We are going to look at some other concepts that will help you understand the New Testament from the book of John. For more detail, go to our study of the book of John on this site. In John 5, we have the story of the lame man healed at the Pool of Bethesda. Bethesda means “house of mercy/grace” and it is a mikvah, or immersion bath. The Jews in v 10 are from the School of Shammai and they did not allow carrying a burden in private or public on the Sabbath. The School of Hillel did allow this in public as long as the person was going home. So, to understand verses like this, we see already that we need to have an understanding of the players involved in the scenario. By what the “Jews” were saying, we know they were from the School of Shammai. Because the man was healed and was told to carry his pallet and go home, these people from Shammai did not like it and they plotted against Yeshua. Yeshua’s words, starting in v 19 through 47 was directed towards those Pharisees from the School of Shammai and anyone supporting them, not all Pharisees. In Chapter 6. 1-21, we have many Passover themes being discussed, so a knowledge of Passover will help interpret these verses. Because this was the season of Passover (6.4), all the rabbi’s and teachers were teaching concepts relating to this festival, including their wandering, hunger, a stormy sea, their cries to God and deliverance. Like Moses, Yeshua feeds the people. In v 19 we see Yeshua walking on the water. It was dark and stormy, just like in the Exodus when Israel crossed the Red Sea. Yeshua is like the Spirit in Genesis 1 who “hovered” over the water, showing dominion over the domain of an eschatological character called “Leviathan” who is a picture of Satan and the false messiah (Job 26.12-13; Isa 57.20; Job 41.1,34; Rev 13.1-2; Isa 27.1; Psa 74.13-14; Ezek 29.1-7; Ezek 32.1-8; Psa 104.26; Psa 74.13-14). By walking on the water, Yeshua is showing his dominion over the domain of Satan and the false messiah. In John 6.21-51 he teaches metaphors relating to Passover concerning the bread. He then gives “hard sayings” concerning the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood. Of course, he is not being literal here, but he is relating some Passover concepts. The Catholic interpretation of these verses led to their doctrine of “Transubstantiation” which is a total perversion of the meaning here. In Egypt at the first Passover, they had to eat the lamb and sprinkle the blood, Yeshua is saying that a person needs to do this spiritually. The “eating and drinking” were symbolic of making Yeshua’s teachings a part of them by taking them in, like bread and wine, for their spiritual nourishment. In Chapter 7 we see Yeshua going up to the festival of Sukkot. He had to be there by Tishri 15 to keep the commandment. His probable route of travel was to leave Capernaum (6.24) and go by the Sea of Galilee to Engev, where he walked through the Decapolis down through Perea. He crossed the Jordan river followed the Wadi Kelt west to Jerusalem. He comes to the festival and he teaches during the Chol ha Moed, or intermediate days, of Sukkot in the Temple. On the first day of Sukkot, Zech 12 is taught and on the Sabbath of the Chol Ha Moed, Ezek 37.18 through 39.16 is taught (Gemara, Megillah 31a). The reason these are taught is that it was believed that the invasion of Gog from the land of Magog would happen in Tishri, right before the festival of Sukkot, with the Lord defeating them. This victory is the setting for the celebration seen in Isa 9.1-7, where Messiah is “born” into the hearts of the people (Isa 9.6; Ezek 39.22). Yeshua was teaching about prophecy and Israel’s future (John 7.14) like all the rabbi’s were. For a detailed understanding of why this was taught at Sukkot, see the Artscroll Tanach Series on the festival of Sukkot, p 577-580. Eschatologically speaking, Gog from the land of Magog was symbolized by the Assyrian invasion of Israel. In the last days, the role of Gog from the land of Magog will be fulfilled by the country of Russia. During the Birthpains (tribulation), Russian will invade Israel around Rosh Ha Shannah, at the beginning the fourth year of the Birthpains. Russia tried to invade Israel in 1973, using the Arabs as bullet absorbers, but they won’t make that mistake again. They will come themselves, drawn by the Lord. They will be defeated by Yom Kippur ten days later. As a result, Israel will be celebrating their defeat five days later at the festival of Sukkot. Why is Assyria a picture of Gog and Magog? In Ezek 38.17 it says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Are you (Gog) the one of whom I spoke in former days through my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for years that I