Friday, May 31, 2013
How do Hebrew Scriptures show Jesus as the Messiah? -- part 2
Continued from last week…..
At the time of Christ, it was believed that the Messiah would renew the manna given in the wilderness. This is why the crowds got terribly excited when Jesus fed them all with only five loaves and two fishes. He told them to calm down, because that was just lunch. He was the true bread come down from heaven and that unless we ate his flesh and drank his blood, we would have no life in us. This made the crowds a little queasy and they decided to pack up and go home. So has the Messiah reestablished the manna of the Exodus? You betcha! It’s called Holy Communion. Every Sunday the Messiah and His lovely Bride, the Church prepare a wonderful sacrificial banquet for 1,200,000,000 Catholics and another 250,000,000 Eastern Orthodox. That’s around one billion five hundred million folks. Not all them come to the feast, but it’s there for them. What a wonderful way to fulfill this Messianic expectation to a degree and in a way that none of the prophets or patriarchs could even have imagined. See you there Sunday?
Here is another expectation. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court will be re-established. “And I will restore your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning.” (Isaiah 1:26) Some claim that Christ did not establish a government or structured Church. These are people who are clueless about how to read the Bible. Whenever you see the number twelve it refers to government. Twelve tribes, twelve judges in the Book of Judges, etc. Jesus gathered twelve students and says they will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This expectation of governmental restoration certainly seems to reflect the Messianic council of twelve expected by the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Manual of Discipline 1QS 8:1). Similarly, Jesus’ council of twelve was clearly headed by three leaders, Peter, James and John, just as the council of twelve in the Qumran document was headed by three priests (1QS 8:1). We Catholics have maintained a Church government for 2,000 years. In this sense, the Messiah Jesus has certainly fulfilled the Sanhedrin expectation.
Yet another Messianic expectation: “Once He is King, leaders of other nations will look to Him for guidance.” (Isaiah 2:4) I think most people resent the involvement of the Church in secular politics, but this involvement is a Messianic expectation! Nations have warred against the Church and its leadership while at the same time looking to that leadership for guidance. The West was incapable of defeating European Marxism until Ronald Reagan consulted with Carol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II). World leaders turn to Rome whether they are Catholic or not. So the leaders of the world do look to Christ in the person of His Vicar, the Bishop of Rome.
In 1917, Pope Benedict XV proposed a seven-point peace plan to end the hostilities of the First World War, but President Woodrow Wilson rejected the plan. A peace treaty was never arrived at, an armistice was signed, but not a peace treaty. That finally arrived too late in 1923. Germany was heavily punished for the war and the Versailles Armistice practically guaranteed the Second World War which the Germans saw as a resumption of the Great (First World) War. President Woodrow Wilson, one of the most thick-headed of American Presidents, fired his Roman Catholic adviser Joseph Tiumulty in 1916 because of the anti-Catholic bias of his wife Edith and his adviser Col. Edward M. House. House was the promoter of the US government’s effort to aid Mexican Freemasons in their attempt to destroy the Catholic Church in Mexico. Edith then had complete control of Woodrow’s schedule, and was her husband’s major foreign policy adviser.
This meant that the pope would be excluded from the Versailles peace negotiations. If the world had listened to Pope Benedict XV, six million Jews and countless other would not have gone to their deaths, Hitler would have remained a schlock artist selling his post cards in the gay bars and flop houses of Vienna and the whole world would have been different. Oh, by the way, there was a Vietnamese busboy named Ho Chi Minh in Paris at the time of the Versailles conference. He hoped that Woodrow Wilson would help negotiate independence for Vietnam from the French, but Woodrow and Edith were no more available to Ho Chi Minh that they had been to the pope. Bad call. So the pig-headed Edith and the compliant Woodrow can be blamed, to some degree for the Second World War, the Vietnam War, the Holocausts -- Jewish and Cambodian -- and the deaths of the Cristeros. It’s a good thing at least to listen to the Pope, and even to the busboys.
