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Two thieves and Yeshua, which thief are you? (a look at Luke 23)

TWO THIEVES AND YESHUA, WHICH THIEF ARE YOU? (a look at Luke 23:32,33 and 39-43)

We are all familiar with the story about the two thieves who were crucified next to Yeshua on Calvary. There was one on his right and the other on his left. The disciples who wrote the gospels mention that briefly, but it is in Luke that the conversation is recorded. We will take a look at that in a while. But let’s first review “death by crucifixion”.

Back in the Bible days, crucifixion was the worst death punishment that the Romans could dish out. Crucifixion was not, however, permitted for Roman citizens, only non-Romans would suffer that. Many times, the way of death via Rome was decapitation, in the case of the Apostle Paul, since he was a Roman citizen, he felt the ax on his neck. Could one say it was a quick way to die? Perhaps, if the ax was sharp and the headsman was swift and strong, little pain might have been felt. We could always ask Rav Shaul once we get to Heaven.

There are many ways of death today; the hangman’s noose, the lethal injection, the electric chair “Old Sparky” as it was referred to in the movie; “The Green Mile” and of course knives, guns, killer sharks, a car, drugs, etc.

The cross is popular to wear today because it reminds us of how Yeshua died. Yet the cross is not an object of worship, it is only a symbol, a symbol of suffering and death. In Messianic Judaism, we find at times the cross in the middle of the Shield or “Star” of David, the Menorah is also a symbol of Judaism. I wonder if Yeshua had been born in these modern times, and being sentenced to death via the electric chair, the hangman’s noose, or via lethal injection, if people would be hanging mini electric chairs or hypodermic needles around their necks?

The fact of the matter is that He did die on a cross, all of our sins were nailed to that cross as well, NOT the Torah, only our sins. On that hill called Calvary, there were three crosses, or execution stakes. Three crosses and three people. Two were thieves and the other took on the sin of thievery. Two were guilty and the other assumed the condemnation of guilt.

Some rabbis have stated that all sin consists of some sort of theft. If we lie , we are “stealing” the confidence that the other person had in us. If we come back from lunch late, we are “stealing” time from our employer. If one commits adultery, one is “stealing” what doesn’t belong to him (or her). Also, the sin of murder is being committed, the destruction of another relationship.

If we are walking on the beach and we come across a broken bottle in the sand, and we fail to pick it up and throw it inside the plastic trash bins, we are “stealing” the health of another person. A kid might come by and accidentally step on it because the wind has blown sand on top of it, thus hiding it from view. The kid, or “anyone” will bleed and perhaps, an infection might ensue, all because we did nothing to prevent it. We would also be standing “idly by while our brother’s blood is spilled”

So, with that said, one could say that “we are all thieves” if we are all sinners. So now, what was the difference between the two thieves on the two crosses that were on either side of Mashiach? Let’s look at Luke 23:32,33,39-43.

(32,33) “And there were also two other malefactors, led with him to be put to death (via crucifixion). And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left…………………..(39-43) “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him saying, If thou be Messiah, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him saying; doest not thou fear God, seeing that thou at in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly receive the due reward for our deeds but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Yeshua; ‘Adoni, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom’ And Yeshua said unto him; ‘Verily I say unto thee. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’

(taken from Hebrew-English New Covenant)

Let’s read how the words in Hebrew were said in verses 42 and 43; “Zach’reini na Adoni b’voakha b’malkhutekha (remember me lord when you come into your kingdom) to which Yeshua responded; “Amein omer Ani lecha ki HaYom tihyeih imadi b’gan eden” (So be it “amen” I say unto you this day you will be with me in the Garden of Eden)

The first thief was filled with arrogance and wished to be freed from death, even though he deserved it, as we all do, He was just thinking of himself, had no remorse for his sins. This illustrates a major part of humanity that lives to enjoy the things of the world and never think of eternity.

The second thief was different. “We justly deserve our due rewards for our needs, but this man has done nothing wrong” He realizes that he is a sinner, and recognizes the sinlessness of Yeshua. Then he calls Yeshua “Adoni” a way of saying “lord” (a title of honor) He also recognizes Yeshua as a king because he has a “kingdom” He doesn’t recite a sinner’s prayer, nor does he recite the “4 Spiritual Laws” tract, He just says “remember me” “Zach’reini!”

