. It may surprise you to know that other key figures, who we’ve already read about, have the same name as Messiah. Most noted in my mind is Joshua. Messiah and Joshua were called by the same name during their time on this earth. There are different ways to spell it (just think of how many ways there are to spell my name- 21 last time I counted) but the name, transliterated directly to English, is Yeshua. How you read that is how it would have been pronounced since there was no “J” sound in Hebrew.
And that precious name means God Saves.
Now, let us read that passage of Scripture, the words of the angel of YHWH, with that name in it.
“You shall call His name Yeshua (YHWH saves), for He will save his people from their sins.”
And NOW you know the rest of the story!
Is it wrong to call him Jesus? I don’t think so. I do refer to Him by that name from time to time but I tend to lean towards Messiah when writing my notes because that is a title that always applies. But I do want you to know His name because it makes a big difference in how we read Scripture. You can call me Mrs. Jordan, Aunt, Mother, etc. All of those names apply and in the right situation I will answer to each of them. But I do treasure when someone is close enough, knows me well enough, to call me by the name my mother gave me, Christy.
That doesn’t mean I’m not Mrs. Jordan, or that I won’t answer to it or recognize it, but as a friend and someone dear to me, I want you to know that my name is Christy. And YHWH gave us the name of His son, which He chose Himself, and which foretells of a special gift that He has given us.
His name, the one He was called by His mama and all His friends while on this earth, is Yeshua, which means YHWH saves.
Our savior’s name is a promise from the Father Himself.
Yeshua. YHWH Saves.
It contains the promise:
I will save you.
I did save you.
Someone asked me the other day why I called Him Messiah instead of Jesus and I explained it this way:
When I started studying the Bible and realized that Jesus was a translated version of His name, I really wanted to call Him by the name that He would have heard while He walked the earth, the name that YHWH gave Him.
However, most people only know Him by Jesus. Sometimes I do say Jesus when I’m talking to folks who call Him that, sometimes I say his actual name when I’m talking to folks who call him that, but to keep things easier on my old brain I tend to lean towards Messiah because that always applies. And then everyone knows who I am talking about. But if you go and look over some of my writings, you’re sure to find instances where I refer to Him as Jesus. It really depends on who I am talking with.
It’s kinda like if you thought my name was Cindy because you heard someone calling me that and I didn’t mind because I knew you were talking to me, but then you found out my name was really Christy so you’d really want to call me that now that you knew ?
P.S. I’ve been called “Cindy” by random people my whole life. It’s one of those weird things.
I wanted to share that with y’all in case some of you were wondering, too. Whatever you call our Savior, we are saved through His supreme sacrifice and you ARE my Sibling in Messiah! (and I know who you are referring to)
You will see Him called many names in this group, and they will all be said with love and reverence. Amen.
Is there a contradiction in Matthew 1 regarding Messiah’s name?
So in Matthew 1:21 I explained that the Hebrew says He is to be called Yeshua, which means YHWH saves (several Hebrew Matthew scrolls have been found and verified). However, in Matthew 1:23 we see a quote from Isaiah 7:14 which says “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”. Is this a contradiction? Not if you look at what the name Immanuel means: “YHWH with us”. This was a prophecy detailing what YHWH was going to do and the name denotes that. We can look back and say that Yeshua was Immanuel, God will save us through being with us.
One name tells us who Yeshua is, one name tells us what He does.
We encompass a time period of about 30 years in our reading today, from Messiah’s birth to His baptism to the beginning of His ministry.
Matthew 3:8 is John’s response to the Pharisees and Sadducees showing up at his baptism. These were the religious leaders of their time. Think of them as the Hebrew equivalent of our tv megachurch pastors. These particular men preached one thing but follow another set of rules for themselves. Further, they even led people away from the truth due to all they had added to it.
They are admonished to “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” We see from the dialogue they felt that since they were descendants of Abraham they were fine but clearly we see that their own fruit is that which they would be judged by. Time and again we have been instructed and will continue to be instructed, admonished, told, and taught that IF we declare ourselves to be followers of YHWH, we will be judged by the fruit we yield.
What does the fruit of repentance look like? When I repent, I am brokenhearted, hurt that I have hurt my Father. I turn from my ways and turn to His. I trust in His wisdom and therefore dedicate (or rededicate) myself to living according to that Wisdom. I acknowledge that HE knows best, He knows better than I what is wise and true and good. HE is the one who should direct my path, not myself. And so, when I find myself paving my own roads and those inevitably lead me away from Him, I set my steps to get back on the path HE would have me walk instead. And that is made far easier to distinguish, because all I have to do is follow in the footsteps of Messiah.
Here are some verses to read up on with regards to being judged by our fruit. This list is by no means complete:
- John 15:1-7
- Matthew 7:15-20
- James 3:17
- Psalm 1:1-6
- Eph 5:8-11
- Isaiah 37:31
- Romans 6:22
- Matthew 12:33
- Isaiah 5:1-10
- Colossians 1:10
- John 15:8
- Luke 13:6-9
- Galatians 5:22-23
The Temptation – When we see Messiah being tempted, it immediately follows His baptism.
Each time the devil tempts Him, Messiah fights with the one sword we are all sharpening here: The Word of YHWH!
Here are the quotes from Messiah and the text they reference.
But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of YHWH. Deut 8:3
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6
For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways, They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put YHWH your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7
“You shall not put YHWH your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. Deut 6:16
the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
An example to follow: Through His knowledge of the Word, Messiah effectively used the Word of YHWH as His weapon.
Did you notice anything here? None of the words Messiah was referencing were from the “new” testament. He always quoted the “old”. Know why? The new testament didn’t exist then. The foundational Scriptures are what they read, studied, lived by, and taught from – and the example we are expected to walk in. This portion of the bible is teaching us how to walk out the previous section.
Think back to the Garden, how did the serpent manage to manipulate Adam and Eve?
First, they (Eve) added to the Word so that was a corruption.
Then, the serpent brought the word into doubt.
Let’s read below:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Did you pick up on the subtle addition from Eve? YHWH said not to eat it but she added the commandment that they should not touch it, either. And then the devil put doubt in YHWH’s word in her mind and used that to get her to disobey YHWH.
The true Word of YHWH was Messiah’s first defense and should be ours as well.
Remember, Messiah is our ultimate example of how to live. Come, let us follow Him.
For additional thought, you might enjoy this Sidebar:
The Seal of Judah
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!