Psalm 130 “My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning.”
Here (left) we see illustrated a Temple Priest of the first century AD responding to the signal that “Day Has Dawned!” that is, “BARKAI”.
A specially appointed priest was sent to a high point [the so-called pinnacle of the Temple] to watch for the day’s dawning on the horizon.
When he did, he cried Barkai! See my full article on my website for more details.
At that point, the Temple superintendent told the priest chosen by lot to go get the lamb for the morning sacrifice. This was the official start of the feast-day service.
However, it is worth remembering that, at Yom Kippur, the preparations have been underway long before that as far as the priests are concerned, from midnight or earlier. It is the public ceremonies that are heralded at the dawn of the day.
In my article “A New Approach to Revelation“ I used the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for the Jewish people – and by extension also Judgement – as a template for the book of Revelation.
One small hint among many is the verse in Revelation 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book life…. “ which are references in earthly terms to Yom Kippur. The examples below therefore relate to that day.
The Cry “I have seen the Morning Star”
The Priest stands upon the highest pinnacle of the Temple and searches the heavens for the first glimmer of light. Then he shouts “BARKAI”. But what exactly does Barkai mean? Well, amazingly, it literally means “Morning Star”.
When we see the morning star dawn, we know that THE DAY (of Atonement) is to begin, and it begins with the examination and sacrifice of the lambs, and the trimming of the lamps.
And from Revelation 22:16 we know that JESUS is the Morning Star for whom we watch. “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”
How very interesting, for this fact sheds light (no pun intended!) on the verse in 2 Peter 1:19: We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star (or, morning star) arise in your hearts.
Dawn From The East
Isn’t that amazing? It can hardly be understood outside of the Temple service, and the priest’s call of Barkai. For they wait until the precise moment of light spreading across the horizon from the east to announce the day.
The night has ended and the day is beginning. Its first light has been seen on the horizon.
And we hold onto the promises of God as Peter says, awaiting the LIGHT of Jesus Christ which will announce that our DAY has arrived at last. What did Jesus tell us?
“So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. [Matt 24:26-7]
The Greek word astrapé is usually translated as lightning in various places in the bible because it means a bright shining, a flash. However it is also used for the bright shining of a lamp in Luke 11:36. Lightning of course is a bright flash of light.
We might ask, why does lightning “come from the east” in the verse above?
Could Jesus have been referring amongst other things to the first flash of the morning sun appearing in the East as with the Morning Star seen from the Temple? Both were equally a herald of the DAY to come (**Day of Atonement – see my note below**) when the faithful would be entered into the Book of Life and the rest would undergo judgement.
Prophetic Glimpses at Yom Kippur
We can see some further suggestions of Revelation and the bible’s descriptions of the Second Coming here in the Temple service of Yom Kippur.
On that special day, during the night, lots have been made to choose which priests will perform which part of the service. This speaks of a time of PREPARATION for service, especially as those not chosen to officiate are sent back home.
The priests have spent the night getting ready for their duties. They have also been reading scripture and talking to one another in an attempt to stay awake, because they don’t want to miss the “knock at the door” that calls them to service.
Luke 12 35-39 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning. Then you will be like servants waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once. … You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”
Around the Temple, the guards have also been inspected to see if they are alert. Any found sleeping would suffer a severe penalty.
It is recorded that some sleeping guards had their garments set on fire by the watchman’s torch as punishment. And as Jesus says to his servants, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame”. (Rev 16:15)
Allocated by Lots
As for the priestly duties, they were allocated by drawn lots.
Lot One has already been drawn at or before midnight, and resulted in the raking out and preparation of the altar of burnt offerings.
After this, another lot was cast, and thirteen new tasks were allocated. One of them concerned the slaying of the lamb as a daily sacrifice.
As we’ve seen, this important sacrifice was delayed until the very first sighting of the Morning Star (also called the Day Star).
The Slain Lamb
The Priest calls out “barkai!”, and accordingly the one whose allocated task it is to lead forth the lamb goes to fetch the lamb that had previously been examined for faults and blemishes and accredited as a good and perfect sacrifice.
