When was the last time anyone read a “NEW” Bible story?!
God led the Israelites from Egypt with “a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” Some call this the “Shechinah Glory.” Scripture refers to His "Presence" as the Glory of God. -- Whatever happened to Shechinah? -- The Glory of God who dwelled in the Temple at Jerusalem. -- When did He leave? -- What was happening in Jerusalem? -- How did the Jewish people feel about His departing? Answers are well documented in Jewish writings, with exact dates, time—of—day, in eye-witness accounts. Think of it! -- The last Public Appearance of Almighty God’s Divine Presence on this planet. It is all recorded in Jewish writings; and yet, we have ignored that Holy Event for nineteen centuries. — A remarkable Biblical cover—up.
Following is a summary of The Fire and the Cloud, chapter by chapter:
Chapter 1 -- What is the “Shechinah Glory”?
This question is answered to provide basic understanding for persons who are unfamiliar with the Bible and/or particular references to the Divine Presence (Shechinah). Moses’ first meeting with the Lord’s Shechinah, called “the Glory of the Lord” in most English Bible translations, is described and discussed.
This “Glory” or Divine Presence of Almighty God Himself actually appeared to Moses and the children of Israel as “a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” The later residence of Shechinah in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple is discussed chronologically from Biblical and historical records. History of the Divine Presence includes revelation that Shechinah spoke to Moses, Aaron and the children of Israel with a feminine voice! -- known as a Bath Kol -- (Hebrew: “daughter of a voice”).
History of the Shechinah culminates with the withdrawal of Shechinah from the Temple and eventual ascension into Heaven from the Mount of Olives about 70 A.D. Analysis using recent archaeological finds strongly suggests ascension of Shechinah took place at or very near the “traditional” site for The Ascension of Jesus at the summit of the Mount of Olives. Commentary examines the apparent confusion among theologians relative to Ezekiel‘s vision of the Shechinah withdrawal from the Temple. This confusion is partially the cause for many scholars apparently having misunderstood this Event.
Chapter 2 -- This Holy Event -- When, Where, How it happened? -- Who saw it?
Documented historical accounts of the Shechinah withdrawal are outlined, with important reference to Prof. Asher Kaufman’s discovery of the true location of Jerusalem’s Temple. The Hebrew Midrash and works of Flavius Josephus are the most informative sources. Exact hour and date of the Event is announced through these sources, detailing movements and words spoken by the Divine Presence during His tragic exit from the Temple. Some insight to thoughts and emotions of Judeans during those perilous days are offered. The fact that the Event occurred near the Hanukkah season offers interesting speculation. The Appendices present the full verbatim texts of the accounts recorded by Josephus and the Rabbis in Midrash and Talmud.
Chapter 3 -- The Mother of All Cover-ups!
Questions about why this Event has been “hidden” within Jewish antiquity for nineteen centuries are addressed. No clear answers are available since theologians are so far reluctant to talk about this occasion. It appears that both Jewish and Christian theologians have participated in this cover-up. An invitation for reader thought is extended, because as the motives of these two opposing theological bases are examined, their actions (as well as inactions) remain baffling. The author proposes separate and individual messages that he believes God intended for Jews and Christians through this Event. It is timely that readers from ALL faiths should be informed about the facts presented in this book. Such is especially warranted as the World watches the confrontation between Jews and Muslims concerning sovereignty at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, El Aqsa mosque, etc.
Chapter 4 —— A Challenge to Biblical Archaeology.
The departure of Shechinah is analyzed considering geometry and topography of the Temple Mount and “the place of burning” “where the ashes are poured out” atop the Mount of Olives. Prof. Asher Kaufman has determined the location of the Foundation Stone, where the Ark of the Covenant rested, lies beneath an unimposing cupola called the Dome of the Tablets. Numerous records concerning Temple measurements in Talmud and in the works of Josephus are examined in concert with the Law as given to Moses. Detailed, precise application of these measurements and Temple architecture combine to meet rigid statutes in the Law. Details of the huge Eastern (Nicanor’s) Gate are prominent in the study. The Law pertaining to the Red Heifer, Israel’s most important Temple rite, is key in finding the Temple location. Even astronomical characteristics of the Sun and Moon are important to the analysis and consideration of the Law. Although Prof. Kaufman does have critics against his discovery, the location he has identified meets ALL of the statutes so far located within the Law after several years of intense study. None of the other proposed Temple sites meets the requirements of the Law, especially the Law pertaining to the Red Heifer.
