“Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky . . .”

Pharisee and Publican - Tewkesbury Abbey
The "Pharisee and Publican" - or as I like to call it, "the Supracessionist and the Dispensationalist"

“. . . but you cannot discern the signs of the times!”

So Yeshua answered the Sadducees and Pharisees who demanded yet another sign from Him.  And so I think he would answer the Christians today who ignore the greatest miracle in two thousand years staring them in the face.  They believe in the Resurrection of Yeshua, which they have not seen, but refuse to believe the resurrection of Israel, which stares them in the face every day!

And why?  For the same reason that the Sadducees and the majority of the Pharisees rejected the Messiah:  It would mess with their theology too much, so they would rather condemn the miracle than praise the God who sent the miracle.

A couple of days ago the Rosh Pina Project has given some answers to a recent sermon by Stuart Olyott condemning Israel, and of course earlier this week we joined the chorus of Messianics and Christians responding to John Piper’s ill-thought-out tweet.  As I’ve looked over the various blogs where these attacks on Israel are being addressed, most seem to be intent on dealing with the Israel-bashers on their own terms.  That’s fine; it’s certainly easy enough to disprove Replacement Theology with Romans 9-11, and it’s good to address those arguments.  But this blog being what it is, I wanted to take the argument in a different direction:  To demonstrate specific prophecies that have been or are in the process of being fulfilled in Israel right now.  I’ll start by reposting something I originally wrote for Yom HaAtzma’ut:

Let’s start with the passage that David Ben Gurion himself cited as the Biblical mandate for Israel’s restoration:

Isa 66:7-11 –  “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she delivered a son.   Who has heard such a thing? who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? shall a nation be brought forth at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.   Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD: “shall I who cause to bring forth shut the womb?” says your God.  “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn over her; that you may nurse and be satisfied at the comforting breasts; that you may drink deeply, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.”

Or how about this one, prophesying that Israel would be restored twice, and that the second time would take place when the Gentiles were rallying to the Messiah:

Isa 11:10-13 –  It will happen in that day that the nations will seek the Root of Jesse, who stands as a banner of the peoples; and his resting place will be glorious.  It will happen in that day that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.   He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.   The envy also of Ephraim will depart, and those who persecute Judah will be cut off. Ephraim won’t envy Judah, and Judah won’t persecute Ephraim.

There are also the twin prophecies of Ezekiel 36-37.  Chapter 36 gives us the straightforward prediction of Israel’s restoration, while chapter 37 puts it forward in pictorial form, presenting it as a resurrection from the dead.  It would be too much to cover both prophecies in their entirety here, so I will restrict myself to pointing to a few points in particular:

Ezk. 36:18-27 – Therefore I poured out my wrath on them for the blood which they had poured out on the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols; and I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.   When they came to the nations, where they went, they profaned my holy name; in that men said of them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.   But I had respect for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations, where they went.

Therefore tell the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: I don’t do this for your sake, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations, where you went.  I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.  For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them.

Note the parallelism:

Ezk. 37:7-13 – So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, an earthquake; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.  I saw, and, behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them.  Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.  Therefore prophesy, and tell them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, my people; and I will bring you into Eretz-Israel.  You shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, my people.

Note the sequence:  First, Israel is gathered from the nations and restored to the Land, but it is as if the dry bones were restored without flesh.  But then they are covered with flesh, the outward sign of healthiness, but have no breath, no Spirit.  Only then is the Holy Spirit poured out to truly make Israel live and walk in the ways of Hashem.

I believe that we are in the days when we see the flesh on the bones, but not yet the Spirit.  As I noted in January:

Rosenberg’s observation about the spiritual awakening after the Six-Day War is what caught my attention.  Possibly the most terrible thing about the Holocaust is how many of the survivors lost their faith in the Holy One of Israel, who didn’t, in their eyes, act to save the Jews from destruction as He did in the days of Esther or the Maccabees.  The spiritual revival came about in part because in the space of a single generation, we saw Hashem give victory to Israel in not just one, but two wars that she shouldn’t have survived.

But when will the Spirit be poured out?  Zechariah gives the answer:

Zec. 12:10-12, 14 – Zec 12:10  I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they will look to me[1] whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and will grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for his firstborn.  In that day there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.  The land will mourn, every family apart . . . all the families who remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.

And who is this Pierced One that Israel will mourn for?  The Midrash Rabbah gives us the answer:

“Come near,” means to come near to the Kingdom.  “Eat of the bread,” refers to the bread of Messiah’s royalty.  “Dip your bread in the vinegar,” refers to Messiah’s sufferings, as it is said, “But he was pierced for our transgressions.”  (Ruth Rabbah 5:6, quoting Ruth 2:14 and Isa. 52:5)

Jerusalem, a City ResurrectedWho can this Messiah be, who was a banner to the Gentiles even before Israel was returned to the Land for the second time, who was pierced for our transgressions?  What other candidate fits the prophecies and the rabbinic commentary on the prophecies if not Yeshua of Nazareth?

On the way back from a pilgrimage to Israel three years ago, I found myself intently studying Zechariah 8 on the plane home, having had my attention drawn to it by Moshe Kempinsky when we visited his shop.  It is a prophecy that we can see being fulfilled before our very eyes:  There are old men and women in Jerusalem watching over the play of children (vv. 4-5), the Jews have returned (vv. 7-8), the once-barren Land is now a place of fruitful fields and vines (v. 12), and people from all over the world–Christians as well as Jews–go up to Jerusalem and Israel to seek the favor of Hashem and learn His ways (v. 21).

