A review of the book: COVENANT: G-d’s Plan for Israel in the Last Days, by Baruch Battelstein, 66020 San Giovanni Teatino, Italy: Destiny Image Europe, 2005. This article goes beyond reviewing the book as it also offers Messianic solutions to problems stated in the book.
The author offers an exposition of the Orthodox Jewish faith as it emerges from the Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament, and also an explanation of end-time prophecies related to Israel and the nations. The book is strictly based upon Old Testament pronouncements without citing any other sources. The Abrahamic Covenant is the central theme of the book, as well as the dire consequences of disobeying it. Israel’s salvation is depicted as a return to the covenant through the dedicated honouring of its precepts.
The New Testament is ignored as if it does not exist. The “Tanach” (the books of the Old Testament) is consistently equated with “Bible,” thus clearly emphasising that the Jewish Bible does not have a New Testament. From the very first chapter it is evident that Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus Christ) is not in the least regarded as Israel’s Messiah. He and His Jewish disciples are not once referred to or quoted, and He has even been removed from the calendar by indicating dates after Christ as C.E. (Common Era) and not as AD. Dates before Christ are expressed as B.C.E. or as years before present. Of course, the author is writing from an Orthodox Jewish perspective and to give any credence to Yeshua would undermine his position as a Jew.
A single positive reference to Christians appears in the dedication and refers to those members of the nations who fear God by believing in His everlasting covenant with Israel regarding their land. The basis of their faith in Messiah is not dwelt upon.
Orthodox Jews have every right to state and defend their beliefs. But they must be mindful of the fact that Christians, and particularly also Messianic Jews, will take more than passing interest in their writings because the New Testament leans heavily on the Old Testament. After all, the Messiah and His work of grace for Israel and all people on earth are the fulfilment of a large body of Old Testament prophecies. In this review we will investigate the author’s exegesis and application of core statements in the Old Testament.
The Abrahamic Covenant
A highly commendable aspect of the book is the author’s insistence that faith is a virtue that goes beyond observing the law: “Faith is based... on our belief in the absolute reliability of God’s promises to His people, expressed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and all the other prophets in the Tanach (Bible)” (p. 4). However, Israel is exalted as the grand object of God’s blessings. Through their faithful keeping of the Abrahamic Covenant they are called upon to be a blessing to the whole world.
The Lord promises to Abraham that “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The author uses the Judaic Classics JP Tanach for Scripture quotations, which renders Gen. 22:18 as follows: “And through your children shall be blessed all the nations of the world” (p. 15; my emphasis). Does the “seed” of Abraham refer to his posterity or, in a singular form, to the Messiah? There is clearly a more sublime fulfilment to this Scripture than rendering Israel the prime vehicle for spiritual blessings to the world.
Where was Israel as a nation during the past two millennia of the times of the Gentiles? Their dispersion among the nations has caused them much pain and is the consequence of covenant disobedience (Deut. 28:58-64). Did they have any spiritual message to the world during this time? Only to those Christians who understand and appreciate Israel’s pivotal role in preserving the Holy Scriptures, and for the later supplying of these Scriptures to the world by Messianic Jews (Rom. 3:1-3). The Bible is a book written almost exclusively by Jews – with the exception only of Luke.
In another strange but very real way Jews were a blessing to the world during the Diaspora. Through their fall, by not believing in the Messiah, the command was given to proclaim the message of salvation to the Gentile world (Rom. 11:11; Matt. 28:19). We received Israel’s spiritual heritage, and now have the clear obligation to provoke them to jealousy by the way in which we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the Messiah (Rom. 11:11). We are not to criticise and condemn them but to draw them to Messiah by our example and faith. It is a great tragedy that all too often Christians have persecuted them and succeeded in only provoking the Jews to anger by failing to show them the true love of Christ.
There was, and will never be, any justification for the persecution of Jews during any stage of world history. We are highly indebted to them as the vehicles through whom God’s Word came to us. We are particularly indebted to Messianic Jews such as Paul (Sha’ul) who introduced the Gentile world in Europe and Asia Minor to God’s Word, with particular emphasis on the Messiah’s message of salvation.