Yet another expectation. He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) through Solomon
(1 Chronicles 22:8-10, 2 Chronicles 7:18). Jesus has two separate and different genealogies. One in Luke traces Jesus’ descent from David through Solomon, one in Matthew traces Jesus’ descent through Nathan, David’s fourth son. Sextus Julius Africanus (160- 240 AD) a native of Jerusalem who lived in Emmaus claims that the family of Jesus claimed that Joseph had legal genealogies and a natural one. The family of David was much intermarried as was the custom and still is in the Middle East, near relatives adopting children of one branch into their own branch to keep that particular blood line from dying out. There is another objection to Jesus Davidic descent. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are those of Joseph. Joseph was a son of David, but the Scriptures are quite emphatic, he was not the father of Jesus. Jesus had no human father. The ancients answered this objection quite simply by pointing out that Mary was also a descendant of David, and a relative of Joseph, which too was a custom and still is in the Middle East. So Jesus is descended from David.
The “Spirit of the Lord” will be upon Him, and He will have a “fear of God” (Isaiah 11:2) The Holy Spirit certainly was upon Jesus, and Jesus certainly had a fear of the Lord. It was not the fear of a creature before a mighty God, but the awe of a Son who fears nothing more than disobeying or disappointing His Father in heaven.
Another expectation. Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4). Have you been following the recent past? Hitler tried to kidnap or kill the pope. Stalin did the same. As did Robespierre and Napoleon. So did the Roman Emperors and the Holy Roman Emperors, some of whom were none too holy. Now presidents are giving it a shot. We’ll see how that works out.
“He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful.” (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9) It is an interesting side note that the wilds and wastes of Europe in middle ages were opened up by the farming know-how of monks. In their quest for ever greater hardship and solitude, monk moved to the fringes of civilization, and where they went others followed. This is continued by the long history of priest-scholars who have blessed the world with learning. Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) – Augustinian monk and father of genetics, Bishop Nicolas Steno (1638–1686) the father of modern geology and stratigraphy (look it up) and Georges Lemaître (1894–1966), father of the Big Bang Theory (the theory, not the sit-com). There are maybe a thousand more. Look it up at “List of Roman Catholic cleric-scientists” on Wikipedia.
Everybody knows that the Catholic Church is opposed to science and progress. Take it from me. Everybody is an idiot. I’ve met him. He’s nothing like his cousin Everyman. Perhaps you’ve heard that “None of us alone is as stupid as all of us together.” When you here someone say, “Everybody knows that....” assume that what everybody knows is wrong. The efforts of the Catholic Church, clergy and laity, have advanced the well being of the world inestimably. They have made barren land fruitful over and over again.
There are a number of expectations that are very similar, and I believe, are fulfilled in a very direct and clear way by the Roman Catholic Church, the Bride and Body of the Messiah Jesus. First, the peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23) Second, knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9) and, third, He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10). Fourth, The people of Israel will have direct access to the Torah through their minds and Torah study will become the study of the wisdom of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33) When we hear the words “People of Israel” we assume that it is synonymous with the “Jews.” This is not so. Jews are a subset of the people called “Israel,” especially as the prophets used the term. They were thinking of all twelve tribes, not just the tribe of Judah, which is rendered “Jew” in modern English.
Dr. Hahn makes the point that the in-gathering of the Lost Tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be impossible without the in-gathering of the peoples among whom they were dispersed and with whom they intermarried. There are Jews in China who look Chinese . There are the Lemba in South Africa and Zimbabwe who look as African as any African, but who have a higher percentage of men descended from Aaron the high priest than do most obviously Jewish communities. Among Jews there is a particular genetic marker, CMH. It is prevalent among Jewish “Kohanim” a word the means priests descended from Aaron. The Lemba of South Africa and Zimbabwe tell the story that the founder of the Buba clan led Lemba out of Israel. A genetic study found that 50% of the men in the Buba clan had the Kohanim marker. That means that more of the Buba are descended from Aaron the brother of Moses, than, for instance the population of Bensonhurst, New York, or even, dare I say, than Skokie, Illinois!!!
I once met an appliance salesman who was clearly from India. I noticed his last name was clearly not from India, so I asked him if he were a Cochin Jew. Cochin Jews are a community of Jews in India, who claim to date to the time of King Solomon, 950 BC. He was astonished that I knew about his community. I told him I don’t get out much, so I have time to learn a lot of obscure and pointless things. As it turns out , he too was descended from Aaron the priest.
