Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets: Ezekiel: 3/18/18
We have arrived at the place in Ezekiel where we have been examining the symbology of Ezekiel’s chariot. This leads us to a hidden doctrine in Judaism within the corpus of work identified as Kabbalah. The general public has for the most part, understood Kabbalah. It has been linked to the occult and in some cases, there is a basis for that concern. It is not an easily understood discipline and because of this, it lends itself to misinterpretation and misuse. Many occult concepts might be traced to this discipline, but by and large, it is a discipline that involves mysticism. Mysticism is a spiritual discipline that aims at union with the divine through deep meditation or contemplation. Medication is another word that suffers from misinterpretation. It simply means to contemplate, to engage in contemplation. Contemplate means to consider thoughtfully. Now to the doctrine. It is best described as the “Doctrine of the Son.”
The doctrine lies at the core of esoteric Judaism. Esoteric is defined as understood or intended by a small group and not publicly disclosed; therefore, a secret doctrine. We can trace this doctrine to its origin even in the Books of Moshe. It is more prominent in Ezekiel. In the Books of Moshe, the secret doctrine of the son is most closely tied to the sacrificial system but has its roots in the archetypal form of Abraham. The renaming of Abraham and Sarah is symbolic of the transformation of personality that signals a spiritual rebirth establishing a covenant with YHVH Elohim. In Genesis 17:1-9 we see the association of this covenant with sacrifice:
“ And when Abraham was ninety years old and nine, the L-rd appeared to Abram, and said unto him, ‘I am the Almighty G-d, walk before me, and be though perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.’ And Abram fell on his face and G-d talked with him saying, ‘ As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a G-d unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their G-d’. And G-d said to Abraham, ‘Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in all their generations.’”
The covenant requires that Abraham be a tamin, a whole without a flaw or division, as he performs the divine will. The sacrifice is signified by the rite of circumcision, the token of the covenant. This B’rit Milah (circumcision) is normally performed on the eighth day of life considered as beyond the seven days of creation, thus symbolizing a new beginning or eternity. In this case, the sacrifice of the flesh of the foreskin is only symbolic of an inner consecration of the whole self to the divine service. In essence, the fruits of sexuality are devoted to the higher covenant. As we progress through scripture, we learn that the meaning of animal sacrifice is more clearly presented with respect to the miraculous son who is to be born to Sarah and Abraham, against all laws of nature. In this we also see a foreshadow of the divine act of YHVH Elohim Himself in His Son.
Isaac bound and presented as an animal sacrifice by divine order was not the simple proving of Abraham, and through his obedience, the transmission of blessing to all humanity: Gen.22:18 “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” It is also an instruction concerning the use of a substitute sacrifice. Gen. 22:13:13 “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by its horns: and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. The individual consecrated to divine service is not to be destroyed byt redeemed through the practice of sacrifice.
This association of the priestly rite of animal sacrifice one of the main foci of the books of the Mosaic “law”, with the secret doctrine of the son, the souls that have been spiritually reborn into holiness, is further developed in the Book of Exodus.
In Ex.4:22-23 we read “And thou shalt say unto the Pharaoh, ‘Thus saith the L-rd, Israel is my son, even my firstborn…23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me.” The religious meaning of the term “son” is first applied to collective Israel which will through service become (And ye shall be unto me) a kingdom of priests, and as a holy nation (Ex. 19:6). In the Palestinian Talmud, this special usage of the term “Son9s)” is recognized: “At the hour that they do not do the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, they are not called sons” (Kiddushin 61a). We again see a foreshadow of His only begotten Son in the nation of Israel which is identified not only the divine Son, but also His firstborn, one especially consecrated for divine service. In Exodus 13:2 we see the paradigm: 2 “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast; it is mine.” The important distinction between the sanctified firstborn of man and animals is that “All the firstborns thy sons thy shall redeem.” (Ex. 34;20). The human firstborns are not only to be technically redeemed from death through a substitute of the animal sacrifice, which was later reduced to a monetary contribution of five shekels to the Temple (Num. 18:15-16), but also through the spiritual efficacy of this practice was revealed through the consecration of those who are to be models for the whole nation, priests.
In Ex. 29:1, we learn of the most significant ting Moshe must do is to hallow Aaron and his sons. “To hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Ex.29:1). From the “ram of consecration” sacrifice, we see that first, some of its blood is to be put on the tip of their right earlobes, right thumbs, and right big toes (Ex.29:20). There are three psychic (things that are not explainable by natural physical laws) centers that can be identified with this ritual: the mind with the earlobes, the heart with the thumbs, and the instincts with the toes. Even more significant than their anointing was the blood and oil is the final use to be made with the ram:
31 And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe its flesh in the holy place.
32 And Aharon and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
The sacrificial ram becomes transformed by the divine holiness of which it partakes and the eating of this ritually transformed animal flesh becomes transformed by the holiness in which it partakes; and the eating of this ritually transformed animal transfers the same holiness to the participant through ingestion.