Restored Israel is also in a cultural context a blessing and inspiring example to the world. It is quite amazing that the Jews survived as a distinct ethnic group through almost two millennia of the Diaspora to all nations. Their determination to maintain their identity despite the pressure of an insane international community that has lost its values because of the liberal pressures of the new world order is something to behold and respect.
But in a more direct spiritual way, only the small group of (often suffering) Messianic Jews really inspires evangelical Christians with their hope and faith. They themselves were blessed and their lives changed by the “seed” of Abraham, the Messiah, who will come again in glory. One of the most eminent Jewish sages, Sha’ul (the apostle Paul) who studied the Torah at the feet of Gamaliel, had a life-changing encounter with the Messiah. He said the following about the “seed” of Abraham:
“Messiah has redeemed us... that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Yeshua the Messiah, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith... Now to Abraham and his seed the promises were made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your seed,’ who is Messiah... The law was our tutor to bring us to Messiah, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:13,14,16,24).
The Gentile world was indeed blessed by the “seed” of Abraham, the promised Messiah. A minority group of evangelical believers who do not practise replacement theology (in which Israel is replaced by the church), fully endorse biblical promises on the end-time restoration and spiritual revival of Israel, and we eagerly look forward to the millennial reign of Messiah from the throne of David in Jerusalem, during which time Israel will be a blessing to the whole world (Rom. 11:12). But they can only be a blessing to the world after having themselves been saved and blessed by Messiah. He is the source of all blessings.
The Messianic perspective of the “seed” of Abraham is completely absent in the book under discussion, thereby narrowing its application to a Jewish context. This should not be done as the Lord said to Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
Baruch Battelstein accounts for the Diaspora by indicating that God would punish Israel sevenfold for her sins (p. 7; cf. Lev. 26:28). He then makes a calculation that the total period of Israel’s scattering from their land would add up to 2520 years, ending with their restoration as a nation on May 14, 1948 (pp. 7-9). It is unclear why this calculation was made under the heading, “Atonement for the iniquity of the sins of the house of Israel.” Apart from the calculations, it is only indicated that Israel was punished for their sins. That means that Israel must have suffered for their own sins, thereby making atonement for their transgressions. No other basis is offered for the atonement of their sins, which suggests that they were the “suffering Servant” referred to in Isaiah 53, as is wrongly alleged by some people.
The author’s reference to “the resurrection of Israel” on May 14, 1948 is ambiguous as he does not indicate whether he means their national resurrection as a distinct people in their own land,ouse or their spiritual awakening as a people reconciled to God, or both (p. 7). If they atoned for their sins by all their years of suffering he might well also include a spiritual resurrection.
Later in his book he does come to the conclusion that the restored Israel is spiritually dead: “What Israel needs today is spiritual resuscitation and restoration... Today, Israel is spiritually dead and in desperate need of resuscitation... From prime minister to rabbi, from financial minister to priest, all are dead” (p. 88). But he sees their resuscitation as the renewing of the Abrahamic Covenant, whereby the fear of the Lord will again be instilled in the hearts of people. But he still doesn’t offer any basis for the atonement of their sins. Referring to sacrifices on the altar, Leviticus 17:11 says: “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
The great Jewish prophet John the Baptist, who introduced Israel to the New Covenant under Messiah, saw Yeshua at the Jordan and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Peter (Kěpha) reminded Messianic Jews that they were “redeemed... with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Paul (Sha’ul) said: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). After His once for all sacrifice for the sins of the world there is no other basis for the atonement of sin.
The sweeping statement by the author that God would punish Israel by dispersing them among the nations for more than two millennia because of their unidentified sins needs more clarification and justification. Hatred without a cause is cited by ancient rabbinic sources as being the cause of the destruction of the temple and the subsequent devastation and dispersion that followed the Roman onslaught. But that is only one side of the story. It is not enough by the author to merely say in his introductory chapter, “History reveals that in the year 70 C.E., the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple, killing a million Jews and dispersing those who were left throughout the nations” (p. 1). The Holy One of Israel would not have allowed this if His people had walked in His ways.