The Veil covering the doors of the Temple is a prominent item regarding any study of the Red Heifer and/or the Temple location. Much of the archaeology in this study is directly related to the Talmudic law and Scripture in Numbers Chapter 19 concerning the Red Heifer.
Recent geological studies of earthquakes and landslides on the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives are addressed as they relate to Zechariah 14:4 and the import of that prophecy on the location of the Temple. Study in this book will reveal many factors relating to the current and continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians (and we should include the World of Islam) concerning jurisdiction and access to the Temple Mount. The Chapel (Mosque) of The Ascension at Olivet summit takes on even greater significance when this Holy Event is examined in light of today’s political furor and the demographics of Jerusalem. Since dating of this Event is so accurately documented by Josephus, a long-smouldering conflict among Biblical scholars can be settled through simple logic. The conflict arises concerning the dates of writing the New Testament books. This Event dramatically demonstrated to the citizens of Jerusalem that they had made a grievous error. It is therefore certain that the writers of the New Testament would not have resisted including this story, which occurred 66-70 A.D. It then follows that it is patently obvious that the New Testament was written earlier -- before Shechinah departed the Temple and Jerusalem, 70 A.D.
Chapter 5 —— Updating Some Familiar Bible Stories
The Miphkad Altar, the place of burning for Israel’s most Holy sacrifices, was evidently very near the Garden of Gethsemane. This fact is explored concerning the true location of that garden as well as the current “traditional” site. The Miphkad Altar also was very near the place “where the ashes were poured out.” Here, the “ashes” were the burnt remnants from all the burnings of sin offerings as well as all of the sacrifices at the Altar of Sacrifice at the Temple. Knowing these things leads to a very plausible explanation as to why the site of The Crucifixion was named “Golgotha.” These facts can now be employed enabling one to almost “pinpoint” the place of The Cross. It is significant to note that it is far from either of the popular “traditional” sites; namely, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Gordon’s Calvary, near the Garden Tomb, etc. Examining Roman law, interesting speculation is made to explain why and how Jesus was charged as a criminal and why Golgotha was selected as the locale for God’s Supreme and Ultimate Sacrifice of His Only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is shown that Jesus, and not Pilate or Caiaphas or the centurion, selected the place for His own suffering and death. From some of the facts drawn during this research, a few familiar Bible stories can be retold with a new and interesting background. A very convincing case is presented for locating the place of The Crucifixion based upon solid Biblical and common sense evidence. The case is startling in its credulity when compared against the flimsy traditional lore that rationalizes either the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Gordon’s Calvary. The true location is strongly supported by what should be obvious Scriptural statements as well as Talmudic records and just plain common sense logic.
Interesting details concerning the Temple Veil are presented. Since the Veil is such an important facet of this story, it is appropriate that the what, when, where and who details of the Veil should be addressed.
Stimulating the readers’ imagination, readers are asked to picture themselves at The Cross on that fateful day. Recalling all the details we have presented, but which are not pictured in the Gospel accounts, we enhance and enrich our knowledge of The Crucifixion. The chief source for these details is the Law, and especially the Law of the Red Heifer, which is certainly a “type” of Jesus. The Red Heifer is described in a way that conveys an important message to individuals and nations in the World of today.
