Mashal #45. Servants be Watchful:
- Today is Day #45
- The Forty-fifth Mashal of Messiah
- The Need for Vigilance
- Four Watches in the Night
- Ten Facts about praying at Midnight
- The Four Temple Times that correspond to the Four Night Watches
- For these reasons Midnight is a special time to pray when the Master gives us…
- The immense honor of being a guardian of the Treasures of the House of Adonai
Today is Day #45:
1. Today is “Day #45” in the forty-nine day Countdown to Shavuot.
2. Today is forty-five days which are six weeks and three days of the Omer.
.היום חמישה וארבעים יום, שהם שישה שבועות ושלושה ימים בעומר
Haiyom chamishah v-arba’im yom shehaym shishah shavuot ushloshah yamim ba’omer.
“You shall count for yourselves — from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving — seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days.” (Leviticus). “You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu’ot for Adonai Eloheinu.” (Deuteronomy).
“Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.”
ברוך אתה, אדוני אלוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצוונו על ספירת העומר.פ
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
The Forty-fifth Mashal of Messiah:
אַךְ עֶת־בּוֹא הַיּוֹם הַהוּא וְהַשָּׁעָה הַהִיא אֵין אִישׁ יוֹדֵעַ גַּם־לֹא מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם גַּם־לֹא הַבֵּן מִבַּלְעֲדֵי הָאָב׃ רְאוּ שִׁקְדוּ וְהִתְפַּלֵּלוּ כִּי לֹא יְדַעְתֶּם מָתַי הָעֵת׃
“But the time of the coming of that day and that hour (of the Mashiach’s return to earth from heaven), no one knows—not even the angels of heaven or even the Son—except the Father. Look! Be alert and pray, for you do not know when the time will be.”
וְהָיָה כְּאִישׁ הוֹלֵךְ לַמֶּרְחָק אֲשֶׁר עָזַב אֶת־בֵּיתוֹ וַיִּתֵּן רָשׁוּת לַעֲבָדָיו וּלְאִישׁ אֶת־מְלַאכְתּוֹ וְאֶת־הַשׂוֹעֵר צִוָּה לִשְׁקֹד׃
“It will be like a man going far away who left his house and gave his servants authority over his work, and he commanded the Gatekeeper (הַשּׁוֹעֵר) to be alert.”
לָכֵן שִׁקְדוּ כִּי לֹא יְדַעְתֶּם מָתַי יָבוֹא בַּעַל הַבָּיִת אִם־בָּעֶרֶב אוֹ־בַחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה אִם־בְּעֵת קְרִיאַת הַתַּרְנְגוֹל אוֹ בַבֹּקֶר׃ פֶּן־יָבוֹא פִתְאֹם וּמָצָא אֶתְכֶם יְשֵׁנִים׃ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתִּי לָכֶם הִנְנִי אֹמֵר לַכֹּל שְׁקֹדוּ׃
Thus, be alert (שְׁקֹדוּ-Qal Imperative, to watch, be awake, be alert); be attentive like the guard standing duty (לָכֵן עִמְדוּ עַל הַמִּשְׁמָ)—for you do not know when the owner of the house will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, whether at the time the rooster crows or in the morning—so that he does not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I have said to you, I say to everyone (לַכֹּל): Be alert!” (שְׁקֹדוּ)
The need for Vigilance:
“It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his servants in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the Gatekeeper-Doorkeeper (הַשּׁוֹעֵר) to stay on the alert.”
Before going away on a journey the Master put his servants in charge of carrying on the work of his house and of being good stewards of His possessions within it. He gave each one of his servants his own set of tasks and ordered his Gatekeeper who controlled all access to the house, to keep watch. So when the Messiah ascended into heaven, upon leaving the House of Adonai here on earth (the permanent Temple of Adonai is the lives of His children here on earth and in heaven), He gave to His servants (the shlichim, sent ones) the authority to govern His people (Israel) according to the treasures of His Household.
The treasures of the House of Adonai are His teachings, laws, rules, and directions. For while the Master was away, it was the business of His Jewish talmidin to be good stewards of the treasures of His Word and to shepherd the souls of His people, the people of Israel (and of the Commonwealth of Israel; i.e. His Gentile converts, followers). The Messiah applied this mashal to His disciples without distinguishing between the Gatekeeper (the guard standing duty) and the other servants. The fact is all of the servants were responsible to keep watch, not just the Gatekeeper. All of the servants were to be alert to the spiritual dangers and opportunities because no one knows when the Master of the House (Ha-Mashiach) will return.
The Master can return at any time. So all of the servants should constantly be vigilant in doing their priestly duties; otherwise when He “suddenly” comes, He might find us sleeping. Such vigilance is the responsibility of every messianic believer in every generation (Jew and Gentile) during this present age. However, the Messiah’s call for vigilance applies in a very special way to today’s generation of Yehudim. For I believe this generation of Yehudim will be alive at the second coming of Messiah; when our Deliverer (HaPalat) will bring to a swift end the ‘times of the times of the gentiles (עִתּוֹת הַגּוֹיִם); and bring about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).
