The Sermons on Two Mounts-This Mountain

It is time in this series of sermons on the mounts to look at the mountains Jesus was teaching on. Jesus in Matthew 21:21 repeated a phrase He used in Matthew 17:20-this mountain. The Greek phrase is houtos oros. In Strong’s, (this) houtos is 3778 and (mountain) oros is 3735. This surprised me because I did not expect “this” to have its own specific word. I expected it to be an added word so we could understand the translation. 

My simple conclusion about the phrase is that Jesus stood on the mountain and was specifically talking about that mountain. (In my early days of being a Christian, I thought it said “a or any” mountain.) John 16:25 has Jesus commenting about how He has spoken figuratively to His disciples. This was on Thursday of Holy Week. So, we can conclude that there is a second level of meanings to the fig tree and the mountain. More on this thought later.

To set the narrative for this, I will use Mark 11:12-14 and 20-26. My belief is Mark not only used his uncle Peter as a reference source, but he was an eyewitness observer to these days from the Jordan to Pentecost. Mark gives the details that Jesus cursed the fig tree on Monday morning going into the city, so He could clear the Temple, and then Tuesday morning, Peter noticed the tree dead. This ushered in the first half of the sermon about the actual mountains of this story-the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount/Jerusalem. The path from Bethany to Jerusalem would have taken the disciples through Bethphage (the house of unripe or new figs) down into the Kidron Valley and then into the city. In other words, the path Jesus took during His foretold ride on the donkey. To add to the history lesson, I need to include that David also followed this path from the Jordan to Jerusalem. He fled Absalom in 2 Samuel 15:30 to the east bank of the Jordan, but in 2 Samuel 20:2, it is the same path that the returning king took back to the city. David also had a parade that would have looked a lot like what Jesus had during his trip. 

So, it is possible that the first teaching of the day occurs in Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, the place of unripe figs. From my studies on the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis, I still believe that tree was a fig tree and that the Tree of Life was some type of “grape tree/wood”. Okay, back to the mounts.

The end part of this sermon occurs when Jesus is leaving the Temple and announces that Jerusalem, The Temple Mount, will be destroyed. He then teaches more about the end times once He is back on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives

I gave the fact that David would have fled and returned across this mount; it not named in that story in 2 Samuel. The Mount is clearly identified seven times in our Christian Bible. (The website is a travel company for Israel.)

https://www.seetheholyland.net/mount-of-olives/

1 Kings 11:7-8    Solomon built pagan altars for his wives on the mount.

Ezekiel 11:23      Part of a vision, God’s glory leaves Jerusalem and settles over/on its ridge.

Zechariah 14:3-4 The Messiah returns, stands on the mount and it splits; the valley carries water (dirt/mountain) to two different seas. The Messiah returning here is why many Jews want to be buried on its slopes. So, it is/was covered in whitewashed tombs.

Luke 19:29-44             Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Gospels allude to the fact that Jesus left Jerusalem every day and went to Bethany for the night (Martha and Mary’s house, possibly).

Matthew 24:27-31 Jesus gave a sermon about His return (part of this series).

Matthew 26: 30-57    After the last meal, they came here to pray.

Acts 1: 1-12                 Jesus ascended from here to return to the Father.

The Temple Mount/Jerusalem

Okay, to separate the Temple Mount and Jerusalem maybe splitting hairs but they were not always one thing. From Melchizedek to David, the city did not include the Temple Mount. David bought the Mount in order to sacrifice on it to stop a plague that he chose as punishment. Abraham took Isaac to Moriah, which we think is the Temple Mount. Joshua defeats a king and takes him to Jerusalem to die, and David defeated the city by using the city’s underground water system.

There are two Jerusalems, the earthly one and the heavenly one. Which one does God love the most? I will go with the heavenly city. The earthly one has been a problem for Him. Please read through the prophets before you condemn me. May I reserve comment on the fact that twice the city and the Temple have been leveled by foreign armies. There are also a couple of times when the place was looted but not destroyed. To be fair, on His ride into the city, Jesus cried for/over the city. His end-time teaching on the Mount of Olives may have come from the same spot He had cried at several days earlier.

Solomon built the Temple Mount up to have a level spot to build David’s dream. (The Wailing Wall is a retaining wall for the Second Temple; Herod’s building that Jesus taught in.) Zerubbabel (an ancestor of Jesus) actually built the Second Temple and Herod added to that building. 

