If you are new to batei knesset (synagogues, plural), you may want to know what a Nazarene Israel synagogue looks like, and why. And if you are already familiar with synagogues, you may want to know why Nazarene Israel synagogue are different than rabbinic synagogues. The easiest way to explain is to review the history of worship in Israel. This will give you the knowledge you need to understand what Scripture commands.
As we saw in Torah Government, originally, a patriarch led his house in worship. For example, Qayin and Hevel (Cain and Abel) offered sacrifices to Yahweh directly. Noach (Noah) built an altar to Yahweh, and sacrificed on it.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 8:20
20 Then Noach built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
However, in Avraham’s day there was a separated priesthood led by Melchizedek. Therefore, although Avraham did sometimes sacrifice to Yahweh directly, he tithed to Yahweh through Melchizedek’s priesthood.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 14:18-20
18 Then Melchizedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of Elohim Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Avram of Elohim Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be Elohim Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
Avraham’s grandson Yaakov (Israel) also tithed, and since Israelites are so traditional, He probably also tithed to Yahweh through Melchizedek (or through his priestly order).
B’reisheet (Genesis) 28:22
22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Elohim’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
In Torah Government we explain that Avraham and Yitzhak (Isaac) could rule over their houses without an official government because a single father still united them all. After Israel had twelve sons, and Israel grew and multiplied, a single grandfather could no longer unite them all. Because of this, Yahweh allowed them to go down into Egypt for 430 years, where Paro (Pharaoh) united them externally. Although Israel was oppressed in Egypt, this time in bondage bonded them together, and forged a national Israelite identity.
When Israel was in the wilderness of Sinai, they could not access to the Melchizedekian order. Because of this, they needed their own internal priesthood. Therefore Yahweh took the firstborn for a priesthood.
Shemote (Exodus) 13:2
2 “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”
The firstborn priesthood had not served long when the people asked Aharon (Aaron) to make them an idol to worship. For whatever reason, Aharon forgot whom he served, and obeyed the voice of the people.
Shemote (Exodus) 32:1
1 Now when the people saw that Moshe delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aharon, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Yahweh then replaced the firstborn priesthood with the sons of Levi, because the Levites had sided with Him in the incident, even opposing their own sons and brothers.
Shemote (Exodus) 32:29
29 Then Moshe said, “Consecrate yourselves today to Yahweh, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.”
Any minister must always remember that the desires of the flesh are at war with the Spirit, and therefore he must remember to please Elohim rather than man (even when men are seeking to persuade us otherwise).
Galatim (Galatians) 1:10
10 For do I now persuade men, or Elohim? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Messiah.
This calls for much wisdom. Just as some children try to train their parents (to get what they want), and just as some wives try to train their husbands (to get what they want), some in your congregation will try to train you (to get what they want). That is, just as the people asked Aharon to make them false idols to worship, many in your assembly will ask you to lower the standards Yahweh sets, effectively making them an idol. If you do not do this, they will try to punish you by disapproval, or by withholding the tithe. And if you do not change for them, they will “go shopping” for another minister, who will tell them whatever they want to hear.
TimaTheus Bet (2 Timothy) 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
These kinds of believers were the majority in the wilderness of Sinai, and they are still the majority in Renewed Covenant times. Of course, they do not think they are, because they have at least a small measure of Yeshua’s Spirit. However, they do not let Yeshua take them over. Therefore they are still self-willed—and if you change the worship for them, Yahweh will be angry with you, because it is your job to oppose the people when they ask you to change the worship for them.
Many book salesmen relax the standards to please the people, and thereby sell more books. They do this because their true priorities are on earthly riches, and worldly glory. It will not end well for them.
Philipim (Philippians) 3:17-19
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross [or stake] of Messiah:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things.
As sad as it is, the best you can do for the majority (and the book salesmen who cater to them) is to pray with them, and then let them go. If they do not truly want to be disciples of Yeshua (or if they are not willing to pay the cost), then it is best to lovingly refer them to some other assembly. Only, you must remember whom you serve, that it might go well with you and those you serve, both now and in the Day of Judgment.
