In Hebrew culture every boy, from childhood, was trained to be a Rabbi – a long the way they were culled, kind of like we see with rugby teams, or football teams in Australia.
Those who didn’t measure up were sent to work in the family business, at each different level.
With our football only the best of the best get to play at a national level. Well its sort of like that for the Hebrew boys, they all longed to go to the next level. You were someone special if you went to the next level.
(A scene was set in and through this cultural mindset – not to remain in it – but to prepare some Hebrew boys for something unique in history)
Now we don’t know at what stage of this development in the Hebrew traditions, the disciples of Jesus failed or were rejected by the establishment but some of this preperation they certainly would have done, and they also would have yearned as all Hebrew boys did, to be considered good enough for the next level.
Look at some of the training they went through to try to get picked for “the next level in the institutional framework that was then ministry”. We’ve all seen the adds “pick me pick me” it was like this in their minds.
By age 6 all Hebrew boys must be able to recite word for word the book of Leviticus. By age 12 they were supposed to recite the entire Torah – then they were examined on their knowledge of the Torah, based on how well you questioned the teachers of the law.
If you wowed the teachers of the law with good questions you went on to the Bel Talmud level. This is the cultural setting when we read these scriptures about Jesus …..
Luke 2:42 – “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. “
Luke 2:46 to 49 – “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”
The Bel Talmud lasted 18 years from the age of 12 to 30 – A Rabbi would go to the Bel Talmud and choose from those graduated from the Betsapha and say “FOLLOW ME”.
This was the ritual of choosing, and the words that every Hebrew boy from 12 years of age longed to hear from a respected Rabbi, if they were ever to be trained for the ministry.
For those who make it to stage 5 at 30 years old there is a baptism, a water baptism. Any change of status was sealed with a water baptism ceremony. Adoption required a water baptism.
When someone went through the waters of baptism after hearing the words, “Follow me” from the rabbi they were chosen to be discipled by, it was such a thorough change that like the adoption process you were no longer your own, or related the same to your family, – you were now the family of the Rabbi, and he was your father your master your all.
Stage 5 Schmeach – means a person has reached a level of recognised authority -. exousia is the greek equivalent.
To graduate there needed to be 2 or more witnesses who were recognised already to be Schmeach graduates, to say that this person had Authority.
A Rabbi with Authority was allowed to develop his own yoke. The Yoke to a hebrew means “the interpretation of scripture”, or doctrin derived from scripture.
If you did not have, or had not been recognised and declared to have reached this level of Authority, you had to follow the yoke of your Rabbi.
The most amazing thing about the Yoke of Jesus, that was so very different from the other Rabbi’s, was His revealing of the character of God – the gentleness and humility of God, He said God is love.
Some of the scriptures refering to His yoke were prophesied….
Isa 9:4 – 7 For You have broken the yoke of his burden And the staff of his shoulder, The rod of his oppressor, As in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, And garments rolled in blood, Will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
The yoke of the past has to go, only the yoke of Jesus can be taken on board if you truly want to live in the Kingdom of God.
Isa 10:27b And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.
When I see people going into transition, the Lord often has me pray for them annoint them with oil and speak release and sanctification, that they be set apart and sanctified for the purposes of the King Jesus, and His Kingdom.
It has been a very powerful dynamic in God and only the start of restorative miracles that we see take place time and time again as people just co-operate with King Jesus and allow His Spirit to lead them into all truth. Jesus is the truth.
“Oh Lord sanctify us to your yoke, your truth, your will and your Kingdom come. Break every blindness that we may see your glory.”
Isa 58:6 – 8 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. “
Back to the Hebrews boys….
Some of the times where Authority was discussed, recognised, challenged and questioned – are easily recognised even in English or Greek in spite of language differences the tone is there.
“By what authority do you teach?” (exhousia or authority)
“By what authority did John the Baptist teach?”
Once Baptised, the Rabbi went to get disciples. Most Rabbis went to the Bel Talmud to pick out of the students the best for their Disciples.
A Rabbi would want to pick students that could be better than him.
Jesus says, “My Yoke chose fishermen – workers – those who had been rejected by the Bel Talmud”.
Jesus disciples came from either those rejected by the dominating religious system, or some were actually disciples of John the Baptist.
Jesus’ First Disciples
John 1:35 – 40 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.”
Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus came on the scene and His time for rising up to accomplish the will of God was evident, John the Baptist had the appropriate response – “John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
“Oh Lord help us not only do what we are called to do in the preparing of others to bring your Kingdom to manifest in the earth, help us when we must decrease so the next layer of your building can increase. Help us see it, help us to make way for it and help us to praise You for that which You are doing”
When Jesus came to the fishermen and said “follow me”, He came as a Rabbi with authority to train them for ministry. Think about it these men had longed to be chosen as young men, they had been disqualified from ministry and sent home to learn the trade of their fathers.
That’s why when a Rabbi came by who obviously spoke with schmeagh, and said “Follow me”, it was such an opportunity that they dropped everything for the opportunity to be taught for the ministry.
Just a thought……..
What is Jesus saying here?
Mat 23:8 – 13 “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
“And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Jesus is saying He is the last Rabbi with Schmeagh, there will be no one after him that can create another yoke. His yoke will forever be the yoke of the Kingdom. – The yoke of the ministry. The teaching and perspective of the word of God that we are all to adhere to.
Mat 11:25 -30 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is