Well, one thing is certain; Jerusalem and the mountains still have a role to play in the future of God’s plan.

A Second Meaning

To keep with the idea of sermons on the mounts, we must start with the fig tree. Normally, I say that figs represent the works of man trying to please God. If we follow that idea through Tuesday and Jesus teaching we see the fig cursed, the Temple cleared, corrupt leaders called out, a prediction that the Temple of Herod (an earthly work) will be destroyed, and a set of parables on what the Kingdom looks like.

Mountains and the sea have grown to more than I expected. To call a mountain just a problem or trial in your life just does not seem to fit. Mountains and their metaphors are so much more than obstacles and something to walk around or climb over. Seas and water are also deep in double meaning. These two topics will just have to be explored this year.

The Sermons on Two Mounts-Three Audiences

 The Sermons on Two Mounts is on the other end of Jesus’ ministry from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus is preparing to be sacrificed for our sins. These Sermons occur in the four-day period before Passover that starts on the 10th of the month and is referenced in Exodus 12. These teachings took place on what we call Tuesday of Holy Week. He has had His tour deforce entrance (Palm Sunday) into Jerusalem and cleaned the yeast (money changers) out of the Temple on Monday. Oh, the two mounts are the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Who Jesus taught that day is important and I will start with an introduction of them.

The three Gospels are fairly unified in identifying these groups. My focus will be Matthew as he is the most complete on the activities of the day.

The Leaders-The first groups to meet Jesus are the chief priests and elders of the people.

  • Chief Priests-This term is used very little in the Old Testament (both KJV and NIV). I will say it was after David’s reign that someone became a chief priest. It is used by Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 19:11 and by Jeremiah (the chief priest was his uncle). They do have list of these men and when they served. Herod in Matthew 2 ask them questions about the birthplace of the Messiah. Matthew 21:15 has them upset at Jesus because of the children on Palm Sunday. Since Jesus had messed up their business of the money changers, I am sure they were on guard when He showed up again on Tuesday. Remember Zachariah (John’s father) was offering incense in Luke 1 and he was not a chief priest. So, there was a single-family group that used this title and wielded a lot of authority in Jerusalem. They belonged to the sect of the Sadducees.
  • Elders of the People-Acts 5:21 identifies the Sanhedrin as the elders of the people. It seems that this group would have had Sadducees and Pharisees in it. They are the civil government under the Herods and the Romans, with the chief priest being the leader of this group.
  • Teachers of the Law-This group probably had both Sadducees and Pharisees with this title. I imagine that most of these men were also elders.
  • Herodians-They were Jews who were loyal to Herod. Most Jews did not like Herod because he was part Jew by birth, and Roman by choice, and just crazy. Luke uses the term spies for these people. If the Pharisees joined with this group they really wanted Jesus dead.
  • Pharisees-This sect is the orthodox group of the day. From my reading about them, their thoughts and way of life is the foundation for modern Jewish thought. In reading Acts, some became followers of the Way. Where they the ones that objected to the Gentiles and tried to add circumcision as a requirement to be a believer? I do think they loved God, but the Law was more important to them.   
  • Sadducees-They did not believe in the supernatural or the resurrection of the dead (Matt. 22:23). The chief priest belonged to this sect. Paul used their doctrine in Acts 23:6 to divide the Sanhedrin. 

At some point, the leaders fade from the story of Temple Mount teachings. There are several references that they had nothing more to say or Jesus saw through their game and did not play along. Matthew 26 has them meeting together to arrest and kill Jesus. It would be hard to imagine that they did not have spies in the crowd for the rest of the day.

The Crowd-The Gospels list very interesting things about the crowds. Some of this group may have been with Jesus at the Jordan River and followed Him to Jerusalem. So, these people were part of the parade that ushered Jesus into town, or at least they asked who this man was. Jesus was on everyone’s radar after clearing the coin changers out of the Temple, they wanted to see what He would do next.

  • Matthew-1. They held John to be a prophet and the leaders were afraid of them. 2.  They were astonished at Jesus’ teaching. 3. Received the teaching/woes about the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
  • Mark-1. Amazed at Jesus’ teachings. 2. Listened with delight. 3. Caused fear in the leaders. 4. Put money into the Temple treasury.
  • Luke (NIV) and the KJV use the word people instead of crowd. Results are the same, the people loved Him and the leaders hated.
  • Okay, did Jerusalem have piles of stones in the streets or did everyone carry a rock, just in case?

