Jeremiah and Isaiah warned the kings of Judah about God’s correction by Babylon in their day, which warnings are dual being applicable to the correction of Judah and Israel in our day.
Judah had fallen into Sabbath neglect and a complete lack of zeal to live by God’s Word, just as today’s Judah, Israel and even today’s Spiritual Ekklesia.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had been tasked by God with correcting wayward Judah, and God gave the city of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple to destruction for their Sabbath pollution and lack of zeal to live by God’s Word.
The ancient fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Captivity was the first fulfillment of a dual prophecy as a warning of a latter day correction of Judah, Israel and today’s Spiritual Ekklesia. In this latter day we will also be corrected for the very same reasons; our neglect of the sanctity of God’s holy Sabbath Day and our lack of zeal to live by every Word of God.
Today’s Spiritual Ekklesia being fully Pharisaic and making the Word of God of no effect by our false traditions of men, our exalting corporate organizations and our idols of men above the Word of God.
Most of today’s Spiritual Ekklesia lack zeal for God’s Holy Sabbath Day and for living by every Word of God and we are about to be rejected by God the Father and Jesus Christ into great correction from a modern Babylon the Great now rising in Europe. Yet, there are a very few who have not soiled themselves with these things and they will be separated out before the correction.
The books of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah are a fascinating history of the Inter Testament period and the preparing of the way for the first advent of Christ. After 70 years of correction by Babylon those Jews who were repentant and minded to do so were allowed to return to Judea and to build the city of Jerusalem and the temple and a great restoration of the true religion of the Mosaic Covenant by Ezra, for the appearance of Messiah in the flesh.
This history of the Inter Testament preparation for the coming of Christ is prophetic of the second coming of Christ, this time as a spirit and with God’s resurrected faithful,
The Inter Testament events prepared for the coming of Christ in the flesh by restoring the physical Mosaic Covenant; and these Inter Testament achievements were prophetic of a spiritual preparing for Christ’s second coming, this time as a spirit and with God’s resurrected faithful.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
In the first century Christ came to a rebuilt physical temple but in this latter day Christ will come to a spiritual Temple made up of all those who are faithful to live by every Word of God.
Many people are confused not realizing the spiritual aspect of the prophecy and wrongly thinking that a new physical temple must be built before Christ returns, not understanding the prophecy that the Daily would be stopped and be desolate until Messiah comes to build the Ezekiel Temple.
It was prophesied to Daniel that the temple would not be rebuilt after it was destroyed by Titus and that the Daily Sacrifice will not be renewed and will not resume; until the end of the second half of the week and the coming of Messiah Daniel 9. Also see the Temple article.
During the Inter Testament period a physical temple was built and made ready for the coming of Christ in the flesh; and now during this Inter Covenant period, some have been called to become a spiritual people, a spiritual temple, to which a spirit Christ will come in our time!
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God [by sinning willfully], him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Judah built a physical temple in preparation for the coming of Christ in the flesh, and God is building a spiritual temple to which Christ will come in our time!
The second preparatory event before the coming of Christ in the flesh was the restoration of true Mosaic Covenant religion by Ezra.
In our time a restoration of true religion and sound doctrine is taking place before the second coming of Christ, this time as a spirit and the High Priest of the NEW Covenant of Jeremiah 31.
Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers [Elijah will turn the hearts of the brethren back to God the Father, and the heart of God the Father will be turned to accept a sincerely repentant people] to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse [utter destruction].
Jesus said that Elijah must yet come again and restore all things.
Matthew 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
In fact God will send TWO witness to witness that the Eternal is God and there is no other, and to call people to sincere repentance; types of Moses and Elijah.
The Babylonian Exile
Moses was called to be the Judge or leader of Israel under God, and under Moses were the elders and the Seventy ruling over the various tribes of Israel, and under them were the officers of thousands and hundreds etc. which ruled all Israel. This was the Mosaic Civil Administration.
The Religious Administration consisted of the tribe of Levi and from Levi the sons [male descendants] of Aaron were called to be the priests; the priests officiating over the sacrificial system and the Levites assisting the priests in all matters except the actual offering of the sacrifices.
