Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 17: The Mountain of God

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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 17: The Mountain of God

In the last several segments of this presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews, we spoke at great length concerning the racial exclusivity of the covenants which Yahweh had made with Abraham and with Israel. This is because this important and most basic doctrine of Christianity is disregarded entirely by the denominational churches of today, who are all worshipping at the Baal altars of Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Hebrews chapter 11, Paul of Tarsus had extolled the Old Testament saints for their ability to turn “to flight the armies of the aliens” through their faith. Then in Hebrews chapter 12, and in relation to his own time, he warned his readers that if they were without discipline then they are bastards, and not sons. The King James Version has chastisement in Hebrews 12:8, where we have discipline. The Greek word is παιδεία, a word which basically refers to the training or education of children. It is derived from παῖς, a word for son. While any or all creatures may suffer trials in this world, only the children of Israel are being schooled through those trials for the Kingdom of Heaven which is to come. As Paul told the Galatians, who were descended from the long-scattered Israelites of the Assyrian deportations, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”, thusly he wrote here to the Hebrews, the Israelites of the remnant in Judaea, in a very similar way.

Further on in Hebrews chapter 12 Paul explained why Esau really lost his birthright: because he was a profane man and a fornicator. Esau, who despised his birthright and sold it to his brother, took Hittite wives, and for that reason he could not recover what he had lost. Bastards are the product of fornication, which is race-mixing. So we see in reference to fornication that Yahshua Christ, in Revelation chapter 2, forewarned that He would destroy the children of those who commit fornication, ostensibly because they are bastards.

Some of these things which Paul had said concerning bastards and the fornication of Esau in Hebrews chapter 12 must have discomfited more than a few of his readers. As Paul had explained in Romans chapter 9, and as we may clearly see in the histories of Flavius Josephus, many of the Judaeans of his time were Edomites that were converted to the religion of the Judaeans nearly two hundred years before this epistle was written. Here in this chapter of Hebrews Paul is very bluntly explaining the implications of this situation. Today, most denominational Christians have a race-mixer in their own family, and we see how offended they get when they are informed of the consequences. Many of Paul’s Hebrews were very likely just as offended. Even Josephus, while he understood and recorded the history, had Herod Agrippa II as a good friend, and their families apparently even intermarried. Josephus, a Levite and a Pharisee, knew that the family of Herod were Edomites, but was evidently oblivious to the Scriptural implications, not much different from today’s denominational so-called pastors.

But the exhortations against fornication were not only for Hebrews. Likewise Paul had warned the Corinthians, in chapter 10 of his first epistle to them, “8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” Like the Galatians, who were Israelites of the Assyrian deportations, the Corinthians, who were Dorian Greeks, were also Israelites, although they migrated away from Palestine at an even earlier period, some time during the 12th century BC. So Paul, by referring to an event described in Numbers chapter 25 where it is said that the men of Israel committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab, was warning the Corinthians not to race-mix in that same manner. Paul also mentioned such fornication as a sin in his second epistle to the Corinthians, and in his epistles to the Romans, Galatians, Colossians and Thessalonians.

The Roman Catholic definition of fornication, which the denominations also follow, is absurd. Fornication is not merely sex outside of marriage. When you are engaging in the act with an appropriate partner, you are getting married, unless you are committing either fornication or adultery. When Isaac took Sarah as his wife, he did so in a tent, and not in a church. Rather, fornication is unlawful sex, and in Scripture, right from the beginning, a legitimate wife is flesh of one’s flesh, and bone of one’s bone, as it says in Genesis chapter 2. In his lone epistle, the apostle Jude described fornication as race-mixing where he spoke of the angels that left their first estate and the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh”. That word for strange is ἕτερος, a word which means different. Their fornication was “going after different flesh”, which only describes race-mixing.

In the Old Testament, we can find specific commands requiring the children of Israel not to mix with certain races. However the general command is found in the admonition not to commit adultery, a word which ostensibly has several meanings. When the apostles of Christ first sought to put the law into a Christian context so that both Hebrew and Greek disciples could understand it, they agreed – as it is recorded in Acts chapter 15 – that in addition to the basic commandments Christians should “abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” Evidently the apostles expounded on these things in order to clarify some of the commandments which were not as clear in meaning in the Greek context as they were in the ancient Hebrew, and with that we may see that under the New Covenant, the food laws still mattered, and race-mixing continue to be forbidden.

