Wednesday, April 4, 2012


As chronological students of the Bible we have been able to trace humanity's decline into sin alongside God's unravelling plan of redemption. For this second term we've looked at the Prophets and one of our assignments was to record each prophecy and revelation regarding the coming Messiah. Before we read the book of Matthew we each had to write an essay encompassing all the expectations the Israelites will have had in regards to their awaited King. It has been so rewarding to tie the laces and step into the shoes of a Hebrew person of around 400BC (Malachi's time.) For those who would love to adopt the mindset of an anticipating Jew of the Old Testament I've attached my essay below. It has been so interesting to read about Jesus' fulfilling identity. This essay is written from the perspective of a righteous Jew shortly after Malachi's prophetic ministry who trusted in the words of the prophets:

Messianic Prophecy Assignment

(Written from the perspective of a Jew in the early 5th Century BC – post Malachi.)
            My people are fallible. Despite the benefit of time which ought to further establish our understanding of YHWH, we have been accumulating in how we contrast YHWH as a people. We have perfected how to feign holiness, growing similar to whatever kingdom that rules over us, but we’re not fooling God. Sin is so subtle you see. It’s not often that malevolent intentions are what lead to sin, but rather small decisions and small deceptions and selfish wants. I didn’t even perceive my own rebellion which had crept back into routine until Malachi spoke up. This has really provoked me to look back to these prophets that sprang up throughout my people’s history. The fact that God was speaking comforts me that sin won’t quieten God. I write as a broken person who comprehends the extent of sin and I see my people’s incapability to escape the resulting guilt. We can’t stop failing God. I clutch onto His promises through Noah, Abraham, Moses and David but I too see how throughout my people’s history we have never been able to give God what He required of us. I can hear it as I listen to people talk; in the market places, in the streets, even outside the Temple. We are so disappointed in God. I confess: it’s often hard to believe that He hasn’t abandoned us completely. He claims that He is faithful, but where is our king? Where is His glory? Although this is hard, I am squinting to see God’s truth and His intentions for us. For, despite how my people have gone from victory to shame to foreign rule, nothing yet has been able to destroy us completely. As a Hebrew I can confidently say that this is not at all because of us, in fact, it is despite of us. I know that our preservation is because of God’s sovereignty. I know that He isn’t done with us yet. I know that He has more.
            I look back to Adam and to Abraham and I perceive God’s desire for relevance to mankind. YHWH created us and He chose my people and it is my choice to trust whether He will be faithful to these decisions. Even though my nation declining in power and independence should intimidate me, and it does, this still can’t quench my anticipation for something more. There has to be more than this, and I’m not alone in this hope... This is God’s hope – He’s been speaking about it. I know that God speaks and we don’t necessarily need to listen, in fact mostly we don’t, but He still communicates for the few who do and I am one of them. He speaks of a coming king (Jeremiah 23:5-6.)
            At the moment my people are nestled in humiliation with a contradictory combination of the promise of an enduring dynasty yet no reigning king. But David’s line will be relevant once again. This David, who ruled in righteousness and selflessness; justice and purpose, one like him and from him will come (Hosea 3:5). But this time, this rule won’t be compromised or lead to sin and failure, when this Branch comes (Isaiah 11:1), his reign will be everlasting (Jeremiah 17:25). When God speaks about this leader He will raise up I feel wary because my people have been characterised by rebellious kings who lead from their own desire for power and don’t recognise God’s. But this coming king, he will be different. He will be righteous and lead in justice (Jeremiah 25:5-6/33:15.) In fact, he will be so contrary to what we’ve seen before that he will uniquely be called ‘the Lord is our righteousness’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6) – his righteousness will overflow onto others! If we’re looking closely enough, we’ll notice that this man shall come from Bethlehem, as promised through Micah (5:2) and he will ride on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). This is the authority my people long for. We live imposed and inflicted by each fickle earthly kingdom, but when the Branch comes the whole earth will recognise his greatness (Micah 5:4b). His rule will be so vast that all of the nations will be affected (Isaiah 49:6.) The reason this gives me hope is not because we’ll have another physical leader, for my people have had plenty and yet that was never enough. But this man, should God surely raise him up, will signify that God was faithful when he made covenant with David. This king won’t be characterised by the same things as the worldly ones we’ve known so far, he won’t even be similar to David – he will surpass. He is the over-comer of injustice and our oppression with vengeance (Isaiah 61:1-2). Here God is promising to give us tangible proof of His faithfulness and of His ability to intervene in our time of darkness (Isaiah 9:1-2). He will bring peace to our turmoil (Micah 5:4b/Isaiah 11:6-8/Zechariah 9:10), unity to our divided family (Hosea 1:10-11) and long-awaited judgement on the nations (Micah 4:3). He will be our saviour (Jeremiah 23:5-6) in our time of great need.
            I know that a king will come from Judah; from the Davidic dynasty – I wait for this time. But this coming man goes beyond what I can comprehend. He definitely surpasses that which I’ve seen before. For he will be both royalty (Isaiah 11:1) and a servant (Isaiah 42:1a/49:5.) Despite having growing authority (Isaiah 9:7), he will be looked down upon (Isaiah 53:5-6). He will be man (he has to be – he will be born of a virgin: Isaiah 7:14) yet will come on clouds which signifies YHWH. He will be killed (13:7), yet his reign will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14b). And so, I perceive that I can’t perceive. I chose to trust that God is trying to communicate that we are to anticipate and hope in this coming Messiah; Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) but that we don’t need to be able to understand what exactly this will look like. I stand assured, in faith, of God’s faithfulness. I pray that he comes in my life-time; I don’t think my people can endure much longer without intervention.
            A king isn’t what I long for most, although I admit I am the minority in this. My people greatly desire another worldly figure to lead them, but this alone isn’t enough – it doesn’t work. For me; for my family; for the Hebrews; for humanity we have a greater desperation. Sin reigns. Even God’s people are incapable in the face of sin; we all are lusting, tempted and guilty. But this is why I have hope: God acknowledges that we are drowning in iniquity and He intends to intervene. His intervention is this coming king (Isaiah 53:12b). According to YHWH, there is a means to defeating sin and this will be established by the Branch. He will heal sin’s scar (Hosea 14:4). Through him iniquity can be forgiven (Jeremiah 30:31-34) and cleansed (Zechariah 13:1). This man will come on behalf of sin; he will adopt iniquity in order to see its defeat (Isaiah 53:4-6). Therefore, since creation the world has been waiting for such a man; for such a mission and I believe it is nearly here. I pray that it is.
            My nation has undergone severe changes throughout our history. We wanted kings, we got kings. We wanted idolatry, we got idolatry. We wanted foreign alliances, we signed the contracts. Even exile was the result of our choices. Now I anticipate that great change is coming (perhaps the greatest yet), and this is solely God’s decision. We didn’t ask for this, we can barely anticipate what this looks like, but I know that change is on the horizon. Like God initiated the covenant with Abram, now He promises a time of new covenant (Hosea 2:18-20/Isaiah 49:8b.) This won’t be like the one I know now; this can’t be broken (Jeremiah 30:31-34). In fact this current covenant will be annulled and surpassed (Zechariah 11:10.) This is the answer to my disappointment. Although I know well of my sinful nature, I can’t help but blame God sometimes. I wonder whether purity will always be too hard to gain. When I take time to think beyond myself and meditate on God’s words through the prophets I feel corrected and assured that YHWH is still reigning sovereignly over us and that He has a greater plan. And so now: I hope; I wait; I pray.