Master Y'shua ben Miriam (Jesus son of Mary) was a Jewish scholar whose teachings were based upon the Written Torah and the Tanakh (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) and his spiritual understandings of them. Like the Karaite Jews, the Sadducees and others our Master rejected the authority of the Oral Torah. When he spoke of the Moshiach (Messiah) therefore we can be certain that he spoke in terms of the Tanakh and so it is there we will find the source his messianic teachings.
Unfortunately as I discuss elsewhere, following the rise of Constantine and his religious counsels (especially at Nicea) the Way of Master Y'shua was usurped and redefined by the establishment of the Universal Roman Church (Catholicism). It was the Roman Papacy that determined the cannon of the New Testament, not Master Y'shua and his disciples.
We know that the official Roman Church rejected many of the writings used by the followers of the Way (Jude 1:4 for instance references the Book of Enoch) and altered a few of those they retained (for an example see my study on Matthew 1:23). We therefore face certain difficulties when we use the New Testament authoritatively that we don't have when we consider the Tanakh. These difficulties need to be acknowledged but not overstated.
Despite these difficulties however, the New Testament holds much wisdom that most Noahides miss out on since they reject Master Y'shua whole cloth. As Noahide Nazarenes we accept Master Y'shua as a Jewish Prophet and enlightened teacher even as we seek to avoid the many additions added to his persona by the organized Church. It is with this understanding that we can discuss our Master's teachings about the Moshiach. As always your thoughts on this topic are invited (see below).
From the eleventh chapter of Isaiah's prophecies we are privy to a vital insight into when the Moshiach will come. For Master Y'shua the Kingdom was both the literal Kingdom of HaShem as well as a metaphorical kingdom which the righteous could enter into even then. Distinguishing between these two can at times be confusing. I discuss the metaphorical kingdom elsewhere. For now we are looking into the literal Kingdom of God.
In part one of this series I began with Isaiah chapter eleven and the following verse:
Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots.
In the fourth chapter of Daniel we find a dual prophecy where Israel is likened to a tree that is banded about and only released when HaShem determines the time has come. This tree is referenced by Prophet Y'shua in Matthew chapter 24:
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh
This is the shoot of Jesse referenced by Isaiah. Here Master Y'shua explains that when this "shoot out of the stock of Jesse" begins to grow and the twig begins to emerge from the stump of banded Israel, at that time:
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
"This generation" being the one that witnesses the tree of Israel begin to sprout anew. The advent of the Moshiach is therefore directly linked to the sprouting forth of this Israeli twig.
Many Christian wrongly assume that HaShem has turned His back on His Promised People. They have been taught that the Christian Church has replaced Judaism. This is not correct however. The Church has been honored to temporarily serve HaShem along since the Jews. They Jews however remain the Elect of God.
The Apostle Paul adds to this understanding:
Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people [the Jews]? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel...
...16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
We need to understand that the word "Israel" references both the Jewish people as well as Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. Paul is explaining that even though HaShem has trimmed the Tree of Israel and grafted on certain Gentiles through the ministry of Prophet Y'shua and his disciples, we should believe we have replaced the Chosen People to whom HaShem has promised so much. And yet for a time the Kingdom of Israel has been banded as a political power.
The Banding of Israel
The Hebrew kingdoms of Israel (fell in 721 BCE) and Judea (fell circa 615 BCE) were conquered and held captive by Babylon and Medo/Persia. As the Southern Kingdom of Judea fell HaShem "banded" Israel and allowed the Jews be held captive for a time. The reasons for this chain of events are discussed in the Tanakh. Essentially they boil down to a lack of faith and obedience to HaShem.
Although the Jews were freed and allowed to return to Eretz Israel circa 606 BCE, Israel was never again established as a sovereign nation (until 1948) and wasn't independent during Master Y'shua's lifetime (it was a Roman province). For a basic time line of Israel see my A Brief History of Eretz Israel.
With the fall of Judea (the Southern Jewish Kingdom), the Gentile nations took possession of Eretz Israel (the Land belonging to Israel) and held it until 1948. Prophet Y'shua refers to this period in his teachings:
Luke 21:24 And they [the Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
The prophets explained that this period of Gentile domination over Israel would end when the "bands" are removed (Daniel chapter 4) and Israel again begins to bloom: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" Prophet Y'shua promised.
