Posts tagged ‘Messianic Prophecy’

September 15, 2011

Irreplaceable Israel

We’re in the middle of Elul, the sixth month, which means we’re in the middle of a prayer focus on protection and restoration for the land and people of Israel. The two prayer themes of protection and restoration or return (teshuvah in Hebrew, which also means repentance), are linked in Scripture, as in our theme verse, “Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:7).

This prayer effort (co-sponsored by the UMJC and the MJAA) is something we’ve never done before, but lots of us are also following an ancient tradition, reading through the Psalms during Elul. A couple of days ago I came to Psalm 80, which makes the same protection-return linkage: “O Lord God of Hosts, turn us back, cause your face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved” (vss. 4, 8, 20). First, there must be return, turning back to God, then God’s favor shines upon us and we are rescued or saved. This sequence is repeated throughout Scripture. You have to be careful how you use apply it, though, because it has been used in some circles (like replacement theology) to declare that God’s promises to Israel are null and void, since Israel has never really turned back to God. When the Messiah came and Israel still didn’t turn, so the theory goes, that clinched it.

But, of course, there’s another theme throughout Scripture that counters this interpretation: Israel is irreplaceable.

August 31, 2011

the Hineni hint

We’re in the middle of seven haftarot of consolation, seven readings from Isaiah that take us from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah. The haftarah for this week is Isaiah 51:12–52:12 and the haftarah for next week is Isaiah 54:1–10, so it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to skip right over Isaiah 53 (which begins at 52:13). Those of us who see Isaiah 53 as the greatest portrayal of Messiah Yeshua in the Hebrew Scriptures might be tempted to claim that it was left out of the reading cycle on purpose. But to be fair, there’s another explanation for its absence, since it doesn’t explicitly include the theme of comfort or consolation, or mention the return from exile that’s so prominent in other passages.

In fact, rather than being left out of the haftarah readings, it almost looks like chapter 53 got inserted as a parenthetical statement into the book of Isaiah between this week’s haftarah and next week’s. But, of course, that interpretation misses the point too, a major point that Isaiah is making in the way he composed his prophecy.

The key to this major point is one word, Hineni, which appears at the end of Isaiah 52:6.