How to Understand the New Testament-Part 9

In Christian Eschatology, many believe that the Tribulation (Birthpains) is a seven year period that happens before the 1000 year “Millenium.” In Jewish eschatology, the Birthpains are at the beginning of the Atid Lavo meaning “the Coming Age” (also known as “the Day of the Lord”; “Lord’s Day” and in Christianity “the Millenium”)), the first seven years. In Jewish eschatology there is a concept of the Two Messiah’s, one called Messiah Ben Joseph, the suffering servant, and the called Messiah Ben David, the conquering king. But, how can the Lord’s Day, the Day of the Lord, or Millenium, be a time of peace when the first seven years are the Birthpains, or “tribulation?” We have covered the fact that Abraham’s Bosom is Hebron, and this became an idiom for “heaven.” The morning Tamid service cannot begin until the sun could be seen “lighting up” Hebron from the Temple walls. Why did they do this? Because
this was seen as a type of the resurrection, it begins there. Abraham was seen there in the parable in Luke 16. This resurrection is to occur on Rosh Ha Shannah, year 6001 from creation, and on this day there will be a coronation of Yeshua and a wedding also. These are all themes for Rosh Ha Shannah. This day will be the first day of Tishri, the first day of the Day of the Lord. So, peace starts in heaven, and believers will be gathered to him so it will be peace for us, and lasts 1000 years from that date (Tishri 1) and Yeshua will reign in heaven (Hebron, Abraham’s Bosom) seven years like David did (2 Sam 5.1-5) and then move to Jerusalem after seven years. Now, the concept of the Two Messiah’s was quite prevalent, some groups had three. In Zech 6.9-13 we see a High priest named Joshua, in Ezra 3.1-2 the same man is called Yeshua. The “tzemach” is a term for the Messiah and it means “branch” (Isa 4.2; Jer 23.5; Jer 33.15-16; Zech 3.6-10). In Zech 6.9-13, we have a High Priest whose name is “the branch” who is sitting on a throne as King (Zech 6.13). The Dead Sea Scrolls talk about “the Prophet” of Deut 18.15-18. The New Testament talks about “the Prophet” in John 1.21 and 7.40. So, we are developing the fact that there were several concepts relating to the Messiah by the first century. There is a priestly Messiah, a Kingly Messiah, the “Prophet”, the Branch and there was the possibility that these things would be fulfilled in several comings. Even Yochanon ha Matvil (John the Baptist) needed clarification on this in Luke 7.18-20. Many have taught that he was “doubting” but that is impossible. God raised him up as the forerunner of the Messiah, to prepare the way. In Jewish eschatology he is known as the “voice” in Isa 40.3 and the “messenger” in Mal 3.1. John knew that Yeshua was the Messiah, the suffering servant of Isaiah (Messiah Ben Joseph), and he was sent to baptize in order to identify him. When he saw the Spirit descend on him and rest in the form of a dove, he knew. What he didn’t know was if Yeshua was going to fulfill all the messianic prophecies (“are you the one”) or would there be another to fulfill the Messiah Ben David role. Yeshua would fulfill all the messianic prophecies in two comings. The concept of the “Teacher” is seen in Joel 2.23 where early rain is “teacher of righteousness” or “moray tzedekah” in Hebrew. This term is also seen in John 11.28. So, the terms we have so far is Tzemach (branch); Moray Tzedekah (teacher of righteousness); Ha Navi (the Prophet); Ha Kohen (the Priest); Ha Melek (the King) and Mashiach ben Yosef (Messiah Ben Joseph). As you can see, there was the possibility of several eschatological figures that could come forth. Over time, two primary figures develop, Messiah Ben David and Messiah Ben Joseph. In Genesis 49 there is prophecy given. In v 1 we have a time reference for this called the “acharit yamin” or the last days. In the prophecy to Judah, he is called the kingly tribe (Gen 49.8-12). In Deut 33.1 we have Moses blessing the tribes. In v 7 he says that Judah would be a helper to his people. So we will see that the kingly ruler would come from Judah, and later the family of David. The other messianic figure is called the Messiah Ben Joseph. In Gen 49.22-26, a prophecy of the last days, Joseph is referred to as being persecuted but would “shepherd” Israel. The term shepherd is another word for “king.” In Deut 33.13-17 we find that Joseph ruled, the land was blessed and prospered, but he was separate from his brothers, suffered and was wounded also. There are several sources you can get more information from, like the Messiah Texts by Rafael Patai; the Jewish Encyclopedia under “Messiah”; the Mishnah, Sukkah 5.2 and the footnote on Messiah Ben Joseph there; and Rosh Ha Shannah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come by Joseph Good, in the section “Dual Concept of the Messiah.” In the concept of the two messiah’s, Messiah Ben Joseph (the suffering messiah) comes before Messiah Ben David (the kingly messiah). The concept of the suffering servant is an interesting one. Servant in Hebrew is “eved” and before Yeshua came there already was a concept of the two messiah’s. Various ideas existed, but he is known as the “Suffering Servant of God.” When Yeshua arrived on the scene, this concept was well known. In Isa 40 1-11 we see the term “arm” which is an anthropomorphism for the Messiah. In v 10 we see that “his reward is with him (arm)” and this is quoted in Rev 22.12, and in v 11 he will be like a shepherd (Gen 49.24). Isaiah is full of what is know as the servant passages. Some refer to Messiah, some to Israel, some to both. We see in Isa 52.13-15 and Isa 53 that this refers to the Messiah, suffering and being despised. So by the time the first century came along, there were many ideas concerning the Messiah, but they were beginning to “merge” together. In John 1.45 we Yeshua being referred to as the “son of Joseph.” This is not referring to his earthly father, Phillip wouldn’t have known his name. In John 1.29 we see Yeshua being referred to as the “Lamb of God” but lambs were not used as a korban chata’at (sin offering). In the book “The Christology of the New Testament” by Oscar Cullman, p 71, he says that “lamb of God” is mistranslated and in Aramaic the phrase “talay ha da alah” can mean lamb of God or servant of God, and John had in mind “servant of God”, which makes more sense, and falls in line with the servant concept. In John 1.49, Yeshua is called “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” and this is a Hebrew parallelism. Kings of Israel were also seen as adopted sons by the Lord (1 Chr 17.11-13; 1 Chr 28.5-7). These titles are messianic and they merge in Psa 2.6-7, which is a coronation Psalm and part of the ritual for installing a king. In Joel 2.23 we have an interesting passage. It says that the two comings of the Messiah will come as the rain (Hos 6.1-3; James 5.7). These rains will come “in the first month” but how can that be when these rains are 6 months apart. It can when we know that there are two calendars in operation, one civil and one religious. The word for “early rain” there is “moray tzedekah” in Hebrew and it means “teacher of righteousness.” And because there were two calendars in operation, Messiah’s first coming would happen in the spring, in the first month of the religious calendar called Nisan, and he would have a second coming in the fall, in the first month of the civil calendar called Tishri. The festivals, called the appointed times, are set in Lev 23. The terms used in these festivals will relate to the Messiah as well as the festivals. If you don’t understand the festivals and the terms, idioms, concepts and phrases, you will miss out on what the Lord wants to communicate. Paul understood this and said so in 1 Thes 5.1-5. In Part 10, we are going to begin with the Messiah and the spring festivals in Nisan, which will be very important in your understanding of the New Testament.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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