Chapter 6 -- Several Biblical Prophecies Highlighted By This Event
Ezekiel predicts millions of enemy dead falling in Israel “in the last days." Their burial requires ashes of many Red Heifers in order to “cleanse the Land. Talmud is in agreement with Scripture in announcing that Jewish people will be bitterly persecuted during the seven years before Messiah arrives. (A “time of trouble” like no other.) A number of other prophecies are discussed. The seven Feasts of Jehovah are analyzed: the first four already having been fulfilled by Jesus; three remaining to be fulfilled at His Glorious Return. These feasts are discussed both from Jewish and from Christian perspectives. Fulfillment of “Feast of Trumpets” can be defined from Old Testament prophecies, ending a “mystery” for many Christians. An intriguing prophecy from Hosea is analyzed, showing serious implications for present days. It is all the more remarkable to learn this analysis originated from Talmudic teaching.
Chapter 7 -— “Signs and Wonders” Always Important to Jewish People
The children of Israel are the only people with whom God actually appeared (as Shechinah) and who actually heard God speak (with a feminine voice -- a Bath Kol). Many other “signs” were given by a patient, loving Father to a disobedient and faithless nation. A significant and fearful change in the way these signs appeared is detailed during a period the Rabbis sadly recall as “forty years before the Temple was destroyed.” Everybody knows that Jesus was crucified just as that forty year period of shame began. That would be what the World refers to as 30 A.D.——7O A.D. or 30 -- 70 C.E. Some of the most dramatic events in this book are revealed in this sequence of events preceding the withdrawal of Shechinah. During the 4th century B.C., several miracles manifested during worship in the Second Temple. Briefly, these were:
-- The lot piece selecting the Atonement goat always came up in the Priest’s right hand.
—— The westernmost of the seven candlesticks (Menorah) along the south wall of the Temple always outlasted the other six candles, even though all candles were filled to the same level with the oil and the western candle was lighted first, and the other six being lighted from it.
— The crimson strap tied under the Scapegoat’s throat always turned white as snow when the goat reached the wilderness as Israel’s sins were forgiven on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
-- By the Law, only two logs could be placed on the Altar for each day’s sacrifices and those two always lasted for a full day of sacrifices. During certain rites, each priest received a morsel of the shewbread about the size of an olive. The priest ate it and always was satisfied as if he had enjoyed a full meal; sometimes even leaving a portion uneaten.
During the years after the 4th century, “sometimes” these miracles would show. And, when they did, a good omen was seen. Then came the period extending from The Crucifixion (30 A.D. until Titus’ destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.) During that time, which the Rabbis mournfully call “forty years before the Temple was destroyed”:
- The lot piece never came up in the Priest’s right hand.
- The westernmost candle never outlasted the other candles.
- The crimson strap from the Scapegoat never turned white.
- The logs for the Altar never burned for a full day.
- The shewbread morsel never satisfied, seeming more “like a bean.”
At the end of that forty year period of lament (30 A.D. —— 70 A.D.) Israel´s Shechinah departed. Talmud shows that Jewish teachers of that time knew these “signs” signalled that disaster was approaching. (Some of them even knew WHY!)
Chapter 8 —— Debating the Facts Versus Traditional Lore
The accusations from critics and skeptics are listed and discussed, conceding that some of the most aggressive opponents and outspoken skeptics opposing this book are from within the clergy, especially “conservative” Protestant ministers. The more liberal theologians appear not to be interested in the Event or what it could mean for Jews and Christians. Both of these groups understandably insist upon adhering to traditional views as they have been taught in seminaries and/or Sunday Schools. A subtle brand of anti-Semitism is at work in this regard. A startling paradox is encountered as most of the critics hold suspect any writings from Jewish sources; discounting the fact that almost ALL 66 books of our Bible were written by JEWS ! Many of the excuses and/or “reasons” voiced by these doubters are listed, evaluating them as resistance.
Knowing “tradition” is a formidable adversary, Mr. Reiland draws from Scripture and documented facts to refute traditional arguments, of which there are several -- with no agreement among any two of them. The correct locations of the Temple and The Crucifixion are key items in the controversy concerning this Glorious and Holy Event so long ignored or overlooked.