If race-mixing were not forbidden under the New Covenant, as it was under the Old, then Paul would have had no purpose warning the Corinthians not to commit fornication while referring to an act of race-mixing which was committed by their Israelite ancestors. Likewise, Paul would have had no purpose in bringing these examples before the Hebrews in this epistle.

The truth is, that the laws of Yahweh God have not changed from the beginning, and race-mixing as well as all other types of fornication are forbidden, and those who promote such things shall indeed be punished. In Hebrews chapter 13, Paul first asserts that “Yahweh will judge fornicators and adulterers”, and then he makes the attestation that Yahshua Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and for the ages.” The commandments of God have not changed, and for this Christians should have both reverence and awe.

In this very manner Paul continues, where we continue with his epistle from verse 18 of Hebrews chapter 12:

18 For you have not approached touching a mountain and being scorched with fire, and in gloom and in darkness and in tempest, 19 and to a trumpet’s peal, and to a sound of words, which those hearing had declined, not a word to be agreed by them.

Here we have added the word mountain in verse 18, which for that reason appears in italics. This is one of the few occasions in the Christogenea New Testament where we have added a word which is not expressed in the Greek language itself, either implicitly or explicitly. The word is inferred by Paul, however, which is apparent in the verses that follow. The Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text do have the Greek word for mountain here, but the word is not present in the 3rd century papyrus P46 or in the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and 048.

The mountain of which Paul speaks here is Mount Sinai, which is also fully evident in the verses which follow, where Paul quotes from Exodus chapter 19. The Codices Sinaiticus (א) and 048 have the end of verse 19 to read “which those hearing declined the word to be agreed by them”. In either case, here Paul is attesting that the children of Israel who were with Moses at Sinai, in spite of the wonders they had seen, had declined the commandments which they were given.

But in the narrative of Exodus chapter 19 the people are portrayed as having expressed agreement with the words which they heard. There we read in verses 7 and 8 “7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” So this seems to contradict what Paul has said here. But Paul is not speaking of their words. Rather, he is making an illustration of their subsequent actions. For that reason he says:

20 For they did not bear that being commanded: “And if a beast should touch the mountain, he should be stoned.”

The King James Version inserts at the end of this verse the words, “or thrust through with a dart”, something which also appears in the passage of Exodus which Paul is citing. According to the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27), the words are found in only a small number of the manuscripts which comprise the Majority Text, the sum of which are quite numerous.

Here Paul is citing Exodus 19:13. Before we attempt to interpret his intended application of these words, we shall read a wider portion of the passage from Exodus chapter 19 than that which Paul cites here, from verse 9, right after the people agreed to do all which Yahweh had commanded of them (as we have already read verses 7 and 8):

“9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. 10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. 14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. 16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.”

Of all of the commandments in the law which the children of Israel went on to transgress, Paul chooses this particular commandment to make an example to the Hebrews, and he does so immediately after describing the reasons why Esau lost his birthright: because he was a profane man and a fornicator. Then, choosing this commandment, Paul focuses only on the portion concerning beasts, and ignores the portion concerning men. Doing this, Paul is also making a greater analogy.

When Yahweh appeared to the children of Israel, the mountain represented what is holy. So before they approached it, the children of Israel were commanded to cleanse themselves, something which is seen in Exodus 19: 10. But even then they could not approach the mountain until certain conditions were met, and neither could any beast touch the mountain, both of which are evident in verses 11 through 13. Yet it had been promised in verses 5 and 6 of the chapter that the children of Israel would also be holy, where they are told that “if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”

Here in his analogy, Paul proceeds by contrasting this Mount Sinai with Mount Sion, where he tells his readers “But you have approached Mount Sion and the city of Yahweh who lives, Jerusalem in the heavens, and to myriads of Messengers, to a general gathering 23 and to an assembly of those first born being registered in the heavens, and to Yahweh judge of all, and to the Spirits of those righteous having been perfected”.

If Mount Sion is “the city of the living God”, as the Greek phrase is often translated, if Mount Sion is “Jerusalem in the heavens”, myriads of angels and a general gathering, an “assembly of those first born” and the “Spirits of those righteous having been perfected”, then Mount Sion is employed by Paul here as an allegory for the body of the people themselves under the New Testament, and likewise Paul is making an analogy by contrasting them with Mount Sinai, which he uses here to refer to the body of the people under the Old Testament. So in Paul’s analogy, either mountain actually represents the children of Israel in its own particular time.