That was all that was needed, Yeshua responds with “Amen” (so be it) “You will be with me in paradise” as most translations render, but the Hebrew words are “Gan Eden” the “Garden of Eden” So, we can now imagine how “paradise” must have looked like…Or…Could we say that the “Garden of Eden” was moved from the earth to “under” the earth? Since paradise was “in the heart of the earth” and Yeshua “descended” to there. Well, we can only imagine.

I can assure you that the thief is now in Heaven and has been there these past 2000 + years. The same goes with the unrepentant thief, He went to Hades when he died and is still there, suffering the agony of pain, fire, and eternal separation from G-d. So, which thief are you?

So, to get down to brass tacks, salvation is a matter of “remembering” what Yeshua did on the cross, and “remembering” our state of sinfulness, and accepting HIS one-time sacrifice for our sins. You can be sure that HE will remember YOU, when you breathe your last.

Rabbi Ben Avraham
I liked your article on "The two thieves and Yeshua." I have a similar article about the two thieves which represents the choice that everyone will soon have to make concering Jesus when he died on the cross for our sins.

[CENTER]Joseph was stripped of his garments, falsely accused and became a prisoner[/CENTER]
A number of years ago I read the story of Joseph who was stripped of his garments, falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and imprisoned where he encountered cupbearer and baker. It was shortly after this when I realized this story is prophetic for Jesus who was falsely accused by the religious leaders of Israel, stripped of his garments and crucified with two thieves, Gen 39, 40, Mat 27:38.

[CENTER]Joseph meets the cupbearer and baker in prison[/CENTER]
Genesis 40:1-3 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. (2) And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, (3) and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined.

Genesis 40:5-8 And one night they both dreamed--the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison--each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. (6) When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. (7) So he asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in custody in his master's house, "Why are your faces downcast today?" (8) They said to him, "We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them." And Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me."

[CENTER]The cupbearer dreamed of a vine with 3 branches that budded and ripened into grapes[/CENTER]
The cupbearer had a dream of a vine with 3 branches that budded and its blossoms shot forth and the clusters ripened into grapes. Joseph interpreted the cupbearer's dream and said he would be released from prison after 3 days and shall place Pharaoh's cup into his hand as before, Gen 40:9-13.

In the scriptures the vine is symbolic for Jesus and his saints are the branches that grow and bear spiritual fruit by abiding in Christ through faith, John 15:4-5.

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (5) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

The cupbearer who dreamed of 3 branches bearing fruit that was released from prison after 3 days, represents the saints who are set free from their captivity to sin and death by faith in Jesus death on the cross for their sins and his resurrection on the third day.

[CENTER]Words that connect two related scriptures together[/CENTER]
It's important to understand that similar words, phrases and numbers at times are used by God to connect a particular scripture or thought in one story to explain a puzzling word or phrase that's mentioned in another story. And when these two related stories are placed side by side they often reveal deeper insights, revelations, and hidden prophecies that are concealed in a mysterious verse.

For example, the word “cupbearer” is mentioned just once more in Nehemiah 1:11. In this chapter Nehemiah is “a cupbearer to the king” who earnestly prayed that God would forgive Israel's sin as well as his own sins. Nehemiah also prayed that the people of Israel would return to their land so the broken down walls of Jerusalem could be rebuilt, Neh 1:8-10. In other words Nehemiah is a “repentant cupbearer,” a branch that desires to produce spiritual fruit by following Lord's will (the vine) through encouraging the people of Israel to turn back to God.

Now compare the story of Nehemiah the repentant cupbearer, and the cupbearer who was set free from prison after 3 days, to the thief on the cross who “confessed his sins” and rebuked the other thief saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? (41) And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." (42) And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (43) And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luk 23:40-43

Nehemiah the cupbearer asking forgiveness for his sins, and the cupbearer who was released from prison after three days, are two mutually related stories that are prophetic for the “repentant thief” on the cross who confessed his sins to God and was set free from his prison of sin and death when he went with Jesus to paradise.

