And Yahshua said to them, “Truly, I say to you, when the Son of Adam sits on the throne of His esteem, you who have followed Me in the rebirth, shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Yisrae’el.”
ALAS, THE ROPE AND THE BRANCH he tied it to were no longer strong enough to keep him suspended. While his toes intuitively swayed with the breeze, the sun beat down upon Yehudah of Qerioth, and his internal organs rotted. Within days, his flesh began to bloat and discolor—a hatching for larvae and a feast for flies. Even from afar, the stench of death likely clung to the pores of those who passed. In Yerushalayim, death followed everyone home like a whisper. It is unknown if the man who delivered Yahshua the Messiah over to the Yehudim doubled in size before the caw of a razor-beaked bird announced the final snap of the tree which held him. Falling forward, Yehudah burst open like a jug and his intestines gushed out.
He had betrayed them all.
THE CRITERIA FOR APOSTLESHIP had already been settled long before Sha’ul made the trip to Dammeseq. He had arrived several years too late. There would be twelve gates of entry into the coming Yerushalayim, and Yahshua had promised twelve thrones, by which the apostles would judge Yisrae’el. With the betrayal and death of Yehudah, only one vacancy needed filled. It is Kepha who stood up among the women and Miryam the mother of Yahshua and His brothers, a gathering of about a hundred and twenty in total, and defined the requirements of his replacement.
“It is therefore necessary,” he said, “that of the men who have been with us all the time, that the Master Yahshua went in and out among us, beginning from the immersion of Yohanan to that day when He was taken up from us, that one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Two men fit that description.
Yoseph called Barsabba, who was also called Justus, and Mattithyahu.
The Apostles and those among them prayed: “You, YAHUAH, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two You have chosen to receive the share in this service and office of the emissary from which Yehudah by transgression fell, to go to his own place.”
The group cast lots. It fell upon Mattithyahu.
Acts 1:26 concludes, he was numbered with the eleven emissaries.
Yahshua was wet with the river, after Yohanan dipped him in. He ate and drank with his disciples. The women fell at His feet after He sat up and walked out of the tomb. T’oma, called the Twin, touched his wounds. They cast nets and then ate fish together along the seashore. Hundreds saw Him ascend. The thirteenth Apostle experienced none of those things.
Sha’ul simply saw a bright light and he heard a voice.
Even Pontius Pilate, the prefect of Yehuda, stood alone and face to face with the Son of Elohim in the inner-cave, his praetorium, swimming in the unexpected tide of truth, completely enveloped by the light of this world, and desperately trying to cling to the darkness of his ignorance. Centuries later, Muhammed would receive his own special revelation through the spirit who claimed the name of the Archangel Jibrīl. In the spring of 1820, from a wooded area in Manchester, New York, Joseph Smith received a vision of his own. In order to discredit the founders of Islam and the Mormon church, Sha’ul might simply claim: “HaSatan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
The Apostle Yohanan, whom Yahshua loved, would later write:
“The one who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother stays in the light, and there is no darkness until now. The one who loves his brother stays in the light, and there is no stumbling block in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
1 Yohanan 1: 9-11
Sha’ul saw a light and heard a voice, and then he was struck blind. He arrived at Dammeseq with darkness of vision. It is therefore perhaps not a coincidence that his very first recorded miracle was not healing anyone, as Yahshua or his Apostles had done. According to Acts 13:8-12, while filled with the Set-Apart spirit, its author Luqas claims, Sha’ul also struck Elumas the magician blind. His experience on the road to Dammeseq would play a concentrated role within his very doctrines. His was the spiritual Messiah rather than the fleshly. With Sha’ul, even the requirements of an Apostle would chance. And in time, his own account of his meeting with Yahshua would correct itself—twice.
WE KNOW SHA’UL WAS IN YERUSHALAYIM before he was struck blind on the road, particularly because he oversaw the stoning of Stephanos. Afterwards, it later took Barnaba for the apostles to even agree to meet with Sha’ul. In Acts 9:26-27 we read: “having arrived at Yerushalayim, Sha’ul tried to join the taught ones, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a taught one. But Barnaba took him and brought him to the emissaries, and told them how he had seen the Master on the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he was speaking boldly at Dammeseq in the Name of Yahshua.”
Now, this so-called fear which the believers in Yerushalayim are often said to have experienced over Sha’ul, particularly in the way the fear itself is advertised, in no way exemplifies the apostles whom we otherwise know. It should be noted that Yahshua, after His own resurrection from the dead, had told His disciples to remain in Yerushalayim, where they boldly proclaimed Him. Stephanos had been murdered three years prior to this event. They feared Sha’ul, and yet his biographer has Kepha and Yohanan being brought twice before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 and 5, and in both cases, they boldly proclaimed the truth before them. After the Pharisees forbad them to preach the name of Yahshua, the two men went away rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His holy name. The truth of the matter is, and the text even says this much, the apostles feared Sha’ul because they did not believe that he was a taught one. Why is that so? Luqas was certainly convinced of his message. Perhaps the apostles knew something about the man, which even Scripture, a little later on, will let us in on.
At any rate, here is another often overlooked fact. Sha’ul did not remain in their midst. This is important. Throughout his ministry, the brothers had a habit of leaving Sha’ul, or he was sent away. Riots followed Sha’ul almost wherever he went. While in Yerushalayim, the Hellenists sought to kill Sha’ul. It is interesting indeed that Sha’ul did not continue with the apostles. The brothers sent Sha’ul away to Caesarea, that he might return to Tarsos. With Sha’ul finally gone, perhaps for good, it wasn’t simply Yerushalayim which found shalom, walking in the fear of YAHUAH and in the encouragement of the Set-apart Spirit, as Acts documents.
In Sha’ul’s absence, all of Yehudah, and Galil, even Shomeron had shalom.
ABRAM BECAME ABRAHAM. Sarai became Sarah. Esaw became Edom. Ya’aqob became Yisrae’el. Shim’on became Kepha, which means a Stone. Sha’ul however did not become Paul. Rather, Luqas informs us in Acts 13:9, Sha’ul “was also called Paul.” In reality, the thirteenth apostle was known by the Yerushalayim council and those whom he ministered to by the name of Yisrae’el’s first apostate king. Their character is in no way dissimilar. Sha’ul’s very first letter was hastily written in anger. It is with the epistle to the Galatiyim in which Sha’ul, who was also called Paul, was introduced to human history. And with his opening words, even the very requirements of an apostle had changed.
“Sha’ul, an emissary—not from men, nor by a man, but Yahshua Messiah and Elohim the Father who raised Him from the dead.”
Who needed approval from the committee?