Throughout the history of the Judges and Kings the priests of Aaron, the Levites and the Administrative System officials repeatedly fell far away from God.
Solomon departed from God and God rent the ten tribes of Israel away from Judah/Benjamin and gave them to Jeroboam. Jeroboam immediately led Israel into idolatry and great wickedness so that not one of the kings of Israel was righteous and God finally removed them from the land by the hand of the Assyrians who replaced them.
2 Kings 17:22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 17:23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava [cities of Babylon], and from Hamath [modern Homs Syria, at that time populated by the Hamathites, a Hamitic race through Canaan. (Genesis 10:18)], and from Sepharvaim [Sippara on the east bank of the Euphrates is now called Abu-Habba], and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
Without doubt there were some who were faithful to God in Israel as God had told Elijah that he had 7,000 still in Israel during the days of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18).
Some of the faithful would have fled south to Judah at the warnings of the prophets and the approaching armies, after which they were assimilated into Judah/Benjamin.
Because of the Temple at Jerusalem and several good kings, Judah and Benjamin had periods of revival among the periods of apostasy [see the list of good and bad kings] and Judah/Benjamin remained until Jerusalem was destroyed in c 586 B.C. Judah/Benjamin then fully entered the Babylonian Captivity and were largely removed from the land to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.
They remained in captivity in Babylon until 536 B.C. during which time the Mosaic Administration of the Seventy and the officers over the people gained almost complete ascendancy over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which two tribes are collectively called Jews today; the Priests and Levites faded because there was no longer a tabernacle or a temple or even an Ark.
The Scribes who were from the Levites with some from the Priests [who were also descendants of Levi], prospered because they preserved the scriptures and were the only remaining Levites and Priests relevant to the situation.
Building the Temple
Cyrus assumed the title of “king of Babylon” in 536, claiming to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to all the temples and religions, to maintain the peace of the population by gaining the support of the religions leaders; in a continuation of the “church state” system of Babylon.
In celebration he decreed that the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylon could return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their gods; and restore their national religions. Among these populations were certain Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple and some 50,000 went back to Judea to rebuild the Temple.
At that time leaders of the Jewish people throughout Babylonia urged them to return to the Judah and to begin working on rebuilding the Temple.
This included Zerubavel ben She’altiel, a descendant of King David; Yohoshua [Joshua] ben Yehotzadak [Jehozadok], the High Priest; Nechemiah [Nehemiah]; Mordechai; and the Prophets; Chaggai [Haggai], Zechariah and Malachi. Yehoshua and Zerubavel appointed the Levites to supervise the work, while the questions of halachah [law] which arose in the course of construction were decide by the Sages of the Sanhedrin [the Seventy elders], among who were many prophets. [HOJP I, 25].
The Ezra Restoration
Ezra the Scribe came to Jerusalem only after the Temple was built. The Persian king appointed Ezra as the chief judge over the Jews, and authorized him to enforce his decisions. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem he quickly discovered the truth of the many reports concerning the disappointing spiritual level of the local Jews.
The physical construction of the Temple was completed but the spiritual condition of the people was not. Ezra summoned all the men of Yehudah [Judah] and Benjamin [Benjamin] to Jerusalem.
So great was Ezra’s impact on the people that they all promised to divorce their foreign wives. All that winter, until the first of Nissan, the Seventy now called the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and the various local courts [the administrative officials remember the Mosaic Administration] occupied themselves with establishing the family purity of the returnees.
The society’s need for national spiritual leadership was met by the creation of a special body called the Knesses HaGedolah, or Great Assembly based on the Seventy that god gave to Moses, which assisted Ezra in restoring true religion to Judah, this body of the Seventy was eventually called the Sanhedrin.
The Great Assembly later called the Great Sanhedrin took steps under the direction of Ezra to revive the religion.
Seeing that the lack of biblical scholars and teachers was the cause of Judah’s downfall, Ezra sent scholars to the different communities restoring the synagogue school system with a synagogue [meeting place] in every town.
Era being a deeply converted and an appointed Judge [ruler] Levite, Priest, prophet and Scribe, restored the Synagogue school system of Moses and sent Biblical Scholars to teach the nation.