What was Israel’s own share in their being surrendered to their mortal enemy? Very important events must have transpired in the first century prior to the Roman invasion. But since these events are closely linked to Messiah, the author has deliberately ignored them. If he had investigated and described these events he would not only have discovered God’s provision for the atonement of sins but also the reason for the darkest night in Israel’s long and troubled history.
During this time, Israel rejected God’s purpose for them as a nation by their failure to recognise Yeshua as the Messiah, though many did become true believers. Yeshua lamented their failure to recognise Him:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often have I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you shall say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:37-39).
Israel did not realise that God visited them in the Person of Yeshua. Because of utterly rejecting Him the unbelieving Jews brought severe destruction upon themselves. All people on earth, including the chosen people, Israel, have a free will and therefore the capacity to decide for or against the Messiah. Many Israeli’s deliberately decided to reject Him. Before surrendering Messiah to be crucified, the Jewish leaders even said: “His blood be upon us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). Most of the Gentiles also reject Yeshua.
The time of Jacob’s trouble
Credit must go to the author for boldly and convincingly stating the fact that wayward Israel and the equally deluded nations are heading for a time of the outpouring of divine wrath because of their rebellion against God. From Israel’s point of view, this is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) while Messiah describes it as a “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21).
Many Messianic as well as Orthodox believers advance the unbiblical idea that the Holocaust during World War II was the time of Jacob’s trouble. They dismiss any view on a coming tribulation under the rule of the false messiah (Antichrist). Most of them only expect a mighty revival which will draw Israel and millions of other people into the kingdom of God, to be followed by the public appearance of the Messiah.
The author does not proclaim this false hope to Israel, but tells them the great tribulation will knock them down and drive them to a point of despair so that many of them will repent and call to God for salvation. He says:
“The ‘time of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jer. 30:4-11) is a time of trembling for the Jewish people and nation of Israel... this ‘day of judgement’ is close at hand for the Jewish people... It is a time when the whole earth shakes with fear and violence... In these verses we see a time of immense trouble for Israel and Judah in the near future, a time so difficult and so overwhelming that it will make the Holocaust pale in comparison. Yet the mighty hand of the Lord G-d will directly intervene in the affairs of men, and He will completely subdue the nations who have sought to destroy Israel and the Jewish people” (pp. 105-106).
The emphasising of this biblical scenario is true and also much needed to correctly understand the future. However, the author fails to inform the Jews that, according to Zechariah 13:8, as many as two-thirds of them will die during this time because of having rejected Messiah and preferring to worship the false messiah and his image which will be set up in the rebuilt temple (Dan. 11:31,36). Maybe the author expects a tragedy of this magnitude because he says it will make the Holocaust pale in comparison. During the Holocaust, 60% of the Jews in Europe were gruesomely slaughtered.
What real purpose does it serve to warn people against these cataclysmic events without clearly offering the only biblical solution, which is repentance by accepting Yeshua as Messiah? In a Messianic prophecy, Hosea says that the Messiah will be like a young lion to the house of Judah; He will tear them and then go away – indicating His return to His heavenly Father after having dispersed Judah because of rejecting Him. He then makes the following very significant statement on Israel’s repenting during the coming time of trouble: “I will again return to My place [heaven] till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will diligently seek Me” (Hos. 5:14-15).
The remnant of Israel will say: “Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days [of one thousand years each, cf. 2 Pet. 3:8] He will revive us. On the third day [the third millennium after Messiah] He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight” (Hos. 6:1-2).
A covenant with the false messiah
A central theme of this book is the covenant – Israel’s covenant with God. A satanic-inspired covenant with the false god of Islam is also mentioned, as the latter is used by evil-minded people to deprive Israel of its heritage. From Israel’s point of view there is also a third, very fateful covenant which will account for the deception and death of millions of Jews, and that is their covenant with the coming false messiah. The author did not mention this covenant.
How is it possible that Baruch could have overlooked this very important matter? He deals extensively with prophecies in Daniel 9 and 12, but disregarded the prophecy on the 70 year-weeks in Daniel 9:24-27. The obvious reason is that this prophecy proves beyond any doubt that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world who sacrificed His life for our sins.