In many places in the books of the prophets it is clear that Sion, or Zion, is an allegory for the children of Israel collectively. One such place is in Isaiah chapter 51 where the Word of Yahweh says “2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. 3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.” Then we read a little further on in that chapter: “16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

The prophet Daniel also referred to the dispersed of the children of Israel as a mountain, where in chapter 2 of Daniel there is described a “stone … cut out of the mountain without hands” which would destroy the beast empires that came before it, and the stone itself was associated with an unfailing kingdom. In Psalm 74 we see another reference, among many, to the children of Israel as Sion: “2 Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.” This Zion also refers to the people, as the temple itself was upon Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), and not upon Zion.

So if Mount Sion is an allegory for the people of Yahweh under the New Covenant, then Mount Sinai as Paul uses it here, is an allegory for the body of the people under the Old Covenant, and only then does Paul’s citation of Exodus 19:13 make sense here in the manner in which it is presented. This is evident because there is no record in Exodus that a beast touched the mountain of God when Yahweh appeared to the people. But here Paul blames the people for disregarding this very commandment.

Here Paul has not changed the subject, but rather he is continuing the same warnings which he had begun in verse 15 of the chapter, leading into the discussion of Esau where he said: “15 Watching closely that not any are lacking from the favor of Yahweh, ‘lest any root of bitterness springing up’ would trouble you and by it many would be defiled, 16 nor some fornicator or profane person, as Esau who for one meal sold his own birthright. 17 For you know that even afterwards, desiring to inherit the blessing he was rejected, for he did not find a place for repentance even though he sought after it with tears.”

Discussing those words in our last segment of this presentation, we saw that Paul was citing Deuteronomy chapter 29 where Moses had warned the children of Israel not to follow the abominations of the heathen “18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood...”

So we have seen that this was why Esau had lost his birthright, because he had taken wives of these very people, thereby being labelled by Paul as a fornicator, which is a race-mixer. So now, using Mount Sinai as an allegory for the people of Israel under the Old Covenant, Paul cites Exodus 19:13 where it says “12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live....” But making his allegory, Paul only cites the passage in a manner relative to beasts, and ostensibly, these beasts may make a conscious decision to touch the mountain of God.

So we must examine what Paul means here by beasts, in this context of Esau and race-mixing fornication, and it is clear that neither is there any record in Scripture of Yahweh’s having created other races of people. So right from the beginning, we see in Genesis chapter 4 that Cain took a wife from outside of the garden of God. Then later it is apparent, in Genesis chapter 15, that the Kenites – who are the descendants of Cain, along with the Rephaim, who are the bastard giants of Genesis chapter 6, and several other tribes which are not reckoned in the genealogy of the sons of Noah, had all intermingled for many centuries with the Canaanites, from whom Esau had taken his wives.

The entire history of the period of Joshua and the Judges exhibits how the Israelites failed to reject these people, and had instead intermarried with them and went worshipping after their gods. For this they were punished severely.

The apostle Peter, in his second epistle, had spoken of the “angels that sinned”, but who were in the world as he wrote, and he described them as “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed”, as they were actively blaspheming God and corrupting the society of his time. In like manner the apostle Jude in his epistle also spoke of the “angels who left their first estate”, who were infiltrators among the people, and he said “10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them, because they have gone in the way of Kain and in deception they pour forth of the wages of Balaam and are destroyed in the disputation of Kore! 12 These are the spots in your feasts of charity, feasting together without fear, tending to themselves, clouds without water being carried away by the winds, late-autumn trees without fruit, twice dead being uprooted, 13 stormy waves of the sea foaming up their own shame, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness is kept forever!” Writing these things, Jude further described them as they were in the world in his time, feasting amongst his readers whom he had exhorted to uphold “the faith which was once delivered to the saints”.

So it is evident that the apostles Jude and Peter spoke of the infiltrators from the other races who were among the children of Israel as beasts. There is no record in Scripture of Yahweh God having created such men, but only of the fallen angels, which are the angels that sinned and corrupted the creation of God, and we see that these walk among the people of God today. Sinai being employed as an analogy for the people of God, Paul’s reference to beasts touching the mountain is therefore a reference to the commingling of these other races with the people of God, using Esau as his primary example of such people, inferring that the penalty for death still stands in relation to fornicators. For want of a proper appellative, the term beast is a pejorative used in reference to these so-called people, since they are but corruptions of the creation of God.