Yaakov (James) 3:1
3 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
The Tabernacle of David
We did a special four-part series on the Tabernacle of David in Nazarene Scripture Studies Volume 4. There we saw that the Tabernacle of David was a special tent King David set up to house the Ark of the Covenant before the construction of the temple. We also saw how Shemuel’s (Samuel’s) father was a Levite who was assigned to Ephraim’s territory. Yet although Elkanah was a Levite, Scripture calls Elkanah an Ephraimite. This is a remez (hint) that Elkanah’s son Shemuel would play a special role in recovering the lost Ephraimites.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 1:1
1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
What Shemuel did was to receive a Melchizedekian anointing, and to impart it to Yeshua’s ancestor David.
Shemuel Aleph (1 Samuel) 16:12-13
12 So he sent and brought him in. Now [David] was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And Yahweh said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”
13 Then Shemuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of Yahweh came upon David from that day forward. So Shemuel arose and went to Ramah.
Because David was not a Levite, he could never have served in a Levitical temple. Yet because he received a Melchizedekian anointing from Shemuel he was able to offer sacrifices and offerings as a Melchizedekian priest, even to the point of wearing a linen ephod (verse 14).
Shemuel Bet (2 Samuel) 6:13-18
13 And so it was, when those bearing the ark of Yahweh had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep.
14 Then David danced before Yahweh with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Yahweh with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 Now as the ark of Yahweh came into the City of David, Michal, Shaul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before Yahweh; and she despised him in her heart.
17 So they brought the ark of Yahweh, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh.
18 And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Yahweh of hosts.
If we are willing to receive them, the Tabernacle of David gives us numerous prophetic shadow pictures of things to come. For one thing, the Levitical tabernacle had been defiled when the ark of Yahweh had been captured by the Philistines (1 Shemuel 4:11). Because of this, the ark had to dwell in a new transitional tabernacle, until the house of Elohim (the temple) could be built. This is just as Yeshua’s Spirit could no longer dwell among the house of Judah, as they had become defiled by rejecting Yeshua. Because of this, Yeshua’s Spirit had to dwell in the house of Israel (or Ephraim) until Yahweh’s house (i.e., Ezekiel’s temple) is rebuilt after Armageddon and the Ingathering.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:20-21
20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to Yahweh out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My set-apart mountain Jerusalem,” says Yahweh, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh.
21 And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says Yahweh.
A New Style of Worship
For another thing, the worship in the Tent of David differed from the worship of the Levitical Tabernacle in that the ark was not hidden from the people. Rather, the Ark was set in the midst of the Tent of David, and the people were free to come worship before it (2 Samuel 6:17, above). This is much like how the Ephraimites would be free to come into the presence of Yahweh in their assemblies in the dispersion. There was also much more freedom in the style of worship.
In the Tabernacle of David, the people were encouraged to worship Elohim by blessing and praising Him (Psalm 34:1), by clapping hands and shouting (Psalm 47:1), by offering sacrifices of joy and singing praises (Psalm 27:6), by blessing Elohim, and lifting up hands in worship (Psalm 63:4), by playing instruments and singing new songs to Him (Psalm 33:2-3), by standing at night in the house of Yahweh (Psalm 134:1), by worshiping, bowing down, and kneeling (Psalm 95:6), and also by dancing (Psalm 149:3).
Ministry to the Gentiles
For a third thing, many of the psalms were written for the Tabernacle of David, and some of these speak of taking the worship of Yahweh to the gentile Ephraimites. Some of these psalms also speak of teaching the Ephraimites to praise and laud Yahweh. Thus, the Tent of David had an evangelical aspect.
Tehillim (Psalms) 18:49
49 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Yahweh, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.
Tehillim (Psalms) 47:8-9
8 Elohim reigns over the nations; Elohim sits on His set-apart throne.
9 The princes of the people have gathered together, The people of the Elohim of Avraham. For the shields of the earth belong to Elohim; He is greatly exalted.
