John 1:43-51: The following day Yeshua wanted to go to
Galilee, and He found Philip
and said to him, "Follow Me."… Philip found Nathanael and said to
him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets,
wrote -- Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything
good come out of ?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold,
an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know
me?" Yeshua answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when
you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim!
You are the King of Israel!" Yeshua
answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig
tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I
say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending
and descending upon the Son of Man." Nazareth
At first glance, it must be admitted that this episode is quite unusual and enigmatic. Yeshua, who had just ‘conscripted’ Philip, is now interacting with Nathanael. This is a moment when the Son of Elohim speaks into a man’s heart: “I saw you,” He says to him, thereby meeting a deep longing to be SEEN truly for who we are! Yeshua, in so doing, expresses His insight into Nathanael’s inner being. And much to the latter’s (probable) surprise, the Messiah says of him, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit”. Having been seen, in soul and physically, Nathanael responds by exclaiming: “Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the King of Israel!” Thus “an Israelite indeed” recognizes that the King of Israel has just been revealed to Him. Certainly a touching scene! But Yeshua does not stop there, and continues to reveal Himself and His mission, culminating with: “Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of Man". The picture or illustration which Yeshua presents here leave no room for doubt as to who He is, tying Himself, as He does, to the very heavens and to Elohim’s messengers. But who or what else does Yeshua infer by this illustration?
The obvious answer is found in Genesis 28:10-15: Now Jacob went out from
Beersheba and went toward . So he came to a certain place and stayed
there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that
place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the
angels of Elohim were ascending and descending on it. And behold, YHVH stood above it and said:
"I am YHVH the Elohim of Abraham your father and the Elohim of Isaac;
the land on which you lie I will give to you and your seed. Also your seed
shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the
east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families
of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I
am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you
back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have
spoken to you". Haran
The theme of Jacob’s “ladder dream” is YHVH’s repeated promises to three generations of men that, their descendants, of whom there will be many, will inherit the land, will spread in all directions and will bless the other peoples/nations of the world. Comparing Himself to the ladder, connecting heaven and earth, Yeshua is making a definitive statement of His identity and role. But it doesn’t end there. The picture of YHVH’s messengers which is being invoked by Yeshua, is the picture that Jacob saw, so as to become cognizant of the fact that YHVH’s promises are guaranteed and witnessed to by the heavenly host. So why is the One who has just been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, associates this promise with His ‘description’ of Himself? Is it because Yeshua is pointing to the fact that when He is truly perceived or seen as the one whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, then the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over
, into a full blown reality? Israel
With all this said, if Yeshua’s above-quoted statement is examined in light of two more encounters, which follow this one, it will become apparent that Yeshua was not only ‘upgrading’ Jacob’s dream, but that He will also add another dimension to its fulfillment. In the next two examples Yeshua will use, once more, illustrations from
’s past in order to point to
Himself as a Giver of Life, and to the Spirit of Truth as the agent of action
and fulfillment. Israel
Thus, after the wedding at Cana, we see Yeshua meeting Nakdimon (Nicodemus), in which encounter He compares Himself to the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert thus thwarting the attack of the fiery snakes on the Children of Israel (in the wake of the latter’s complaints about their food supply. See Numbers 21:4-9). The “lifting up of the Son of Man”, likened to the lifting up of the bronze serpent, is an obvious reference to Yeshua’s coming death on the cross and to the resultant outcome to those who will believe in Him, who will not perish but will have eternal life (see John 3:15).
In the next instance Yeshua encounters a Samaritan woman at a well, where He points to Himself as to the source of “living water, springing up into eternal life” (John 4:14). Just as in the occasion with Nathanael, here too Yeshua appears to know the woman through and through (v. 18), and according to her own admittance “told her all that she ever did” (v. 29). But aside from this personal aspect of the encounter, when Yeshua makes reference to worshiping in the ‘holy sites’, notably bringing up Jerusalem, He declares categorically: “…the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” (John 4:21, 23).
Historically not too long after these words were uttered
and for many years worship therein was not possible. In saying these words
Yeshua was not abolishing Jerusalem’s (future) role, but was emphasizing that
worship rendered to the Father, whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere, was to be first
and foremost IN Spirit and Truth. Jerusalem
So how does this relate to our original text of the “ladder”, the heavenly one, or to the one in Jacob’s dream? Let us repeat once again the questions as to why the One who has been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, is associating the promise to Jacob at Bethel with His own ‘description’ of Himself. Is it because Yeshua is pointing out that when He is truly perceived or seen as the One whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over
, into a full blown reality?
If the answer to these questions is a resounding YES, in light of what we have
just cited, what else must be added? Israel
We saw Yeshua ‘spiritualizing’ the brazen snake’s healing power as well as having ‘spiritualized’ worship beyond a physical locality, teaching us that the fulfillment of promises to the Patriarchs’ progeny also has to be ‘spiritualized’. Yeshua is not negating the literal fulfillments. Rather, He is elevating them to a higher place or status. The fulfillments and their recipients are to be, first and foremost, imbued by Spirit AND Truth. Upon being seen by their/our Redeemer (just as He saw the sufferings of the Hebrews, Exodus 2:25), an awakening has to take place such as Nathanael’s, who was transformed from total skepticism, to a softening of the heart which led him to recognize the Persona of Truth, a recognition which brought about submission. Likewise, without a radical heart transformation on the part of the would-be recipients, the fulfillment of the promises will be, at best, made up only of the grains of the dust mentioned by Elohim in the words that He spoke our forefathers…