Four Watches in the Night:
Therefore, we should be watching and working in light of the certainty of the Messiah’s return; even though the exact year of His return is unknown to us. “Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”
The reference to the four watches corresponds to the Roman system of reckoning time.
Watch #1. The evening watch was 6-9 PM;
Watch #2. The midnight watch was 9 PM till midnight;
Watch #3. The third watch was midnight till 3 AM; it ended when the rooster crowed.
Watch #4. The fourth watch was completed at dawn; therefore, it lasted from 3-6 AM.
The four watch system differs from the Hebrew system of dividing the night into three watches. So why does the Messiah use the Roman four watch system, instead of the Hebrew three watch system? We believe the reason the Messiah references these four times is because it coincided with the worship activities of the Beit HaMikdash (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ-Temple) in Jerusalem:
The Roman four watch system corresponds to the four watches of the Beit HaMikdash.
Watch #1. The evening watch was 6-9 PM. This time speaks of the time of the first watch in the Beit HaMikdash, the House of Adonai.
Watch #2. The midnight watch was 9 PM till midnight. This speaks of the time of the second watch in the Beit HaMikdash.
Watch #3. The third watch (midnight til 3 AM) completes at the crow of the rooster. This is the third watch of the Beit HaMikdash.
Watch #4. The fourth watch completes at dawn; it lasted from 3-6 AM. This speaks of the fourth watch in the Beit HaMikdash.
The Four Temple Times that correspond to the Four Night Watches:
What do these four Temple times have in common?
Every day the priests removed the ashes from the altar at around the time of the third watch when the “rooster crowed.” However, on the feast days the ashes were removed in “the evening” at the time of the first watch. However, most interesting to me is the Messiah’s reference to the very beginning of the second watch time, the time of Midnight. Only one time a year are the ashes of the altar removed at *Midnight and that is on the festival day of Yom Kippur.
*Midnight on Yom Kippur, therefore, is most likely the exact time the Messiah will return. So on some unknown future observance of Yom Kippur (Jerusalem time) the Messiah will return at midnight.
In the Tracate Tamid, chapter one, Mishnah Two we learn that the Superintendent of the Temple (the High Priest) could return to the Temple at any time each day to resume his duties of appointing each priest to his work. So the priests on duty were expected to be ready at any time during the night for the High Priest to return to the Temple. About this we read:
מִי שֶׁהוּא רוֹצֶה לִתְרוֹם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, מַשְׁכִּים וְטוֹבֵל עַד שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא הַמְּמֻּנֶּה. וְכִי בְאֵיזוֹ שָׁעָה הַמְּמֻנֶּה בָא, לֹא כָל הָעִתִּים שָׁווֹת, פְּעָמִים שֶׁהוּא בָא מִקְרִיאַת הַגֶּבֶר, אוֹ סָמוּךְ לוֹ מִלְּפָנָיו אוֹ מִלְּאַחֲרָיו. הַמְּמֻנֶּה בָא וְדוֹפֵק עֲלֵיהֶם, וְהֵם פָּתְחוּ לוֹ. אָמַר לָהֶן, מִי שֶׁטָּבַל יָבוֹא וְיָפִיס. הֵפִיסוּ, זָכָה מִי שֶׁזָּכָה׃
“Anyone who wanted to clear the ashes from the altar would rise early and bathe [in the Mikveh] before the superintendent would arrive. At what time would the superintendent arrive? There was no fixed hour: [the exact time was unknown] sometimes he would come at cock-crow, sometimes a little before, sometimes a little after.” The priests kept watch in the Temple in Jerusalem in three places: in the Avtinas Room, in the Flame Room and in the Hearth Room. [Three places:]
Places #1 & #2. The Avtinas Room and the Flame Room were in the upper story and the youngest priests were on watch there.
Place #3. The Hearth Room had a vaulted ceiling and a stone pavement that jutted out from the wall. It was here that the elder priests of the day would sleep, with the keys to the Courtyard of the Priests in their hand. Each priest (young and elder) slept with his own mattress-bed on the ground. They did not sleep in their sacred vestments but would strip them off, fold them up and place them under their heads, and dress in their own clothes.
The priests were quite concerned at all times about maintaining their ritual purity, so in addition to their vigilance to be prepared for the unknown time of the arrival of the Master of the House (the High Priest), they also were very careful about their physical hygiene—washing and bathing themselves (in the Mikveh)—so that they might be prepared to begin their service at a moment’s notice, immediately when the High Priest arrived.
Ten facts about praying at Midnight:
Second, Samson was victorious in carrying away the gates of Gaza upon his shoulders at Midnight. The gates are a symbol of governance. Therefore, Samson took possession of the governance of Gaza at Midnight (Judges 16:3).
Fifth, Midnight is depicted by Messiah as a time when only the truly vigilant person is prepared. It was at Midnight that the vigilant ones were prepared (in one of Messiah’s meshalim) to hear and quickly respond to the shout, “the Bridegroom is coming!”
Sixth, at Midnight on Nisan 15 all the firstborn males were killed of all those who did not put the sacred Hebrew Sign of the *Blood Tav of the Lamb upon the door-frames of their houses (cf. also Ezekiel 9:4-6 and Messiah in Yom Kippur, Chapter 18).