Tehillim (Psalms) 117:1
1 Praise Yahweh, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!
Not surprisingly, this is also exactly what Amos 9:11 says, if we recognize one scribal error.
11 “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom [Adam], And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says Yahweh who does this thing.
|(11) בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אָקִים אֶת סֻכַּת דָּוִיד הַנֹּפֶלֶת | וְגָדַרְתִּי אֶת פִּרְצֵיהֶן וַהֲרִסֹתָיו אָקִים וּבְנִיתִיהָ כִּימֵי עוֹלָם:
(12) לְמַעַן יִירְשׁוּ אֶת שְׁאֵרִית אֱדוֹם וְכָל הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר נִקְרָא שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם | נְאֻם יְהוָה עֹשֶׂה זֹּאת
There are several things here. The Masoretic Text has verse 12 telling us that the purpose of restoring the Sukkah of David was so that Israel might possess the remnant of Edom. However, this is almost certainly a scribal error. Consider that Edom and Adam are spelled almost identically in Hebrew, except for the vowel points. Edom is אֱדוֹם, while Adam is אָדָם. However, if we remember that the written vowel points were added by the Masoretes (Karaite scribes) in the middle ages, then we should take those written vowel points away (as they limit the scope of interpretations). When we do this, we see that Edom is אדום, and Adam is אדם. The only difference is a Vav (ו), which is also sometimes thought to be a vowel, and could have been added when the rest of the vowels were being added (to modify the meaning of the passage). It also makes sense that the Masoretes would have altered the text to make it disagree with Acts 15:19, in which the Apostle Yaakov (James) quotes Amos as saying that the purpose of restoring the Tent of David was to reach the rest of mankind (Adam).
Ma’asei (Acts) 15:15-17
15 “And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind [i.e., Adam] may seek Yahweh, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says Yahweh who does all these things.’”
[While the Masoretic Text is generally reliable, there are some places where the text has been changed, to make it seem as if Yeshua is not the Messiah. For details, you can research the Emendations of the Sopherim. One set of emendations has 18 changes, while a second set has 134. These emendations can help to explain why there are some places where the Masoretic Text (which dates from the middle ages) differs from the Renewed Covenant, which quoted the Hebrew text at it existed in the first century). We might also consider Jeremiah 8:8.]
The Five Requirements of Acts 15
In Acts 15, the Apostle Yaakov (James) tells us that their mission was to restore the Tabernacle of David, so that the rest of mankind (Adam) could seek Yahweh, even all the gentile Ephraimites who were called by Yahweh’s name. In other words, their job was to seek out the lost Ephraimites, and call them back into relationship with Yahweh through His Son Yeshua. However, then they were to direct them into the synagogues. The implication is that the synagogues were the renewed Tabernacle of David (verse 21).
Ma’asei (Acts) 15:15-21
15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek Yahweh, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says Yahweh who does all these things.’
18 “Known to Elohim from eternity are all His works.
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are (re)turning to Elohim,
20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moshe has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, Torah Government, and Acts 15 Order, what was really being decided in Acts 15 was whether the returning Gentile Ephraimites had to follow the rabbinic gentile return procedure, or not. This rabbinic gentile return procedure is called the “custom” of Moshe in Acts 15:1 (which is distinct from the Torah of Moshe). The rabbinical Pharisees Who Believed (i.e., believing Orthodox Jews) said that they had to obey this man-made custom. However, after an intense dispute, the apostles determined that no, rabbinic custom had no place in the Melchizedekian order. Rather, returning gentile Ephraimites who already had Yeshua’s Spirit should abstain from four things the Torah commands the death penalty for (idolatry, sexual immorality, strangled [or unclean] meats, and blood). Then they could enter the synagogues, and hear the Torah of Moshe being preached. That way they would come into compliance with the Torah over time, under the leadership of the elders. (For more details, see “Acts 15 and Rabbinic Authority”, in Nazarene Israel.)