The Disciples-We tend to think that there were only twelve disciples. There were twelve Apostles, but there were the women, Justus, Matthias (Acts 1:23), the seventy that Jesus sent out, and the 120 in the upper room. I think the parade into Jerusalem started with just His disciples and other people joined them. Thinking back to Pentecost maybe there were 3,000 disciples.

How many were with Jesus when He left the Temple on Tuesday of Holy Week? I am not sure, but I bet it was more than twelve. They actually asked the question that finished the teaching that started with the fig tree earlier that day. The Second Temple that had Herod’s upgrades would be destroyed and Jerusalem with it.

On the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked for the sermon on that mount (Matthew 24: 3). It consisted of several stories and warnings and the prediction of His death (26:2).

Sorta off topic-Because of so many lessons that had a wedding as the base of the teaching, I would like to add an idea to the ride into the city. It is viewed as a king coming into town, and that fits with Psalm 45. In Kingdom Wedding, I studied about the erusin, which is when the groom declares His intentions to marry His wife. They legally were married at that time, even though she did not live with the groom yet.  The actual wedding feast would be picked by the groom’s father. During this period of time, the groom would give gifts to the bride. I believe Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem was when He came to declare His intentions for His bride.

More studies from the Sermons on the Mounts are in the works, I just wanted to look at the three audiences that heard them.   

Chazon, Ouai, and Oy 

If chazon, ouai, and oy are strange words to you, don’t feel bad. They were to me. Their English translations are frequently used in the church. Chazon (Hebrew) or vision is the one that set this study into motion. “Without a vision”, Proverbs 29:18 in the KJV has been the key verse in many sermons. Well, this weekend I looked into seeing a vision. Doing a New Testament word search left me empty. So, I changed to the word dream and found no help from the biblical context. To be fair, vision and dream often get run together in the same sermon, but in the New Testament, those words and our English ideas hit a rough spot. Vision and dreams are supernatural acts that instruct people on a topic. They do not support the idea of your desires and goals and where YOU want to be in life.

The words purpose and calling, which are God-ordained concepts, should be used instead. The way ministers preach most sermons, the concepts of purpose and calling, get mixed with visions and dreams. 

Okay, let’s look at chazon. It is true we need a vision or things will fall apart. In the early part of Matthew, John the Baptist and Jesus are preaching the good news of the kingdom. What they taught was repent, for the kingdom of God is near. The kingdom being near is the chazon they gave the people. They preached that to give the masses hope. Jesus did miracles to prove just how near the kingdom had come to them. The mindset of the disciples and the crowds seemed to be that the Messiah would lead an army and conquer Rome. Psalm 110 and 45 are just a few places where that idea came from. Israel had battle-fighting messiahs, but they did not heal the sick and feed thousands or preach repentance. When these messiahs died, their movements faded away and stopped (Acts 5:35).

A chazon from God leads you to your purpose in life and opens the door to your calling. A dream from God may lead your thinking in this process.
Now to add in the words ouai, and oyouai is Greek for woe and oy/hoy is Hebrew for woe. How does woe connect with vision? The Father and Son are protective of their kingdom. Because the Father has a purpose for His kingdom, I believe He will defend the people He has called to fulfill that purpose. The post –God’s Love and Let God Arise talk about this topic. While studying for a new series called The Sermons on the Mounts, I read Matthew 23. That passage contains the seven woes for the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. The way we translate woe and the context people use for that word seemed strange to me. Oy and hoy in Isaiah and the other prophets and ouai in the Book of Revelation do not fit what many try to put in Jesus’ warnings. In these warnings, the weight of woe is not a statement of you may be sorry, or too bad you did your actions. They imply a judgment is going to fall on you. For some reason, a large part of Christianity has grown away from the idea that Jesus is a king that leads an army. The world definitely does not like a strong, in command, conquering Jesus. To answer my question -you will receive woe (in this life) if you come against God’s vision or plan for His Church.

On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus made these pronouncements-He cursed the fig tree (man’s works to be acceptable before God), the seven woes of Matthew 23, and prophesied that the Temple would come down. While in the Temple, He also told (through parable) the leaders of the nation they had to change or they would get thrown out of the Kingdom of God. Matthew 11 has the message of woe to several cities in Galilee and Luke 11 has a similar list of woes to Matthew 23. These woes added to the leaders’ anger at Jesus.

