Tag Archive | Hebraic

Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
    for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
    her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will see your vindication,
    and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
    a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
    so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
    so will your God rejoice over you.

I looked again and realised that of course the connection between Isaiah 62:1-5 and the Wedding at Cana, is of course the last verse which talks about being married!

This passage was obviously referring to the literal Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the land of Israel when it was written, but it has traditionally been understood by Christian theologians as prophetically referring rather to the Church, on the basis of New Testament references (Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 14:1) which allude to a metaphorical, spirtual New Jerusalem.

In Messianic Jewish thought, a more literal interpretation makes more sense, with one exception – that the Bridgroom in question is Christ, God Himself. So in other words – whatever your view on the identity of Israel and the Church in Christianity – God ‘marries’ himself to His people, being an unbreakable, eternal Covenant.

“Whom God joins together, let no man put asunder.”

Going back to the Wedding at Cana, Christ can then be understood as mystically symbolising the eternal Bridgroom.

But the passage goes on to say that the righteousness of Zion (the people of God) will shine out like the dawn, that the nations will see her righteousness, that the LORD will delight in her and that she will be called by a new name.

Is this ‘new name’ possibly an allusion to the people of God becoming known as ‘Christians’? Is it just referring to the names Beulah (married) and Hephzibah (‘My delight is in her’?) Or is it some future epithet that we haven’t yet encountered?

How and when will this prophecy be fulfilled? When will the righteousness of Christians shine forth so brilliantly that the nations and the kings cannot but help be impressed by it?

In Ephesians 3:24 we are given a glimpse of a time when the Church reaches unity, being ‘mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ and Ephesians 5:27 alludes to a glorious Church, without spot or blemish.

Must the Church accomplish this unity, maturity and purity by her own efforts? Thankfully, no. We are back again at the Wedding of Cana, where Mary draws our attention to the need for God’s Holy Spirit to ferment our ‘water’ and turn it into ‘wine’.

Track back to the passage in Ephesians 5, and you will see that the Bridgroom is able to accomplish this by ‘washing’ her, by the ‘water of the Word’.  How does this work? Jesus says in John 15:3

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

This is the wondrous mystical, mystery of sanctification. We do not achieve it by our own efforts, but by Jesus’ efforts on our behalf.

So as the answer to the question ‘how and when will this prophecy be fulfilled’, it would seem to be another case of the prophecy having multiple fulfillments, or fulfillment in installments: yes, we are “already clean” in theory, so it is a ‘now’ but in practice, we are not so unified, mature or purified; so it is also ‘not yet’. This is something that is very common in Hebraic thinking, where the two possibilities seem to be opposite and apparently contradictory: the Hebrew mind, in opposition to the Greek linear logical way of thinking, is able to accept the seeming contradiction, and hold it in a tension.

With regard to what these difficult terms – ‘clean’, ‘pure’ and ‘righteous’ actually signify, that is the topic for another post!


Heart of Torah

Messianic for me has been a long, hard and lonely journey. When we lived in the city we had a small (20 people) fortnightly fellowship that wasn’t Torah observant and had no understanding of the concept. Here in the country there is not even a Jewish community for miles. I just can’t do it anymore. I am now worshipping in a tiny little village church of England. (As well as The Salvation Army when I can get there) I don’t agree with everything by far, but I need real-life fellowship.

At this point in my walk as well, I feel as though I have had enough pursuing Truth – I have been doing it relentlessly for 20 years, it has been the essence of my Christianity – and now I want to start pursuing the One who is Truth (if that makes sense).

My experience with conservative Christianity and maybe Messianic even more so, has been that its emphasis has become intellectual and belief-oriented rather than heart and hand-oriented. That’s probably a caricature but I feel as though I have got as far as I can go with the pursuit of Truth.

You *can* only go so far with Truth. The idea that we can have the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth is an illusion. The Truth is bigger than our minds’ ability to perceive it, and we can only ever see it from a limited, human perspective.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not hardcore Messianic anymore.

I’ve been exploring Celtic Christianity lately, and in some respects it gels beautifully with Messianic beliefs – there’s even some evidence that St Patrick and the early Celtic saints kept the Jewish sabbath and Passover before they came into contact with the Roman church.

But the Celtic believers were much more grounded and earth-bound than their more intellectual Roman (and even Jewish) cousins. Celtic Christianity was egalitarian, at one with nature, un-oppressive and much more concerned with being and doing than thinking and believing.

So often, Messianic believers discover the beauty of the Hebraic Roots of the faith, but then get stuck in the Feasts thinking that they are the heart of Torah. They’re not. The heart of Torah is love, grace, mercy, justice, lovingkindness. I’m ready for a bit more of that now.