This understanding is conveyed at the conclusion of the divine instruction for the consecration of the tabernacle and the priesthood.
44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aharon and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.
45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and I will be their G-d.
46 And they shall know that I am the L-rd their G-d, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the L-rd their G-d. (Ex.29:44-6).
The key to this understanding is clearly transmitted in Hebrew, but the meaning is obscured in the translation. The word twice translated as “among” betoch, can be shown in any Hebrew-English dictionary to have the practical meaning of “within.” Also, by partaking of the Holy Sacrifices during the three pilgrimage festivals, the children of Israel become able to experience the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that is the daily experience of the officiating priests (Ex. 19:6). Through ritual ministration, it signified the miraculous transformation of flesh into spirit, that is the communicating of holiness into their own persons, which forms the basis of all later cosmological (dealing with the structure of the universe; the order of things) developments that can be associated with priestly knowledge. Again, this provides a foreshadow of the coming Ruach at Shavu’ot or Pentecost for all believers.
Also note that there are two main lines of theoretical development that have their source in the Mosaic Law; that of the prophets and that of the priests. In Western theological thought, Hebrew prophets are noted for their foretelling. But in Judaism, their main concern was the ethical behavior between men, individually and collectively. They showed little concern for the Temple sacrifices or understanding of their purpose. They preached ethical rather than spiritual. An example is found in Micah 6:6-8:
6 Wherewith shall I come before the L-rd, and bow myself before the high G-d? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the L-RD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He hath showed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the L-RD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d?
The priests in contrast to the prophets’ social ethics (horizontal), were developing their own unique and different understanding of human perfectibility, not of humility before YHVH, but of a salvific unification with the divine (vertical). Evidence of such can first be seen through prophet/priests who can be directly linked with priestly practice, Elijah and Ezekiel.
Of Elijah, we have historical accounts in 1 and 2 Kings where we see the high valuation given to the sacrificial cult and the understanding for its purpose. Elijah’s’ greatest earthly accomplishment was his drawing down of the divine fire to light his sacrifice, so to confound the 450 prophets of Baal. His great theophany is of the Elohim who is not in earth-shaking external events. Rather, within, in a ‘still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the L-RD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
… and his end in a direct translation to heaven in a fiery chariot.
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried ‘My Father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horseman thereof.’ And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.
Elijah’s translation to heaven is not only mystically perceived by Elisha who becomes Elijah’s spiritual son, but he also understands the vehicle of this translation, the Chariot to be the ideal community of Israel. In his translation, Elijah is seen as the model of that transformation of a spiritually perfected individual into salvation transcending human mortality into eternity.
The greatest prophet who was also a Zadokite priest is Ezekiel. It is Ezekiel who clearly brings together the concept of the “son” and the chariot. Ezekiel had a chariot vision after he is addressed by YHVH Elohim as “son of man” (Ezek. 2:1-2) and is filled with His spirit. This vision bestowed spiritual power upon him and caused him to recognize his sonship to the power in human form of that appearing on the chariot. The phrase “son of man” (Ben Adam), which is to have a remarkable future history in the later Apocalypses, appears 87 times in the Book of Ezekiel in reference to the prophet-priest himself. Shouldn’t we also notice that Yahshua is a prophet-priest? In spiritual Gematria the number (8) signifies “new beginnings, eternity” and the number (7) spiritual perfection.
The chariot has four levels; the Wheels, the Living Creatures, the Firmament, and the Throne. In Ezekiel 1:26 we read:
26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
The Glory or Kavod Ezekiel saw sitting on the Throne had the appearance of a man. In Isaiah 6:1 we read:
6:1 In the year that kink Uzziah died I saw also the L-rd sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (the word L-rd here is Adonai) Isaiah sees Adonai and not some likeness of a man.
This in contrast to Ezekiel should give us some understanding of Ezekiel’s vision.
The vision of Ezekiel portends the transfiguration of a man into his final state of spiritual perfection into and encompassing the final purpose of creation the supernal form of the Divine Son.
Now we enter into the area where without a solid foundation in Scripture and an understanding of who Yahshua is and His office some go off into occult perceptions.
More next lesson.
Rabbi Tamah Davis