There were Israelites in India at the time of Christ, which is why St. Thomas the Apostle went there, to tell the Israelites about the Messiah from the Tribe of Judah, Jesus, Son of Joseph, Son of David, Son of God. Many of those Cochin Israelite/Jews accepted the Messiah, and became “Nasrani” followers of the Nazarene and they have been Christian since the time of Christ and they come to the 7:15 AM Mass at my parish. Fr. Simon, a man more Teutonic than the former pope, had a mother who was the most Jewish looking woman I have ever known. When she was asked to disclose her religion on a form or questionnaire, they would say to her “Mrs. Simon, it’s no shame being Jewish.” She would respond, “I know, but I’m Catholic!” To gather Israel in, the Messiah will have to bring in the Chinese, the Indians, the Lemba, the Germans and even perhaps the Irish. When the Bible mentions Israel is does not necessarily mean “Jew.” Jews are certainly Israel, but we Catholics think that we are too, at least by adoption, and often enough genetically.
So, is the in-gathering of Israel that is the great work of the Messiah, the Son of Joseph, and the universal knowledge of the One God, accomplished by the Messiah, Jesus? Been to the Vatican lately? All those theology and Scripture students scurry about getting to class on time. The Books of Moses are read there in a way that the prophets would have thought inconceivable. For instance, Pope John Paul’s funeral was the single largest gathering of world leaders in history -- four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended. The funeral was the most-watched television broadcast in history. Billions of people heard “The Lord is my shepherd.....”) As for the gathering of the nations, these days in Rome you have to stand in line to get into a line. The whole world goes to Rome to marvel at the art and beauty inspired by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Could you imagine the amazement of Abraham to see how the word that God gave him was to be fulfilled?
Yet more expectations. All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12) and death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8). At that same funeral those billions of watchers heard the beautiful chant In Paradisum
“May the angels lead you into Paradise. May the martyrs come to welcome you on your way, and lead you into the Holy City, Jerusalem.”
If our understanding is right, then death is swallowed up and all Israel, scattered through the nations will be gathered into the true and eternal Jerusalem, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) So in this Jesus has fulfilled another expectation “There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease.” (Isaiah 25:8)
The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness. (Isaiah 51:11) Those Jews who accept the Messiah Jesus, they seem to think this is true. Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel. (Isaiah 52:13-53:5) Even the Vatican has been making apologies. The ruined cities of Israel will be restored. (Ezekiel 16:55) Take a trip to Israel. Lots of construction going on.
There are still just a few Messianic expectations to go He will be a messenger of peace. (Isaiah 52:7) Ever heard the words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) If the Messiah has come, why is there no world peace? Remember the story of Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi and Elijah? If you here his voice, he has come and if you receive he gives peace not as the world gives peace, words repeated at every Catholic Mass.
Weapons of war will be destroyed. (Ezekiel 39:9) We are working on this one. It’s not easy because the governments of this world are so thick headed. Still we have some proud moments, like the Peace of God in the Middle Ages, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II who brought down Marxism in Europe without a shot being fired or a soldier being killed.
He will give you all the worthy desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4) Remember that the desires of the heart and the desires of the head are quite different. Most of us think that the desires of our head and heart arm the same. When you get to know the Messiah, you find that He’s all that’s worth desiring.
And finally, all of the dead will rise again. (Isaiah 26:19) We still wait for this with our fellow Israelites, the tribe of Judah. We already have a taste of the Resurrection in the Messiah, risen from the dead and present in our tabernacles, but we still await the resurrection of our own bodies. Though our bodies have not risen, our hearts have, and those who were dead in their souls have found hope and life and purpose by learning to hear the Messiah’s voice. I invite you to do the same, to ask Him in the quiet of you own heart if all this could be true, ask Him to speak to your heart and mind and to make His home within you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
As the little golden banners fluttering on cars in Skokie and elsewhere proclaim, “Khai Melech Hamoshiach!” (That’s Hebrew for “Long live Christ the King, or Viva Cristo Rey!)