At this precise moment, the immense sanctuary door of the Temple was opened.
That is, not the “front door” but the enormous metal doors that separated the more common areas used for the Jewish public from the sacred spaces. These heavy bronze doors have the name “The Nicanor Gate”.
The Sanctuary entrance was 20 cubits high and 10 cubits wide (29.5 ft. x 14.8 ft.). It had two sets of doors covered with gold. They were called the Nicanor Gate. This gate was the entrance to the Court of the Priests. It was named after an Alexandrian who donated the magnificent doors crafted from Corinthian Bronze.
The general public will already have entered the Temple area ready for the feast day, but they are not allowed to climb the steps and enter into the Court of the Priests.
Yet John of Revelation is permitted to go up higher.
You will recall that when John of Revelation hears the trumpet call and the command to “come up here”, he sees the DOOR standing open, and enters the Inner Temple area. He goes beyond what is permitted for ordinary people. (Rev 4:1)
There he sees Slain Lamb, Jesus – our perfect Sacrifice that removes all sin for those who believe on Him. (Rev 5:6) Unlike ancient Israel, we do not need an annual slaughter of a lamb and other animals to atone for our sins and redeem the people. Praise God for the one sufficient sacrifice.
You [Jesus] are worthy … for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. Rev 5:9
This opening of the sanctuary door, the Nicanor Gate, was a highly significant moment for the Temple priests, worshippers and people of Israel, because its sound denoted the offering of the lamb was under way.
At this moment, too, the first trumpet of the day was sounded. Everywhere in Israel the people paused, stopped work and prepared to worship. THE DAY (Yom Kippur) was beginning!
The Day of Atonement Arrives
Any who were unprepared, unclean, without their white garments and unconcerned about what was to take place, any who – for whatever reason – did not make it to the Temple as one of the Redeemed host of Israel, faced the loss of redemption and the fate of carrying their sin for at least another year. Their names would not be entered into the Book of Life since The Day of Redemption (Yom Kippur) was the very last chance for that.
Even today, Jews often wear white for Yom Kippur:
“It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.” [Source]
Here we see both the Second Temple priests making ready, as well as Temple Institute members today having a “practise drill” of the same thing.
How fitting then, since believers look to the Day of Redemption when we shall indeed have “passed from death to life” and been raised to a glorious eternity with our Saviour in Heaven!
In that sense, we wear our “shrouds” (Revelation 7:9) as we ascend to God and gather round his throne, but ours have been “washed in the blood” (Rev 7:14) of the ultimate Yom Kippur Sacrifice – the Perfect Lamb of God (the Lord Jesus) thus providing everlasting cleansing of our sins and eternal life.
Trimming of the lamps
And at the same time as the opening of the sanctuary door, FIVE of the seven lamps were being trimmed and re-lit inside the Holy Place. The remaining two lamps were trimmed, refilled and lit at the burning of incense later on.
It is important to note this fact: that the slaughter of the sacrificial lamb was made at the SAME moment as the trimming of the FIVE lamps inside the Holy Place. And neither could be performed before the call of BARKAI, or “The Day Has Dawned”.
So, prophetically, we have come to SEAL FIVE – the martyrs, the little lambs, seen “at the base of the altar”. (Revelation 6:9).
The Day of Atonement has not yet fully begun, as far as the people. Everything that has taken place up to now has involved only the Priests in their secluded Court. The martyrs – those innocent lambs of God, laid around the foot of the altar – are therefore told to WAIT for God’s vengeance for their martyrdom and that of their brothers and fellow-servants.
Ultimately all those prayers are heard at the offering of the incense of their prayers a little later in the ceremony. (Rev 6:9-11 and 8:4)
The Pinnacle of the Temple
Now I want to point out some astounding facts about the place on which that watchful Priest stood to await the morning.
- The Pinnacle of the Temple
- What did the Temple look like in the day of Jesus (with illustrations)
- The Pinnacle in Historical Terms
We know from Matthew 4:5-8 that the devil took Jesus “to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…”
Why there? Why that particular place, instead of a high mountain or another towering location? There is a reason.