The bands were removed in 1948 with the establishment of the Nation of Israel. According to Master Y'shua then, this is when the Moshiach will come, when the tree begins to bloom. But of course the Moshiach didn't return in 1948.
Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Prophet Y'shua didn't know when this day would come. Only HaShem knew. He did however give certain sign. Some people in every generation for the past 2000 years have believed and hoped theirs would be the generation to see the restoration of all things. Despite this, despite wars and rumors of wars, harsh dictators, diseases, etc. No generation prior to ours could have been that generation because no generation witnessed the restoration of an Israeli state and that is the critical key to the prophecies. Not until the bands are removed and the Tree of Israel begins to sprout could the Moshiach have come. Now that Israel has been established Prophet Y'shua tells us, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
In the late 1800's many Jews opposed Zionism, the attempt to establish an independent Israel. Today the vast majority of Jews, religious and secular, support the existence of Israel despite what you may have heard to the contrary from the Antisemites. But it is true that for a while many religious Jews were not so sure. Why? Because according to the prophecies it is the Moshiach who will restore Israel, not human politics ((compare Isaiah 11). Until HaShem calls forth the Moshiach they reasoned, it would be presumptuous of Jews to try and reestablish the Kingdom.
In a different version of his Matthew 24 prophecy Prophet Y'shua sheds light on this seeming contradiction:
Luke 11:29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
When we see the Tree of Israel standing independent among the trees of the nations we can know that the time is near, and that within that generation all things will come to pass.
HaShem removed the ancient bands from the stump of Israel gradually and the Chosen People began demonstrating that they were ready to return Home to Eretz Israel:
- 1843 Zionism was growing in popularity with the writings of people like Rabbi Alcalay and Rabbi Kalischer. Jews began seriously discussing how they might make aliyah (return home to Israel).
- 1844 The first modern census in Jerusalem was taken and revealed that 7120 Jews, 5760 Muslims, 3390 Christians lived there. Already in 1844 Jews formed the majority population in the City of David and moreover there were very few Muslims living there.
- 1860 the first Jewish settlement (Mishkenot Sha'ananim) was built outside the walls of Jerusalem since the Diaspora (since 70 CE). This was long before World War Two.
- 1878 The first Zionist Settlement - Petah Tikwa was established.
- 1870s saw the formation of Hovevei Tzion in Russia. This was an extra-Zionist movement that looked at the feasibility of a large-scale return to the Jewish Homeland.
- 1882 Leon Pinsker writes Auto-Emancipation and the formation of BILU; the beginning of the First Aliya (wave of Jewish immigration to Israel).
- 1897 the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland
- Then on Nov 2, 1917 the British issued the famous Balfour Declaration, promising a "National Home" for the Jews in Palestine was signed. Just to be clear, Palestine was a geographical description not a country. There has never been a country named Palestine and God willing there never will be, at least not in Eretz Israel. The Jews stole no one's land:
Following the signing of the Balfour Declaration the Jewish movement to return Home continued and gradually increased. The rise of Hitler's Third Reich and the Shoah (Holocaust) of course had a major negative impact on Jews and others the world over, and by war’s end Jews from around the world began returning Home to Israel and to establish a nation of Jews and for Jews as HaShem had promised their people since at least 4000 BCE.
Today of course Israel still has not achieved the biblical goal of creating a truly Jewish state; it remains a secular democracy. Many Jews are working to see this transition happen, however it will be Moshiach who will succeed. This understanding is why religious Jews now accept Zionism as a good thing. HaShem will establish Jewish Israel, but in the meantime Jews can have a country of their own. This is what Prophet Y'shua is referring to when he said the the tree would gradually sprout.
The Tree of Israel is today gradually putting forth shoots from the stump and:
Daniel 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
It is in this situation that we can expect the coming of Moshiach and why we can know that Master Y'shua could not possibly have been him.
This section continues:
Dan 4:15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
The band has been removed.