The prophet Daniel describes the last 70 year-weeks (490 prophetic years of 360 days each) that will pass in the history of Israel before they enter the time of everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24-27). Of this period, 69 year-weeks (483 years) have passed between the decree by Artaxerxes in the year 445 BC that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt (Neh. 2:1‑8), and the death of Yeshua on the cross in AD 32 (“Messiah shall be cut off” – Dan. 9:26). Then the clock stopped ticking for Israel as a nation in the divine plan of God, and the time for the evangelisation of the non-Jewish world began. That meant that Israel would temporarily lose its position as a unique people and representative of God, and that all people on earth, including the dispersed Israelites, would be given the opportunity to accept the Lord Yeshua as Messiah and enter the kingdom of heaven.
With the present restoration of Israel and the city of Jerusalem we are now very near to the end of the times of the Gentiles: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
At the start of the 70th year-week of seven years, Israel will enter into a covenant with the false messiah: “Then he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Dan. 9:27). The false messiah will appear on the scene as a diplomat and peace-maker. He will be endowed with all of Satan’s powers of deception (Rev. 13:2), and will use these powers to perform astounding “signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9) to deceive Israel and the nations into concluding the above-mentioned covenant with him. Yeshua warned the Jews against this coming impostor when He said: “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).
Most of the Jews will be quick to accept this man as their messiah. He will probably use a false genealogy, which will lead them to believe that he is indeed a member of the tribe of Judah and a direct descendant of King David. The world‑wide peace and unity introduced by him, together with the fact that he will encourage the Jews to rebuild the temple, will render him a national hero in Israel. Soon, he will also become a hero and messiah to all the nations of the world.
Israel and all other countries will eventually become signatories of the peace treaties of the false messiah, and he will use the Mediterranean alliance of the revived Roman Empire to become the undisputed peace-maker and global leader. His success and diplomatic skills will deceive nearly everyone. At that stage, few people would dare to allege that he is involved with the greatest deception of all time, and that he would, within a few years, become the worst dictator in the entire history of the world!
Halfway through the seven year period, Israel will be shocked out of the false sense of peace that they have enjoyed for three and a half years (Dan. 9:27). The false messiah will declare himself to be God in the rebuilt temple and demand the worship of all people. He will also set up an image of himself in the temple. The true Messiah said:
“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place... then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and those with nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And if those days had not been shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake [Israel] those days will be shortened” (Matt. 24:15‑22). Israel will never be destroyed.
The true Messiah
The new covenant with the Messiah is so all-important that Satan will try every trick to deceive Israel and the nations into concluding a covenant with the false messiah. It is of the utmost importance that all people should be able to make a clear distinction between the true Messiah and the false messiah.
Israel must urgently come to realise that their Messiah has been with them 2000 years ago. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). During New Covenant times there is no way of becoming a child of God other than through Messiah.
Even though Israel has rejected and crucified Messiah, God calls them and all other people to repentance by receiving Messiah as their Saviour (Acts 17:30-31). That is the only way in which the remnant in Israel will be saved. Messiah says: “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first-born. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:10-11).
“In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the East... Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You... And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:4-5,9). What will be the first words of the remnant in Israel to their coming King who will rule from the throne of David? “What are these wounds in Your hands?” He will reply: “Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends” (Zech. 13:6).
Israel obviously does not realise that the conquering Messiah who comes at the end of the tribulation period is the same Person as the suffering Messiah who came two millennia ago. He will still have the wounds in His hands and feet which were inflicted on Him during His crucifixion. Isaiah says He was “despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief... Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows... He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:3-5).
He is not only the Messiah and Saviour of Israel, but of the whole world. The Lord said of Him: “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).
The angel of the Lord said to Joseph, the father of Yeshua: “You shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “Yeshua” means “The Lord is Salvation.” How else can Israel be saved from their sins?