Chapter 9 —— Defeating Traditional Views Is Material For Lively Debate.
In describing the departure of the Divine Presence, “the Glory of the Lord,” Ezekiel says many times that this prophecy was given to him as a “vision.” Still, traditionalists insist Ezekiel was at Jerusalem to witness the Event. Some even adhere to the argument claiming Ezekiel was “translated” or “raptured” from Babylon (where he was captive) to Jerusalem. Several Scriptural, logical and common sense arguments are supplied to revoke these claims.
Traditionalists again exhibit anti—Semitism as they try to make the case, against the Word of Scripture, to claim that Shechinah never occupied the Second Temple. In desperation for their cause, some even misquote the Talmud on that subject. This thrust is easily countered with literal Scripture verifying that the Divine Presence was in the Second Temple -- even until the time of Jesus and forty years afterward. The most dramatic scene in this book is the description of what the Centurion at The Cross saw at the moment when Jesus “gave up the ghost” —- when “the Veil was rent in twain from its top to its bottom.”
Chapter 10 —— Has God Abandoned The Jews Because They Rejected Jesus?
Gentile Christians for many centuries have been taught traditionally that God has given up on the Jewish people. Some have even been taught that Christians are now God’s “Chosen People” and that all Biblical references to the Chosen or the Elect, etc. have reference to Christians instead of the Jews. This has been termed “Replacement Theology.” Using literal Scripture as an anchor, Mr. Reiland makes a case for those Jewish people who really do love the Lord their God. He shows that God actually has used Israel’s “blindness” toward their long awaited Messiah as a way to help Gentiles “see” Messiah as Jesus Christ. Some “pictures” and “types” reflecting Messiah are brought out from the Seder —— the Passover feast. From Talmud it is shown that, at the time of what we call “the 1st century,” Israel was looking for two Messiahs, but the Rabbis mourn that the first one, Messiah, Son of Joseph, was slain during the first century. Now they await the “second” One -- Messiah, Son of David. Jewish people, even today, seem to be confused about how they would even recognize Messiah if He were to arrive. Christians would show that both Messiahs are One and the same Person —— Jesus of Nazareth —— and that He has already been here and was of course slain. Jewish people "expect Him to arrive" and Christians "know He will return" . . . . as Messiah, Son of David!
Chapter 11 —— A Pressing Question For Skeptics
The skeptics accuse that the Rabbis are lying. So, the skeptics are then challenged to answer the obvious question: WHY would the Rabbis of Talmud and Midrash have "invented" a false story claiming this Event? —— WHY would the Rabbis concoct a story that Glorifies Jesus of Nazareth and which points to their unbridled disobedience even after they had been warned of disaster? Why did they in fact even document the entire scenario? So far, nobody has offered even a feeble answer to this query. It makes no sense to believe Jewish teachers would “invent” a tale that highlights their disobedience and subsequent Divine punishment and which Glorifies Jesus Christ in the same breath.
Chapter 12 -- Closing Remarks
Closing remarks are offered with the intent to leave the reader to contemplate the facts and logic presented and to form his or her own conclusion. Toward that end, a summary of sorts is created by listing some questions for the doubters and skeptics. It is intended that this book might foster better understanding between Jews and Christians. After many centuries of being taught to despise Jewish people and their Judaism, it is hoped the facts presented will move more Christians to truly LOVE the Jewish people. It is high time that Christians learned something of the religious faith observed so devoutly by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Several sketches and photos are included with this work. The sketches provide detail of the city of Jerusalem —— then and now -- as well as details of the Temple, the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, all of which figure so vitally in this Event.
- Appendix A presents the excerpted portion from Josephus’ description of the Withdrawal Event of Shechinah.
- Appendix B is an English translation from the Hebrew Midrash describing the Event.
- Appendix C is a statement from a renowned French scholar attesting to the authority, honor and accuracy of Flavius Josephus as an historian.
- Appendix D presents an excerpt from the Apochryphal Book, II Macabbees, concerning the Ark of The Covenant.