Did Jesus speak these woes twice, maybe? I feel Luke put together the stories he heard into something that Theophilus needed to read. Luke 11 to 18 has many of the same teachings as Matthew 21 to 26. That is not a statement against the book from Luke, rather, it shows his ability to communicate to his audience. Matthew and Mark had been eyewitnesses, so I tend to follow their timeline.  

Chazonouai, and oy are powerful words. Please use the reference websites I listed below for more details. I have no associations with any of those sites; they are references. So, reader beware.

Chazon-https://www.hebrewversity.com/what-is-shabbat-chazon/

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2377.htm

ouai-https://franknelte.net/article.php?article_id=363

Let God Arise

Let God Arise is an extension of the post-God’s Love. The postmodernist ideology has twisted the love of God to dilute what He did to show His love to us. He sent and allowed Jesus to be the sacrifice for your sin. The catch is you have to choose Jesus and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit into a righteousness life. Right living according to God’s standard is what the world leaves out or twist to justify their wrong behavior.

These verses are a few that show the mind of God. (They are NIV. If you use KJV, look for arise instead of rise.)

  • Psalm 74:22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.
  • Psalm 45:7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness
  • Isaiah 30:18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Father God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. We need to adjust our minds back to the mind of God. One area to bring our minds back to His thoughts is miracles. Yes, they are real and they still happen today. God’s miracles are to bring glory to the Father through Jesus. His righteous plan for His kingdom is the driving force behind miracles. Please, do not dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit that is trying to bring people back to the Father.

The miracles and acts of God that are below, I believe, protected the Father’s righteous plan. While defending His own/plan, the offending party did not fare well. But, Father God is just, whether you agreed with Him or not. Check the verses, as I am giving a synopsis of the story. 

            Sarah 

  • Genesis 12:17 God defended His woman, even when her husband feared for his safety. Diseases afflicted Pharaoh and his household because of Sarah. 
  • Genesis 20:3-17 Abimelech and his household became afflicted with diseases and their wombs closed. God rose up and protected Sarah and Isaac.

            Moses 

  • Numbers 16 The earth swallowed Korah’s family alive when it opened up, and the opposing elders also burned as they opposed Moses and Arron.
  • Numbers 21:1 Miriam, Moses’ big sister, contracted leprosy because she wanted to be in charge.  
  • Deuteronomy 31 or 34 Moses did not enter the Land, when he did not show God as Holy by obeying Him. 

            Paul 

  • Acts 13:6-12 Elymas of Cyprus lost his sight for a while for perverting the ways of the Lord. He hindered Paul and Barnabas as they talked to Sergius Paulus. (1st trip.)
  • Acts 16:16-19 Owners of the fortune teller lost money and the use of their slave when Paul called out the demon spirit. (2nd trip.)

            Ark

1 Samuel 16:19 The priest or Levities who looked in the Ark when it came back from the Philistines died. It was forbidden, and they knew it. 

David

2 Samuel 6:23 Michal became barren after criticizing David for dancing before the Lord. 

Elijah

2 Kings 1:9 Lightning struck two groups of soldiers and they died for threatening the prophet. 

Elisha

  • 2 Kings 6:18 Blind soldiers were led into Samaria.
  • 2 Kings 5:26 Elisha’s servant took money for a miracle instead of giving God the glory. He contracted leporsy. 
  • 2 Kings 2:23 Bears killed the youth who taunted Elisha and called him names. 
  • 2 Kings 7:2 The officer who mocked Elisha’s predication and God’s ability about food being at the gate died at that gate.

Uzziah/Azariah

2 Chronicles 25:11 He was a good king whose pride caused a problem. He offered incense in the Temple, only Aaron’s family could do that. He was struck with leprosy and lived by himself until he died.

Nebuchadnezzar 

Daniel 4:28-33 Nebuchadnezzar became mad until he acknowledged God’s power and gave the glory to Him.

            The Early Church

Acts 5:5 Ananias and his wife dropped dead for lying and trying to bring themselves glory. 

Let God Arise and His enemies be scattered. The Father is no pushover. Just because He has mercy does not make Him weak.

