MemberMarch 4, 2022 at 5:42 pm
Thanks for taking the time to explain the background history to the formation of the State of Israel. I understand the desire expressed in trying to make the connection between the discovery of the Scrolls and the formation of the State….. we all look for signs of one sort or another that affirms to us that God is on our side and further, that God is with us in the direction we are heading. As a Christian, I not only get it, but do the same thing…. look for assurances from God. Something of concern to me is that over the last twenty years or so, there has been growing discussion that western society, which has its roots firmly in the development of Christianity over the last 2000 years, is entering a post-Christian era. There is talk for a reason if one looks at the stats for church attendance among the half dozen or so, major Denominations. Here in Canada, an organization that monitors heritage sites across the country, estimates that 9000 churches will close in the next ten years. In my own community two have closed and another three are sure to do so, long before the ten year mark.
In the mid-sixties, Vatican II called for a renewal of the Catholic Church. There were issues facing the Church that needed to be addressed to assure the survival of the Church. The renewal was put off and put off till Pope Francis was able to say ten years ago that the renewal had not progressed very far, after fifty years. Now, it’s a numbers issue, in the West and there is a lot of discussion and energy being put into that Protestant thing called evangelization.☺ In the meantime, there is little talk of renewal….it’s like trying to fill up the water bucket by frantically adding more water to it without fixing the big hole in it.
The fact we haven’t undertaken seriously the renewal God called us to sixty years ago, is having the effect of a dwindling Church, at least hee in the West. To me it doesn’t matter if the Church is growing in Africa, Asia or even China, what is happening to our blessing and prosperity signifying that God is with us?….. Or is he? Moses and Yahweh worked together to prepare the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, both knowing that they would be unfaithful and disobedient once settled. Hence the writing down of the blessings and curses associated with their conduct by Moses….. and the Song of Moses to act as a witness for Yahweh against them,when the time came. The purpose of it all was so that when, not if, they found themselves destroyed by their enemies and scattered amount the nations perused by the sword, they would come to their senses and ask the rhetorical question, “If these things are happening to us, can God be with us yet?”
I think that same question is fitting for us, as Christians, to ask today…..I include all Christians today, because it’s not just a post-Catholic age…..its a post-all of us age.
Pope Paul VI wrote, shortly after Vat II that the source of all renewal (revival if you are Protestant), individual and corporate, is to seach for, identify and deal with, elements of the faith added by members of the faith that are not congruent with the person of Christ or his vision of his bride, the Church. These could be termed subjective truths vs the objective truths of God. Perhaps you can appreciate why the remedial hasn’t happened yet….how do you sort through 2000 years of Christanity, trying to sort out the subjective to get it right?😨☺!…. And it gets better yet!!!
It can’t stop there. Another apt description for us Christians is we are Messianists, believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour of all mankind. We separated from the Jewish Messianists who belived Jesus was their Awaited Anointed One, when as Gentiles, we dropped the requisite of following the Jewish customs and practices of the Mosaic Law. By claiming Jesus was the Messiah, the Jewish believers in Jesus separated themselves from mainstream Judaism who are still waiting for their Messiah to come for the first time, having been disappointed many times by those who seemed or claimed to be Him.
However, the Jewish need and hopes for an Anointed One, a decedent of David, who would reunite Israel and Judah, restore her fortunes and glory, did not always exist. Messianism was a product of the post-exilic period and developed significantly in the Intertestamental period, leading up to the time of Jesus.