*The Hebrew Sign of the Blood Tav is seen in the manner that Moses commanded the blood of the Korban Pesach be placed on the door mantels and the lintels of each household during Passover. It is a most sacred and holy Hebrew symbol that for over two millennia has been horribly and wickedly misused by both Gentiles and Jews. It is a blasphemy of the highest order that Gentiles have crucified Jews on this Sacred Hebrew Symbol.
The Tav written in blood put an “end” to Death. It caused the Angel of Death at Midnight to “pass over” (pasach) and spare the lives of all those who were dwelling in a ‘protected’ house. This Strong Sign like the Hebrew direct object marker—the Alef-Tav—made it clear to the Angel of Death that the inhabitants of the Hebrew homes were the treasured “property” (i.e, “children”) of the Holy One and that as such they came under the personal protection of the Adonai of Hosts (Adonai Tseva’ot). Thereafter, Pharaoh and nearly all of Egypt arose in the middle of the night, lamented the loss of their unprotected children, and begged the Israelites to leave Egypt. Then did the great Exodus from Egypt finally begin.
Seventh, it was at Midnight that two of Messiah’s persecuted Jewish disciples, while singing and giving thanks to Adonai, were miraculously released from jail by an angel. About “Midnight Paul (Shaul Ben Benyamin) and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to Adonai, and the (other) prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Eighth, in this mashal of ‘Servants be Watchful’ we are told to be alert so that when the Master of the House comes suddenly that he does not find us sleeping. Strangely enough there is a passage in the Brit Chadashah that speaks of a young man perched in a window sill three floors up who was listening to the teaching of Paul (Shaul Ben Benyamin) and who—when overcome by sleep at Midnight—fell down and died.
Fortunately, the Yehudi Paul brought the young gentile man back to life and he was instantly restored to health. Based on the contextual prophetic use of the scriptural term ‘Midnight’ the falling down narrative of the young gentile man named “Fortunate” (Eutychus) may indicate that when the Messiah returns the Gentiles may be asleep and falling away spiritually.
Furthermore, the narrative of Paul’s healing embrace of Eutychus may indicate that by the power of the Spirit in the future it may be our privilege as messianic Jews to bring revival of life (restoration) to these ‘fallen away’ messianic Gentiles.
Ninth, we learned in our previous study of the “four hours” that are referenced in the besorah of Yochanan that the times of the gentiles start at Midnight and end at Midnight (cf. Messiah in Rosh HaShanah & Yom Teruah Chapter 31 and Messiah in Yom HaBikkurim Chapter 73).
Tenth, the mashal of the “Friend at Midnight” identifies Midnight as a special time when the three loaves of the Passover Seder are needed. In accord with the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim the faithful friend is persistent in obtaining the required three loaves of bread for a traveling Jewish brother who apparently had missed participating in the Seder earlier in the evening. Why else would a Jew be desperate for food at Midnight? The Messiah opens up the mashal when He says:
“Suppose one of you had a friend who would come to him at Midnight and say to him, ‘My dear friend, loan me three loaves of bread, because my friend has come to me from the road and I do not have enough to offer him.”
Therefore we maintain the vigil of the Passover Seder until Midnight each year that we might remember, celebrate, and honor the sacrifice of Messiah who is our Korban Pesach. The Mashiach is Israel’s righteous means for receiving the forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, the gift of the Father; the gift of the Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.
For these reasons Midnight is a special time to pray when the Master gives us…
At Midnight: We receive power to be liberated from the bondage of the evil world system.
At Midnight: We receive strength to overcome the governance (gates) of our enemies.
At Midnight: We receive access to the protection and loving-kindness afforded to us through Mashiach our Kinsman Redeemer (HaGo’el).
At Midnight: We exercise a spirit of gratitude that we might offer up the offering of praise and thanks to Adonai.
At Midnight: We remember that Messiah will return to Israel to establish the Kingdom of Adonai here on earth.
At Midnight: We pray that at the time of our Master’s return we will be found faithful in carrying out His will.
At Midnight: We are ready to obey the mitzvah of hachnasant orchim.
At Midnight: We are “Bringing in the Guests” to participate in our Passover Seder and eat of the Bread of Heaven (His three loaves).
The immense honor of being a guardian of the Treasures of the House of Adonai:
As to the reference to the Gatekeeper-Doorkeepe: this is a reference to the Temple Guard of the Beit HaMikdash. This guard was a guard of honor. He was not armed. The area under guard was only the Courtyard of the Priests. There was a similar guard of honor manned by the levites for the rest of the complex.
What are we guarding?
Everything in the Temple is a holy possession of Adonai. It isn’t so much the things themselves that are invaluable. It is what these places and items represent that is so holy. We must always be careful to stand as honor guards watching over and protecting the treasures of Adonai that are the sacred meanings and applications of the riches of the Spirit and His Word. We watch and protect these treasures (חֲדָשׁוֹת וְגַם יְשָׁנוֹת-new and also old) even while we are busy serving as priests all through the night. The night symbolizes our time of service while the Master of the House is away in heaven. So people get ready because the Master of the House will be returning to Jerusalem soon!