In pondering these stories and other miracles in the Bible, something stuck out and is worth mentioning. Jesus went around doing miracles and setting captives free. The Plan involved Him dying, and being beaten, and mocked, and abandoned. But the defense of God’s plan does not stop in the ministry of Jesus. He pronounces woe on several things in His teaching in the Temple before Passover. Unusual miracles begin again in the ministry of Paul and Peter. 

Let God arise and His Kingdom come.

Kingdom Wedding

Matthew 25:1 compares the Kingdom of Heaven to ten girls waiting for their wedding. This post continues the ideas in the Ten Virgins Who Woke Up by examining components of a Jewish wedding. Marriage and the Wedding are core to the Kingdom of God. It is the third thing that God provided to Adam in the Garden-a place to live, a way to support himself, and a wife (life is a given). Genesis 2:24 is the first explanation or commentary in the Bible. The verse explains the “why” for the first recorded words of any man: “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. Yes, Adam spoke names of animals, but they are never listed. This shows the importance of marriage. Because this joining reflects how God wants us to relate to Him, is there any wonder why marriage between a man and a woman is being attacked? The serpent’s assault on the Kingdom in the Garden is intended to separate mankind from God and to tear apart the union of Man and Woman. What if Adam never ate the fruit? Eve was deceived, but sin entered when Adam followed his wife in eating the forbidden fruit. How would things look now if Adam followed God’s voice and instructions? Okay, back to the symbolism in a Jewish wedding. 

In Luke 2, Mary is betrothed to Joseph. This part of the wedding is the erusin and, according to custom, they are bound to each other. Joseph’s father paid the mohar or bride’s price to Mary’s father (Exodus 22:16). This money should follow Mary into the marriage, but the money or services belonged to Mary’s father. I am sure that the money became part of Joseph’s concern when he found out Mary was with child. Father God paid the mohar; Jesus came to earth and died for us to pay the price. Our erusin began when we choose to accept that payment of Jesus’ blood and the work of the cross.

The mattan are the gifts given to the bride by the groom over and above the mohar. This thought is overwhelming! Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and with Him are the gifts. Charis is the Greek word used for the gifts of the Spirit and for grace. Are you picking what part of the mattan you want and fits in your BOX, or are you taking all the Gift? 

For the next parts of the wedding, I will list and explain as I see them and how they fit into the Kingdom.

  1. In the erusin, the groom is to prepare a place for the bride to live (John 14:2+3). Search in Bible Gateway for-prepare a place. The results are interesting. https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=prepare+a+place&resultspp=100&version=NIV
  2. The bride (and the groom) are to wash in a mikveh. This is a spiritual preparation. A mikveh is a pool of living (moving) water. I will equate the washing to baptism, but there are many types and reasons for washing in Jewish customs. 
  3. Nissuin is the wedding, and a part of this is a colorful parade. This procession is in the parable of the Ten Virgins. The Bride was never sure when the groom would come, so they had to be ready. The Father of the groom decided the exact time for the procession. Jesus said this in Matthew 24:36. I did not find this in my current research, but I believe the nissuin was two parades, one going to get the Bride and one going home. If that is the case, I would like to call the Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem the first parade and the second parade is yet to happen.
  4. The chappah is what the Bride stands under, and that symbolizes the marriage chamber. May I offer the tongues of fire when they settled above the disciples’ heads on the Day of Pentecost as the chappah? They represent the glory of Heaven as first seen on Mount Sinai
  5. The Bride has responsibilities and duties during the erusin. Her price has been paid, and she is now married (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The free.messianicbible.com site uses the Parable of the Virgins as its focus, so I am good with that. Again, I don’t have sources, but many of the things they say I have heard/read in other places. The bride had to be ready and part of that was a lamp filled with oil. She was to be concerned about her clothing and ornaments. She needed to be listening for the shofar (the trump) that will announce the groom’s coming. In our current customs, the bride and her family are busy doing all the work for the perfect day. That is not what it looked like in the first century. The groom handled the marriage feast.

Another post will focus on verses in the Bible about this topic. They are surprising. Psalm 45, which is labeled a wedding song, will provide a new twist on Kingdom, weddings, and brides. 

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/465162/jewish/The-Jewish-Marriage-Ceremony.htm

https://www.biblegateway.com

myjewishlearning .com

jfedgmw.org

free.messianicbible.com

I apologize about the URL for the last three websites. All deal with ancient Jewish wedding practices. Facebook is creating links that I did not wish to have in my post.