Friday, April 28, 2023

Isaiah and Caiaphas Speak

 We just celebrated Israel's 75th Independence Day. On that day Psalm 107 is read, with its many appropriate and one may even say, prophetic descriptions of what has been fulfilled, in no less than miraculous ways, in the very establishment of the State and in the course of the past 75 years of its existence. Here are a few of those excerpts from Psalm 107:

"Give thanks to YHVH, for he is good, and his loyal love endures!  Let those delivered by YHVH speak out, those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy, and gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south" (v. 1-3).  "They cried out to YHVH in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles.  He calmed the storm, and the waves grew silent" (v. 28-29). "…and he led them to the harbor they desired.  Let them give thanks to YHVH for his loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for his people!" (v. 30-31). "As for his people, he turned a desert into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water.  He allowed the hungry to settle there, and they established a city in which to live. They cultivated fields and planted vineyards, which yielded a harvest of fruit. He blessed them so that they became very numerous. He would not allow their cattle to decrease in number" (v. 35-38).

 And here is another citing, this time from Isaiah:

"Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily!  Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon" (Isaiah 35:1- 2). With a few modifications to this text, it may also be declared as having a contemporary fulfillment. However, if one reads carefully the rest of this chapter (only 10 verses), it has to be said that we still have a way to go before its beautiful predictions become a full reality. Yes, "water is flowing in the desert, streams in the wilderness.  The dry soil has become a pool of water, the parched ground springs of water" (Isaiah 35:6-7 italics indicate my tense changes). Once again, these declarations by the prophet have had some fulfillment. However, if one reads the previous and following verses, one will not fail to notice that much of what is stated there is yet to become a reality. This is especially true for the following: "A thoroughfare will be there– it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it; it is reserved for those authorized to use it– fools will not stray into it… Those delivered from bondage will travel on it, those whom YHVH has ransomed will return that way. They will enter Zion with a happy shout. Unending joy will crown them, happiness and joy will overwhelm them; grief and suffering will disappear" (Isaiah 35:8-10).


The organized return to Zion (the Zionist Movement) began decades before the founding of the State, at the end of the 19th century, and has continued ever since, with a varying ebb and flow. But there has definitely not been a "way of holiness" which was or is "not trodden by the unclean", and neither has there been so far massive waves of immigration of the "delivered/redeemed" and "ransomed", or the disappearance of grief and suffering.


In spite of the fact that millions of Jewish people have already made Aliyah (immigration) to Israel, and more are expected to come in great numbers from those places that have so far yielded relatively few immigrants, let us ask: "What and who is the prophet referring to when he describes a highway of holiness and the redeemed and ransomed who come to Zion with joy and happiness? Will it be the Jews who are still "sitting on their lees" and may be forced one day to come willy nilly to Eretz Yisrael? Under such circumstances, there will not be such great joy and happiness…


Or are these (whom Isaiah is describing in chapter 35), perhaps the ones being referred to in John chapter 11? Subsequent to the dramatic raising of Lazarus from the dead on the 4th day after this man's passing, it says that "many of the people, who had come with Mary and had seen the things Yeshua did, believed in him" (John 11:45). This, of course, threatened the authority and control of "the chief priests and the Pharisees [who] called the council (Sanhedrin) together and said, 'What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs.  If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our Temple and our nation.' Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, 'You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.'  (Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the Jewish nation, and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of Elohim who are scattered.)" (John 11:47-52 emphases added).


Wait… wasn't the (Jewish/Judean) nation spoken of in this excerpt about to go into a two-thousand-year exile? So how could Yeshua's death become useful in making these people "one with the children of Elohim who are scattered", that is, if the Jewish people were about to lose their home? And who at that time were "the children of Elohim who were/are scattered"? Moreover, how is this connected to the above-cited Isaiah prophecy?


Is there some mystery that is being presented here, to be unraveled and unveiled sometime down the road (the "road of holiness")? Is there a people that is scattered (and therefore from a national point of view are dead in a tomb), but who at some point, when redeemed and ransomed will be nationally resurrected by He who is the Life, be led in great joy on and by the Way to the land of their ancestors?  At such a time "the people" that Caiaphas was speaking about, will recognize that Yeshua indeed has died "for the one nation" (for them), while the "children of Elohim" (see Hosea 1:10) will be gathered into one. "Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land. Certainly, the day of Jezreel will be great!" (Hosea 1:11 - 2:1).  


Is the following, spoken about "Yeshua [who] no longer went around publicly among the Judeans, but went away from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples" (John 11:54) still true today? Or has He started to show up also in Judah's camp, in order to fulfill all that has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets of old? (ref. Acts 3:21). 

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