They translated the Bible into the Aramaic [common speach of the people] vernacular and canonized the scriptures into a single authoritative version. Ezra also ordained that all sacred texts be again written in Ashuri script, a sacred square-letter script.
Ezra and the Great Assembly also restored the method of determining the new month by a special committee of the Sanhedrin examining witnesses to the first visible light of the new moon, precise sacrificial ritual with its various prayers, the temple period Passover service [which is not the same as today’s Rabbinic Seder service], the water pouring ceremony, the ceremony of light and the method of rejoicing with branches at the Feast of Tabernacles.
All of these things were inspired by God to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh!
These things are also an allegorical history which will be fulfilled again when;
- Two prophets in the spirit of Elijah and Moses will restore true religion, preaching sincere repentance and the way of salvation and restoring the true religion of God, before Christ comes again with God’s resurrected faithful, and
- Jesus Christ, when he comes will build the Ezekiel Temple and true religion will spread through the earth to be accepted by ALL nations and peoples!
The Birth of the Pharisees
After Ezra, from the time of Alexander into the first century there was a continual struggle for dominance between the Sadducee’s, Scribes and the Pharisees, especially between the Mosaic loyalists and those who had been Hellenized.
Alexander the Great 356-323 B.C.
By introducing Hellenic culture into Syria, Babylon and Egypt, he had probably more influence on the development of today’s Judaism than any one individual not a Jew by race. After the siege of Tyre, 332 B.C., he marched through Palestine unopposed and visited Jerusalem.
By the first century, the Seventy came to be called the Sanhedrin, while the scholarly officials came to be called Pharisees. The priests were called Sadducee’s and those who copied the scriptures were called Scribes.
Many Pharisees came to be deeply influenced by Hellenic culture and reasoning which was spread by Alexander, who had been taught by Aristotle, who was taught by Plato, who was taught by Socrates; I will call the Hellenic Pharisees.
Those Pharisees who remained faithful to God lived mostly in Judea, while those willing to apply the reasoning of the Greeks to their religion, had many in Judea and dominated the Jews who remained in Babylon or lived in Alexandria. I will call this group of Pharisees the Mosaic Pharisees.
The Mosaic or faithful Pharisees became very proud and eventually made God’s Word of no effect through their many added traditions. They rejected Christ, who stripped away their false traditions and taught the pure and true Word of God. These folks are represented by today’s Laodicean Spiritual Ekklesia which rejects living by every Word of God to follow the false traditions of men.
The Mosaic Pharisees were largely destroyed along with the Jerusalem Temple Sadducee’s and Scribes by the Romans in the first century; just like today’s Laodicean Spiritual Ekklesia will be cast into great tribulation.
Historically the demise of the Mosaic Pharisees was the beginning of the end of Mosaic Judaism and a long struggle between the Scribes [Karaites] and the Hellenized Pharisees, resulted in the rise of modern Rabbinic Judaism.
Jesus said: Matthew 23:2 “Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:”
Here Jesus was speaking of the Mosaic Pharisees and Scribes who were faithful to Moses and taught the Word of God in Judea at that time.
Those Mosaic Pharisees were not the Sadducee’s [priests], they came from the 70 elders and from the Mosaic System of Officials over thousands and hundreds, who were scholars of the scriptures!
Let’s look at the Mosaic Administration again; what kind of people were to be chosen to help rule the people? Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
Jesus said that it was these faithful scholars of God’s Word who sat in Moses seat, because they were the heirs of the Mosaic Administrative System!
Then he said Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The chief problem with the Mosaic Pharisees is that they added their own traditions to the Word of God and were just as zealous for their traditions as they were for the Word of God, thereby making the Word of God of no effect through their zeal for the traditions of men; which is exactly the problem in today’s Spiritual Ekklesia!
Jesus was not speaking of the Hellenized Pharisees who interpreted the scriptures using Greek logic twisting the scriptures to appear to mean things quite different from what they actually said, and falsely claiming a secret tradition from Moses to deceive people into accepting their apostate teachings.
How do we know that there is no secret tradition from Moses? Because God commanded that all that he had told Moses was to be taught to the people!