Baruch Battelstein knows that the Messiah was to be born in Israel. He says, “Isaac was truly unique because it was only through his bloodline that Jacob would come, and from Jacob’s line would one day come King David, and through King David’s line would come the Messiah” (p. 13). The genealogy of Yeshua as a descendant of David in the house of Judah is clearly stated in the Bible (Matt. 1:1-17) and it was not questioned by any of the Jewish authorities or leaders at that time. There is no present Jewish family which can claim direct descent in the senior, royal line from King David. Israel can only accept Yeshua, the Son of David, as King or be ruled by a false king who will pretend to be the “new David.”
Present and future developments
The author devotes much attention to the present phase of Israel’s restoration. He rightfully indicates that the land has for ages been called “Israel” or “the mountains of Israel” and not Palestine or the West Bank (pp. 49-51). The Israeli government is severely criticised for collaborating with the US-conceived Road Map to divide their land. They are untrue to Israel’s divine mandate and divide the land for the sake of peace, while there is no peace (pp. 23-25). In this way, they will only aggravate their problems.
He says that the international community “have joined the Islamic covenant for one specific purpose – to divide the land and give it as a possession to a people who worship a foreign god, Allah” (p. 46). According to Joel 3:2,11-15, God will judge the nations for dividing the land of Israel. This is a very serious matter which is not understood by the leaders of the nations. The world is increasingly invoking the wrath of God by rejecting and denying the Messiah, persecuting and harming Israel and dividing their land. What does the near future hold for Israel and the nations?
It is appropriate to end this review with an assessment of what the author says in his Prologue: “In July 2005, Israel is a nation that has come to a historic fork in the road... the one straight ahead with the road sign that reads: ‘G-d’s Way!’ and the other fork, to the left, which reads: ‘Man’s Way!’ The road sign that reads ‘Man’s Way’ has a doctrine that is being espoused in Israel, and it is called the doctrine of ‘No Choice.’ Its mantra is ‘Peace at any price!’ The doctrine of ‘No Choice’ is very strong in Israel.”
Are there really only two roads among which Israel has to decide? On close examination it is evident that there are three forks in the road ahead of Israel. The one to the left is indeed the unbiblical way of dividing the land by pursuing a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine. The one to the right is the Orthodox Jewish plan of taking full control of the land, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, but without recognising Yeshua, the Messiah. This is unachievable. The third one is the road straight ahead, which is Yeshua’s way. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Only the redeemed of the Lord are on this new and living way and will share in the ultimate victory over God’s enemies at the final battle of Armageddon, and rule with Messiah in His millennial reign. This is a narrow and unpopular way, only trodden by a minority of people in Israel and among the Gentile nations.
The fork to the left leads to the new world order which will soon be under the direct control of the universal messiah of all faiths, which is the false messiah or Antichrist. He will announce a deceptive unity and brotherhood into which all the formerly hostile nations, contending movements and conflicting religions will join hands. The judgements of God will befall the false messiah and his followers during the great tribulation, and then finally at the Second Coming of Messiah. The Lord says He will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem, where He will destroy them (Zech. 14:2,12-13). They will be under the command of the false messiah and their main aim will be to fight against the Messiah who will set foot on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:5; Rev. 19:19), as that would mean the end of their satanic new world order. This is the reason why the false messiah will also make use of demons in his frantic efforts to mobilise all available military powers on earth (Rev. 16:13-16).
The fork to the right represents Orthodox Judaism. The false messiah will cleverly deceive and manipulate them to conclude a covenant with him, which they will do. He will grant them the right to rebuild the temple, for which they will greatly rejoice. The false messiah knows that the reinstitution of the sacrificial service will ensure the continued rejection of Yeshua’s once for all sacrifice as the true Lamb of God. He will also need the temple to declare himself as God in the Holy of holies (Dan. 11:36-37; 2 Thess. 2:4). But this extreme act will lead to the revoking of Israel’s covenant with him, their flight to the wilderness and the ultimate acceptance of the true Messiah by a remnant of them.
The biblical road straight ahead is Yeshua’s way. At present, His followers are persecuted by a world that lies in sway of the evil one. Yeshua has warned them: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He also said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
True Christians everywhere experience some form of resentment and rejection by the world – in some societies more so than in others. Paul said to Messianic Jews: “Let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). He thereby exhorted them not be secret followers of Messiah, but to go outside the camp of Orthodox Judaism and publicly bear the reproach of the rejected Messiah. To Timothy he said: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, if we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12). Peter said it is an honour to partake of Messiah’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:12-13).