With this understanding we should take another look at the prophecy of Obadiah, verses 15 through 17:

15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. 17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

Again, mount Zion and the reference to “my holy mountain” are references to the children of Israel themselves. All of the heathen feeding themselves upon that mountain are all of the beasts which Paul warns here should not even touch the mountain. Paul is giving this warning in the context of race-mixing fornication, as that is the context of this chapter. The children of Israel are the holy mountain of God, and Yahweh shall indeed sanctify His people before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, as we read in Joel chapter 2: “16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.” This unfolds with the fulfillment of that same thing which Paul also speaks of here: the coming of the City of God from heaven as it is prophesied in the closing chapters of the Revelation.

As Paul continues, he stresses the fear which men should have of the judgement of God, and the context is still in reference to those beasts who may touch the mountain:

21 And so dreadful was that having appeared, Moses said “I am frightened” and trembling.

Similarly we read in the words of David in the 119th Psalm: “120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.”

But here it is apparent that Paul may not be citing that same account in the Exodus. In Exodus 19:16 it says “16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” So we see that the people themselves trembled, but here Paul says that Moses expressed fear and trembling.

Rather Paul seems to be citing a passage in Deuteronomy chapter 9 where Moses had recollected the wrath which Yahweh had for the disobedient who had worshipped the golden calf where he said “For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you.” So far as we can tell from the manuscripts which are available today, Deuteronomy 9:19 is the only place where Moses expressed fear. However while the phrase “and trembling” is certainly part of the text in Paul’s citation, it is wanting in the words of Moses in our Old Testaments. But perhaps Paul was actually citing some other verse which is now either lost or corrupted.

Paul continues by contrasting Sinai to Sion, informing his readers:

22 But you have approached Mount Sion and [D wants “and”] the city of Yahweh who lives, Jerusalem in the heavens, and to [D has “of”] myriads of Messengers [D has “saints”], to a general gathering 23 and to an assembly of those first born of the birthright [see the notes below] being registered in the heavens, and to Yahweh judge of all, and to the Spirits of those righteous [א has “to the righteous Spirits of those”] having been perfected [D has “established”];

First, we are tempted to write “assembly of the first born”, as it would appear to be a reference to Christ. However the term “of those first born” comes from a single word, πρωτοτόκων, which is a masculine plural adjective. If it were singular, it should easily be a reference to Christ, the “first born among many brethren”, as Paul refers to Him in Romans chapter 8. Here the King James Version does not properly represent the plural word, so it does seem to refer to Christ where it has “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven...” However that is not what Paul is saying. Although we ourselves have been misled by the King James translation in the past.

Because πρωτοτόκων is plural (and it is evidently plural in every extant manuscript), and the singular word πρωτότοκος literally means first-born, from the beginning we decided to maintain a literal translation. But perhaps we may have done better. In verse 16 of this same chapter, in reference to Esau, the related word πρωτοτόκια is used, and it is translated as birthright. This word πρωτοτόκια is a neuter plural noun which describes the rights of the first-born, [and therefore the] birthright, according to Liddell & Scott. So πρωτοτόκια in that passage is birthright in most translations. Understanding that, then perhaps our translation here would have done better to read “and to an assembly of those of the birthright being registered in the heavens”, because only the children of Israel, the seed of Abraham through Isaac and then Jacob, have that birthright, and no bastards can be included – which is why Esau had lost that birthright, being a profane man and a fornicator.

That Mount Sinai, or in this analogy, the children of Israel under the Old Covenant, is contrasted to Mount Sion, or the children of Israel under the New Covenant, does not mean that either God or the people themselves have changed. Rather, it is the perspective of the children of Israel towards God which should change. The children of Israel collectively, whether they are of the remnant among the Judaeans, or of the so-called “lost” Israelites scattered in the ancient dispersions, should accept the correction which they have had as sons, and then return to their God in obedience to Christ.

In the end, every knee shall bow to Yahweh, as Paul quoted from Isaiah in Romans chapter 14 and said “11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” As Paul wrote to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:5), the battle which Christians have is found in “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...” The sooner each Israelite subjects himself to Christ, the less chastisement he – or she – may expect to suffer.

Here [in spite of the differences apparent in the reading of the Codex Claromontanus] Paul equates Mount Sion to the City of God, and to Jerusalem in the heavens, and to myriads of angels, and to the general assembly of those of the birthright being registered in the heavens, and to the spirits of the righteous who are perfected. All of these epithets describe the people of God collectively. In Revelation chapter 21 we read a description of the New Jerusalem, and the apostle writes “2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” With this it becomes apparent that as this city descends from heaven, it is not some giant work of construction which will magically drop out of the sky. Rather, the city represents the people of God, those who are born from above.