Leviticus 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses
Deuteronomy 5:31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Any person who teaches anything different from the Holy Scriptures is a false teacher and a false prophet, for we are to live by every Word of God in the Holy Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 5:31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 5:32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth [tests] you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
13:4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
There are NO secret instructions or traditions from Moses, we are to live by every Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures and any teaching which is different from the Holy Scriptures is false.
Ezra’s Synagogue Education System
The Ezra Synagogue Education System was based on the function of the Levitical cities throughout all Israel as centers of learning. See the Priesthood and ministry category for an explanation of the teaching system that God gave to Israel.
Children around six years old would have gone to a local synagogue school called a Bet Sefer. It means house of the book. In the days of Moses and Joshua a synagogue or school system of education was set up to be run by the Levites. The godliness of these schools often fluctuated into paganism as the priests departed from God. Therefore Ezra set up a more formally organized system.
Psalm 74:8 They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they [because Judah had forsaken God] have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.
Then after the punishment and captivity in Babylon some of the Jews returned to Judea and the godly synagogue education system was restored by Ezra.
This system continued until the Roman wars when the Temple and the religion of the Mosaic Pharisees and Sadducee’s was destroyed; to be succeeded in true religion by the followers of Yeshua [Jesus; true faithful Christians]; or replaced by the Babylonian Hellenized Pharisees who developed into the modern Rabbinate of today.
From the days of Ezra, a child usually attended a Bet Sefer from age 6 to age 10.
This school would be attended five or six days a week . There would be a local synagogue teacher who would begin teaching the Books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; along with reading, writing and other subjects of a general basic education. This instruction building a foundation for further studies.
As a child you were introduced to the Scriptures and taught that there was nothing more enjoyable in the entire universe than; tasting, receiving and fully learning and internalizing the Words of God and making them a part of your life.
This is how children were formally introduced to the Scriptures. From ages 6-10 they would be taught the entire five Books of Moses as well as the “ABCs” of reading writing and arithmetic and complete the Bet Sefer schooling.
Bet Talmud means “house of learning” and does not refer to the Talmud compiled hundreds of years later. Roughly from ages 10-14 in Bet Talmud you would learn the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures all the way to Malachi.
Bet Midrash [Discipleship]
At the end of your study at Bet Talmud, when you were around 14-15 years old, you would proceed to learn a trade; or if you were interested in advanced religious studies you would go and seek out a respected and knowledgeable Rabbi to study with.
This was akin to a modern Bible School to train people for the ministry, although much more personal, like having a personal tutor, and was called the yoke of learning. This rabbi wanted to know, when he was questioning the applicant: “Is this boy able to become a rabbi himself and to teach and spread my yoke?” So the rabbi would ask all kinds of questions.
And if the rabbi believed that you had potential to become a rabbi, He would say, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow me,” and you would be accepted to become his disciple student and you would spend the next few years learning from that rabbi.
Would Yeshua [Jesus] settle for anyone but the very best and wisest rabbi to apprentice to? Would many teachers not have heard of this prodigy and seek him for their student? There is much reason to believe that Jesus studied with the leading scholar of his time Gamaliel; and that he was trained alongside the brightest Jewish students of his day, perhaps Saul himself.
At the age of 30 years the diligent student would “graduate” to become a Rabbi himself.
Today, as the correction of tribulation approaches; the sound doctrine of the Word of God is being restored, truth is being told to power, many secret hidden things are being unsealed, sin is being rebuked and people are being called to sincere repentance. Very soon God will reveal his two servants who will continue to build on these things and will complete the job of restoring all things and preparing the earth for the coming of the King of kings. Then when he comes Jesus Christ will spread godly righteousness through the whole earth.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Brethren, be neither dismayed nor discouraged for the time of the restitution of all thins is at hand! First a little sorrow like the travail of childbirth, and then the incomprehensible exuberant joy of deliverance to eternal life in a body never again subject to decay or death, at peace with God and neighbour!
The tremendous Ezra revival was only a tiny foretaste of the incredible spiritual awakening that is about to bring healing to all the earth and to all humanity. See the three Millennium articles here
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 3: 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.