In Matt 3.2 we read where Yochanon ha Matvil (John the Baptist) said “Repent, for the Malkut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven) is here.” What does that mean today when people here this? But, when the Jewish people of the first century heard this, there was more to it than today. They think of the return of the captives, the golden age of Israel, including redemption, the Ruach ha Kodesh upon the believer in power, the Messiah is on the throne, Jerusalem is the headquarters of his reign, healing, resurrection, idolatry is destroyed, the Torah is going out to all the world, the Gentiles come to the Lord and much more. The “cut down” version is taught today, like a recipe without all the ingredients. We are not going to understand what Yeshua said about the “Gospel” unless we know what he is saying! When a Christian minister says “gospel” we are thinking something totally different than he is. So, when we read passages concerning the Gospel and the Kingdom, all the things which we have just studied come to mind.
When the Jewish people of the first century heard Joel 3.1 they start thinking about salvation, the Messiah has come, rising from shame to praise, resurrection, a political kingdom of the Messiah, glory, the lame walking, the deaf hearing and the blind seeing, the mourners are comforted, judgment of Leviathan (false messiah), the Ruach ha Kodesh upon the people, dancing and rejoicing and geographical changes. All of this is part of the “basar” or gospel. But, all the Jewish person read was “When I restore the captives of Judah and Jerusalem.”
Isa 52.7-8 says “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who announces peace and brings good news (the gospel, “basar” in Hebrew) of happiness, who announces salvation (Yeshua in Hebrew), and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices (ultimately the 144,000), they shout joyfully together, for they will see eye to eye (an idiom for Yom Kippur) when he restores (brings back) Zion.” This portion is called the “Mayneyvu” in a synagogue service. A side note here, a siddur (“order”) is a word related to “seder” which is the order for Passover and it is a Jewish Prayer Book. It contains passage after passage about these things and it is full of the “gospel” or “basar” (We recommend that you get a siddur, and we recommend the Hertz Siddur). In Christianity, people can’t see Messiah unless you hear the word “Jesus.” They can’t see salvation unless they see “you must be saved.” Their senses are dull and have lost the sense of smell and hearing.
Heb 5.11-14 says that the people were “dull of hearing” and needed meat. The word “meat” (or solid food) is another word for “basar” or “gospel.” The prayers in a siddur is full of the “gospel.”
In five minutes of liturgy that is done in a synagogue, you will have more of the Messiah (if you know what to look for) than any service you have been in. If you don’t know what to look for, it will go right over your head because it is given in a way for you to see and catch it. That’s why people don’t get more from the Tanach than they do, that’s why if people want to “see Jesus” they read the Gospels, and to understand “salvation” they read the Epistles. There was a famous preacher who said “the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” Do you think that is true? Remember, when believers went out into the world to preach the “gospel”, what “new testament” Scriptures did they have? If you knew how to read and understand the Tanach, what do you think would happen if you read the Gospels and Epistles! Some say “everything that is Jewish is not for me” and that is limiting whatever the Lord would want you to understand. If you realize that God has given the Jewish people to show Yeshua, then we should go back to the Scriptures and the fullness you will have will far exceed where you were before.
Joel 3.2…This is an interesting passage. Names in the Bible are given by God to teach us. The name “Jehoshaphat” means “Yeho (God) is shaphat (judge).” There is no valley named the “valley of Jehoshaphat.” The Book of Enoch has much to say about the eschatology, terminology and expectations of the Jewish people before Yeshua came. 1 Enoch, Book 2, Ch 53 is called the “Similtude’s of Enoch” and Jude 14 quotes from this book, which is part of what is called the Pseudo-pigrapha, or “false writings” because it really wasn’t Enoch who wrote it, but it was a “pen name.” This portion in 1 Enoch says, “My eyes saw there a deep valley with a wide mouth, and those who dwell on the earth, the sea and the islands shall bring to it gifts, presents and tributes. Yet this deep valley shall not become full. They shall fulfill the criminal deeds of their hands and eat all the produce of crime which the sinners toil for. Sinners shall be destroyed from before the face of the Lord of the Spirits, they shall perish eternally before the face of his earth. I saw the angels of plague cooperating and preparing these chains?” And he answered for the kings and potentates of this earth, so that they can be destroyed thereby. After this, the righteous and the elect one will reveal the house of his congregation and from that time on they shall not be hindered in the name of the Lord of Spirits. And these mountains will be flat like the earth in the presence of his righteousness, and the hills will become fountains of water, and the righteous ones shall have rest from the oppression of sinners.”
Now, you see from this passage from 1 Enoch that in Jewish eschatology, the people are being brought to a valley. Where is this valley? It is generally thought that this valley is southeast of Jerusalem, called the Valley of Hinnom. Some kings of Judah brought pagan idols there and children were sacrificed to Molech there, so it became a burial place for them called Tophet. Their bones were placed in an urn and buried, in memorial to Molech. One was found in Gaza, offshore in the shallows. You could see Tophet from the walls of Jerusalem. Matt 25.31-46 describes a judgment and it will happen in this area. Yeshua will be sitting on the Mount of Olives. Believers will be on his right, towards the Temple, and unbelievers will be on his left, towards Tophet. Isa 30.33 says when the Lord judges, “Tophet has long been ready and indeed it has been prepared for the king (the false messiah).” Other verses referring to Tophet are Isa 66.14-24; 2 Kings 23.10; 2 Chr 28.3; Jer 7.31-32 and 19.1-15 and Her 31.40.
In Part 9, we will pick up here and give the back-round and understanding of these passages.