These two integral stories of “the cupbearer to the king” also represent the saints who confess their sins seeking God's mercy and forgiveness, so they can be set free from their of slavery to sin and death by faith in Jesus who rose from prison of the grave on the third day and has become the King of kings.

Without recognizing the story of Nehemiah the cupbearer who asked forgiveness of his sins, that's divinely connected with the story of the cupbearer who was released from prison after three days, we would not be able to see these two important aspects for God's plan of salvation for his saints who are forgiven of their sins and resurrected by faith in Jesus.

[CENTER]You were a prisoner when you first met me[/CENTER]
A few weeks after I had this revelation of the cupbearer in prison with Joseph that's prophetic for the repentant thief on the cross when he met Jesus face to face, I woke up early one morning when a quiet word from God was in my waking thoughts, “You were a prisoner when you first met me.”

The first time you spiritually meet Jesus is when you realize you are a “prisoner of your sins,” and that Christ became a prisoner of the cross to set you free from your slavery to sin, just as the thief on the cross knew he was a guilty prisoner who confessed his sins when he met Jesus as he was being crucified as sin for us, 2 Cor 5:21.

I was a prisoner when I first met Jesus, a captive held fast by the chains of my sin.
Then his love poured out on that cross of sin and justice, for my new heart of love his grace provided within.
When all hope seemed lost as Jesus died on that day, I was set free from sin's power that prevails to the grave.
Then He rose from the tomb in victory and in power, when I was raised from the grave on that glorious third day.
Mat 27:50-54

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

[CENTER]The baker dreamed of a basket of baked foods on his head and then was hung on a tree[/CENTER]
Genesis 40:16-19 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation (of the cupbearer) was favorable, he said to Joseph, "I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, (17) and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head." (18) And Joseph answered and said, "This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. (19) In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head--from you!--and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you."

The baker's dream of “baked foods on his head” that resulted in his death when he was hung on a tree is prophetic for the unrepentant thief on the cross who mocked Jesus and perished, Luke 23:39. However the symbolic meaning of “the baked foods on the head” that caused the bakers death is a deep mystery in this story unless there is another scripture that can help to explain what this cryptic phrase represents.

[CENTER]The baker ceases to stir the fire, Hosea 7:4[/CENTER]
The word “baker” is mentioned only more time in Hosea 7:1-8. In this story Hosea addresses the iniquity of Ephraim and the evil deeds of Samaria saying, Israel deals falsely, they are all adulterers who are like “a baker” who ceases to stir the fire until the dough is leavened (and unfit to eat), worthless as a half baked cake (a cake not turned).

Hosea 7:1-4, 8 When I would heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed, and the evil deeds of Samaria; for they deal falsely; the thief breaks in, and the bandits raid outside. (2) But they do not consider that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them; they are before my face. (3) By their evil they make the king glad, and the princes by their treachery. (4) They are all adulterers; they are like a heated oven whose baker ceases to stir the fire, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened. (8) “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! (New Living translation)

The “baker” and the leavened worthless “half-baked cake” spoken of in Hosea 7:1-8, reveals “the baked foods on the head” of the baker in prison with Joseph is symbolic for our evil leavened deeds of sin and unrighteousness.

Leaven in the Bible is always symbolic for the corruption of sin, self-righteousness and false doctrine. In Amos 4:4-5, a sacrifice that is “leavened” represents boasting about our corrupted self-righteous deeds. If we boast in our sin stained self-righteousness it puffs up our head with pride that's like “leavened baked foods on our head.”

Amos 4:4-5 "Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; (5) offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!" declares the Lord GOD.

The story of the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble tax collector is a good example of “puffed up pride” that comes from boasting about our worthless leavened good works, our self-righteousness, Luke 18:9-14.

Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

Just as leaven puffs up, distorts and destroys “the life within wheat,” trusting in our sin corrupted self-righteousness to be saved from death leavens and destroys “the truth of eternal life” by grace alone through faith alone that is revealed throughout the Word of God (the unleavened wheat). God's unleavened Word reveals we are unworthy sinners who need to humble ourselves of our pride and ask the Lord for his mercy and forgiveness of our sins.