There were a number of Jewish prophets active in both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah prophecing that Yahwehs Judgment was immanent and unavoidable….. and would result in the complete destruction of both Kingdoms…. except for a remnant who would survive from the House of Judah in the south……the words of a number of these prophets have been preserved in what we Christians call the Old Testament. While the prophets Amos and Hosea ministered in the North, Micah and Isaiah, then Jeremiah and Ezekiel ministered in the south. In the middle of these messengers of Yahweh, outstanding in his ministry, we find the prophet Isaiah. His words are recorded in the Book of Isaiah, which if we read the texts carefully , we find two very different prophetic narratives….which are different enough to be described as two separate and opposing paradigms. On the first paradigm, Yahweh rejects the House of Jacob because from the beginning, they have rebelled, refusing to obey, and worst of all, have constantly turned to the false gods and idols of the surrounding nations….. effectively breaking the Mosaic Covenant they made with him before entering the land of Canaan. In this paradigm, Yahweh passes judgement and decrees destruction for the House of Jacob, which is carried out first in the North by the Assyrians, who conquer, deport and replace the population with Assyria. The Ten Northern tribes have not been seen now for 2000 years. Next, the Babalonians conquer Judah and eventually destroy Jerusalem and it’s Temple, and take what is left of the inhabitants into exile in Babylon. After a specified time, a remnant is allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple and reestablish the sacrificial worship system. The first paradigm gives notice of a remnant of Yahweh, but there is no mention that this will involve a reunited, restored and glorified Kingdom of Israel under a Davidic King, who is the Anointed One, or the Messiah…..for Judah will soon be destroyed…..
This is the stuff of the second paradigm….what most appropriately could be called the Jewish Messianic paradigm, where a restored kingdom of Israel is the central part of the prophetic vision. It was also supposed to happen in the near future. History proves that the second paradigm was never realized; while the destructive aspects of the first paradigm certainly were in 70 ce by the Romans. And if that was not decisive enough, the consequence of the Bar Kockba rebellion in 135 ce, was a anihilation, not just a destruction. However it was not the end of Jewish Messianism….. that continues on till today. However, if these things happened, what became of the paradigm of Yahweh and his Remnant?
From the Jewish Messianic paradigm found in Isaiah, we have a third paradigm where Jesus is seen as the Jewish Messiah, a fourth paradigm where Jesus is Messiah but the whole Jewish Law of Moses has been dropped and it might be argued that Mohamed discerned the Islamic Faith after interacting with the three last paradigms.
As a Catholic Christian, my whole faith approach to God is built on the Jewish Messianic paradigm that came out of the time following the exile to Babylon. And it is a very real and critical concern for me and billions of others, as to whether the very foundation of my faith is sound. Is the whole concept of Messianism rooted in the objective truth of Yahweh from the beginning, or is it a subjective hope that has no grounding in Yahweh’s will or ways.
How can we discern this reality?
In the Book of Isaiah we are dealing with prophecy as our source of truth. Moses in Deuteronomy is directed to tell the Israelites that Yahweh will send a prophet from amoungt their own brethern and he will deliver the word that ayahweh places in his mouth. Those who refuse to listen and obey the words he speaks will have to render and account to Yahweh, personally. The genuine prophet is the one whose words come to pass… all others can be ignored. This is confirmed latter, in Jeremiah, who says that especially when prophecies are favorable, they can only be considered given by someone who has sat in Yahweh’s council and been sent by him with the message…. if the words are fulfilled….. the same test applies to all prophecy, but…..especially when the words are favorable.
Now having said all these things, I do believe that it is a sign of Divine Providence that the State of Israel was declared at the time of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls…. but not for the reason that was expressed by the one who noticed the coincidence. The glorious part of the find was a complete scroll of Isaiah….. the very writings that what was left of the House of Judah had in their possession before and after the turn of the millenia 2000 years ago. It seems it did them little good, they could not have gotten it right….. for they hardly made it to the end of the first century as a Jewish state before they were anihilated.
It seems to me that the strategic emergence of the scrolls is indeed indicative of Yahweh’s favor….. indicating to the new Jewish State of Israel, that they are being given one more chance to “get it right”….. to figure out who the Remnant of Yahweh really is….. and make course ajustments accordingly…… but not only the new Israel……all the rest of the five paradigms are under no less compulsion than Judaism, to work together to “get it right”
There are forces at work on the earth that could cause us all….. the whole world, to suffer the fate of those who missed getting it right the first time. We all need to get serious about working together to get it right…. specifically, identifying the subjective elements added to our faith, by members of the faith that prevent our membership in the Remnant of Yahweh. Applying the modern tools of textual criticism to the texts of Isaiah and the rest of these prophets, I think, will allow all concerned to easily discern any abnormalities inherent to the texts. And we have the advantage of history….. when we apply the acid test of all prophecy, to any findings we may come up with…. May the God of Abraham, help us all to “Get It Right”…. for His sake and ours!