The critical factor in Israel and all over the world is not the religious traditions of men (Mark 7:7-9) but faith in the Messiah, Yeshua. He is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (Luke 2:34). The future of Israel and all other nations on earth depends on their relationship with Jesus Christ. We are heading for eternal ruin if we do not know Him as our personal Saviour, but to those who truly know Him He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). He said: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matt. 11:6).
Promise of the Messiah
Baruch has made a very important statement that the just shall live by faith, and that the Abrahamic Covenant was meant to be a blessing to Israel and all nations. But Old Testament promises are like seed that must germinate, grow and come to fulfilment in their due time. There are so many Messianic promises that were literally fulfilled in Yeshua as the suffering Messiah, that those referring to His Second Coming in power and glory as the King of kings and Lord of lords must be taken seriously. Efforts to deny His status as Messiah are depriving Israel and the world from God’s only and unique provision for the atoning of their sins. Nobody comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
The continued denial of the Messiah will hasten judgements related to the time of Jacob’s trouble. Only the true disciples of Yeshua will escape the judgements. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). Baruch, If Israel is spiritually dead, from prime minister to rabbi, there is only one solution, and that is the promise of eternal life which is still offered by Messiah to Israel and the nations. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
Who is this “Son”? He was born as a Jewish Child in the house of David, but He is also the “Mighty God” and “Immanuel” – God with us (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). The Jewish prophet Isaiah says: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom” (Isa. 9:6-7). Sha’ul confirmed the fulfilment of this prophecy when he said that Messiah was born from Israel and that He is “over all, the eternally blessed God” (Rom. 9:4-5).
How is it possible that a “Son” born in the royal family of Israel is not only destined to be their King on the throne of David, but He is also described as “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father”? Zechariah says of Him, “The Lord my God [YHVH my Elohim] will come... And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:5,9). He is the great God who is one with His Father! John calls Him the “Word” and says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). He is God who existed from all eternity. That is why Yeshua said to the Jews: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). “If you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
He is also the Creator of the world (cf. Col. 1:15-17). Therefore, in a creatorial and not in a begetting sense, He is the Everlasting Father of creation. But in the fullness of time He “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). How did He become flesh? The Bible says:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary... Then the angel said to her... Behold, you will conceive in you womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever” (Luke 1:26-33).
Daniel also refers to Him as the Son of Man, “Behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!” (Dan. 7:13). Since He is “God” and also the “Son of Man” in the house of David, it is clearly stated that He became flesh by being born into a Jewish family. After that He ascended to heaven to be able to come from there as the “Son of Man.” He couldn’t have become “Man” in heaven. Another proof of having been on earth as the Son of Man is the scars of wounds on His body. These wounds were certainly not inflicted on Him in heaven!
I asked a local rabbi about Zechariah’s description of their Messiah as having wounds in His hands, with which the rabbi agreed, and I wanted to know from him where these wounds came from. He said he didn’t know, neither will the Jews know when He appears on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, hence their question: “What are these wounds in Your hands?” (Zech. 13:6). After the Messiah’s reply that Israel has wounded Him, they will mourn for Him. In a Messianic prophecy, Messiah says: “They will look on Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10; my emphasis).
Shortly before His crucifixion, Messiah referred to the wonderful event of His Second Coming as the “Son of Man.” That will happen at the end of the time of Jacob’s trouble, which will be a world-wide period of tribulation and divine judgements:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:29-30). Those that will mourn for Him will not only be the remnant in Israel but also a remnant of Egyptians, Palestinians, Syrians and all other nations.
Isaiah refers to the inclusive nature of Messiah’s future rule as King of the world: “And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the [earth], whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isa. 19:22-25).
That is the bigger picture. By then, Messiah as the “seed” of Abraham will have fulfilled His mission to be the light of a dark world and God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa. 49:6). A great multitude from all nations will have been saved: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:13).