Psalms 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

As I said the dream of the baked foods on the head of the baker who was hung on a tree is prophetic for the unrepentant thief on the cross who mocked Jesus and perished. And “baked foods on the head” is also an accurate description for a person who is puffed up with pride and deceived by trusting in their sinful leavened deeds of self-righteousness so they can justify themselves before God, but instead they will be judged for their sins and eternally cursed in hell just as the baker was hung on a tree.

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds (baked foods on our head) are like menstrual rags; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

[CENTER]Joseph was in prison for “two whole years” after the cupbearer was set free[/CENTER]
The cupbearer who dreamed of 3 branches budding was set free from prison after 3 days while Joseph who was innocent remained in prison for another "two whole years" until he was released to interpret Pharaoh's dream of seven healthy cows that were eaten by seven ugly cows, Gen 41:1-15.

The phrase “two whole years” is mentioned once more in Acts 28:30, just as the words “cupbearer” and “baker” are only mentioned twice in the scriptures. Therefore it's important to carefully examine this second phrase of “two whole years” to see if it might reveal a hidden prophetic meaning for Joseph's additional “two whole years” of imprisonment after the cupbearer was set free from prison on the third day.

Acts 28:23-31 When they (the Jews) had appointed a day for him (Paul), they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. (24) And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. (25) And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: "The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: (26) "'Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. (27) For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' (28) Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen." (29) [After he said these things, the Jews departed, while engaging in a prolonged debate among themselves.] (30) He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, (31) proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

In Acts 28:23-31, Paul proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the Jews first, however due to the dullness of their hearts he was sent to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. And for “two whole years” Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God to all who came to him.

[CENTER]The two thousand year gospel to the Gentiles[/CENTER]
Prophetically speaking the “two whole years” that Paul preached Christ's salvation to all the Gentiles who came to him, appears to be symbolic for a “two thousand year” message of the gospel that's being declared to the Gentiles who are coming to Jesus throughout the world, since the leadership of Israel rejected the gospel of Jesus salvation.
[CENTER]7 years of harvest and 7 years of famine[/CENTER]
After the cupbearer was set free Joseph remained in prison for “two whole years” and then was released to interpret Pharaoh's dreams and said there would be 7 years of a great harvest and 7 years of famine. After this Joseph was put in charge of the harvest and famine submitting himself only to Pharaoh.

The cupbearer who was released from prison after 3 days is a type for Jesus resurrection that sets us free from our prison of sin and death by faith in Christ who rose on the third day. And the additional “two whole years” of Joseph's imprisonment represents the 2,000 year gospel age to the Gentiles that began from Jesus resurrection.

The 7 years of harvest and 7 years of famine in the days of Joseph is also an end-time prophecy for a great harvest of saints and the 7 years of tribulation, Rev 14:14-19. And Joseph who was put in charge of the harvest and famine submitting himself only to Pharaoh is a picture for Jesus who will be overseeing a great end-time harvest of saints and the tribulation judgment of unbelieving mankind under the authority of his Father in heaven, Gen 41:1-46,
Mat 13:36-43, Luke 3:17.

Jesus was resurrected in approximately 30 to 33 AD. Therefore the 2,000 year gospel to the Gentiles (2 whole years) that began from Christ's resurrection should be completed in 2030 to 2033, and will be followed by the 7 years of tribulation that will end in the 2037 to 2040 time-frame.

In the scriptures there are several other stories that strongly confirm there will be a 2,000 year gospel age that began from Jesus resurrection and will be completed when the tribulation is about to take place. And although no one knows the day or hour when the tribulation will begin, Jesus said when you see Israel the fig tree blossom into a nation (in 1948) then you will know the tribulation is near, Mat 24:32-34.

If the tribulation ends in the 2037 to 2040 time-frame those who were born in 1948 will be approximately 89 to 92 years old when Jesus returns to save Israel at the end of the tribulation. And the generation that was alive when Israel became a nation will not pass away before all things are fulfilled, Mat 24:34.
[CENTER]He who has ears to hear let him hear, Mat 13:41-43.[/CENTER]