As a digression, the original form of the word Aryan, which is arya, can be interpreted to mean “mountain of Yahweh”.

Those registered in the heavens are those who were written into the Book of Life. The term is familiar from the Revelation, but it was first mentioned by Paul in Philippians chapter 4. The Book of Life is not some great telephone book with a never-ending list of names. Rather, if Christ Himself is the Word of Life, as the apostle John professed in the opening of his first epistle, then the Word of God in our Scriptures must be the Book of Life, and they describe the interaction of Yahweh with the Adamic race, as well as the purpose of His Creation and the promises which He had made to them, and then to the children of Israel. So it is they who are collectively written into the Book of Life. It also describes His war against His enemies, and the vengeance which He shall execute against them. So Paul continues:

24 and to a mediator of a new covenant of Yahshua, and to the blood of sprinkling, speaking better than Abel.

Abel’s sacrifice not only attested the expectation which he had in God, but also attested that Abel had sought to do what was right for the faith which he had in God, and ended up surrendering his life on that account. Abel must have known that Cain was not worthy of the family priesthood, and therefore he sought to make a sacrifice for himself. When Cain was rejected, Abel’s was accepted because he was indeed the legitimate son. Esau forfeited the birthright because of his fornication, but Cain never had it in the first place, ostensibly due to the circumstances of his own birth. So when Cain slew Abel, Seth later became a replacement for Abel, and acquired the inheritance. But the sons of Cain were never counted among the sons of Adam.

(For those reading these notes in the future, we would suggest that they see two other papers at Christogenea, Shemitic Idioms and Genesis Chapter Three and The Problem With Genesis 4:1.)

As we also commented presenting Hebrews chapter 11, Paul’s remarks here support our translation of Hebrews 11:4, which we would insist is a correct translation, where Paul had written that “By faith Abel offered to Yahweh a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was accredited to be righteous, having testified of Yahweh by his gifts, and being slain because of it he still speaks.” Not that Abel actually speaks, but the record of his actions speak for him, even to this very day. The descendants of Cain, however, are still trying to usurp the possession which rightfully belongs to the race of Adam, Abel and Seth, and they also do that to this very day.

So Paul warns his readers not to reject the testimony of God in Christ, as they had in their actions rejected the Word of God at Sinai:

25 Watch that you do not decline He who is speaking. For if they did not escape, deprecating him deliberating upon the earth, much more we, those who turn themselves away from He who is from the heavens,

The word παραιτέομαι (3868), which appears twice here, has been read as both decline and deprecate. The word bears either meaning.

Paul’s language is concise. It is Christ who is now speaking, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and it is Christ who is from the heavens, being Yahweh God incarnate. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and the ancient Israelites declined him. Moses was deliberating upon the earth to bring the covenant to the children of Israel at Sinai. So Paul warns his readers not to turn away from Christ, as those who do will be punished even more harshly than those who turned away from Moses.

26 whose voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying: “Yet once will I shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.”

Paul had written to the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, and told them that “1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”

If Christ was the Rock in the desert, then it was Christ “whose voice shook the earth then”, as He is Yahweh God incarnate. We read in Exodus 19:18: “And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.” And in reflection, in Psalm 77: “18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. 19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. 20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

But now Paul also refers to the promise to shake heaven and earth as it is found in Haggai chapter 2 where the Word of Yahweh says, from the Septuagint: “7 For thus saith the Lord Almighty; Yet once I will shake the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 8 and I will shake all nations, and the choice portions of all the nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord Almighty. 9 Mine is the silver, and mine the gold, saith the Lord Almighty. 10 For the glory of this house shall be great, the latter more than the former, saith the Lord Almighty: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord Almighty, even peace of soul for a possession to every one that builds, to raise up this temple.”