Your job as a synagogue or home fellowship leader is to make sure that Elohim’s people are correctly instructed in His Torah, so that they may be presented perfect in Messiah Yeshua in the Day of Judgment.
Qolossim (Colossians) 1:28
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Messiah Yeshua.
Before anyone enters a Nazarene Israel synagogue, he should first agree to abstain from all idolatry, all sexual immorality, from strangled (or unclean) meats, and from blood. (We use the Torah’s definitions for these things.)
Some elders prefer to meet with visitors before they enter the synagogue service (and we advise this when possible). This keeps the sanctuary environment pure. However, other ministers (who have an outreach style) prefer to have an “open door” policy, so that visitors can visit any time. This can also work, but screening must be done soon after the first visit. (However, we recommend the former, to maintain the sanctuary atmosphere.)
The fifth requirement is implied, and that is submission to the synagogue leadership. As we explain in Acts 15 Order, synagogues are to be ruled (or judged) by a board of elders, which are appointed (or recognized) by the apostolic priesthood. This kind of servant leadership structure is commanded by verses such as Titus 1:5. (For details, see Acts 15 Order.)
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you —
Synagogue leaders do not necessarily need to know all mysteries and prophecy, but they need to provide a well-respected example where they live. While we give more details in Acts 15 Order, but they should be the kind of people that the community automatically looks to, and wants to emulate. It is a very high standard.
The reality of eldership is that your reputation and your walk must be such that people listen because they know that you speak only according to Scripture, and that your goal is to help them to glorify Elohim with you.
Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 4:11
11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of Elohim. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which Elohim supplies, that in all things Elohim may be glorified through Yeshua Messiah, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amein.
The people must know that you and your fellow elders and families are driven by your desire to lead Yeshua’s people in the correct pathway. Further, you must lead them by example, as Yeshua also did.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:1
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah.
If the people know that you are not asking them to do anything that you yourself are not either already doing, or are willing to do, then a significant minority of them will be willing to pay the cost of discipleship, and they will want to enter into a discipleship relationship with you. And then it becomes your job to serve them as Yeshua would serve them if He were here.
The Implied Fifth Requirement
In the next chapter we will talk about the synagogue service. On the one hand, every synagogue service is different, and unique. And then on the other hand, every synagogue service shares certain things in common. We will talk about both what can change, and what must be the same, and one of the things that must be the same is the implied fifth requirement of Acts 15, which is to raise up disciples in all nations, and teach them to do all things that Yeshua commanded.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in My name,
20 teaching them to observe [i.e., do] all things that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amein.
[Note: For why we immerse in Yeshua’s name only, see, “Immersion in Yeshua’s Name Only”, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 3.]
The goal of the things Yeshua commanded is to build Him a unified global kingdom in His absence. That is because, as we show in Torah Government, Acts 15 Order, and many other places, after Armageddon and the Ingathering, Yeshua’s earthly kingdom will be ruled over by the nasi (prince) of Ezekiel 44-46. He will serve as the earthly leader of Yeshua’s body (Yeshua being the heavenly leader).
Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 45:22
22 And on that day the prince [nasi] shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.
We give more details in Revelation and the End Times, but we know that this nasi (prince) cannot be Yeshua, because Yeshua was sinless (and does not need to offer a sin offering for Himself). We also know this because the nasi will have earthly sons.
Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 46:16
16 “Thus says Yahweh Elohim: ‘If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance.’”
While the separated priesthood will be busy coordinating the kingdom on the global scale, you will be busy raising up disciples in your area, and helping them to form a true spiritual family. If you are doing your job correctly, you will be extremely busy serving the disciples under your care, and you will not have time to waste with people who do not want to help you build Yeshua’s kingdom. Yet for those blessed few who do want to help you build Yeshua’s kingdom, your job will be to lead and serve them as Yeshua Himself would do, if He were in your skin.
In the next chapter we will talk about what that that kind of service looked like historically at the synagogue level.