Few realise just what that devilish temptation was about. Although primarily it was a suggestion to see how far the Father would go to protect Jesus, it was also a temptation to show himself immediately AS MESSIAH to Israel.
Why The Temple?
Malachi 3:1 reads “The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple.” The Talmud – Pesiqta Rabbati – interprets it this way, “When the King, The Messiah, reveals himself, he will come and stand on the roof of the temple.” (As we know, they interpreted this incorrectly, unless it is fulfilled after his second coming.)
Simon Magus, it was said, had promised to fly through the air, and had perished in the attempt. Was it a messianic expectation? Was Jesus being tempted to fulfil this Jewish prophecy, and do the ”Messianic Thing” to prove to himself and the crowd that he was their long awaited Messiah?
Josephus and the Pinnacle:
The historian Josephus describes the pinnacle of the Temple:
“This cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for, while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth.” – Antiquities, Book 15, Chap.11:5
Jewish Literature, the Messiah, and the Pinnacle:
In rabbinic literature, the Midrash (Pesiqta Rabbati, 162a) plainly states the Jewish belief that Messiah would manifest himself standing on the roof of the temple. Not on any roof but “the” roof, as it states in the NT using the definite article “the pinnacle.”
Also, some Rabbis believed that the person identified by God in Psalm 91 is none other than the Messiah. This is exactly where Satan misquoted the Scripture about the angels: “He shall give His angels charge concerning you (and) in their hands they shall bear you up…”
No doubt Satan enticed Jesus with the temptation to fulfil Malachi 3:1 before the designated time.
The following is from “A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica” by John Lightfoot:
Matt 4:5. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. If, therefore, the devil had placed Christ in the very precipice of this part of the Temple, he may well be said to have placed him upon the wing of the Temple, both because this part was like a wing to the Temple itself, and that that precipice was the wing of this part.
The “Wing” is the Pinnacle in Daniel Nine
We can go even further. This high point of the roof of the temple is where Daniel predicts the FALSE Messiah will take his place, either in person or as a “living statue”. It is the final blasphemy, the abomination that makes desolate. [As there is no Temple in Israel at the moment, this must take place upon a high point on another religious structure ordained and occupied by The Beast of Revelation.]
Pulpit commentary on Daniel 9 (scroll down to verse 27)
“The verse in the Septuagint corresponding to this is evidently mixed up with confluent readings and notes as to earlier verses….When those extraneous elements are got rid of, we have left a rendering of the twenty-seventh verse, which may afford us light as to the text. … “and upon the temple shall be the abomination of desolation” – reading (qodesh), “holy,” instead of (kenaph), “wing,” “outspreading,” or it may be tendered “wing of temple” … The Peshitta is closer still to the Massoretic… The Peshitta and the author of the reading intruded into the Alexandrian Codex have read (kenaph). However, these two are not agreed as to the interpretation. The Peshitta renders “wings,” the Vatican and Alexandrian scribes use the word from (Matthew 4:5) for a pinnacle of the temple”. [Source]
Standing in the HOLY
When Jesus referred to this verse of Daniel, he confirmed the above reading by saying, “So when you see standing in the HOLY [place] (qodesh instead of kenaph) ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel— let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Matthew 24:15-16
This is of course open to some question since the New Testament itself has been written by the apostles who may have quoted from the text with which they and Jesus himself were most familiar. The meaning is plain enough so there is no problem as to the infallibility of the scripture, but was the original word used by Jesus “holy” or “wing”?
On this page as you will see, it is thought that Jesus himself probably read the Aramaic Targum and quoted from that in various places. Did that Aramaic version have the rendering “holy” [qodesh], instead of “wing” in the book of Daniel? I don’t know, but perhaps somebody can enlighten me on that.
The Abomination on the Pinnacle?
Remember that Daniel says (literally) that the abomination that causes desolation at the end of days shall be placed “on the wing of the temple” although some translations muddy the waters by changing the order of words around and referring the wing to the abomination itself.
The word WING is in fact the same as the PINNACLE. The word we translate as “pinnacle” is the “winglet” (Gk. pterugion) of the temple. “The extreme edge or extremity, a cornice: like the deadman’s plank stretched out over the side of a ship”.