Quoting this passage in reference to those who would despise Christ, and where it refers to “this house”, Paul certainly did not interpret it as if it referred to the second temple. In fact, Paul knew that Jerusalem and the temple were about to be destroyed (i.e. Daniel 9, Romans 16:20). And in spite of the fact that the words were spoken to Zerubbabel, Paul must have understood that they referred to the greater purpose of the 70-Weeks Kingdom in Christ, which we attempted to illustrate in our commentary on Haggai given here some 16 months ago. Concerning this passage, we gave a long explanation of the immediate fulfillment in the disruptions of the nations of the οἰκουμένη during the history of the second temple period, and then we said in part:

However there does seem to be a greater meaning to Haggai's words than merely the circumstances of the people of Jerusalem in the period of the second temple. Where Yahweh says “and in this place I will give peace”, that is how the purpose of the 70 Weeks Kingdom culminating in the Messiah may be summarized as it is described by Daniel, and that is how in part the purpose of the Messiah is later described by Paul. But the peace is between Yahweh and all of Israel, not necessarily between Yahweh and the inhabitants of second-temple Jerusalem. As we read in Daniel chapter 9: “24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” And then, as an example, as we may read in Colossians chapter 1, Paul says of Christ: “20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” The veracity of this interpretation (referring to our commentary of Haggai chapter 2) may become more evident in the latter verses of the chapter (which we shall discuss below).

In this light, if “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former”, then it is only because the glory of the former temple resulted in the captivity of Israel, whereas the latter house preserved a remnant by which Yahweh was able to make reconciliation with Israel through Christ.

So Paul proceeds to discuss this passage of Haggai here and he says:

27 Now, the “yet once” indicates a removal of those being shaken, as having been made that the things not shaken would remain.

In another context, in Hebrews 11:5, the word μετατίθημι is translated, speaking of Enoch. Here the Greek word is μετάθεσις (3331), which is closely related. For this word Liddell & Scott have only “transposition… [or] change of sides...” and Thayer “transfer… [or] change”. But here the word is opposed to remain at the end of the statement, and therefore removal is evident from the context, where the verbal equivalent, μετατίθημι, among other things is said by Liddell & Scott to mean “to get rid of” (μετατίθημι, II. 3. b.)

As we had mentioned the latter verses of Haggai chapter 2 in relation to the passage which Paul had quoted from Haggai here, now we shall cite them, and we shall repeat our discussion of them from our commentary on Haggai. First, we shall read from Haggai 2:20-23, and then we will repeat our commentary on those verses:

20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, 21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen [or nations]; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

In response to those verses, and this passage which Paul quotes, we said the following:

The Persians, the Parthians who followed them, the Greeks, and the Romans that came after them, were all constantly in a state of war. However here in these last passages of Haggai something seems to be referred to which overarches all of those empires. In Revelation chapter 11 we read: “15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

Because a sufficient number of the people of Judah returned and rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, a remnant was preserved by which was fulfilled the purpose of Yahweh that had been outlined by Daniel in the prophecy of the 70 Weeks Kingdom. As we read in the 114th Psalm, “Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.” So the commission of Zerubbabel paved the way for the 70 Weeks Kingdom and the reconciliation of Yahweh with Israel. Now we await His Second Coming, and the “destruction of the kingdoms of the nations”. We know that this interpretation is true, because even the apostle Paul cited this very passage in Hebrews chapter 12 where he said “25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”

This is how Paul of Tarsus interpreted the last passage in Haggai.

Now Paul speaks of the inheritance of a kingdom which shall not be shaken:

28 On which account taking possession of an unshaken kingdom, we would have favor, through which we would serve Yahweh acceptably with reverence and awe [the MT has “with modesty and reverence”; the text follows P46, א, A, C, D, and 048].

In Daniel chapter 2 we see a stone which destroys all of the beast empires before it, and Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon: “34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”

Then later, in an interpretation of the dream that he had, and which Daniel described, the prophet says in relation to those same beast empires: “44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

This is the mountain of God, and the Kingdom of God is among us, as Christ Himself had told the Pharisees. When the people of God finally choose to be obedient in Christ, then, as Paul had told the Corinthians: “3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”

And here he concludes:

29 For our God [D has “For the Prince our God”] is also a consuming fire.

Here Paul seems to be paraphrasing from Exodus chapter 24: “17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel”, or more likely from Deuteronomy chapter 4 where it says: “24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”

However since Paul seems to have cited from Deuteronomy chapter 9 earlier, in reference to the fear of Moses, it is likely that he is citing that same chapter here in reference to the nations which the children of Israel were commanded to destroy, where it says in part: “3 Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.”

So we anxiously await the day when all the heathens feeding themselves upon the mountain of God “shall be as though they had not been.” This is the fate of all the beasts who have endeavored to touch the mountain.

So we await the call which is prophesied in Micah chapter 4, “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion!”

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