would bring you against them (Israel)?'” The issue is, there are no prophecies about Gog and Magog in the prophets. But, there is an interesting translation of Amos 7.1 in the Septuagint. It says, “Thus has the Lord God showed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east, and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog.” Now this passage is dealing with the ruin of the ten tribes of Israel by the Assyrian army who appeared as locusts. Their king was Gog. So, here we have an association with the Assyrian invasion and Gog nearly 200 years before Yeshua. In the book “Everyman’s Talmud” by Abraham Cohen, in the chapter on eschatology, it said that Sennacherib would be Gog and Hezekiah a messiah-like figure. So, Assyria is a picture of Gog and Magog, and God and Magog is Russia. This teaching was also taught by H.A. Ironside in his expository notes on the Prophet Isaiah. So, the prophecies of the invasion of Gog and Magog can be found in the Assyrian invasion of Israel found in the prophets, and that is a key to understanding Ezekiel 38-39. The Assyrian king Tiglat-Pilesar (Pul) invaded the northern kingdom of Israel. Shalmaneser comes against Samaria and is murdered by Sargon. Sargon II invaded Philistia and it was Sennacherib who invaded Judah, and was defeated by God in Isa 37.36. The kings of Judah at this time were Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. The prophets will be primarily Isaiah, Micah, Amos and Hosea, 8th century prophets. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were 7th century prophets and dealt primarily with Babylon. If you want to know what is going to happen during the first half of the Birthpains (tribulation), study the 8th century prophets. If you want to know what is going to happen in the second half of the Birthpains (tribulation), study the 7th century prophets. If you want to know what is going to happen when Russian invades Israel, study the passages on Assyria in detail. So, getting back to our passages in John, why were the people so amazed at Yeshua’s teaching (John 7.15)? He was teaching about the ultimate redemption of Israel. To understand that, you have to know biblical eschatology. We have already discussed the 7000 year plan of God (see our article “Biblical Eschatology” on this site). The first 6000 years is called the “Olam Ha Zeh.” At the end of 6000 years, Rosh Ha Shannah will start year 6001, and it begins the “Atid Lavo” (future age) of 1000 years, also known as the “Millenium” in Christian theology. The first seven years of the Atid Lavo are known as the “Chevlai shell Mashiach” or “Birthpains of the Messiah.” There are many sources you can research on this subject. Why is Gog and Magog important? On the Rosh Ha Shannah of year 6001, at the beginning the Atid Lavo, the Natzal, the “gathering” or “rapture” of the believers will occur. Many things will happen in the next ten days leading up to Yom Kippur. Russia will attack the United States and be destroyed, initiating the rise of the false messiah and an agreement of some sort will be reached between the countries led by the false messiah and Israel. This agreement will be signed on Yom Kippur, ten days into the Atid Lavo and this begins the 2520 days of the Birthpains, or tribulation. The midpoint of the tribulation will be Nisan 10. Six months before that, during the month of Tishri, at Rosh Ha Shannah, Russia will attack Israel and be destroyed. The false messiah, who has been fighting Russia for three years of the Birthpains (tribulation) and losing, will take credit. He moves into Israel and on Nisan 10 will declare himself God, in the Temple of God. The two witnesses are killed (Rev 11) and Israel flees into the wilderness (Rev 12). Why Nisan 10? It is the exact midpoint of the Birthpains (tribulation), and it is the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, declaring himself the Messiah. The false messiah will declare that he is “Jesus” and deceive many. The last half of the Birthpains (tribulation) is 1260 days. The 2520 days of the Birthpains (tribulation) will end on a Yom Kippur, and Yeshua returns (Matt 24.31-the “great trumpet” mentioned there is an idiom for Yom Kippur). If you count 75 days from that Yom Kippur, you come to the festival of Chanukah, 1335 days from the midpoint of the Birthpains (tribulation), fulfilling Dan 12.12. Yeshua will dedicate (dedication is “Chanukah” in Hebrew) Ezekiel’s Temple, the one that will be used for the remainder of the Atid Lavo, or “millennium.” The people were amazed at his teaching because all of this is about the redemption of Israel. In Part 19, we will pick up here and continue with concepts found in the book of John that will help you understand the New Testament.