If you look up the Greek for “pinnacle” you find this:
- 4419 pterugion; neuter of a presumed derivative of 4420; a winglet, extremity, pinnacle.
- 4420 pterux; from a derivative of 4072 (meaning a feather); a WING.
- DEFINITION – a wing, a little wing; any pointed extremity
- fins of fishes
- part of a dress hanging down in the form of a wing
- the top of the temple at Jerusalem
Therefore, will the statue that comes to life (Rev 13:15) be placed at the very peak, the pinnacle of the new temple that will be erected at that time?
The Abomination on the Pinnacle
Many pagan temples did have images of the gods on the roof. See this page with an illustration of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome (notice the four horsemen!! Jupiter is a key image of the coming Antichrist – see my study here)
Illustration of Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, Capitoline Hill, Rome
John of Revelation would have been familiar with all these Roman and Greek pagan temples and perhaps he envisages the same arrangement for the Tribulation Temple, an abomination indeed! As Daniel says, “[ve’al] and on [kenaf] the wing/extremity/pinnacle [meshomem] [he] makes [shikkutzim] [of] abominations”.
- New International Version: And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation
- Good News Bible in Today’s English Version: The Awful Horror [the Abomination that makes desolate] will be placed on the highest point [pinnacle/wing] of the Temple.
- Douay-Rheims Bible: …and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation.
- American Standard Version: … and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate.
- English Revised Version: … and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate.
Others have suggested a new temple need not be built because the abomination could be placed at or by the Western Wall which (they say) is another way of translating the word for wing. I think that is less likely.
No matter what the translation however, Daniel 9:27 and Jesus in Matthew 24:15-16 ultimately speak of Satan setting something or someone upon a wing of the temple/abomination. Is this what Satan wanted to achieve in tempting Jesus?
Jesus Knew it All
From the above information we can understand much more about the temptations facing Jesus as he began his ministry. Not only was he presented with a glimpse of all the human environment available to him as Lord, but with the means of achieving it without any further pain or sorrow.
Jesus knew the prophecies, and he knew what was being suggested. If he presented himself as Messiah atop the pinnacle of the temple, and in addition made the statement sure (since the Messiah could not be harmed) by throwing himself off the peak and surviving, he would achieve instant fame, and be hailed as Messiah at once.
Yes, Jesus knew the Rabbinic beliefs, but he also knew that they were false!
The only one who will present himself, immortal and kingly, to Israel is the FALSE Messiah who will lead them to their doom. HE is the one who will fulfil the Jewish prophecy, and present himself in and on the Temple as a god!
Jesus, knowing all things, therefore refused to give into this temptation.
The coming of Jesus DOES fulfil all the genuine prophecies, in his birth, death, resurrection and second coming. If only Israel had known that Jesus is the MORNING STAR for whom they wait!
- Out of the depths have I cried unto you, O LORD
- Lord, hear my voice: let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
- If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
- But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
- I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in his word do I hope.
- My soul waits for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
- Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is abundant redemption.
- And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
A Sidenote About the Word Atonement
Although Yom Kippur is usually expressed in English as “Day of Atonement” the word “atonement” is not exactly what Kippur means in Hebrew. The English translators of the Hebrew text had to invent the word “atonement” as meaning at-one or reconciled to God, because the exact word was not found in English to convey the meaning. Literally Kippur means “a covering”, related to the biblical name of the covering of the Ark (called the kapporet).
For anyone interested in the Hebrew etymology of the word KIPPUR, (from KOPHER) see it on this page as literally a covering (the pitch that covered the Ark for instance) and figuratively a ransom, the price paid in exchange for a man’s life. Jesus paid the price! (Even today people keep their money in a COFFER)
ATONE (v.) Origin of the word from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=atone
1550s, from adverbial phrase atonen (c. 1300) “in accord,” literally “at one,” a contraction of at and one. It retains the older pronunciation of one. The phrase perhaps is modeled on Latin adunare “unite,” from ad- “to, at” (see ad-) + unum “one.” Related: Atoned; atoning.