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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 3, by Kevin M. Williams

As we read earlier, there were many different reasons why a person would go through the immersion. Not all of them had something to do with sin, repentance, or with ritual purification. At least one observance was reserved for ordination.

Exodus 40:12 reads, “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. You shall put the holy garments on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister as a priest to Me.”

This remained the practice of priestly ordination throughout the tabernacle and later temple periods. By Matthew’s day, the “washing” of Exodus 40:12 required a complete immersion. It was also an established custom that any priestly ordination had to be witnessed by priest. We do well to remember that John, son of Zechariah was a Levite, of the holy order of Abijah.

A priest assumed his role at the age of 30, the age ascribed to Jesus at the outset of His three-year ministry. To begin a priestly ministry—to be a servant God and to administer the service of atonement to the people—a priest had to be immersed at the hands of a Levite.

The Messiah’s immersion was not one of repentance, as some have assumed, but of ordination. For Yeshua, keeping the Torah perfectly was one of His missions in life, “to fulfill all righteousness.”

Matthew 3:6-17
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Again, the purpose of Matthew’s gospel is to proclaim to the Israelites that the Messiah was realized in this man, Yeshua. What a better confirmation than that of the Almighty?

The “voice out of heaven” is another literary devise of the Hebrew scholars, called the bat kol, it can be found in the Talmud and other rabbinic commentaries. It is a rare occurrence, and one that is meant to be heard not by a single prophet—as is often the case—but by an assembly, such as the one gathered at the Jordan river.

The Most High was leaving no room for conjecture with John and his disciples, among the Hebrew men and women gathered there, or among the Pharisees and Sadducees who may also have been present at this auspicious revelation. This was Israel’s Messiah!

___

We close this installment of our study in Matthew with the opening verses of chapter 4:1-11.

Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

The enemy of our souls is cunning, and is intimately familiar with the Word of God. The Author of lies quotes God’s truth to achieve his selfish purposes. Yet the Messiah’s only defense is that same Word—in all three of these instances.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2001, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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