And yet, it is not a prophecy that is complete, because Jerusalem is not yet a city completely at peace (v. 10), nor has the Sh’khinah returned to the Temple (v. 3).  When will that day come?  According to chapter 12, only when all Israel mourns for the Pierced One together in the midst of a day of battle.  And we are coming to that day soon.

Christians are fond of condemning the Jews for being blind to the miracles of Jesus.  Those who do so had best be sure that they are not overlooking the greatest miracle of our time because of their own philosophy:

Mat 7:1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? 4 Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Shalom

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6 Replies to ““Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky . . .””

  1. Well said and well done Michael, for defending the Jewish Faith and the people from those who seem to be blinded by the plain biblical truth and fact of the miraculous return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. Perhaps some blind eyes will see.

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  2. > “For the same reason that the Sadducees and the majority of the Pharisees rejected the Messiah: It would mess with their theology too much.”

    Is that the best reason you can give for their rejection of Jesus? Wouldn’t they surely point out the five or so main Old Testament qualifications for the Messiah, and show that Jesus didn’t fulfill any of them?

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    1. Shalom, Veronica.

      That’s not the only reason, no. I phrased it that way because I was deliberately targeting this article at a certain branch of Christianity and I wanted to poke them with the parallelism since that’s the way *they* read the Scriptures. My own beliefs on the subject are far more complex, as a bit of archive-binging on this blog will show.

      Yeshua and His followers *did* indeed mess with the Pharisees’ theology, but in a more complicated way than most Christians or Jews have any conception of: See my series on the Eighteen Measuresto get my thoughts there. However, there were Pharisees who were His followers in the 1st Century and others, like Rabban Gamaliel, who were aware of Yeshua’s teachings and tolerant of His followers, so the rejection was far from universal.

      Read the Gospel accounts yourself and see if the historical Yeshua rejected the Torah or directed worship to anything but Hashem (cf. Deu. 13:1-6). For that matter, I think you will find that He was in substantial agreement with the halakha of the rabbis. And if indeed you find the historical Yeshua of Nazareth to walk in the Torah, to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise up the broken in the Name of Hashem, and in all other ways to be like one of the prophets of old, then ask yourself why our priests and rabbis rejected him.

      I think that you will find, as I did, that the reasons for the rejection of Yeshua in the 1st Century–which included the atmosphere of “gratuitous hatred”testified to by the Talmud–are not necessarily the reasons for the rejection of later generations.

      Shalom

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  3. “However, there were Pharisees who were His followers in the 1st Century and others, like Rabban Gamaliel, who were aware of Yeshua’s teachings and tolerant of His followers, so the rejection was far from universal. ”

    The word “so” means “therefore”, but the facts before the “so” does not prove the claim afterwards. If you don’t give percentages, it doesn’t mean anything. You can have some followers and still have /close/ to universal rejection.

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    1. “If you don’t give percentages . . .”

      There are darn few things we can give percentages on in the 1st Century, Veronica. But we can look at the data and draw reasonable conclusions from it.

      Datum #1 – The Pharisees were a sizable enough contingent in Yeshua’s early followers that their position on how to include the Gentiles is the only one that Acts 15 gives a party name to.

      Datum #2 – When Paul was put on trial before the Sanhedrin, he was able to claim, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees!” (Acts 23:6). Not only was this claim not disputed, but the Pharisees–which at that time were led by Rabban Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher–rallied around him.

      Datum #3 – In addition to the NT’s testimony that Rabban Gamaliel was tolerant of the Nazarene sect, there is an incident recorded in the Talmud (b.Shab. 116a) where the Rabban cited Yeshua’s own words that He had not come to abolish the Torah (Mat. 5:17) to a min who wanted him to make a ruling against the Torah.

      Datum #4 – The 2nd Century rabbis felt the need to try to root out the Nazarenes within their own ranks–so it follows that there were more than a few Nazarenes in their ranks. (I can pull the references later if you want them.)

      None of the above data gives us percentages, and I’m certainly not claiming that at any point the majority of the Pharisees were Nazarenes. However, there is no doubt that Yeshua had significant numbers of followers among the Jews and even among the Pharisees until at least the 2nd Century, and probably until the 4th, when the Gentile Christian rejection of the Jews became the state-church’s dogma. Even after that, we find both sides cursing those Jews who believed in Yeshua but who refused to give up Jewish lives, so what we would today term Messianic Judaism never really died–it just went underground.

      Shalom

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      1. I’m afraid that all four of your datums fail the logic test.

        Datum 1: “The Pharisees were a sizable enough contingent in Yeshua’s early followers”. You’re trying to give the approximate weight of Pharisees among Jesus’ followers, but that is in no way the same as giving the approximate weight of Jesus’ followers among the Pharisees.

        Datum 2: You say that the Pharisees rallied around Jesus, but Acts says that “There was a great uproar, and SOME OF THE of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said.

        Datum 3: “This story is discussed in Bacher, Ag. d. Pal. Am. 11, p. 424 n. V. also R.T. Herford, op. cit., pp. 146-154, though his conjecture that the story ends with a covert gibe at Christianity is hardly substantiated.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilyonim also casts doubt on the theory that the Talmud here was talking about Christianity.

        Datum 4 “The 2nd Century rabbis felt the need to try to root out the Nazarenes within their own ranks–so it follows that there were more than a few Nazarenes in their ranks.”
        Actually from this datum, there’s no telling whether there were a few or more than a few.

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