Mashal #45. Servants be Watchful:
- Today is Day #45
- The Forty-fifth Mashal of Messiah
- The Need for Vigilance
- Four Watches in the Night
- Praying at Midnight – 10 Facts
- 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 in the Omer.
Today is forty-five days which are six weeks and three days in the Omer.
היום חמישה וארבעים יום, שהם שישה שבועות ושלושה ימים בעומר. פ
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 sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.”
ברוך אתה, אדוני אלוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וציוונו 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׃
אבל את היום ההוא או השעה אין איש יודע, גם לא המלאכים בשמים וגם לא הבן, אלא האב. הזהרו, היו ערים, כי אינכם יודעים מתי העת. פ
[Markos 13:32] “But the time of the coming of that *day and that hour, no one knows—not even the angels of heaven or even the Son—except the Father. Be careful! Be alert and pray, for you do not know when the time is.”
*The exact day and hour of the return of the Shekinah and Messiah to Israel is what is prophetically in view here.
וְהָיָה כְּאִישׁ הוֹלֵךְ לַמֶּרְחָק אֲשֶׁר עָזַב אֶת־בֵּיתוֹ וַיִּתֵּן רָשׁוּת לַעֲבָדָיו וּלְאִישׁ אֶת־מְלַאכְתּוֹ וְאֶת־הַשׂוֹעֵר צִוָּה לִשְׁקֹד׃
דומה הדבר לאיש היוצא למסע. כשעזב את ביתו נתן סמכות לעבדיו, לכל אחד את מלאכתו, ועל השוער צוה לעמד על המשמר. פ
[Markos 13:34] “It will be like a *man going far away on a journey. When he left his house, he gave his servants authority, each one his work, and he commanded the Watchman at the Gate (הַשּׁוֹעֵר-Gatekeeper) to be alert and stand guard.”
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׃
לכן עמדו על המשמר, כי אינכם יודעים מתי יבוא בעל הבית, אם בערב או בחצות הלילה, אם בעת קריאת התרנגול או בבקר, פן יבוא פתאום וימצא אתכם ישנים. את אשר אני אומר לכם אומר אני לכל: עמדו על המשמר! פ
[Markos 13:35] Thus, be alert (שְׁקֹדוּ-Qal Imperative, to watch, be awake, be alert); be attentive (vigilant) like the guard standing duty—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—[be ready] so that he does not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I have said to you, I say to everyone: Be on your guard! (alert and vigilant!)
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 Guard-Gatekeeper-Doorkeeper (הַשּׁוֹעֵר) to stay on the alert.”
Before going away on a journey the Master put his [Ten: cf. context of the last mashal and next mashal] Jewish 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 Guard (Gatekeeper) who controlled all access to the house, to keep watch. So when the Messiah ascended into heaven he gave to his Jewish servants the authority to govern his people (Israel) and he entrusted to their care the *treasures (old and new) that God had entrusted to him
The treasures of the House of God are His teachings, laws, rules, and directions—the D’var HaShem.
For while the Master was away, it was the business of the Jewish servants to be good stewards of the treasures of God’s Word and to shepherd the souls of God’s people (Am Israel). The Messiah applied this mashal to his Jewish disciples without distinguishing between the Gatekeeper (the guard standing duty) and the other servants.
The fact is all of the Jewish servants were responsible to keep watch, not just the Gatekeeper.
All of the Jewish servants (כל בני ישראל) were commanded to be alert to the spiritual dangers and opportunities that would exist while the Messiah was away in heaven because we do not know when our Master of the House (Ha-Mashiach) will return from his (long) journey to a far country (i.e. heaven).
Our Master of the Household of Israel can return from his long journey at any time.
So all of the Jewish servants (את כל בית ישראל) should constantly be vigilant in doing their priestly duties; otherwise when he (God’s Messiah) “suddenly” comes, he might find us sleeping. Such vigilance is the responsibility of every Jewish person in every generation during this present age. However, this call of God for national vigilance—voiced through His Messiah—especially applies to today’s *generation of Jews who live in the 21st century time of modern Israel.
*For we believe today’s generation of Israel will be alive at the second coming (return) of Messiah; when he – our Deliverer (HaPalat)- will bring to a swift end the present ‘times of the gentiles (עִתּוֹת הַגּוֹיִם); and finally bring about the (full) restoration of the kingdom of God—-to Israel (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).
Four Watches in the Night:
Therefore, we Jews (all of us) 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!’”
So we now ask what is the meaning of these four watches. For one thing we know:
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.
However, this mashal is a Jewish mashal; not a Roman parable. The four watch system of the Romans differs from our Jewish system of dividing the night into three watches. So why does our Jewish Messiah use a four watch system; instead of our Jewish three watch system?
We believe the reason the Messiah references these four times and watches is because these are the same times and watches that were used by the priests in the worship activities of the Beit HaMikdash (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ-HaShem’s House-Temple) in Jerusalem. Therefore this means:
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 (the LORD).
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?
[Follow the rabbinic hints] (1) Every day the priests removed the ashes from the altar at around the time of the third watch when the “rooster crowed.” (2) However, on the feast days the ashes were removed in “the evening” at the time of the first watch. (3) Therefore, most interesting to us is Rabbeinu Yeshua’s reference to the very beginning of the second watch time, the time of “Midnight.” For this specific time leads us to the insight that only one time a year are the ashes of the altar removed at Midnight:
The only time the ashes of the altar are removed at *midnight is on the festival day of Yom Kippur!
*Midnight on Yom Kippur, therefore, is the most likey time the Messiah will return to Israel. So (most likely) 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 concerned, therefore, 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), these priests were 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.
Praying at Midnight 10 Facts:
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 Jewish 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 most sacred Jewish symbol (Hebrew pictograph).
The Sign of the Tav written on our “doorposts” 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—this sign made it clear to the Angel of Death that the inhabitants of the Jewish homes were the treasured property (i.e, children) of the Holy One and that as such we/they are 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 our Jewish ancestors to leave Egypt.
This was the exact time of the beginning of our great Exodus from Egypt!
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. At “Midnight Paul (Shaul ben Benyamin) and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to HaShem, 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…And they were brought out!
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 today’s mashal 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 Shaul (Paul) ben Benyamin brought the young gentile man back to life and he was instantly restored to health.
[This means] Based on the contextual prophetic use of the scriptural term Midnight the falling down narrative of the young gentile man named “Fortunate” (Greek language: Eutychus) indicates to us that when our Master Yeshua returns to Israel the gentiles will likely be asleep and falling away spiritually.
[In addition] Furthermore [שימו לב לכך במידה רבה אם אתם יהודים!], this narrative of Shaul’s (Paul’s) healing embrace of the falling down one, Eutychus, may indicate that by the power of the Spirit in the future it may be our privilege as believing Jews to bring revival of life (restoration) to these ‘fallen away’ 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 (הכנסת אורחים) 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.
*He is Coming! The Afikomen ritual is part of the Passover service; the Greek word aphikomenos is a participle that means—-“He is coming!” .
We Jews do this 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 (הכנסת אורחים) .
At Midnight: We are (like our father Abraham) “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 our Father and our God. 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 Abba Avinu that are the sacred meanings and applications of the riches of His Spirit and His Word.
We watch and protect (guard) 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 of Israel get ready because the Master of the House will be returning to Jerusalem soon!
!אז אנשים של ישראל להתכונן כי אדון הבית יחזור לירושלים בקרוב
*”You [Israel] shall be to Me a kingdom of priests (ממלכת כוהנים) and a holy nation (גוי קדוש).”